Dressing for Your Work From Home Environment

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that matter most. Those little things can make a difference to your mood, how you’re perceived by others – and even your career. As the old adage goes, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” But how does that saying translate when the impressions being made are two-dimensional?

By most measures, work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic resulted in an increase in productivity. But according to one survey, 37 percent of those working from home said their work was negatively impacted because they were putting less effort into their attire. While this may be mostly due to overall lack of energy and changes in hygiene habits, there’s science to be considered here. 

Researchers at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management long ago hypothesized the clothes you wear has an impact on your psyche because we often see ourselves and what we’re wearing in a symbolic manner. In essence, the clothes you wear make you feel physically different, which leads to unconscious adjustments in your mind.

But it’s not just you that your wardrobe has an effect on. According to Harvard Business Review, others may consider you differently based on your fashion choices. On the scales of authenticity, “expert,” innovation and trustworthiness; the color, style and pattern of your outfit cause distinct differences in people’s perception of your expertise.

Overall, business casual was seen by 50%+ as scoring positively for authenticity, trustworthiness and innovativation. Meanwhile, more formal dress edged higher in the “expert” category.

While social norms change over time, dressing for success in the home office is about defining your own dress code and doing what makes you feel best. Take your remote viewers’ perception of your effort into consideration. But if going for a morning jog ends up requiring you wear a baseball cap to your first meeting, but gives you better overall energy throughout the day – the tradeoff may be worth it.

Has working from home caused a major change in your dressing habits? Any changes in your pandemic style that have surprised you? Let us know in the comments.

Quick Tip: If what you wear makes a difference in your mood – use it to your advantage. Gear up for work and then shift to a more relaxed mood by changing to end your work day. This may help you separate your home and work life when they exist in the same space.