Working from home is increasingly becoming the norm, and there’s a lot to love about your new nine-to-five. Longer lie-ins, a kitchen full of snacks and a 30-second commute from the bed to the sofa – telecommuting definitely has its perks.
If you’re new to remote working, however, choosing appropriate work from home clothes can be perplexing. Especially if the only pre-coffee fashion decision you’re used to making is which tie to wear with which white shirt. How do you dress for a video conference call? What’s appropriate attire for a Skype recruitment interview? And does what you’re wearing really matter when there’s only the dog around to judge?
When you work in an office, there are rules. You know not to turn up to your daily grind in a sleeveless undershirt and ripped jeans. But at home? You are your own master. Left to your own fashion devices, it can be tempting to spend the entire day (or week) in the same pair of pyjamas. But don’t give in to the temptation.
Research has shown that getting suited and booted doesn’t just effect how others see you, but also how you see yourself. Dressing sharply can greatly boost your mental performance, making you feel empowered, focused and ready to handle any business interaction with confidence. Clothing can create important mental boundaries between office time and play time too, helping your brain switch on when it needs to, and switch off when the work is done.
Plus, keep in mind that video calls have become a mainstay of flexible working, meaning you still have to dress to face the (digital) world. Nobody wants to be caught in last night’s grubby PJs when the boss decides to check in unexpectedly.
So while we don’t suggest you sit at your kitchen table in your finest suit and tie, putting a bit of thought into your work at home outfit will definitely pay off. The good news, however, is that you don’t have to dress up to dress well. Here’s our list of work from home essentials, and a simple guide to staying stylish when you’re staying home.
When working from home, comfort is key. So, mix up some of your comfy every day sweats and loungewear with overshirts and polos for that bed to desk look.Penelope Armstrong (boohooMAN Senior Menswear Designer)
What to Wear When Working from Home?
1. An overshirt (or shirt jacket)
The versatile overshirt (also known as a shirt jacket or “shacket”) is essentially a beefed-up jacket that adapts to whatever the situation calls for, making it ideal for remote working. Plus, if you go for a flannel design, it’ll be as cosy as your PJs. Toss it on over a tee when you’re sitting at your laptop, or wear over a hoodie when you need to make a quick snack run. With all the structure and style of a fitted shirt, the “shacket” is also fab for chucking on over your pyjamas when that unexpected video call comes in.
2. Smart joggers
Joggers have long been the uniform of the homeworker, but these comfy trousers are no longer just for the sofa. The old baggy joggers of your youth have evolved into the smart, tailored designs of today, successfully transitioning from loungewear to streetwear. Joggers with a tapered leg will give you all the structure of a suit trouser combined with the comfort of an elasticated waist. Opt for classic shades of navy or black, and choose designs with a jacquard print or contrast piping for added interest.
3. A Polo
The humble polo shirt is a work from home wardrobe essential. Just as comfy as a tee but definitely more polished, the polo is made for casual-smart working occasions. Dress it up with a blazer for work in the office or dress it down with joggers for work at home. This timeless investment piece will look effortlessly put to-together wherever your working day takes you.
Whether your workspace is an office or a bed, there’s always room in your wardrobe for a great pair of chinos. Versatile, durable and comfy, chinos are a WFH staple you can always rely upon. Choose a flattering slim-fit cut and opt for material with a little bit of stretch for trousers that are just as comfy as your jeans, but definitely a lot more stylish.
5. A plain t-shirt
Simple yet effective, a good quality tee is another versatile item you need in your work from home arsenal. It’s the perfect combination of comfort, ease and style and a must-have basic for quick and easy layering. Choose a quality, tailored fit and pair with chinos for a fuss-free outfit you can wear anywhere.
6. A smart tracksuit
Tracksuits aren’t typically standard office attire, but there’s no need to take them completely off the style agenda when you’re working from home. Not just any track will do, however – choose a smart design that you’d be comfortable being seen in outside of the house. A coordinating track combo paired with a crisp white tee can strike the perfect smart-casual balance.
What To Avoid When Working From Home?
It doesn’t get more unprofessional than working in your pants. Rest assured, nobody wants to see you giving this month’s business forecast in your boxers. And don’t get caught out on video calls by dressing corporate on top while letting it all hang out down below. If the doorbell rings or the dog starts barking, you’ll have to stay glued to your seat.
2. Pyjamas or nightwear
If you’re new to home-working and still relishing your release from the daily corporate uniform, you might be tempted to stay in your pyjamas from breakfast until bedtime. The pyjama uniform is, however, about as stylish as it is hygienic. Plus, you need to make your brain believe it’s time for work and not sleep, which can be tricky when you’re still rocking last night’s PJs. So step out of the jimjams and into a stylish tee or tracksuit and let your brain know that nap time is over.
3. Printed or Hawaiian shirts
Your top half is going to be projected on several screens when that conference video call comes in, so always err on the side of caution. That funny slogan print you wear at the pub could cause offence to whoever’s on the other end of Skype. And while we all love a colourful Hawaiian shirt on holiday, your brain needs to remember that you’re still on the clock even when you’re working from home.
4. Swim shorts
Unless you’re employed outdoors or on a beach, then swim shorts are never going to feel or look professional in a work environment. Dressing confidently can make a huge different to the way you approach a client, and when your legs are out – even if they’re under the table – you won’t feel quite as capable of handling that video call.
Your new office space might be a sofa, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw all fashion standards out the window. Anything that shows off too much skin or looks unkempt is generally a no-no, and vests fall into both categories.
6. Gym wear
Sure, gym wear is comfortable, but lycra and office work just don’t mix. Gym wear, like sleepwear, can signal to your brain that work time is over. Plus, when a client calls and you’re sitting in your sweats, it’ll call into question both your productivity and your hygiene.
Dress For Success
The key to cracking the work-from-home fashion code is compromise. In a nutshell, you want to look for clothes that stick with traditional tailored silhouettes, but are cut in comfier lounge-worthy fabrics.
Striking a balance between corporate and comfy, these work from home outfits will keep you mentally sharp and energised to tackle those emails and spreadsheets head on. Plus, there’s a sense of accomplishment that comes with taking your work clothes off at the end of the day, letting your brain know that it’s time to switch off – no matter where you’ve put the hard hours in.