What do you wear when you work from home?

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Caroline in her work-from-home uniform.
Caroline in her work-from-home uniform.
This might be silly, but I recently started freelancing from home. I’m enjoying the opportunity to work in my pajamas, but my wife posed the argument that I might be more productive — or at least feel better about myself — if I dress up for work, even though I’m just commuting down the hall.

She might be right, but I feel like it’s overkill to work in a button-down shirt. Still, I’m open to the idea. This isn’t really advice so much as that I’m new to this, so I thought I’d ask: what do other at-home workers wear, day to day? Does it make a difference what you wear? -Mark

Here I am! This is what I wear, every day. Except laundry day.
Yo! Good question. I’ve been working from home for over a year now, and I definitely prefer to wear Grown Up Clothes. Not so grown up as business casual, though. Every day I wear the same thing, unless I’m doing laundry: a white tee shirt and dark jeans. I have five such shirts and two such pairs of jeans.

The main reason I like to wear decent clothes is that if I find suddenly that I have to go out, I’m ready. I don’t have to dig through a pile of laundry to find something more suitable than sweatpants to wear. Also, I have a legit retort when a friend busts me for working in the basement in sweatpants all week, and that retort is, “NUH-UH!
The bonus: since I wear the same thing every day, I don’t have to think about clothes at all. Plus, the uniform is good enough to wear to a meeting and also not so precious that I need to change out of it to work in the garden. It’s fantastic. I wish I could have pulled this off at my last office job, but they would have frowned on so many days in jeans. Even nice jeans.

Other work-at-homers? Do you find eight hours of freedom from judgement every day is a good time to break out the gym shorts? Or are you wearing pantsuits? Or are you somewhere in between?

Comments on What do you wear when you work from home?

  1. I’ve worked from home for close to 10 years now and I’ve found that what I wear depends largely on whether it’s a *shower* day or not. LOL! If there’s a reason for me to shower that day, I’ll put on street clothes. Otherwise “weekend wear” is fine by me.

    When I’m struggling to meet a deadline I’ll take it down another notch: PJs, no bra. It’s worth noting here that sometimes PJs really mean “T-shirt and no pants”. This can be a drag if somebody comes to the door.

    (PS – this is not as gross as it sounds — I usually wind up showering every other day. )

  2. As a stay-at-home-almost-mom, I NEED to get dressed. Sure I could be more comfy in my maternity nightgown, but on days like today when I wait until the afternoon to shower and dress, I just feel bleh. And having suffered from depression before, I know that I get an instant lift from looking put-together. With my post-partum period coming up, I know that little extra oomph from looking good could be huge…

  3. I don’t have an office or official WORK SPACE at home in our little apartment, so when I telecommute, I’m often curled up on the couch with my laptop on my lap. It’s gotta be pants comfy enough that I can sit cross-legged with a blanket on my lap, and a top that at least pretends to be fancy, just in case I need to take a videoconference call. 😀

  4. As a grad student I tended to wear pj or lounge pants, or a comfy pair of jeans. I tried to go to the gym and I’d shower when I got home and then wear something comfy to curl up on my couch. I’d put on jeans and a tshirt if I was running errands or if I had to go to the university.
    Now I work at home occasionally. Like another poster, I wear jeans and tshirts at work most of the time except for fancier meetings. So working at home I could be dressed in jeans and a tshirt, could be in lounge pants (either jersey ones or fleece), be in shorts in the summer or potentially still in my pj’s for part of the day if I’m also cleaning or doing something like that.

    I wanted to share an article on working in different locations and being productive. http://mashable.com/2010/09/27/productivity-tips/ They list by locations and under “Work from Home” they note that you should get dressed. So Cat, you’re right on.

  5. When I go out to the store or somewhere, I “get all dressed up” which for me means putting on jeans, a “real” t-shirt, and makeup (which I don’t like doing because I’m lazy). Most days, though, I don’t leave the house. So I generally just wear a thrifted t-shirt and pajama pants. And socks, no shoes.

    I understand what people are saying about feeling more productive in “work” clothes, but for me it’s the opposite. For one thing, I don’t like to think about the fact that I’m working, because that makes my inner rebel just try to avoid it, and since I work on the computer that’s a really bad idea. But also, I just find “work clothes” uncomfortable, and it’s very distracting to me to try to get anything done when I’m uncomfortable. It doesn’t make me feel lazy to be in comfy clothes at all — it helps reduce my anxiety so I can focus on what I’m doing.

