Should I have a work-from-home dress code?


With so many people working from home at the moment, I’m sure I’m not the only person who has spent a full day in the same pyjamas I woke up in, or worn the same set of lounge-wear for days at a time… but does it really matter if you have a work-from-home dress code? Is it really worth getting dressed for work if your desk is your dining table, and your only colleague is your cat?

According to Media and Business Psychologist Charlotte Armitage, the way we dress has a direct impact on not just our mood, but also our levels of productivity. So a work-from-home dress code can significantly improve your productivity when working in your home office.


Why is a work-from-home dress code so hard to implement?


I’ll start by saying this: personally I’ve always really enjoyed getting ready for work. In my last job, I often had to leave the house to go to work around lunchtime, which meant I had a little more free time in the mornings than usual – not enough to go out to do anything in particular, but enough that there was no rushing around before work. Mornings were pretty relaxing – a chance to sit in front of my mirror and put time and effort into my makeup, whilst listening to the radio and always accidentally letting my tea go cold. I felt like it put me in a good mindset for work, as I’d had time to sit, think, and just work on myself for the day. I enjoyed it so much that I’d always have assumed I’d do it by choice.


Unfortunately, when the Coronavirus lockdown started, I realized I’m a hell of a lot lazier than I gave myself credit for! Early mornings were replaced by sleeping in until eleven, and the time I’d normally spend preparing myself a nice breakfast was replaced by a ten-minute conversation with myself every day, in which I often wondered “now I’m an adult, does anybody really have the authority to stop me eating instant ramen for my breakfast?” My sense of routine had very quickly packed a bag and left my brain.


There are so many aspects of our pre-pandemic daily lives that just don’t seem to be worth keeping up with now. Applying make-up, hair-styling, tanning, carefully planning outfits… all things which we do with the expectation that we’ll be leaving the house, conversing with others, and have to worry a little more about the way we present ourselves to the world.


Without that expectation there, every day becomes a lot like a lazy Sunday. Mornings become a haze of waking up a little too late and avoiding the nearest mirror, as you drag yourself, yawning and bleary-eyed, to your temporary office (whether it’s your kitchen, living room, maybe even your bathroom…), in an “interesting” uniform of creased-up, baggy pyjama trousers and a T-shirt that you haven’t worn outside of the house for years now.


You open up your laptop and are confronted with the sight of your tired, squinting eyes, and wild, haystack hair. You take a moment to chuckle at the thought of turning up to the office like this. Of course you’d never do that! But you’re not about to start dressing up to sit in alone in your own home all day. After all, if there’s nobody around to pass judgment, then does the way you look even matter?

Surprisingly, the general consensus is that yes, it definitely does!


“The idea of staying in PJs all day has some negative connotations associated with it, and therefore, if we behave that way, we can start to feel lazy and demotivated,”

she  told,

“which in turn, leads to a lack of productivity and low activity levels, and consequently, starts to create a negative vicious cycle.”


But before you start reluctantly rifling through your wardrobe for your best suit or most uncomfortable blouse, the good news is that it’s not necessarily what you change into, but simply the act of getting changed itself that’s good for your mindset.


Charlotte went on to say,

“When the routine of getting changed into new clothes for working at home is practiced enough, psychologically you become conditioned to associate the changing of clothes with a change of mindset, psychological pace and focus, therefore preparing you for the working day ahead.” 


Does a  work-from-home dress code also include makeup?


So, what about make-up? I like to believe I apply make-up more for myself than for anyone else’s benefit, but my often bare face whilst working from home has led to me believe it’s a lot more to do with the connotations of wearing make-up. In many cases, the belief is that putting on make-up sends out a message that you’re willing to put in the effort to your appearance, so you must be willing to put in effort in other areas of your life, too. If it’s just me at home, then is that effort really necessary?


Well, of course, nobody is going to force you! However, in the same way, that the act of getting dressed helps you to switch from the ‘home’ mindset into the ‘work’ one, putting on make-up can also be a helpful thing to add into your lockdown routine, even if you put on far less than usual. It’s a part of your regular life that you can keep in place fairly easily, and a little bit of normality at an otherwise very odd time like this must do your mindset a favor.


With all this in mind, what is the ideal working from home dress code? Well, unfortunately, there isn’t a ‘one-size fits all’ work-from-home wardrobe that we should all be getting our hands-on, in the hope it will send our productivity through the roof. The advice at the moment seems to be to be comfortable but to be consistent in your routine and to try and maintain a sense of normality in the way you dress for work. 


Anyway, it does sound silly, but there’s something nice about getting up, picking out an outfit, doing your hair, and possibly even make-up, only for you to be the only person to see it! Why shouldn’t you put that effort in for yourself? You have to look at yourself more than ever at the moment, so you may as well learn to appreciate what you see!




To summarize, having a lockdown routine can be really helpful in improving your work-from-home mindset, and getting dressed for work is an important part of that. Even if you do eat instant ramen for breakfast immediately afterwards…