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Among the many effects of the novel coronavirus has been for many (fortunate) people the novel experience of working from home. Week one of quarantine, we may have experienced the thrill of attending a meeting or teaching a class while wearing pajama pants and flip flops. But as many people move into week five, six, or seven (or longer!) of quarantine, the novelty has worn off. 

The clothes we wear have a significant impact on the way we feel, so if you feel blah wearing pajamas all day, you’re not the only one. Putting on real clothes can make you feel more awake and ready to take on the day. Additionally, when your entire life is centered in your bedroom and living room, it’s important to set some kind of boundaries around work, sleep, and play. Often, there are physical boundaries around these activities: you go to work; play at gyms, cafes, or friends’ houses; and sleep at home. Working from home requires some creativity in setting those boundaries. Only wearing pajamas or sweats to sleep in, for instance, can signal to your body that it is time to stop thinking about work.

On the other hand, it can be hard to motivate yourself to change out of the sweatpants when you’re not going to see anyone all day anyway. Check out the tips below for strategies for getting dressed while staying comfortable.

Choose comfort on the bottom

Stiffer, more structured pants with restrictive waists aren’t as comfortable for sitting on the floor, lounging, or any other at-home posture you may take. Instead, look for pants with easy waistbands and soft fabrics such as vintage, relaxed, or broken-in jeans, jeans with a bit of stretch, paper-bag-waist pants, chinos, or palazzo pants. These kinds of pants allow you to work at a standing desk (which could be a box on a table) or stretch out on the floor for a change of pace. (Avoid pajamas or lounge pants on professional video calls just in case you reach too far for a glass of water and accidentally reveal the pink flannel PJs!)

(Kristen of A Classy Fashionista wears paper-bag pants with a slouchy camisole and long cardigan.)

(Soft, relaxed, boyfriend style, or baggy jeans are all more comfortable for working from home.)

(These relaxed jeans and silk top make for a great pulled-together at-home look.)

(Slouchy on the bottom, business on the top.)

Go dressier on the top

Some stylists call this strategy “table-top” dressing, because it focuses on what can be seen above a table or a desk. This is especially helpful for all those Zoom and Skype meetings that will only show you from the face up anyway. Wear a structured button-down with earrings, or try a blouse with a statement necklace or a stack of delicate pieces.

(Monochromatic separates look extra smart!)

(Wear a comfy crew neck sweater with earrings and a bun—skip the heels!)

(Pair a silk button-down with shorts when it gets warmer.)

To blazer or not to blazer?

Working from home is a great time to break out the sweater-blazer, if you have one. Not only do their collars and lapels add some structure to an outfit, but they are soft and not easily wrinkled. Blazers look professional for Zoom meetings, but are less friendly for working on the couch. If you need more warmth than a blouse provides, stick with soft sweaters and cardigans that are both cozy and more professional than sweatshirts. Long cardigans and kimonos can work well, too, if you want to layer.

(No wrinkles here!)

(You can still wear fun pieces. Julia of Lemon Stripes pairs coral with pastel pink.)

Stick with easy skirts and dresses

When working from home, you will want to wear unfussy pieces that don’t restrict your middle section or legs. Otherwise, after a few hours you may get frustrated and change right back into pajamas! For women who enjoy dresses, shift dresses, wrap dresses, and skirts with elastic or otherwise comfortable waistbands are good choices.

(What breezy vacation items can you pull out of the closet?)

(Affectionately Audrey mixes a soft sweater with a comfy skirt.)

Support your feet

Continue supporting your feet, if they need it, with comfy shoes or slippers. This is especially important if you have hardwood or tile flooring, or if you are working at a standing desk. Some slippers are made for warmth, while others provide more cushioning. Listen to your feet!

Consider keeping it simple

When it comes to makeup while working at home, do what you want. If adding a little lipstick or mascara makes you feel happier, more alert, and ready for the day, then do that for yourself. However, if you feel that your makeup choices are often too influenced by what others expect at work or school, then feel free to skip those routines.

(Go barefaced like the beautiful Alicia Keys.)

Upgrade your loungewear

Wear some nice pajamas! They don’t have to be sets to make you feel nice. You can also get comfy bottoms and color-coordinate them with your favorite sleep shirts. As long as you’re home for a while, expand your idea of loungewear: think flowy and airy, like a beach coverup. Maybe you have a bright caftan, tunic, or a printed sarong you can wear for a change of pace.

(Southwestern themed set.)

(Why not fashion pajamas?)

(Pull out your resort-wear, and read by the window or on the porch.)

Have fun!

If you love bright colors, patterns, and bold silhouettes—don’t let working from home stop you from wearing them! Wear colorful clothes and special-occasion items if it makes you happy. Wear a ball gown for Sunday dinner just for the heck of it, or maybe pull out your sparkly evening bolero to pair with a blouse on Monday morning. Do what you need to do to get through a rough time.

(Affectionately Audrey in a 1940s gown.)