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The Dress for Success Debate: What Does it Mean in a WFH World

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With the world of work shifting to the remote work setup, there are so many changes happening to the way we work. This includes the way we dress up for work. Now that we don’t need to report to a physical office, is there still a standard that we should follow when it comes to the way we dress for work? Would it be okay to opt for sweats or pajamas and be as comfortable as possible as we work in the comfort of our own homes?

Before the pandemic and before the significant transition to work-from-home, dressing up for work was part of working in itself. People in the workplace valued you based on the way you dress because of the idea that the way you dress to work reflects your competence and skills. 

If you don’t dress to impress, people would perceive you as someone who does not put in any effort into your job whereas if you dress to impress, you are seen as someone who takes work seriously. 

This is because how you dress at work is the way you present yourself to others. The new normal of remote work, has presented many challenges to the status quo of work and the question of how dressing for success is measured is certainly one of them? With virtual meetings only showing the upper half of your body, would anybody really care if you’re only wearing pajamas?

It is often argued that putting a significant amount of effort in the way we dress even if we are working remotely may improve our working routine. However, some may say that working from home is an opportunity to feel as homey as possible, which can somehow ease the burden of work.

Dressing for work as we work from home

Remote work can suggest the idea that you may be more relaxed as you work which can imply that it’s alright to opt for loungewear while you accomplish your daily work tasks. This can be tempting especially because adaptability and comfort have become a must in the remote work setup. Also, employers wouldn’t have a way to check up on you on how you dress as you work from home, neither will they give it too much thought, especially because they wouldn’t actually see you in person. As long as you   deliver your tasks, that would be enough for them.

If you used to work in an office that has a strict dress code, then it’s obvious that it suddenly changed when you started working remotely. However, the idea of having a work-from-home dress code shouldn’t be something you put aside. There are some people who still prefer to dress up for work even in a work-from-home setup. For them, this is a way to have a sense of normalcy, a way to separate their work routine from the rest of their daily routine. By starting the workday through dressing up, it can help one prepare for the day better.

Many studies show that the way you dress up is correlated with your productivity levels. In terms of work, it can be said that your choice of clothes may affect the way you go through your day. This is why even in the work-from-home setup, it is still important to be mindful of how you present yourself, especially on days you still need to be at virtual meetings. While of course, you will not be present physically and not even your entire body will be seen, it’s good to make sure you look pleasant and presentable.

Younger workers may take the current remote work setup as an opportunity to explore the ways that they can expand their wardrobe by having pieces of clothing specifically for this setup. It’s good to remember that you can still stay fashionable while being relaxed as you work from home. This can even be a way for you to reinvent the meaning of dressing for work in your own terms as you find ways to combine comfort and professionalism in your work fashion.

While the priority right now seems to be your comfort as you adjust to a new way of working, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice professionalism. You can opt to dress as comfortably as possible, as far away from what you’ve been used to when you still worked in the office while still making sure that in instances you need to present yourself virtually, you would still look like the professional you truly are.

What does dressing for work mean in a WFH world

With remote work being something that’s here to stay, it can be seen how people adjust differently with this kind of setup. Dressing for success while working from home definitely takes effort especially because of the idea that you would simply stay at home. However, taking the time to include this into your routine would definitely help in boosting your productivity. Dressing for success in the context of working from home does not have to mean dressing up the way you did when you still had to go to the office, it can mean simply wearing clothes similar to what you used to wear--clothes that provide you the feeling that you’re on work mode.

In the context of remote work, it is safe to say that the idea of dressing for success becomes subjective. As you and the rest of the world adjust with the demands of remote work, the dress for success debate depends on the various ways people come to terms with working from home. As such, different people can have different perspectives on how to dress for success in a work-from-home setup. 

Some may opt for simply being in homewear as they work, some may choose to dress closer to the way they did before working remotely. As long as you dress the way in which you will find yourself more productive, following an efficient work routine, then that’s enough indication that you still give value to the idea of dressing for success, even when working remotely.

Since remote work dress codes are still technically uncharted territory, among employees and employers alike, just keep in mind that the best move is to have a work-from-home wardrobe that puts you in the right headspace to work. Go ahead and be fashionable while working from home in whatever way you want. It is up to you to define what dressing for success means in the work-from-home world, as long as it works for you and as long as you remain the professional that you are.

Half the Sky's mission is to supply the tools that can give every woman the ability to build a successful career and be fully prepared for the future of work. So, that they can lead a healthy, prosperous and more balanced/blended lifestyle of their choosing.  By building your confidence, you’re setting foundations to empower yourself and your career.  The world is your oyster, and it starts with you. 

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