After 5 years of working in an office, I left my corporate job to start my own company out of my apartment and the part I was most excited about was the freedom to wear whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Okay, that’s not totally true, I was obviously most excited to start my own business, but second on the list was getting to wear whatever I wanted each day.
I worked in fashion, so getting dressed up for the day was not just expected but part of the job. And every morning I dreaded it, which was confusing because I used to love fashion… after all I was the one who took a job in the business in the first place!
It got to the point where I couldn’t put an outfit together to save my life. And not because I didn’t have the clothes… the employee discount was a huge perk! But there was more to it. Getting dressed each day to go to a job I didn’t love was less about the actual clothes I was putting on my body and more about what it meant for the next 12 hours of my life. It meant that I had to accept that I was about to be miserable for the rest of the day. But instead of realizing this sooner, I blamed it on the clothes. “If only I can wear sweatpants and hoodies Monday through Friday, then I’ll be happy!”
Needless to say, for about a year after that first day of freedom, I was in a rotating combo of sweatpants and yoga pants exclusively, every day of the week. At first it was GLORIOUS! I was FREE and so, so happy. Plus, I always reminded myself, it didn’t matter what I wore because I was working from home! No meetings to take, no people to see. Just me and my trusty non-human coworker, my laptop.
As the reality of starting a business kicked in, I didn’t give my clothes a second thought. And THEN, I realized I kind of felt all around bad about myself. The appeal of wearing exclusively Spandex ensembles wore off and it was taking its toll on my emotional well-being. I felt like I had given up and wasn’t working as hard as I should be. Also, I felt guilty about all the beautiful pieces sitting in my closet collecting dust.
I was definitely in a slump and I decided enough was enough. I was going to *test* getting dressed up every day for a week while working from home to see if it would make me feel better. My only rules were no stretchy things and all pants should have buttons. It seems ridiculous now, but this was actually a struggle at first. It had been SO LONG since I had to wear “real” clothes during the day. But instantly I felt better. I was more productive, happier with myself and my work was definitely improving. And as a bonus, I got to wear all the amazing pieces I had sitting in my closet that I really loved. The lazy haze that had taken over my work life completely disappeared! And it was ALL because I started each day with one of my former favorite things to do, picking out my outfit
I’m not the first person to realize that when you look good, you feel good, but I can confirm the cliche is totally true. I spoke with Arielle about this phenomenon and she completely agrees. Here’s how our convo went down:
Molly: Do you get dressed (really dressed) every single day even if you know you aren’t seeing people or leaving the apartment?
Arielle: I mean, yes. I just love getting up and putting myself together, it motivates me to get to work.
Molly: Right?! Do you feel more productive at work when you are dressed?
Arielle: Of course! I mean, my job entails putting an outfit together so I kind of always have to. But I genuinely enjoy it and wouldn’t feel as productive if I didn’t put myself together every morning.
Molly: Same! I had to learn that the hard way. But, be honest, do you ever get dressed just for a pic then change right back into sweats?
Arielle: Only when I was pregnant. I actually did that almost every day during pregnancy! Ha.
Molly: How did your “dressing up” for work change after having kids?
Arielle: It didn’t. I still dress up the exact same. I know people would probably expect to hear that I chucked my heels but that’s false. I still love wearing heels to work.
Molly: That’s amazing. Did you notice a big change in your desire to dress up when you switched from working out of the apartment to getting the SN office?
Arielle: I think so. I have always worked from home so it felt nice to have somewhere to go. I feel like I go the extra mile when putting myself together now that I have an office to go to, I represent SN when I’m walking to the office, and I like to set that tone for the girls at the office as well.
Molly: Makes sense. Last question – what determines your outfit for the day now? Is it your schedule or do you wear what you feel like when you wake up and that’s that?
Arielle: Usually based on my mood. Of course, if I have a shoot, I’m a little more casual, but I mostly dress based on the mood I’m in when I wake up that morning.
Looking back, it’s so obvious that making my appearance a priority each day while working from home was definitely a turning point in my career. I started to take myself and my work more seriously and watched my business grow as a result. Getting dressed, really dressed, each day is the same mentality as making your bed in the morning – a small victory that sets the day up for success. Now, I don’t even think about staying in pajamas all day, whether I’m seeing clients or not!
Do any of you work from home and find that you absolutely have to get dressed to be productive? Let me know in the comments!
Molly Borman is a freelance writer in NYC.
Illustration by: Hannah Kellner
Getting Dressed Up When You Work From Home Looks:
Looks To Wear When You Are Staying Home