Reader Request: Working from Home … in Style

An anonymous commenter had this request:

I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for those of us who work at home. I am lucky enough to do so, but it means that 3-4 days out of the week, I don’t leave the house and only have contact with other people online. As a result, I tend to wear comfy t-shirts and pants most of the time and my nicer things hang in my closet, rarely getting worn. There are times when I really feel stuck in a stay-at-home wardrobe rut, but the fact is, no one is going to see me and I need to be comfortable sitting at my computer all day. Any suggestions on how to change up my home office uniform?

I’ve been an office worker for about 12 years, so I’m yet to grapple with these issues myself. But whenever I hunker down for an at-home marathon of work/brainstorming/writing, I do so in my scrubs. Which makes me wonder: When I’m finally my own boss, will my wardrobe languish as I peck away at my keyboard wearing an oversized sweatshirt and PJ pants? Unlikely, but not impossible.

Dressing for the home office will pose different challenges for different women, and I think the key is to suss out your wants and needs, then create some personal parameters. When you work at home, you make all the rules, but that doesn’t mean that you should pretend there aren’t any rules. You’re the boss. So, ya know, MAKE SOME RULES. But be reasonable about them, and make sure they suit your working style and working needs.

  1. Who is in the house with you? Do you have young kids? Pets? Any other beings in the vicinity who’d make truly dressy work duds utterly impractical? While I love to imagine myself dressed to the nines in my little home-office, my overly-affectionate lap-hogging kitties would ruin my favorite clothes. Consider which clothes will work with your non-working office-mates.

  2. How does dressing up affect you? Many people feel more focused and productive when dressed in smart work attire, myself included. But some feel more creative and relaxed in super-comfies, and merely feel confined in office-appropriate clothing. Where do you fall? One side or the other? Somewhere in-between?

  3. Where does guilt factor in? So. You worked in an office for a decade then started telecommuting. And your closet full of work duds is mocking you as you IM your boss from the coffeetable wearing naught but a bathrobe. Tell me this: If you switched careers from being an English teacher to being a firefighter, would you think twice about getting a new wardrobe? No, you would NOT. Now, if your answer to question #2 was, “I feel more focused and productive when I dress up,” that’s one thing. Make yourself gussy if gussying helps you feel gorgeous and/or effective. But if your dressing choices don’t affect your self-image or productivity, consider changing your closet instead of your behavior. I’m not advocating schlubbiness, believe me, but I think that many home-workers drown themselves in unnecessary clothing-related guilt.

Once you’ve answered these questions, it’s time to make a plan.

  • If you have pets or kiddos to contend with, some of your clothing will be relegated to outside-the-home wearings. Segregate your closet accordingly.
  • If you feel more alert and engaged in dressy duds, create some reasonable parameters for yourself: Dress up Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, down Tuesday and Friday. Create reasons to dress up: Spend Monday and Thursday afternoons working from a WiFi-equipped coffee shop or library, schedule weekly meetings or video-conferences. Set personal rules for how you look while working from home, and stick to them.
  • If you’ve determined that comfort is your top priority now that your home is your office, move your dressier clothing out of the closet to avoid guilt/mockage. I would encourage you to prevent your casual-comfy looks from becoming entirely pajama-fied. Dark-wash jeans, leggings, boots, over-sized sweaters, tunics, jersey-knit blazers, waterfall cardigans, sweater dresses, scarves, ponte-knit pants, ballet flats … all of these items are supremely comfy, but also chic. See if you can strike a happy medium between comfort and style.

No matter what ya do, DON’T purge out every last office-appropriate item you own. Jobs change, the economy shifts, important meetings with important bigwigs crop up. Store, don’t donate. Or store the creme de la creme and donate the rest.

Those of you who work from home, how do you dress? Do pets and kids affect your attire? Do you feel more focused when you’re dressed up or dressed down? Have you grappled with officewear-related guilt? How do these guidelines strike you? Anything to add?

Image courtesy Mish Mish.

  • http://skywalkerbeth.blogspot.com/ Elizabeth Anderson

    Heck, on a weekend, if I am online, I haven’t even showered until after I’ve gone for my walk, etc. Which means jammies all morning.

