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I tried dressing up while working from home for a week, and I'd rather live in leggings

I tried dressing up while working from home for a week, and I'd rather live in leggings
  • Many articles about working from home encourage getting dressed as if you're going to the office.
  • I ditched my loungewear and leggings for a week and tried dressing for work to see how it would affect my productivity.
  • While getting dressed gave me an initial boost in the morning, I didn't think wearing constricting clothes like jeans was worth it.
  • One advantage to getting dressed was the ability to take walks and look put together.

I've been working from home full-time for two months now due to the coronavirus pandemic. There are many things I miss about being in an office — my coworkers, the hum of the newsroom, and the feeling of having somewhere to be.

One thing I don't miss is putting on real clothes. My work from home uniform consists of leggings, cozy sweaters, and slippers.

Still, it seems like every article I read about remote work advises getting dressed as if you're going to the office to get into a work mindset. I decided to take this advice for a week and see if it would make a difference for me.

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On Monday, I started off the week with an outfit I'd worn to the office many times — a pair of smart skinny jeans, a striped sweater, shoes, and makeup.

On Monday, I started off the week with an outfit I'd worn to the office many times — a pair of smart skinny jeans, a striped sweater, shoes, and makeup.
Day one. Talia Lakritz/Insider

My office has a casual dress code, so I often wore jeans when I was going in every day. I also put on makeup, something I haven't done much since I've been staying home.

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I missed my leggings and slippers, but taking time to put myself together in the morning did give me a boost.

I missed my leggings and slippers, but taking time to put myself together in the morning did give me a boost.
Monday's outfit. Talia Lakritz/Insider

As I walked to the kitchen to make my morning cup of tea, I felt a little more energized. Putting on actual shoes made me feel like I was ready to start walking to the subway.

My roommate also took notice of my outfit.

"Oh! You're dressed," she said. Success.

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On Tuesday, I chose another pair of jeans and a ruffled sweater from Zara.

On Tuesday, I chose another pair of jeans and a ruffled sweater from Zara.
Working on Tuesday. Talia Lakritz/Insider

Sitting at my desk on Tuesday, I longed to change into something more comfortable, but powered through. The benefit of feeling professional was definitely offset by the knowledge of cozier clothes just a few steps away in my dresser.

I also attended a virtual meeting with my team, where the top half of my outfit was barely visible and the bottom half wasn't in the frame at all. This made me further question if getting dressed up for remote work was really worth it.

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One disadvantage of wearing work clothes is the need to change for the yoga classes I take during my lunch break.

One disadvantage of wearing work clothes is the need to change for the yoga classes I take during my lunch break.
Post-yoga. Talia Lakritz/Insider

When I worked in an office, I attended the building's lunchtime yoga class offerings twice a week. A physical therapist recommended regular yoga to help with pain I'd been experiencing, plus the mental break made me feel more focused when I returned to my desk. I used to keep workout clothes in my filing cabinet to change into for the class, then change back into office attire afterwards.

The building's yoga classes have now gone virtual, so I've tried to keep up this routine during lockdown. As an added bonus, I'd been wearing leggings and T-shirts all day anyway, so I didn't have to change into workout gear.

Wearing regular clothes for this experiment meant I had to take extra time before the class to switch outfits. It felt like I was just creating more laundry.

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On Wednesday, I swapped out jeans for a pair of comfortable but polished linen pants.

On Wednesday, I swapped out jeans for a pair of comfortable but polished linen pants.
Wednesday's outfit. Talia Lakritz/Insider

I've been looking for items of clothing that are as comfortable as leggings but feel professional. I ordered these linen pants from Target and decided to give them a try.

The verdict: I really enjoyed working in them. As much as I love jeans, these loose pants were much less constricting while still looking office-ready.

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I went back to jeans on Thursday, but dressed them up with a pair of flats in place of my usual slippers.

I went back to jeans on Thursday, but dressed them up with a pair of flats in place of my usual slippers.
Thursday's outfit. Talia Lakritz/Insider

Fashion expert Clinton Kelly writes in "Oh No She Didn't: The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them" that shoes always set the tone of an outfit. My sweater and loose jeans were more on the casual side, but more formal shoes helped elevate the whole look. I instantly felt a little fancier. This was also one of my most productive days of the week. Coincidence?

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When I went for a walk, it felt nice to be outside wearing real clothes.

When I went for a walk, it felt nice to be outside wearing real clothes.
Going for a walk in my neighborhood. Talia Lakritz/Insider

I have no problem walking around in loungewear, but I did enjoy walking down the street in an outfit I'd put a little more thought into.

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On Friday, I decided to go all out and wear a dress.

On Friday, I decided to go all out and wear a dress.
Friday's outfit. Talia Lakritz/Insider

I usually dress up every Friday night and Saturday to attend religious services for Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest. My synagogue hasn't met for months now, but wearing nicer clothes helps me still feel connected to the practice. I figured I'd wear something formal earlier in the day to round out my week of professional attire.

"Wow, you're really dressed today," my roommate said.

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While getting dressed properly did give me an initial boost in the mornings, I'm excited to return to loungewear.

While getting dressed properly did give me an initial boost in the mornings, I'm excited to return to loungewear.
Long live loungewear. Talia Lakritz/Insider

There were a few advantages to dressing up for work that I enjoyed. I felt a glimmer of my old routine when I put on office attire, and felt more put together on walks outside. However, my outfits weren't visible over video chat, and changing in and out of exercise clothes was a bit of a hassle. I might still wear work clothes from time to time, but I'm definitely ready to live in leggings again.

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