• Maintaining dress code is good for your professional image and productivity
  • Follow your peers’ WFH dress code but bump it up a bit
  • Pay attention to lighting and backgrounds to add that extra level of professionalism

There goes the 15-minute pop-up warning alert on your calendar.

You glance at the meeting invite to remind yourself about the topic.

Oh, shit!

This one’s a group video meeting with your boss and several other upper management folks. And, everyone uses their video for this.

You totally forgot about this one and you’re not prepared - at all.

You’re still in your lazy morning shorts-n-tee and your hair looks like a rat’s nest.

You bolt up from your chair, run to your closet to find something normal and decent to wear and then scramble to make yourself presentable on this video call.

Those 15-minutes flew by like 5-minutes.

You barely got yourself together in time.

With only a few seconds to spare, you click on the video link in the meeting invite while trying to catch your breath. You join the group video call as everyone announces their attendance.

Damn, that was a close call.

You spend the first few minutes breathing and calming down while reviewing the notes and refreshing your memory on the topic at hand.

Man, that was stressful.

Your lackadaisical approach to “work from home” dress code nearly got you in a very embarrassing situation.

It’s time to change up your WFH dress code strategy.

Why Dress Code Still Matters When Working From Home

For some folks, the ability to work from home is such a godsend gift that they go off the deep end with it. It’s like when you’re deprived of something that you really desire and when you finally get it, you go overboard.

It’s things like sleeping in, taking morning and/or afternoon naps, cyberloafing more than usual, running random personal errands, etc.

And of course, the biggie - not having to get dressed up for work.

And, why would you, right?

After all, you’re not physically going into the office and nobody’s going to “see” you, at least not until you have a video chat or meeting.

So, what’s the harm in being super comfy while working?

Well, there are a bunch of reasons why you should still maintain some semblance of a dress code.

Reason #1: Maintains Professionalism

Imagine what a doctor looks like in your head right now. Just picture yourself in the patient room with your doctor.

What are they wearing?

It’s the white lab coat over business casual clothing from head to toe (maybe even business formal) along with a stethoscope draped around their neck. This is the standard dress code for doctors in the medical field.

Now, imagine if that same person walked into the room wearing Daisy Dukes jean shorts, frayed Metallica tank top and flip-flop sandals.

Would you trust their advice? Are they credible in your eyes?

Hell no.

This same principle applies to you too.

You need to maintain a certain level of professionalism for your particular job and industry. You’ve gotta follow what the standards and norms are like for your field whether that’s formal, biz casual or neat casual.

Reason #2: Keeps You In The Right Mindset 

What you wear has a strong effect on your mindset and emotions. Several studies, including this study from the International Journal of Business and Social Science, state that clothing has a significant impact on your mood.

And furthermore, if what you’re wearing isn’t aligned with what’s needed mentally, it’s just not going to work out that well for you.

Getting dressed up for a special date-night helps to focus your attention to the excitement ahead that night. This matches up well.

Wearing a lazy Sunday morning loungey outfit does wonders for ultimate relaxation - on lazy Sunday mornings. It goes along perfectly with the intention.

However, wearing your old shorts-n-tee during WFH weekdays won't get you in the most optimum state of mind to get work done. You’ll drag ass, feel less motivated and ultimately fall prey to the crushing effects of procrastination.

This doesn’t mean that you need to go all out and wear business formal clothing, unless that’s your thing. But, wearing an outfit that better matches up with “work you” will be far more effective for getting in the zone and in the right state of mind to get shit done.

Reason #3: Helps To Maintain Self-Discipline

It’s been proven that small actions done consistently will help you to build and maintain self-discipline and structure.

The most simple example of this is brushing your teeth in the mornings. It’s automatic. And, when you string together a series of small automatic actions, you create a process that you stick to day-in and day-out. It’s effortless discipline.

The idea here is to apply that same fundamental principle to what you wear when you’re working from home.

When you get in the groove of consistently wearing the right kind of WFH outfits that help you focus and be productive on a daily basis, you’re building self-discipline that will carry-over into other parts of your day.

Reason #4: Boosts Your Personal Brand

Whether you like it or not, you have a personal brand at work. And the fact that you’re working from home doesn’t change that fact. You still need to manage your personal brand wherever you go.

Every conference call, video session, instant message chat and email that you are a part of, all contribute to forming your reputation. And one of the biggest contributors to this is how you look on video calls.

When you’re that one team member that is consistently maintaining their “A” game during WFH, you get noticed in a big way. This doesn’t mean that you should dress to the nines, but you should at least follow the company dress code or slightly higher than the group norms.

When you’re not dressed like a slob, but cleanly, neatly and smartly, it comes across positively during video sessions. People will notice - including your boss’s boss.

Reason #5: Always Ready For Impromptu Meetings

There’s nothing worse than getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar - like totally busted. Or, getting caught with your pants down or without pants at all. 😉

You don’t want to fumble an incoming video call or meeting with some last minute scramble to make yourself presentable. It’s way too obvious to others that you’re not prepared. And, claiming technical issues with your webcam is passable for the first few times, but after that, nobody’s gonna believe you.

However, when you get in the habit and routine of following a good WFH dress code that’s automatic, you’ll never be caught off guard by an impromptu video chat with your boss or other coworkers.

Every video session, whether pre-scheduled or not, you’ll be ready to rock-n-roll.

Work From Home Dress Code Tips & Strategies

(Credit: Savvy Productions)

Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean that you should prance around in your PJs or underwear all day - even though you theoretically could if you didn’t have any video meetings.