    My grandmother, on the other hand, was a stay at home “lady of leisure”. I don’t remember her wearing ANYTHING but pumps. Smart dresses around the home, etc. She didn’t even own sneakers I don’t believe.

  • Lisa

    I have worked from home for a number of years now. Once while running errands, I ran into a client. I was embarrassed by how I was presenting myself (and my business). So, now I dress well EVERY DAY. Not in a suit, mind you, but in clean, well-fitting clothes that would be appropriate in any office on casual Friday. When you work from home, you may be taken less seriously; you can, however, control how you present yourself to look more professional.

    I would also like to add that my husband prefers coming home to this version of me than the one who was wearing pj pants and a XXL t-shirt.

    • http://corpgoth.blogspot.com/ Trystan

      “clean, well-fitting clothes that would be appropriate in any office on casual Friday”

      Yeah, I like that! I work from home once or twice a week, & I am too often in PJs / yoga pants. Which makes me feel like a slob & a little lazy. On the other hand, my telecommuting environment is quieter than my office environment, so I can focus & get many things done that I can’t in the office, so I *know* I’m not lazier at home. But there’s a disconnect between what I’m doing & how I appear when I do it. I’ve been meaning to find some comfy-but-smart clothes for WFH days, & this post & comments like this further inspire me to do it!

  • Devi

    As I sit here in an oversized sweat shirt and sweatpants, I am liking this post.

    As lovely as it would feel to stay in sweats all day, I find I am more productive when I’m dressed for the day. Even though I rarely venture out of the house during the week (heavy workload) I do make an effort to look presentable in case someone should stop by or if I have to run out for some reason. Typical daily outfit for me is knit skirt, tank or fitted t-shirt, and cardigan. Simple, comfortable, and mix-and-matchable. Fix my hair, add some mascara and lip gloss, and I’m good to go.

  • http://cohabitatingcloset.blogspot.com Anne

    Great post Sal! I work from home 2 days a week and in the office 3 days a week, so I definitely still need my office attire. How I dress at home depends a lot on the season. If it’s winter, I do tend to wear sweats a lot, changing into “real” clothes before my boyfriend comes home from work. The rest of the year, I go with a casual wardrobe of jeans and casual skirts and dresses. I walk my dog and run errands, so that’s usually reason enough to get dressed. I generally feel more productive when I make the effort to get dressed

  • http://snakecharmer4.blogspot.com/ Patricia

    I just wanted to thank you for all the valuable advice you give your readers everyday, you are one of the sweetest people I have come across online :)
    Keep up the good work, your blog is amazing!

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sal

      Thank you, my dear!

  • http://www.fiercebeagle.com Erin @ Fierce Beagle

    I’m currently wearing an off-the-shoulder, stained t-shirt and yoga pants. I stick to comfs most of the time (2 dogs and a toddler), but I find that by wearing nicely fitted, stylish things (like good yoga pants, cute, graphic t-shirts), I feel more put together and less sloppy.

  • Miss T

    I’ve worked almost 100% from home since my son was born — he’s about to start kindergarten. I actually like “work attire” and I dress pretty much the same way at home as I would if I were going into the office full time, which means dresses, jewelry, make-up. Yes, even if my outings that day consist solely of taking my son to preschool or going grocery shopping. As for comfort, I actually find dresses (which comprise most of my wardrobe, some dressy, some casual) are actually MORE comfortable than any sort of pants, especially because there’s no waistband to bind when you are sitting at the computer for hours. I think the only thing that might be different in my work-at-home attire is that I wear my slippers and/or comfy shoes in the house. But, that’s pretty much it. Oh, and I have to say that, at least in my world, no change in my wardrobe style was required because there’s a young kid in my house. I don’t know where that came from, the idea of mother-as-fashion-victim. Perhaps because my own mother worked when I was young and she was always impeccably and appropriately dressed, even at home on weekends — I just don’t see the where the idea of wearing-ugly-ill-fitting-clothes-because-you-have-a-toddler came from. But switching back to the work attire issue for a minute, the major advantage to wearing office-appropriate clothes at home is that I DO on occasion go into the office for a last-minute meeting or to pick up something — all I have to do is change my shoes and put on my coat! One less thing to worry about. Also, there’s something satisfying about changing OUT of my work clothes in the evening, which signals the beginning of “family” time, same as I would do if I were working outside the home 100% of the time. One of the disadvantages of working at home is that one’s sense of time, and one’s sense of progress through the day is altered in a less-than-comfortable way because there is no demarkation between work and personal time. I think “dressing for work” helps remediate that.

