Though wearing a uniform works for many successful people (Steve Jobs and Mr. Rogers come to mind) there is a difference between making a conscious choice to wear the same thing every day and just wearing an outfit because it is in closest proximity to your bed and is comfy. Many of us have had a uniform while we’ve been working the past few months from home and unlike Mr. Rogers, it did not make us feel like we were having a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
For some of us, our main criteria for choosing to clothe these past few months have been outfits that require the least amount of buttoning, zipping, or belting. But there is something to be said for dressing up for work, even if people are only seeing you from the neck up for just a short meeting. Clothing can impact your productivity, according to research.
“There’s a whole category of clothing that you, as women, have mastered without even realizing it. The category is called athleisure wear. This is an entire clothing category. It’s a multi-billion-dollar clothing category predicated on the idea that, as a woman, sometimes you don’t have time to change when you’re going from the boardroom to Pilates.” That was comedian Iliza Shlesinger pontificating on the clothing category known as athleisure which is a synonym for loungewear (that makes you feel like you have a purpose) which is just a synonym for expensive sweatpants. And for many of us, athleisure has been our work uniform for the quarantine. And that was super fun the first oh six weeks (just like those Zoom calls were!) and then it just got tiresome and could have even been contributing to our burnout.
A 2015 study that looked at the impact of formal clothing on cognitive performance found that wearing more formal clothing was associated with higher action identification levels and gave the subjects a global processing advantage. More formal clothing also made the person feel more powerful. All of this means clothing can influence how you think.
Plus if you have been wearing loungewear or even more low on the sartorial totem pole, pajamas, you are literally working against yourself. Dr. Jennifer Dragonette, PsyD, Executive Director, Northern California at Newport Institute, told PureWow on the subject of people who work in their pajamas all day, “Just as it is ideal to have a designated workspace, it is also important not to let work pervade all of your home life,” she says. “Changing into and out of clothing for your workday can help to set a psychological marker between private time and work time.” Clothing, like a designated work area, can act as a boundary for work-life balance.
Plus getting dressed into something that isn’t made of spandex may just make you feel good! Allison Bornstein, a stylist for Harper’s Bazaar and InStyle who works with celebrities including Katie Holmes just launched FaceTime consultations to help people select the perfect outfit for interviews and beyond from the safety of their own closets. She told Ladders she encourages anyone working from home to get dressed and dress well. Her easiest tip? “I also think psychologically, it helps to put on shoes. Even if you are in your own home, I think to have a pair of shoes helps to make one feel put together and in control. I think a lot of us feel more casual when they are barefoot which isn’t necessarily how we want to feel during a job interview!”
Emily Kammeyer is a health and wellness and lifestyle influencer. She told Ladders, “Having a routine while working from home is so important in order to keep up productivity. Getting dressed every day is part of that routine. The mental cues of getting up at your normal time and getting dressed (possibly doing your hair and makeup) make us feel ready for the day.”
Putting on an outfit that makes you feel good may just be the key to productivity.