Two words – confidence and comfort
Social media is flooded with #OOTD posts on how to dress for success while working from home.
But, let’s face it, how many home workers have struggled with the urge to roll out of bed, plop down in their office chair, and start their workday while they’re still in their pyjamas?
In fact, a recent study from software specialist Mentimeter found that one in six remote workers avoid turning on their video for conference calls because they’re inappropriately dressed.
Others go the extra mile to appear professional: 46% report spending more time on hair and makeup while 41% wear nicer clothes – but only on days when they’re scheduled to hold a video call.
Then there’s that work-from-home mullet – business on top, party down below. That’s code for people who love to mix their business top with sweatpants, leggings or even gym shorts. Exhibit A:
Respecting our dress code as I work from home today pic.twitter.com/1kW8hKkwQa— Guillermo Lauzurique (@DANGERD0RK) March 16, 2020
But some companies today give employees the space to express themselves through clothing, encouraging their uniqueness in the process.
“We prefer authenticity,” says William Bauer, owner of luxury brand ROYCE New York. “As a matter of fact, we encourage creativity and individuality.”
For Bauer, self-expression through fashion might begin with one’s choice of garments.
“But, ultimately, it leads to employees feeling more empowered to bring ideas to me because they feel accepted for their choices, rather than denigrated or compelled to be something they are not,” he shared with Entrepreneur.
Research from Columbia University suggests a person’s style of clothing can influence how their co-workers perceive their ability to make bold decisions. In other words, there is power in how you present yourself to others.
But, more importantly, our style of clothing impacts how we perceive ourselves, and this can translate into how productive we become.
“While clothes are symbolic, they hugely affect how we feel about ourselves as well as our work,” Chris Bailey, author of The Productivity Project, told the New York Post. “Confidence and comfort are both ingredients we have at our disposal that allow us to become more productive.”
Dressing up vs dressing down
Dressing in a power suit while working at home might seem silly. But the concept of ‘smart casual’ – which elevates casual clothing into a more refined look – might be the best choice for remote workers who want to stay comfortable yet appropriately dressed for unexpected business calls. Think collared shirt paired with casual pants.
“Smart casual is employing finer-quality clothes that are still casual but well-fitted, in-style and of good fabrics,” executive recruiter Dave Arnold told The Street. “Smart casual does not imply flashy or flamboyant.”
Some experts argue that the same principle behind dressing up versus dressing down in a professional setting can also apply when one is working from home. Instead of dressing to impress others, however, you do so because you recognise your own value.
For Mason Donovan, author and evangelist of work-life balance, wearing comfortable office clothes while working from home also delineates work hours from personal time.
“It’s a physical and visual distinction, and it helps me set boundaries,” Donovan shared with Fast Company. “Your personal life could take over work time or your work commitments can take over personal time. Clothing helps create a distinct separation.”