  • http://fashionableacademics.blogspot.com/ La Historiadora de Moda

    As an academic, I often work from home or at a coffee shop on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Getting dressed often helps me to set boundaries around my day. If I stay in pjs or yoga pants all day (which I sometimes do), I tend to spend longer reading blogs and drinking coffee, take more breaks, and end up working until the time I would have put pjs back on late in the evening in order to get everything done that needs to be accomplished that day. If I get dressed more or less in the same way I would for a day of teaching or at least office hours and meetings, it’s a way of subtly reminding myself that I have work at hand that I’d like to get done by 5 or 6 instead of 9 or 10.

  • http://www.thesingleneedle.blogspot.com Jenn

    Going along with Erin – I tend to wear yoga pants, jeans, or casual skirts with nice tees to go with. As I work from home, 5 days a week, along with still home-schooling my younger 3 (I have 2 in high school, and 2 in college), it works well for me. I shower, do my hair and makeup each day. I have ballet flats for jeans and skirts, cute loafers for jeans and long skirts, and a few cute pair of sneakers for yoga pants.

    I don’t allow stained or ripped clothes. I must be nice enough to run into someone, or set up a business meeting. Or step into the high school.

    My children know when I have a business meeting – because I put on either a skirt with heels or slacks with heels.

    • Jessica

      Kudos to you for homeschooling! I myself am a homeschool graduate, and appreciate the amount of effort that goes into homeschooling one’s children. :D

  • Elissa

    I’m a PhD candidate writing my dissertation, so I work in my apartment most of the time. My little dog likes to sit on my lap eating rawhide bones, which leaves gooey crud on my pants, so I usually wear sweat pants and a hoodie (with a cotton elastic bra underneath– no underwires when no one will see!) However, I always make a point to change out of my pajamas and into my sweats.
    All this means that when I get to go out with friends or to department meetings, I’m THRILLED to get dressed up and I usually look my best on those occasions a few times a week.

    • sweatpant lover

      Wow, I’m impressed that so many of you put in the effort.

      Started working from home about a year ago and have numerous items that never get worn. I get up and shower, but then I just put whatever is comfortable – either sweat pants, yoga pants, or pajama pants, a t-shirt, and hoodie or cardigan. I can’t imagine having to put real clothes on when I didn’t have to. My laundry is a breeze! (Though, I’m sure this new job made my dry cleaner cry.)

  • Sonja

    Now, that’s something that really strikes a chord here. I’ve been working mainly at home for some years now, but I still haven’t found a routine I’m happy with. My problem is not as much if I’d like to dress up or down, that depends on my mood, and I haven’t many really dressy things anyway.
    My problems, especially now during the winter, are temperature, time and decision.
    I like to get an early start with my work, which means: I usually get up at about seven, take a bowl of cereals or a sandwich to my computer, munch away while I check my emails and idle away on the internet, and then start to work right away at about 7.30/8.00. In my pajamas. Those days I inevitably reach a point when I start to feel uncomfortable and usually shower and get dressed before having lunch.
    Do I like this routine? No, I don’t, I feel quite comfortable, but also a tad filthy and, as you say in your post, a tiny bit guilty.
    My problem is that now in winter I’m always cold, my flat is on the cold side, and I really have to gather courage to undress and step into the shower. Not what I like to do at seven in the morning.
    That’s one thing. The other thing is that I tend to need a long time to decide what to put on. And once I know what I want to wear, I have to find all the pieces. Is my green shirt in in the clothes basket, on the washing line, or actually in my cupcoard? And WHERE in my cupboard?
    Apart from the “finding a more efficient way to organize my clothes”-thing, I figured that it would be a good idea to decide on my outfit the night before and find everything ;-), so I don’t lose time the next morning. It doesn’t leave as much space to “wearing what fits your mood”, but I like it, although right now I don’t really have the discipline to do it every day.
    But most weeks I do something else, fulfilling one of my New Years resolutions: I go to the gym to do a class at 8.30 in the morning, three times a week, which forces me to leave the house and get dressed. And that’s a good thing. Because I really DO feel more focused and dignified when wearing nice, non-pajama-like clothes.

