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13 Tips To Build A Work From Home Wardrobe

Building a comfortable, yet professional work from home wardrobe can boost your mood, productivity, and respectability.

Working in your pajamas or sweats is tempting now that most of the global workforce is remote right now. When stay-at-home orders began, career professionals who were forcibly transitioned to remote work were relishing the new rules of work attire or lack thereof. Dressing comfortably was encouraged by stylists and psychologists during the first few weeks of the pandemic to help with any stressors or mental health effects. The early days of the work from home wardrobe had commenced.

All over social media, new remote workers wondered how they would ever be able to return to wearing formal suits and ties. Women were appalled at ever having to wear bras, and everyone wondered if they would ever choose to willingly wear “hard pants” (previously known as jeans) again.

Several months into the pandemic—and a few amusing public instances of workers getting caught without pants on Zoom calls—people have had an epiphany. Although they want to be comfortable, they’ve also realized that what they wear affects their mood. Wearing grubby sweats and pajamas also doesn’t convey professionalism during video meetings, webinars, or virtual conferences.

So if you’re stuck in a rut or just don’t know what to wear, here are 13 tips, tricks, and trends to help you build a work from home wardrobe that works for you:

1. Get the Basics

Wardrobe basics are an essential part of the ideal work from home wardrobe.

Just like travel warriors have a set of wrinkle-free professional wardrobe items perfect for business travel, remote workers should invest in some comfortable basics. These are versatile clothes that allow you to mix and match with the existing garments you already own. In addition, these basics can be worn with regular office attire, especially items made with quality fabrics or stylish design. Focus on soft materials and solid colors that you can pair with tailored or heavily patterned items.

Actionable Steps

Actionable Item: Go through your closet and determine if you have more solids or prints in your professional wardrobe. If you have lots of colors and patterns, buy some black, navy, white, or beige items that can easily be paired with almost everything. If you have more neutral solids in your closet, experiment with some patterned or brighter shades of blouses, polos, or sweaters.

2. Check Out Retail Websites for Work From Home Wardrobe Sections

Many retailers are taking advantage of work from home situations to mitigate any losses from closures of brick-and-mortar locations. Several retailers have included separate, dedicated sections on their websites offering coordinated wardrobe basics that work alongside in-office separates. This list includes:

  • Loft
  • H&M
  • Banana Republic and outlet store Banana Republic Factory
  • Nordstrom
  • Macy’s
  • M.M. La Fleur
Actionable Steps

Actionable Item: Take advantage of any online sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many retailers offer deep discounts on professional and comfortable clothing. As a result, remote employees can supplement, bolster, or expand their work from home wardrobe.

3. Upgrade to Business Casual

Excitement on social media about work from home wardrobes peaked during the first few weeks of the pandemic. And everyone seemed to collectively commit to wearing pajamas, exercise pants, and stained sweatshirts until further notice. Moreover, some people love the idea of wearing comfortable clothes forever. But if you aren’t thrilled with wearing casual clothing while you work, don’t. Working from home doesn’t have a set uniform (unless dictated by your employer), so you can invest in more comfortable professional wear, also known as “business casual.”

Actionable Steps

Actionable item: Sometimes, breaking up the day based on the clothing you wear is easier. If business casual clothing helps get you into “work mode,” embrace it and save the athleisure for the weekend or after you are done working for the day.

4. Buy Video-Friendly Clothing

To make a good impression on clients and bosses, video-friendly clothing that's at least semi-professional is a necessity.

Worried about looking presentable enough to meet with clients or co-workers via video conference? As long as you can strike a balance between comfort and professionalism in appearance, you’re all set. That being said, you need to watch out for a few things. First, make sure that your tops are work-appropriate. Don’t wear printed t-shirts with obscene language or tasteless jokes. And make sure you keep the bright greens to a minimum as you can blend in with a green screen (if you are using one).

Actionable Steps

Actionable item: Stay away from very “busy” or complicated patterns. Make sure your clothing isn’t wrinkled. And don’t match your shirt or blouse to your background. Refrain from wearing pajamas and remember that although you’re working from home, you are still a working professional.

5. Loungewear Is Your Friend

If the most exciting part of working remotely includes having a set of “day pajamas” and “night pajamas,” consider compromising with a work wardrobe centered around loungewear. A loungewear-based work from home wardrobe includes more sophisticated or tailored clothing items. These are usually made of comfortable fabrics such as cotton, modal, fleece, linen, or jersey. But loungewear is still versatile. It can consist of:

  • T-shirts
  • Tank tops
  • Casual pants or shorts
  • Soft cardigans
  • Loose turtlenecks
  • Light jackets
  • T-shirt dresses
  • Leggings
  • Capris

Loungewear is still super comfortable and makes you look put together enough to step outside without the shameful glares of onlookers.

Actionable Steps

Actionable item: Loungewear is hot right now. Both fast-fashion and high-end retailers offer wardrobe items that provide comfort as a priority but help you feel appropriately dressed for the day. Start by buying a few clothing pieces from your favorite retailer to build a “comfort-based” work from home wardrobe.

6. Mind Your Feet

While dress shoes and high heels are not required for daily wear anymore, having a comfortable option for your feet can help you feel more put together while working remotely. Don’t resign yourself to wearing only old socks or going barefoot. Putting on shoes can help signal your brain that you’re ready to work, thus you have many options for daily in-home footwear:

  • House shoes
  • Flip-flops
  • Soft slippers
  • Breathable flats
  • Moccasins
  • Light slip-ons

Because you don’t have to worry about appropriate footwear during virtual meetings, you’re all set. If you need to head outside, comfortable sneakers or sandals will do in a pinch.

