I’ve been working from home full time for almost two years now. As I type that, doing the calculations in my head, it still almost doesn’t feel real. As someone who considers themself a bit of a homebody, working from home was always the eventual dream—but I never imagined that dream would manifest while I was still in my 20s.
When I graduated college and entered the workforce, working from home wasn’t a common practice but rather a luxury generally afforded to those at director level and above. But as we all know, the pandemic changed everything—or, at least, it changed a lot of things, including, for me, my dressing habits.
I’m one of those girls who has always loved clothing. Even though my own personal style leans toward casual as a general rule, I always relished dressing for the office. When the pandemic struck, I—like most people—found myself overcome by a general sense of anxiety. Pair that with the fact that I had just found out I was pregnant, and my newfound routine of never leaving the house (like, at all) and my personal style took a very steep plummet. I reached for leggings and worn-out T-shirts much more than the pre-pandemic version of myself would have approved of. And as someone who has always loved fashion, my proclivity for comfort clothes was, in fact, far from comforting. It was taking a small (but significant) toll on my mental well-being.
Fast forward one year. New baby, new fully remote job, and a new opportunity to hit “refresh” on my daily dressing habits. The pandemic was still overtaking the news cycle and I still didn’t fit into all of my pre-pregnancy clothes (which, please allow me to clarify, is totally OK), but I was determined to seize the opportunity of a fresh start and rediscover some of the joy the pandemic had slowly been stealing away. I refocused, ordered some new clothes, and started dressing for work again.
I began wearing dresses in the summer and layering blouses with sweaters in the fall. Sweatpants were traded in for jeans, and tights with skirts replaced leggings. I started showing up for Zoom meetings with fun hair accessories and even started throwing on pieces of jewelry. And with these small changes, I began to feel more like myself again.
Yet another year later, I find myself more comfortable in the job that is no longer new and capable of fitting into more of my wardrobe (including those worn-out T-shirts). In other words, I feel my early pandemic habits calling to me. And yet, I’m determined to remain resolute in my recently adopted habit of dressing for WFH. Why? Because at the end of the day, dressing for work (even when “work” is a slew of Zoom meetings conducted from a home office) just feels good. And at this point in the pandemic, feeling good every day is absolutely essential.
On top of the feel-good vibes, I’ve also found that dressing for work helps me feel better prepared for the day ahead. Are you an absolute boss even if you’re wearing a loungewear set? Of course you are. But is it easier to truly believe that you’re an absolute boss when you’re wearing some structured pants and a blouse? In my personal experience, yes.
Getting dressed for the day also makes it so I’m more eager to use my lunch hour and break periods productively. I’m much more likely to willingly leave the house to run to the post office or hit the grocery store if I’m wearing clothes that make me feel confident and put together. Rather than sitting in my office chair and scrolling through Instagram for the upteenth time, I’ll remind myself of the great outfit I curated that day—isn’t it more fun if I get to wear it out and about? The right clothes can get me excited to throw on my favorite boots, grab my current handbag of choice, and actually leave the confines of my home.
Dressing to work from home can mean different things for different people. I know for me, it tends to mean chic sweaters, business-casual tops, and accessories that can help dress up my upper half for Zoom meetings. While it wasn’t an easy practice to adapt to at first, it’s now a daily habit I look forward to and one that helps me power through the work day.
I get it—fashion is a form of expression. And sometimes, that expression feels futile when there is no one to see or share your outfits with. But don’t forget that it’s also a form of identity. Dress freely and creatively. Dress like you don’t work from your couch. Dress like everyone is watching. But, most importantly, dress for you because when you dress for WFH, you’re not just showing up for the home office, you’re also showing up for yourself. And life is much too short to stifle your inner fashionista.