  • jmk

    I’ve worked at home for 5 years now, with business travel once or twice a month. I spend the first two hours in pjs with coffee, then take a 30 minute break to get dressed in nice casual clothing, with makeup and accessories almost all the time. I budget 300$ every spring and fall, which I spend on jeans from Buckle and cargos or whatever casual pant is in style from Banana. I resell the previous stuff. I top with sale rack items from those stores and Ann Taylor, most of which I also resell on my twice yearly re-dos. I wear the same pieces a lot while I have them but I don’t keep them for long. I think you need to stay in shape in terms of preparing your appearance the same as you do with your fitness routine. Feeling attractive and put together will show in your voice and in your attitude. I am however, almost always barefoot, I do enjoy that perk!

  • http://[email protected] Jen

    I’ve just jumped into the role of farmer and I have no idea what to wear. Rubber boots aren’t terribly attractive. I like jeans but I can’t deal with the plumber’s butt. Customers come to the house so I want to look decent. I also love fashion so where does that fit into it?

  • http://nosignposts.blogspot.com The Waves

    I feel like I get absolutely nothing done if I don’t make the effort to look at least somewhat “dressed up” for “work” (which, for now, is writing, writing and writing, without a pay check). I just don’t feel good about myself if I let my appearance slide completely, and if I don’t feel good, then I start to procrastinate. I think I actually wear pretty much similar stuff working at home than I did when I had an out-of-the-house job.

  • http://sewtopia.blogspot.com/ Corinne

    As usual Sal, thanks for opening this timely dialog. You do indeed have your pulse on us! I no longer have a formal/structured job. I retired early, by choice. I spent many years planning for this. That said, I have jumped around in my at home attire. Process of elimination has taught me a few things. I still need/want my “public” clothes. They are clean, organized and ready at a moment’s notice. I wear them too for events and meet-ups with friends and colleagues. At home I need to maintain structure, no sweats for me. PJ’s linger on Saturday mornings when the family is here, but I need to be showered, coiffed, and painted before the day starts. This provides me with a “starting bell” so to speak. I can meet, greet or go at any time with no fuss. In winter my wardrobe is usually jeans, cords or comfy knit pants with a T and a sweater. The sweater collection is pull-over, cardi and vest.They usually only last 1 or 2 seasons. Lots of laundry. These are not wool, allergic! When they pill, or get shabby they are gone. If I can’t wear them in public, they can’t stay here. In warmer months I prefer simple dresses and skirts, occasionally lightweight pants. Pretty blouses and T’s come out with cute sandals. That’s it. Right now i am in the process of replacing almost everything for warmer weather. Even if not worn i need a change, it has been a LONG winter. I do plan and set aside funds to update and refresh my wardrobe Spring and Fall, a gift to me:)

  • http://meganmaedaily.com/ Megan Mae

    I don’t have a job I go to, but I only go to college classes two days a week. So if I don’t have another reason to be out of the house, I still attempt to get dressed in “real clothes”. Usually looser pants or dresses. Even if I end up in pajamas by 6 o’clock again, I still try to make the effort.

  • Laura

    I’ve just transitioned from working at home to going to an office. One thing I noticed is that while you are working at home, it is easy to let those comfy clothes disguise weight gain. I had a harder time staying at a healthy weight when I could just pop into my kitchen to grab a snack anytime. I gained about 10 pounds per year and it was really easy to just wear loose fitting clothes and forget about my health. For me, I find it easier to stay healthy when I care about my appearance. Now I am working on getting back to a healthy weight and my work clothes!