  6. i work at university most of the time, but even when working from home (like when there’s a massive earthquake and your university building is closed for three months…) i have to be dressed, not just for the sake of the flatmate, but so i feel like i am actually getting something done.
    Also, i wear dresses or skirts. every day. with leggings or tights under them. This is what i find the most comfortable, and i think it’s HILARIOUS the amount of compliments/comments i get about how nice or well-put-together i look when i’m wearing a dress, because it’s the most piss-easy clothing decision ever: put on underwear and bra. put on tights/leggings. put on dress. done! a lot of people seem to think that somehow wearing dresses or skirts and tops is so much harder than wearing jeans and a tshirt, but it’s not, i promise. it’s exactly the same, if not easier!

  7. It seems that the key for me to stay on task, is to wear real underwear. If I’m running around without a bra I’ll be more likely to mess around online. In this way Cat’s theory about being ready to run out the door rings true for me. Thus, tee shirt and jeans.

    Can I step on my soapbox for a second? Great.
    Please don’t leave the house in PJ’s. That just looks tacky.
    I’ll step off my soapbox now. Thanks.

  8. I’ve been telecommuting part-time of late, and have found that getting dressed really does help my productivity.
    As tempting as it is to stay in PJs all day (especially now that it’s winter!), just the simple act of getting up with an alarm, showering, putting on some light makeup (foundation and a bit of mascara), and getting into real clothes is a big boost. I don’t dress up, but just wearing comfy pants and a t-shirt is enough to make me feel that “Hey, I’m actually at work today!”… it’s definitely a good motivation to get things done.

    Conversely, my psychiatrist recommended doing this as a basic home treatment for my depression. The act of pushing yourself to feel ‘normal’ can be a great confidence booster, even if I’m not up to working that day.

  9. Any day I don’t dress for work-at-home is a day I get nothing done. It sets the tone for being a lazy-ass who-gives-a-shit day. :B Otherwise, though, I just wear jeans and a t-shirt. It doesn’t have to be special attire, just the feeling that you’re dressing For Work. That helps.

  10. I’ve been telecommuting for almost 5 years now and solicited some much needed advice from my co-worker before I started. This is what he had to say…
    Get up
    Get showered
    and SHAVE
    then put on whatever clothes you want.
    The act of shaving is a cue that it a week day / work day.

    • I agree with the shower (shave if needed since I don’t need to daily) and get dressed. I feel way more productive clean and dressed.

  11. I find that generally, I need to get dressed to study properly, if I stay in my pjs or trackies I just can’y concentrate. Generally when I go out it’s in a dress or a skirt and top but when I’m just hanging around the house my uniform is baggy jeans, a comfortable tshirt and a mens jumper (which I own a lot of!). People are a little surprised if they drop by unexpectedly but it’s nice to have a bit of range in your clothing.

  12. Polo neck anyone? Casual, comfy : if you need to look formal stick a v neck jumper/sweater over the top. Wear with jeans or a aline/highwaisted skirt

    But then I live in England and run cold: layers are key for me.

  13. I wear pajamas some days, workout clothes on others. Very rarely am I dressed in clothes that are decent to wear out in public unless I’ve been out in public before I worked that day. I’m pretty casual 99% of the time anyway, so if a friend comes over, I throw on jeans and a bra and I’m ready to do whatever in less than 5 minutes.

  14. To be quite honest, it depends on the mood I am in. I’ve been working from home for about a year now. Most days I roll out of bed 15 or 20 minutes before my shift starts. Just enough time to grab a drink and a smoke and start my day. Most of those days I just wear the pajamas I slept in the night before. Other days I get up hours before my shift starts, make coffee, eat breakfast, put on a pair of jeans, t-shirt, even socks on shoes.

    Yes, it does make a difference. No so much in my productivity but in the way I feel and how the day goes usually. I’m in a better mood, I’m more alert, the day goes by more quickly when I’m dressed. The days I go in in pajamas barefoot, the day usually drags out. It’s like there is the work me and the home me and the home me shouldn’t be working, she should be in bed asleep still.

  15. I’m a freelance writer and VA. When working from home, I wear “prettier” versions of my home clothes: comfortable shirts that fit better and nicer shorts and pants. That way I feel like I’m in my work mode and still be comfortable enough to run errands or do chores if needed.

  16. I’m a clothing creatress, I wear sweats or left coast layers and morrells when it’s cold. I’m too cheap to turn the heat up. Once it’s warm I switch to summer dresses and sandles. Too cheap to use the AC too! LoL

  17. I wear something I can wear out on errands but that is comfy. Often jeans and a shirt or sweater but I am trying to change that since I can wear what I want. Though I try not to be too fussy so that I actually get around to my work instead of primping all day.

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