What to Wear When Working from Home

by Rachel Yeomans | July 27th, 2009   

I started dabbling with the concept of working from home about a year ago. My job required me to travel quite often, and when I was in town, I was running back and forth between meetings. Instead of adding another pit-stop to my daily routine at the office, I realized I was getting much more done going straight home versus dealing with the addition of an office commute.

At first I went through the basic adjustments of having a home-office. “Oh my gosh, I’m getting so much more done while doing my laundry!”; “I’m working at home but I am letting the house chores get a little out of hand”; and the one adjustment I had no idea I’d have to face: “I’ve been in my pajamas all day and I haven’t done that since college!”

work at home mom1 What to Wear When Working from Home

The greatest adjustment I had to make for the new “working from home” setting, is creating a routine–both for my work schedule and my outfits. Yes, I work from home, no one can see me, I really could wear my plaid robe and slippers all day long and no one would be the wiser. However I realized that when I did that, my ensemble that I put together for my networking events and work meetings were not quite as what you would call…put-together. I found myself putzing when getting ready for events out of the office, and I always ended up missing something. I’d forget to put on earrings, or I’d put my watch on the wrong wrist, or I would leave without *gasp, my Blackberry.

After about three months of trial and error with the dress code for working at home, I found a few basics helped me be on top of both my career, and my style.

1.) As previously stated, set a wake-up routine that involves getting out of your pajamas.

2.) Wear an outfit. No matter what you wear in the house, you could be called into a meeting or you will need to be mentally (and stylistically) prepared for a networking event or work trip. Make sure you are showered, you style your hair, you have a complete outfit on including jewelry and makeup, and you have a pair of shoes standing by that matches your outfit. I’m not saying you need to be wearing your skirt suit, but perhaps a comfortable pair of jeans and a blouse or a sweater and some khakis. Bottom line, you wouldn’t feel self-conscious wearing the outfit to the grocery store or to lunch with your friends.

3.) Get off the couch. The outfit is important, but it doesn’t do you any good if you’re slouching in your easy chair while dictating contracts. If you are working on your “work at home look”, include your desk in the makeover. Have a lamp, a filing cabinet, printer/copier/scanner, bulletin board, and phone to give you the aura of the professional bubble most people need to take the office attitude into the home space.

4.) Get out of the house. You already have an outfit on, might as well show it off! If it’s a day where you don’t have any “face time” scheduled, then after all of your phone calls, schedule time in the afternoon to get some emails done in a coffee shop. And during your lunch hour, go for a quick run or walk around the block. It is said that one usually needs a break during the day from the office fluorescent lighting–the same goes for your desk-side lamp. Nothing can revitalize you more than a little bit of fresh air.

Working from home was one of the smartest business decisions I have made. However just like any big business decision, it took a little bit of adjustment. Find the routine that works for you, and you can in turn make it work for your job. Just remember to dress accordingly.

Andy Swindler
Andy Swindler

Great post! I've been working from home for more than six years. I've focused largely on building a "real" office space that is separate from my living space, as that was an obvious priority that to me is very important. I even have clients in the office now and then.

But it's true I don't give quite as much credence to the morning routine or even what I wear in the office. We're a pretty casual office, and I now have two employees joining me every day, but as I write this I sit here in shorts and sandals. My next challenge will be to get more "suited up" each day, just to build the internal image if nothing else. I don't think I've ever missed anything throwing on a suit for a meeting, but it seems to be more of a psychological thing. I'll let you know what happens!