  • http://iambourgeois.com Lauren

    I too work from home, and I love working in my pajamas. So every time I go out, I’m always a tad overdressed, because I don’t get many opportunities to wear the pretty things in my wardrobe. Sure, I could dress up at home but… what’s the point? No one will be around to appreciate it.

  • http://lemondropvintage.com/ Marie

    I am only home for leave for baby, but I feel way more focused and myself when I take time to get dressed. (Instead of hanging in workout clothes which I do on occasion when there is no sleep under my belt). Easy to clean items are a big priority for dress or casual now, sigh.

    Marie @ Lemondrop ViNtAge

  • http://sidewalkchic.com joann, sidewalk chic

    These are great tips, Sal! When I was a student/writer, I found I’d do my best work on the days I’d put a little more effort into how I looked. Working and studying in a casual environment makes the temptation to wear pajamas 24/7 increase, but just putting on a dress or coordinating items within the same color palette would make me feel more confident on big projects or meeting days.

  • debka_notion

    I’m a graduate student, and am doing a lot of my work from home/assorted libraries right now. I’ve never been one for sweats though. Getting dressed does help me get focused, and there’s also a notion in my field, a religious one, of dressing to respect the scripture that you’re studying. It’s a valuable concept to me.

    On the other hand, I don’t wear things that aren’t comfortable. A long skirt and a decent top usually comes off in the realm of attractively casual to mildly dressy, unless I’m really aiming for cozy. I’m pleased with it.

  • http://www.stacyverb.typepad.com Stacy

    I have two jobs, one of which is my jewelry business that I do at home. On days when I don’t have to go to my other job, I do tend to stay in my pajamas all morning. Somehow this makes me feel very productive (“Look how much I’ve gotten done already today! I haven’t even gotten dressed yet!”), but I can’t go all day like that or I feel gross. Around lunch time I usually change into exercise clothes, which reminds/motivates me to take a break in the afternoon and move around a bit (ride the stationary bike for a while, or play with my Wii Fit). Otherwise I might just sit in one spot all day.

  • Pat B from MN

    I have worked from home for a number of years. It is very easy to get into a mindset of “it is no big deal, no one will see me”. It can, however, become a big deal, especially to self esteem and even your voice on the phone. I have found that I do need to get dressed as if I will be seeing someone in a work environment. I notice it in my demeanor, interactions and weight. So I do take the time to dress for a casual business environment. I agree that it helps to have a time/dress for when you are no longer working for the day.

  • http://tminustplus.blogspot.com Tina

    Very interesting discussion.

    When I first start working from home I have a tendency to wear PJs all day long, but after 3-4 days of this, I can’t take how schlumpy I feel. So then I put on a comfortable but cute dress and some flats or something along those line. It actually makes me get more work done when I am dressed well. Maybe b/c I feel more like I am at the office than I do when I’m in my PJs.

  • Charlotte

    After 10 years working in the corporate world and dressing in a manner that was incredibly boring to me (I wasn’t even trying to wear anything different than the unspoken uniform of dress pants and button-downs), I finally started working from home about 2 years ago… FINALLY I could let my inner goth out when I felt like it, or experiment with bright tights, or wear mid-thigh dresses, or dress like a 10 year-old, or completely overdress… Working from home is such a wonderful opportunity to dress for yourself!
    I’ve never spent so much attention to how I dress, it’s been a liberation for me.
    All in all, I’ve perhaps had 3 bathrobe days total, and maybe a week of ratty jeans and simple T-shirt… It may help that I don’t wear exercise wear for anything but exercise (never have, nobody does in France) and that I don’t sleep in pajamas when at home (so there’s no temptation to stay in them). :D

  • http://skrush.blogspot.com Sara K.S. Hanks

    I’ve been working from home for the past six months, and I definitely went through my “pajamas are always in style!” phase. It got old really quickly, to be honest, and I had to figure out a way to motivate myself out of that phase. For me, the answer was style blogging.