Actionable Steps

Actionable item: Remote professionals can add some fun and personality to their work-from-home wardrobe with their choice of shoes. If you love Birkenstocks or Crocs, now is the time to wear them with pride, especially since colleagues and clients cannot see your feet during video calls.

7. Wear Appropriate Bottoms

Yes, you have to wear pants or a skirt. You may be a virtual employee, but your daily outfit shouldn’t lack the entire bottom half. Sure, about 10% of video conference participants admit to not wearing pants during Zoom calls. And maybe no one will notice you are sitting in your underwear if you accidentally tilt the webcam. But imagine if your supervisor or client wants to jump on a quick video call. For a split second, what if you forget about your underwear situation, and you need to step away while the camera is still on? Avoid the ding to your professional reputation by wearing a complete outfit during professional video calls. Unless you want to experience this embarrassing moment, skip the half-dressed video conference calls.

Actionable Steps

Actionable item: If you insist on working semi-dressed, at least have a pair of loose pants nearby that you can quickly throw on before a Zoom call.

8. Ladies, Embrace the Day Dress

The hottest trend in loungewear for 2020 is the “Nap Dress,” or house dress. This dress and other nightgown-inspired dresses are popular this summer due to their comfort level and tailoring. Suitable for going out in public, they are also a perfect addition to a work from home wardrobe. For remote workers who loathe the idea of spending the day in sweats, nap dresses come in many styles:

  • Maxi dresses
  • T-shirt dress
  • Gauzy midi dresses

The good news is that they’re all loose-fitting, soft, and perfect for an afternoon snooze, yet polished enough for virtual meetings or calls.

Actionable Steps

Actionable item: Not just a summer fad, fall 2020 is continuing the house dress or nap dress trend by offering these types of dresses in thicker and cozier fabrics. If you are tired of wearing athleisure or sweats all day, consider this a viable alternative.

9. Gentlemen, You Aren’t Stuck Wearing a Collared Shirt and Tie

If possible, men should turn to a business casual work from home wardrobe to balance comfort and professionalism.

Remote male workers in certain professional fields may feel pressured to dress up. Yet this prevents them from one of the significant benefits of remote work—comfortable clothing. The good news is that some professional menswear does not include a stiff collar or a tie. Apparel made with softer fabrics will allow professionals to engage in constant virtual face-to-face meetings and present themselves professionally while enjoying a more relaxed style at home.

Actionable Steps

Actionable item: Investing in sweaters, polos, turtlenecks, and casual blazers (and pants) in soft, cozy cotton knit fabrics will provide a comfortable yet professional-looking work from home wardrobe.

10. Still Love Sweats? Go for HigherQuality Materials

Depending on the crowd, sweatpants are the greatest invention known to humankind or the worst thing to fashion. The late, great fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld once said:

“Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life, so you bought some sweatpants.”

For remote professionals who absolutely refuse to take off their sweats but still wish to maintain a more pulled-together look, embrace “dressier” sweatshirts and sweatpants made with higher-quality materials.

Actionable Steps

Actionable items: Ditch the frumpy and shapeless clothing and go for a more stylish look while still retaining all the comfort that sweats can provide. The tailoring and materials used to construct a pair of “joggers” will make or break the look of sophisticated sweatpants. So search for joggers with a slimmer cut for a more pulled-together look.

11. Wear (More Comfortable) Jeans Again

At the beginning of the pandemic, the universal revolt against traditional jeans and fitted pants was strong. Well, keep saying no to “hard pants” or tight skinny jeans. There’s no need for them right now unless you are riding a horse or engaging in daily physical labor. Instead, opt for relaxed alternatives. Not only will these pants provide your bottom half with needed coverage, but it will also give wearers a feeling of being “dressed up” without sacrificing comfort.

Actionable Steps

Actionable items: Look for stretchy or roomy jeans in softer materials that are comfortable and stylish for everyday wear. And that includes whether you’re working from home or doing errands.  

12. Experiment With New Styles

For both new and long-time remote workers, a time may arise when they want to update their look. The best way to facilitate this change is by shopping in your own closet. Items that were never considered part of the daily work from home wardrobe might give current pieces a more stylish boost. Fast-fashion retailers are also a source for trendy and inexpensive clothing items that may expand your wardrobe.

Actionable Steps

Actionable item: If you want to experiment with a different work from home look but don’t want to invest too much, consider off-season clothing at a more discounted price or the online outlet stores of popular brands.

13. Wear Clothing That Makes You Feel Good

Regardless of whether you choose to embrace the sweatpant lifestyle or a more pulled-together professional work from home look, what you wear affects your mood. Current global stressors affect workplaces and everyone’s quality of life. Therefore, mental health becomes a priority. It doesn’t matter how comfortable you are wearing tattered pants or pajamas. If you don’t feel good wearing them, it will ultimately affect your productivity, which can also affect how you view yourself.

Actionable Steps

Actionable items: Remote workers have the luxury of changing clothing several times a day if necessary. Wear what makes you feel good and helps you get through the day most effectively.

Clothing is a personal choice and building an effective work from home wardrobe is a ton of fun. Options exist for all price points, and with the wide availability of e-commerce retailers currently catering to remote workers, you aren’t limited to certain styles or stereotypical ideas. So explore, engage, and get comfortable. You’ll look like a million bucks even through the lens of remote work.

Do you have any work from home wardrobe tips or suggestions? Connect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and YouTube to set something up with our team. We’d love to hear from you!

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