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3 Reasons to Dress Up When You Work From Home

To all you freelancers out there in your pajamas: I feel you.

While other professionals run around in suits and silk blouses from 8 to 5, we rock a sunup to sundown workday clad in sweats and an oversized T-shirt. Though dressing up to work from home may seem pointless, it’s not. What you wear and the attitude you have about it affects both the quality of your work and the time it takes to get it done.

As one full-time freelancer to another, here are three reasons why you should dress to impress, even if you work from home.

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1. It Affects Your Self Image

I’m going to be real with you right now. People judge you on how you present yourself. That includes what you wear, how you wear it, your hygiene, everything. And, don’t get all huffy about it either — you do it, too. So if people judge you and you judge people, do you also judge yourself?

The answer is yes.

When you spend day after day in frumpy sweats, you start to feel frumpy. Am I right? This feeling can then translate into other areas of your life, both personal and professional.

Still not convinced yet that you should dress up when you work from home? Here’s a secret. You can dress comfortably without looking like you’re just coming back from the gym, though that’s better than looking like you just rolled out of bed.

Here’s what you should do:

  1. Choose clothes that can quickly be dressed up with a blazer, accessories, or heels.
  2. Buy a few cotton jersey dresses, button-down shirts, and comfortable pants.
  3. Find a maxi skirt or two that works with a T-shirt during the day and a nice sweater at night.
  4. Invest in a high-quality handbag that’s versatile enough to hold your laptop and client portfolio (like a leather satchel). Doing this will not only help your self-image, but it’ll make sure you’re ready to get up and go if the office (or client) calls.

2. It Saves You From Scrambling

Would you be ready if a client or supervisor called an impromptu work meeting? By making yourself presentable each morning, you don’t have to scramble to look presentable for a Skype or Zoom conference call.

And you won’t be embarrassed to encounter the mailman at the front door. Business Insider offers some tips to help you get ready more quickly.

Dressing up to work from home may seem pointless but what you wear can affect the quality of your work and the time it takes to get it done. #remotework #productivity #WFH #workfromhome Share on X

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3. It Boosts Your Productivity

Workplace dress codes are often put in place to help influence outsiders’ perceptions of a company and its employees. For example, suits often exude power and professionalism, while khakis and a bright shirt can communicate a fun and informal mindset.

But, according to a 2012 study from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, clothing may also have an impact on personal performance. If people associate certain qualities with certain items of clothing, it can influence how they act in those clothes.

  • If you see white lab coats as something smart people wear, you may be more attentive when wearing one
  • You may act more ethically in a priest or judge’s robe
  • You may feel and act more courageous in a firefighter’s uniform

Bottom line: What you wear while working from home can either help or hurt your productivity. If you associate relaxation with pajamas, you may slack off while working in them. If you dress the part, you may find yourself more easily filling it.

Do you dress up when working from your home office? How does dressing up affect how productive you are?

This post was originally published on October 16, 2014 and updated on March 16, 2020.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. This is so real. I’ve worked from home for over 8 years and at first, especially in the harsh winter of NY and NJ, I was just floored that I could basically roll over and get to work. But that wears out quickly. It makes for a better day overall to do what I would before really *going* to work every day. Do my hair, put on my mineral makeup and at least some gloss on the lips. There’s nothing worse than having to scramble when you have a delivery or hoping an neighbor doesn’t see you as you run out to grab the mail. Nope. Not a good look, and not a good feel. It’s a great privilege to be able to make a good living from home and personally I think I deserve to have a decent “working from home” wardrobe. Comfortable, sure but attractive and functional as well.

    1. Patricia, hi! 👋 Well, it seems that I somehow missed your comment (apologies!) and I’m just a tad bit late in replying. I wish I had seen it sooner because what you had to say was on point.

      You’re so right about being dressed and “people-ready.” Racing around trying to look presentable when you get an unscheduled Zoom call or need to greet someone unexpectedly at your door (like a delivery person) can be *super* stressful (that’s usually when everything you find to wear is wrinkled or dirty). And being productive when you’re feeling stressed can be tricky. Not good.

      Thanks for stopping by. I promise I’ll respond sooner next time. 😊

  2. I’m sitting here in my Wordcamp T-shirt and fleece pants, but this isn’t how I dress every day. I can’t see myself wearing a dress or skirt unless I had an outside meeting scheduled (and even then, probably not) but I do agree that I feel better about myself and my work when I’m wearing something nice.

    1. I agree with you, Janet. I probably won’t wear a dress or a skirt. But that’s not what I would normally wear if I were working in an office. I wear comfortable clothing but not too comfortable so I don’t fall asleep! LOL ????

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