    I had always had jobs with dress codes – uniforms at a restaurant, business-casual, etc. Those dress codes irked me in a really mild way; I wanted the option of dressing up or dressing down, wearing nice jeans, putting on a dress, wearing a silly hat if the mood struck me. Once I started working at home, I had that freedom, and I was surprisingly overwhelmed by it! For me, I had to change my mindset ever-so-slightly and look at each day as a new opportunity to really dress to suit my mood. Style blogging helped me do that, since I could have a clear payoff for getting dressed each day (even if the payoff was only a well-laid-out blog post).

  • GingerR

    One of my issues with working from home is that the kitchen/refrigerator is only a step or two away. If I’m not careful I’ll snack all day. I can type/talk on the phone and eat all at once! Fat/feminism aside, I’d prefer not to outgrow my clothes if I can help it.

    Getting dressed and putting on pants or skirt with a waistband help me to keep tabs on my girth in this situation with too many snacks!

    PJs are comfy but make it all too easy to expand in the middle without hardly realizing it.

  • http://www.fillupyourmug.blogspot.com Sarah R

    I’ve worked from home for the past 9 years as a medical coder. I also have three cats, a dog, and three kids.
    I dress up EVERY DAY. Unless I’m sick which I think is normal for most people anyway.

    For the first year or so, I slacked off completely and wore nothing but sweats, pjs, and tank tops with flip flops. I have to admit, my work did not suffer. But I was embarrassed any time the mailman rang the bell, or a neighbor stopped by. Then I thought…maybe I should dress like I’m going out anyway?
    Case in point; this morning my son called from school to tell me that the cat peed on his backpack and it stank so bad he couldn’t bear to carry it around all day (oh, these kids, if they’d just HANG UP THEIR BACKPACKS) so I just threw on a cardigan and ran to the school. No frantic rushing to get dressed or take a shower. I was already dressed.
    Not only that, but with video conferencing, skype, and webinars getting more popular, we’re going to need to look professional anyway, if we have those computer type jobs.
    Please know I don’t dress up all fancy at all. Today I’m wearing a floral skirt, blue tank top (not a ripped on, a nice sleeveless top), and flip flops. Now I don’t cringe if I have to run to school, or to a meeting, or if someone stops by. I assure you, you’re never going to catch me in a suit sitting in my tiny home office. But presentable? Oh yes I am.

  • http://minnchic.blogspot.com/ Rebecca

    I work from home at least a couple of times a week. On those days I do tend to get dresses, but i look at it as an occasion to wear things that might not be appropriate for the office. I tend to stick to comfortable pieces that aren’t too casual. Instead of sweats I might wear an elastic waist skirt. etc.

  • http://www.hourglassy.com Darlene

    I love hearing that others feel the same way when they stay in their pajamas past some innate comfort level. And I love your questions, Sal–such a helpful way to approach stay-at-home wardrobe choices instead of hard and fast rules that wouldn’t apply to everyone. I’ve been trying to figure out the best approach since the beginning of 2009. Lately, I’ve decided on grey knit pants with tee shirts or sweaters for working from home, and then I have outside clothes that I can switch to when necessary. This way I can get started on my day right away without agonizing over what to wear, and I feel comfortable but dressed enough to run local errands and be productive in front of my computer. When I need to go into the city or meet with people, I put more thought into the actual event I’m dressing for.

  • http://lizoh.co Liz

    I work from home part of the time, and in an office the other part. I’m also working on my thesis, which I do in a coffee shop. I find with so many balls in the air that I can use my routine to signal to myself where my mind should be at throughout the week. The trouble for me with yoga, sweat, and jammy pants is that they allow me to blur the line between “work from home” and “twitter in bed.” As you all know, that work from home time isn’t sleep until noon time, so by drawing the line at jeans unless I’m sick, it means I get up and thoughtfully start the day.

  • http://orchidsinbuttonholes.wordpress.com Sara

    This is so well articulated, Sal, with such great information. I think it’s so important to make rules that best suit the individual home office environment. Everyone is different and feels differently in jeans or dresses or pajama-wannabes, but I think it’s an important thing to consider, and you raise questions that, I think, help. The switch from office to home office can be jarring — I went through some rocky months when I switched. This post would have helped me even more then, for sure!

  • T.