You need to have a plan.

To help you get sorted on your WFH dress code, we’ve put together a few tips and strategies that have worked well for many. 

Don’t Be Sloppy With Your Outfits

Unless you work for Sleepytime Fashion Inc., it’s not okay to be wearing your bedtime garb while on the clock. Ditto with gym, workout or athleisure clothing. Save that for your actual workouts not for work from home.

And while wearing your fav worn sweatpants and tees makes you feel uber-chill and relaxed, it doesn’t do you any favors in terms of your outward appearance.

Leave the sloppy and lazy outfits for the nights and weekends.

Follow Company Dress Code Policy 

Every company has some form of a dress code policy. And in the rare cases that there isn’t one, you can get the gist of it by simply taking a look around at how everyone else is dressing on video calls - namely, your peers and senior management.

You’ll see that the upper management folks will set the tone. Some folks will follow along while others will be a bit more casual.

Get going with clean, simple, comfortable clothes that follow your company’s dress code. And while some may nitpick and say that the dress code is intended for the office and not WFH, we disagree. It applies to both.

Kick It Up A Notch If You Can

Obviously, you want to follow the dress code standard at minimum - whether it’s officially stated or informally understood. And, if possible, take it one step up - just a touch.

So, if your peers are showing up for video calls in t-shirts and hoodies, you’ll want to wear a collared polo t-shirt. Get it?

Just that little extra level of professionalism in how you present yourself makes a big difference. And when you stick to it consistently, you’re keeping your office cred and rep strong.

Don’t Half-Ass It, Go All The Way

Ever wondered if TV newscasters only got dressed up from the waist up? After all, you only see the top half of their bodies.

As funny as it would be if they didn’t wear pants, they all do.

Unless, you’re this news reporter working from home who decided to go pants-free, only to get busted and totally outed.

VIDEO: Reporter Caught With No Pants Live on Air
YOUTUBE: Inside Edition
LENGTH: 1:48
Summary points:
  • Wear your pants on video calls - please
  • Know your camera angles and always preview yourself
  • If you get busted, laugh it off with a “no-pants dance”
If you think you’re disciplined enough to not get up from your chair during WFH video meetings, then you could maybe try to get away with not wearing any pants or half-assing it and only getting dressed up top.

Our advice - don’t be lazy and don’t risk it. Put on some pants, please.

Add Simple Colors To Mix Things Up

Wearing the same old neutral palettes can get real boring and believe it or not, it does have an effect on your mood too. It’s okay for cubicles to be drab and generic, but your clothes shouldn’t be.

Who says that WFH outfits can’t be fun and stylish?

As long as it’s following the dress code, you can be expressive with your wardrobe. Wear that colorful shirt or maybe that little accessory that provides a pop of color.

The key here is to keep the colors simple. Don’t turn yourself into a kaleidoscope. You’ll just give everyone headaches.

Get The Lighting Right

You can be wearing a WFH outfit that’s comfy and looks great but without decent lighting, you and your clothes will look flat and dull.

Natural light is always best, so if you can position your desk so that you’re facing the window, it’ll cast some nice natural light onto you. However, most of us don’t have much of an option when it comes to home office desk placement.

Play around with the lighting by your desk to improve the video quality. If possible, don’t just shine a light toward your face, but face the light away from you and bounce it off the wall or ceiling for a more diffused even look. This only works well if you have white-ish walls and ceilings.

Tidy Up The Background Room

When you’re on camera, it’s not just you that’s visible, but the entire background behind you is visible to everyone too - unless you’ve gone all fancy with a virtual background.

If you’re not using a virtual background, as most people don’t, then you’ll want to tidy up your room or area where you’ll be taking the video call. Clean up the mess and declutter the areas that will be visible on the call.

Check Software Settings & Preview Yourself 

All online web conferencing programs have customizable settings for audio and video. Be sure to set your audio default setting to mute and your video setting to none so that when you first login, you’re not caught off-guard.

Plus, this will prevent any unintended mishaps with video meetings. It will also give you the chance to preview yourself and make sure that you don’t have food bits on your face or coffee stains on your shirt before going live.

Cover Your Camera When Not In Use

Get in the habit of covering up your webcam when it’s not in use.

You can find mini sliding covers online that stick on the bezel and around the webcam hole. When you’re not using the webcam, you can easily slide the cover over the camera and voila, no unsuspecting peepers.

Alternatively, you can just cut a small sticky-note and place it over the webcam. It’s not as ideal as the sticky note won’t last as long and may not stay in place. But hey, it’s better than nothing.

Step Up Your WFH Dress Code For More Success

Working from home is such nirvana.

You don’t have to get up super early. You don’t have a stressful commute through rush-hour traffic. You don’t have to fight crowds of people on trains/buses. And, you don’t have to deal with office noise or your control freak boss looking over your shoulder.

It’s so much less stressful to be able to work from home.

And with that, there’s the temptation to really get lax about dress codes. Being able to work remotely in your PJs, sweats-n-tees or even just in your skivvies is the ultimate cherry on top of the WFH sundae.

And while it’s the penultimate in comfort, it’s not any good for your focus, productivity and most importantly, your professional image.

How you look online matters.

What you wear and how you wear it makes a difference in your appearance and attitude. And, putting in the effort to look good will pay dividends in your professional reputation, career advancement and opportunities at work.

When you look good, you feel good about yourself.

So, don’t sell yourself short by slacking off on your looks.

Give yourself the props you deserve by looking the part.

Feel Better,

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