What to wear when you work from home can become tricky, especially if you are (thankfully) not the freebie T-shirt and PJ bottoms type. Let’s help this reader come up with some more than presentable outfits to wear when she works from home and no one really sees her.
Dear Sharon: I work from home and never know what to wear. I’m not of the work from my PJ’s school as not bothering to get dressed makes me feel like a pig. Yet, I don’t want to “waste” a good outfit and have to spend money on unnecessary dry cleaning. I still want to feel presentable during the day, if not for my looks but for my brain.
Do you have any ideas on what casual clothing I can wear to work at home and feel both laid back and polished? Just so you know that I’m not a total feeb, I do get dressed to go out to dinner with my boyfriend at night or when I have to meet a client. Thank you. (L.S. via Fashion Advice)
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Your question strikes a cord with me. I haven’t worked in a “real” office since my first job. My office is in my NY loft and does have all the bells and whistles, and space of an outside office minus the commute. I have extra work spaces and computers, a sitting area and conference area, besides “my” office space but it is still a home office, souped up that it may be. I’m lucky that way.
The thing is that people assume that I’m sitting behind my desk in a pair of stilettos and full TV makeup. They must be mad.
Confession time: Like you, unless I have an appointment, I’m wearing more casual clothes and minimal makeup (don’t want to scare children)… just enough to look and feel polished. Oh, and those shoes? hundreds may be in my closet but barefoot is usually more like it until I hit the pavement (or trail when I’m at my vacay house in Wyoming).
But, am I wearing pigly clothes? NO. (Well 99% of the time and it’s ok to have a moment off).
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I truly believe that if you want to present yourself as a professional, you need make the mental and physical effort to dress the part, even if no one sees you. That means, no freebie T-shirts, pajama bottoms, and other sloppy and schleppy pieces that scream “I don’t give a sh*t.” ‘Cause that is picked up by others in your attitude. Make an effort to be present in how you present yourself, even when no one is looking.
When I work, I wear casual pieces that I can QUICKLY layer up and accessorize to look pulled together and professional in a flash. Add a jacket, a necklace, the right shoes, and I’m good to go. Yes, the pieces are more laid back than days when I pull a Jil Sander or YSL dress out but all I have to do is tzuj up with the right extra piece and I can take work at home to stylist on the go. I actually get more use out of my casual clothing than my more business or fancy ones and have a tendency to invest in them just as much.
If it helps you, my work from home clothes are a high/low and everything in between melange from these labels that I have a tendency to gravitate: Maison Martin Margiela, Uniqlo, Jil Sander, Joe Fresh, Zadig & Voltaire, Cheap Monday, Y-3, Hugo Boss, old YSL, H&M organic T-shirts, Calypso St Barth, Elizabeth and James, The Row, Comptoir des Cotonniers, Rag & Bone, go to Dolce and Gabbana, and an overstuffed closet of more.
But if you look at these labels, you’ll see a thread of less structured, more easy & edgy vibe that lends itself to feeling comfy and looking polished. I usually get obsessed about a piece and wear it like crazy until I’m sick of it and move to the next. Now that I’m back into wearing jewelry again, big cuffs and interesting necklaces help out…. those chunky rings are hell on typing.
Here’s my checklist on what to wear when you work from home:
- A couple of pairs of dark jeans, corduroys, or black Capri pants that are the glue from casual to polished. Slim legs are best as you can go from flats to heels in an instant without worrying about the hem.
- Soft and lightweight tops to layer in silk, cotton or featherweight wool.
- Cardigan sweaters.
- Featherweight scarves for easy style.
- Fantastic tailored coats when you need to make run for it.
- A simple beauty routine to look polished and not frazzled.
SHOP: I pulled some pieces from my favorite everyday brands:
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Photo: istock and FocusonstylePublished on January 15, 2013