With the majority of Americans working from home, we’re all adjusting to new professional norms, including the way we dress for work. While many offices have some form of dress code, no one can dictate what you wear when you sit at your computer in your own house.
No one, that is, except yourself.
So what is the best way to dress when you’re working from home? Is it better to keep it comfortable or to dress like you’re heading back to the office any minute? Let’s examine the options.
Cozy and Casual
Spending the day in your pajamas or sweatpants is tempting. Not only is it comfortable, it also helps you save time picking out outfits or ironing shirts. Plus, if you have kids at home or pets that need tending to, wearing a comfy pair of sweats might be the most practical outfit for quickly transitioning between work and household duties.
There is, however, a psychological downside to keeping your pajamas on all day. Some will find it hard to mentally transition into a professional mindset if sitting in the same flannels that were slept in the night before. Then, of course, there’s the issue of video-conferencing with colleagues. While your co-workers probably won’t expect you to be in a three-piece suit and tie, it’s a best practice to have on something clean and presentable.
If you want to stay cozy, but don’t want to feel like a total slob, consider a more high-end pair of sweatpants—something tapered and stylish. As for a top, switch out a plain T-shirt for a graphic T, a sweater, or a polo, all comfortable, but slightly more professional options.
Dressing for Success
Of course, there is always the argument for putting on work attire as a means of feeling like you’re at the office. The feeling is grounded in psychology. Psychologist Cathleen Swody claims that “Dressing pulled-together helps us feel pulled-together. Research has found that people feel more competent when wearing business clothes.” In addition to feeling more work-ready, changing out of your nighttime comfies and into professional attire can have an effect on your mood, making you feel more productive and more alert while on the job.
Still, it’s unlikely that you will wear a full office uniform if you’re working from your kitchen table all day. But there is a middle-ground between a formal suit and a set of pajamas. Think, business casual.
This dress code is already a standard in offices across the country because it gives you a good blend of formal and relaxed. For men, consider a button-down shirt tucked-in to a pair of slacks. For women, a silk blouse and fitted pants or a daytime dress might do the trick. As for footwear, if you plan on wearing shoes at all, you should lean into the comfortable side. Even your Zoom-conference mates won’t see what’s on your feet.