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What to wear when working from home: The dos and don’ts

A lady with a red sweater and blue light glasses sits on a couch and works on a laptop.
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April 1, 2021

To some, the novelty of working from home may be slowly wearing off, but for many, it’s still a reality and may continue to be for the unforeseen future.

We can all appreciate the ease and convenience of getting out of bed and soon after starting your workday, while avoiding commuting, traffic delays and parking. Not to mention, the option of not having to “get ready” by putting on professional clothes or doing your hair.

But if you ask yourself, “What should I wear when working from home? Who really sees me? And, do I dress to be seen from head to toe or only for the camera view?” you may start to question whether working in your pajamas all day is actually a good idea.

Let’s think about it a little further.

Should your work-from-home outfit look any different than what you wear when going into the office?

While working remotely, it may feel tempting to keep those pajama bottoms on, but think about it: Does that really set your mind up to start your day and prepare you to feel most productive?

Always be mindful of what you wear when working from home, as it can help you set the tone for your day. It is important to dress well even when working from home because what you wear really does have an impact on your overall motivation.

Consider ‘dressing for your day’ – similar to how you might think when going into the office. Do you have an important meeting? Who will you be interacting with? Your answers should impact what you decide to wear.

A man in a jean shirt sits at a table and talks on a cell phone with a laptop open in front of him.

Work-from-home dress code policy: Dos

1. Find a balance between keeping it professional and comfortable.

Follow your original office dress policy while adjusting it to a work-from-home style that best suits you.

On days that you don’t have any meetings, it’s probably OK to wear an outfit that is more casual. We know sitting most of the day requires a certain level of comfort. Make sure your clothing supports this while not compromising your professional appearance.

On days you have virtual meetings, dress as you would if you were attending meetings in-person. This will help set your focus and confidence. You still want to portray yourself in a prideful way because you are representing your personal brand along with your company’s.

2. Wear clothes that make you feel good.

Think of what helps you put your best foot forward each day. Whether it’s a pop of color or keeping it neutral, you do you!

Also, find a staple or two that works for any outfit: a favorite cardigan, jeans, a neutral shirt or pair of pants. Putting on your go-to clothing item will make you feel ready to tackle your day.

3. Get creative.

Be creative! Find ways to dress that help you maintain your uniqueness and still look and feel your best.

An easy way to look stylish at home is to add tasteful accessories to your outfits like earrings, scarfs and necklaces.

4. Consider wearing blue light glasses.

Not only are they stylish, but they help protect your eyes from the additional screen time you have probably been experiencing since working from home.

5. Practice good personal hygiene.

Make sure your hair is ready for work, your face is groomed and you are the best version of yourself.

A man with a red beanie on his head sits on a chair with a laptop and pug on his lap.

Work-from-home dress code policy: Don'ts

1. Get too creative.

Don’t mix too many patterns and colors that will distract others when they’re meeting with you virtually.

2. Wear pajamas.

A good rule of thumb is to skip any clothing items that you would sleep in, even if they won’t be seen on camera. Chances are they’re comfy but too casual for work attire.

3. Wear clothes with words.

Lessen clothing with word displays, sports teams or suggestive sayings. It only invites others to read what the words say and can cause unnecessary distraction.

4. Have a hat on.

Avoid hats or head wear that may shade your face, be too casual or have words on them.

Dress code tips for virtual meetings

What you wear when working from home isn’t the only thing that matters – how you present yourself overall during virtual meetings is extremely important. Your style is more than just the clothes you have on.

A few tips to consider when entering a virtual meeting:

1. Turn your camera on.

Sit up and let your audience see you on camera. Don’t forget, posture matters!

2. Check your lighting.

Consider the lighting in your room and how this can impact how well others see you. Natural light is the best; however, make sure a proper light source is present. Assure others can see your face verses a dark image.

3. Be aware of your surroundings.

If possible, keep your work space private to lessen interruptions and interference from people or pets. Make sure what is in the background behind you looks clean and organized.

4. Consider adding a background.

If your background area isn’t as clean and organized as you’d like, hide it by selecting a background to put behind you. Choose a background that doesn’t distract from your great style. Keep it simple, yet professional. You want the focus on you!

Struggling to be productive while working from home?

Wearing an outfit that will encourage motivation is a great place to start but check out these 10 additional tips on how to stay productive while working remotely.

About the author
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Valerie Klimek has been a part of the Human Resource Talent Acquisition Team at Schneider since 2005 and has supported many areas including Sales, Operations, Finance and Human Resources, as well staffing multiple start-ups. She’s been active in creating content for social media, trialing new technology, processing improvement pilots and mentoring others.

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