    I have to say, I have never, ever felt a desire to be in my pajamas all day. I haven’t had a job in 8 years (I am a stay-home mom), but even when my children were newborns, I got dressed every day. I had surgery last year, and I got dressed every single day during my recovery. I feel depressed if I’m in my pajamas during the day! And once I’m dressed, there is no loungewear. I’m dressed until I put on my pajamas, two minutes before I get into bed. I just prefer to wear clothing, I guess!

  • http://8ballknits.blogspot.com Hannah

    I work from home 4 days a week, with one day in the office. I dress to the nine’s on Monday, and love it. But I wear whatever I feel like the rest of the 4 days, and love it.

    I too struggle with temperature, since we keep our home pretty cold in the winter and quite warm in the summer, so dressing in office-appropriate clothes when it’s 90 degrees in my home office just doesn’t cut it. I really enjoy the flexibility of getting to wear whatever floats my boat. I find that it makes getting dressed up for going out and Mondays that much more exciting. AND I absolutely always get dressed in appropriate outside clothes when I take my daughter to school or run errands. No pjs for those. But I do tend to change back into comfy/warm/cool clothes when I get home. I love working from home and am so glad that I have the opportunity to do so.

  • http://iamarefinedyounglady.blogspot.com/ Laura

    While I definitely enjoyed this post, I’ve found the comments here to be especially helpful. I also work from home and certainly struggle with the discussed issue on a daily basis.

    What I’ve gained from ready this post and following comments is simple: BOUNDARIES!

    Thank you, Sally, for opening this issue for us to talk about and sharing your wonderful (as always) advice with your readers.

  • Erin

    I work from home at random, maybe 1-2 times a month. I’m with the posters above in that in sweats or yoga pants, I goof off more and work less. Even stepping it up to jeans makes me more productive. :)

  • Tiffany

    Great post and discussion. I’ve worked from home for about 10 years now, and I’ve found what works for me. Like another of the commenters, I’m up early-ish (6.30am) and for the next couple of hours, I’m in something comfy and unattractive (like yoga gear) while I check email, put on laundry, pack school lunches, supervise kids’ breakfasts, etc. Around 8.30am, when the younger one heads off to school, I’m in the shower and then dressed into something casual but smart enough not to be embarrassed if someone comes to the door. That includes a bit of makeup. Sometimes I dress up for the fun of it; other times I have to go and see clients so I’m a bit more business-like. What I find most remarkable is the mood difference – if I stay in yoga gear all day, I feel like a boring slob; if I dress in decent clothes, I feel more productive, more motivated and a damn sight more attractive!

  • Eliza

    When I have stretches of time in my dorm, and am supposed to be working, I tend to stick with jersey dresses because I do a lot of work sitting on my bed, rather than my small desk and uncomfortable deskchair. Wrinkle resistant fabrics are the only way to go for hours of bed-studying! I also use shawls in the winter for warmth. Since I don’t control my heating, it can get very hot, then very cold several times a day. Triangular shawls (or blankets folded this way) are cosy and less constricting than layered sweaters. Plus, I have to ditch them when I put my winter coat on. Before I switched to shawls, I would inevitably wear oversized,supposed-to-be-for-home-only ugly wool sweaters out around town all winter long, because they were a hassle to layer, and cold to take off. Really recomend triangular shaped shawls for hassle-free warmth!

  • http://wendybrandes.com/blog/ WendyB

    So I shouldn’t be wearing dirty gym clothes all day? ;-)

  • Carol N.

    I work for a very old fashioned company – they have relaxed the dress rules in the last couple of months so that the guys do not have to wear ties – so when I do work from home I tend to go with the more comfortable clothes. Nothing dirty or torn, but not anything I would wear out and about either. I do always try to be ‘dressed’ and more presentable when my husband comes home but I do love having the option of wearing sweats during the day if I want to. I am actually more productive in my comfortable clothes instead of being in a suit at the office.

  • Lisa

    Awesome post, it seems like everyone needs this post, everybody has sweatpant days at home. Personally I am tired of them, mine are oversized and baggy and I wouldn’t do a grocery run in them.

  • http://craftylunchbreak.blogspot.com/ Nicole

    I work from home and made a rule of, if you can wear it to the gym, you have to go to the gym. Otherwise I stick to jeans and a sweater.

