WFH (Working from home) and compartmentalising
I posted something on Instagram last year titled ‘compartmentalise’. With more and more of us working from home (WFH), or just being at home (BAH), this is more important than ever.
Here are my tips for nailing at-home dressing
We all know that the clothes we wear influence our mood. When WFH for an extended period of time it can be tempting to fall into a uniform of joggers, hoodies and pijamas. While there’s something to be said for relaxing your style when you don’t need to adhere to an office dress code, some women prefer to get dressed up to maintain a sense of normality and to give their day purpose and structure. This has the added advantage of getting to wear clothes you love which may otherwise be gathering dust. I’m all about cost-per-wear and not saving clothes for best – so wear what you love at home as long as makes you feel good about what you are doing. Stripy jumper below is past season from Scotch and Soda and I’m wearing two thermal vests underneath which are HEATTECH from Uniqlo.
Changing into and out of certain types of clothing clearly marks a change in mind-set, mood, feeling and task – all the more important now that our movements are restricted. This is compartmentalising in its simplest form; it means wearing sportswear when exercising, loungewear for relaxing, old trousers for gardening or walking the dog, whatever you like for bedtime, etc., etc. So my teenagers, after breakfast, change out of their PJs in order to compartmentalise a dress code associated with sleep and switch their mind-set to the day ahead.
Clients who have tried to compartmentalise say it really helps them to understand when one activity finishes and another needs to begin. This makes a huge difference to their mood and to their ability to enjoy different aspects of their day. Like teenagers, we too need structure and boundaries in order to thrive, and the simple act of changing our clothes can help with this. Here are some of the suggestions I give to my clients.
Cosy, casual and comfortable?
You could argue that most employers won’t care less what you’re wearing when you WFH. But it’s not just about them not caring, it’s about how it makes YOU feel if you don’t make a bit of an effort. Staying cosy, casual and comfortable can be good for your mental health and doesn’t mean you need compromise on what colours, shapes and styles suit you.
Cosy, casual and comfortable comes in many guises. For me, cosy means staying warm, as I get chilly when sitting still. I wear lots of light layers which trap warm air between them. Casual could be wearing soft jumpers over dresses and wearing more knitted fabrics, which tend to be more stretchy than woven. Comfortable could mean opting for elasticated waistbands on skirts and trousers, or dresses without fixed waistbands, and clothing with elastane/Lycra – a girl’s best friend – which can be found in practically every type of women’s clothing. It doesn’t have to mean items that are unflattering or shapeless. In this photo, I’m wearing two thermal vests under my pink cashmere jumper and the skirt has an elasticated waistband which provides all day comfort, especially if I’m sitting at my computer.
There is definitely a time and a place for dressing down. Loungewear, or whatever you’d like to call it, can feel incredibly relaxing, but it does need to be compartmentalised from work wear. Keep the two separate so you feel a clear demarcation between time to work and time to play.
Top and tail?
There are plenty of ways to look and feel professional whilst also staying comfy. If you’re sitting at your desk on a conference/Zoom call, do make sure your hair is brushed (I know I’m stating the obvious!). A bit of blush and some lippy will add colour and balance your features, and wearing the perfect colour near your face will make you look like you mean business. Wearing some jewellery and a little makeup is an easy way of compartmentalising your work time. But if you’re not planning on getting up from your chair, well then, you could easily be in your joggers and slippers! My cashmere elasticated waist joggers are from a new brand I discovered called Truly.co.uk and my slipper are actually shoes I only wear indoors from Sketchers and have memory foam for cushioned feet.
Dress for success without leaving your front door?
“Dressing pulled together helps us feel pulled together. Research has found that people feel more competent when wearing business clothes,” Cathleen Swody (psychologist).
Compartmentalising the time I work is defined by what I wear. I have smart-casual clothes which I still wear when WFH, but if I’m honest, I’m unlikely to wear my formal corporate clothes. A part of my wardrobe will be temporarily gathering dust, but by no means all of it. I don’t believe in buying new clothes for WFH, as I already own many items which are comfortable, and you’ll be surprised how many things you have, too, if you delve a little deeper.
Adjusting to WFH or BAH isn’t without its challenges. For some people, getting dressed up is a way of maintaining their daily routine and marking out that part of the day when they are in work mode.
As you don’t have to worry about making any colour or style faux pas whilst WFH and BAH, now’s the perfect time to experiment! Get to know your wardrobe again by pulling out your most comfortable items and combine them to create three new outfits. Click here for a link to a video I put together last year to help you sort out your wardrobe, too. It may help to do it in stages.
How colour psychology affects your mood
Much research has been done on the psychology of colour and the profound effect it can have on your mood and your energy. Being at home is a great time to experiment with colour.
A final word on compartmentalising. Try to change into your work clothes at the time you would if you were heading into the office. And change out of these at the time you would normally return home. Such changes shift our mental state and draw boundaries between work, home, leisure and other activities we may need to dress for.
Need any help with your WFH colour and style?
Please take a look at my new e-styling service, helping you from the comfort and safety of your home.