  • http://www.cafesocialite.blogspot.com Coree

    For me, it’s more about the shower than the outfit. If I don’t take a shower and brush my hair, I feel schlubby. When I work from home, I’ll take a nice shower, change into leggings and a long sweater, and tank with built in bra and I’m good to go. It’s super 80s but is warm and cozy and does the trick. I’ll pull on a jean mini to run to the coffee shop.

    My neighbor always asks me where my side ponytail is but warmth and comfort is important.

  • http://www.inspirationalbeading.blogspot.com/ Mortira

    I used to have the same clothing issues. Why dress nicely when no one will see it? Why spend more money on clothes for sitting around in?

    I finally realized that the around-the-house wardrobe I had wasn’t helping me just feel good about me. I improved my wardrobe, bought grown up shoes, and started dressing a little nicer. Even if I’m not planning to do so much as go to the corner store, I still put on some pretty dark jeans and a sweater. And now I feel like a million bucks every day.

    Nice clothes can be comfy, too. If T-shirts are bumming you out, upgrading seems like the most logical thing to do. Plus it’s fun!

  • http://www.etsy.com/shop/YajnaPatni patni

    I know this is late to come to the discussion, but I have a slow moving mind and I have been thinking about this since it was first posted.
    I am working at home half time at the moment, trying to start a business after being laid off a couple of years ago.
    I love the part of working at home that allows me to wear what ever I feel like. I adore to get dressed up to leave the house, but also hate to feel I have to. When i am at home i do wear a lot of the stretch jersey clothing, but I don’t care, i love how it feels. I love to be able to curl on the sofa in my PJS and work. It makes it easier not more difficult for me. When I feel the need for elegance, i choose stupid vintage frothy robes and nightgowns. Not the kind that is silk satin and hand sewn, because I WILL spill tea coffee or toothpaste on it so machine washing is a necessity, but i have no pets or children and enjoy swanning round my apt like Lauren Bacall in the Big Sleep, so i go for 80s Dior, Cardin etc. . I may actually look more Dame Edna, but I choose not to think about that.

  • http://scrapandrun.blogspot.com/ Colleen

    When I telecommute, I don’t change out of my PJs anymore and by lunch I cannot stand it. I then shower and get dressed or at least put on clean yoga pants.

    I think the lack of changing my clothes when I wake up is what makes it awful. I get dressed in jeans or something on days nobody will see me but changing my clothes helps me feel more put together.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DivineDenim Divine Denim

    I dress like I am having a friend come over (comfortable, yet relaxed) when I am working from home. When I leave the house, I dress for the day either visiting with other businesses or just personal tasks yet dressed to be ready to present my business. My business is being a Denim Designer Distributor, so I need to be wearing one of my brands which is great because they are so comfortable anyway. Almost every time I am asked about my jeans that I am wearing, I make a contact for future sale. In all my work from home businesses that I have worked over the years, I have found if I give strangers reasons to talk to me about an item that I have in my possession relating to my business, I make more contacts for the future. When I did construction cleanup, I had a key chain that had bunch of little metal tools and a bucket. When I sold candles years, years ago, I had my logo on my checkbook and also wore candle charm on my necklace along with a bracelet. Hope my little tidbits help.

  • http://www.fatlossworkoutsguide.com monica

    I love this article and really appreciate your tips about finding what’s right for you. I was a full time personal trainer for 10 years so I lived in cargo pants, yoga pants and workout tanks full time. I finally transitioned into work at home full time and want to dress up not down.

    So tired of reading blogs that recommend casual attire and flats. Working at home is actually a step up for me (more money, better hours, more work satisfaction) so I feel my wardrobe should be a step up too.

    I really love your suggestion to “create some reasonable parameters for yourself: Dress up Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, down Tuesday and Friday. Spend Monday and Thursday afternoons working from a WiFi-equipped coffee shop or library, schedule weekly meetings or video-conferences. Set personal rules for how you look while working from home, and stick to them.” This helps keep me motivated, and happy, and helps me avoid the athletic look I lived in for so long and avoid the slob look which I can’t stand : )