Dress Like There’s Nobody Watching: The Working-from-Home Style Guide

Ever heard the advice, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”?  Perhaps you’ve also heard this inspirational line, “Dance like there’s nobody watching.”

When you work from home, the truth is somewhere in between: Dress Like There’s Nobody Watching. Because, really, nobody is watching. That you know of, at least.   NSA SurveillanceYes, I have one of those magical jobs that could only exist in the 21st Century.  I work from home, part-time.  I have deadlines, but long as the work gets done, it doesn’t matter exactly where or when I do it.  I love the relative flexibility and freedom, the ability to spend more time with my children while they’re still needy and incontinent. *

But most of all, I love the FASHIONS!  Don’t be fooled – dressing for the Home Office means so much more than just crawling out of bed towards your laptop.  You, too, can dress for success with these simple tips!


Most of you heard this advice at the Unemployment Office after you lost your job in 2009: Change out of your pajamas every day, even if you have no place to go.

But how do you ignore this advice if you sleep in your underwear? You find the next best thing to pajamas: Sweatpants!

But not just any sweatpants – your husband’s sweatpants!  When Scott and I wed  five years ago, we committed ourselves to a sweatpants-free marriage.  It was a matter of pride that our pants had zippers, buttons, and belt loops – no elastic in sight.  That all changed last year when Scott underwent a minor procedure that will prevent us from having any more (of his) children.  The doctor instructed him to bring baggy sweatpants to the procedure, since he’d be sporting some ice packs below the belt on the way home.  He grabbed a pair from the $5 sweatpants/shirts bin at Walgreens, strategically located between the junk food and the check out:


Unfortunately,  most insurance plans do not cover Prescription Sweatpants.

The sweatpants seal had been broken!   And soon enough, those shapeless, XL sacks of cotton became my daily work wear.
IMG_2339And when there’s a chill in the air, nothing complements your husband’s sweatpants better than his second-favorite hoodie: IMG_2342DON’T FORGET YOUR EXTREMITIES!  For the Home-Based Worker, your choice of footwear is a very personal one:  Slippers or socks?  Slippers make my feet sweat.  But even in the summer, I can’t risk leaving my feet bare, since most of our apartment’s floors are either sticky or planted with Legos. Thick wool socks fit the bill. Skip the cotton — wool breathes and never gets stinky.

In the winter, you don’t want to heat the whole house just to keep your three square feet of workspace warm.  If your electronic devices aren’t keeping you toasty enough, consider cutting the tips off your least-favorite pair of gloves for additional warmth, without any loss of dexterity. IMG_2345WHEN YOU NEED TO KICK IT UP A NOTCH:  When I’m feeling drowsy or hitting a deadline, I’ll pull on some actual athletic gear, like running shoes, shorts and sports bra.  The tight synthetic fibers always get my heart pumping. Please note that sweatpants, track pants and yoga pants do NOT qualify as athletic.

WHEN YOU MUST LEAVE THE HOUSE:  A FIVE–MINUTE MAKEOVER: Sometimes you need to run to the post office or pick your kids up from school. Many Home Workers find the process of leaving the house to be quite traumatic. The good news is that you don’t actually have to take a shower.  Here’s a few easy steps to ease the transition from the Inside to Outside World in five minutes or less.

1) First, brush your teeth and tongue. If you really can’t be bothered, then a stick of Trident will do.
2) Using a wet washcloth, scrub away the eye boogers and grape jelly that’s dried on your cheek.
3) Apply some deodorant if you plan on hugging anyone. Otherwise, don’t bother.
4) Even though shoulder-length hair is fairly easy to maintain, it does start to look like a greasy rat nest after a couple of days.
IMG_2285Let’s get a close up of those oily bangs — eeew!:
IMG_2289Use my patented two-step system to transform your look. All you need is some shampoo and a water bottle — no shower required. IMG_2302While leaning over your sink, simply wet and wash ONLY THE BANGS (or the hairline area if you don’t wear bangs).


My husband wants you to know that I’m not naked; I’m actually wearing a tank top but you just can’t see the straps.

Rinse your bangs with the water bottle and blow-dry. Pull the rest of the hair into a sleek ponytail. What a transformation!
IMG_2325Can we get a close up of those clean, shiny-but-not-greasy bangs?IMG_23225) Makeup: I’ve heard that makeup helps women feel sexy, but lipstick makes me feel like a circus clown.  So I have nothing to add here.

6) Swap out your sweatpants for something on the other end of the comfort spectrum, like jeans.  I’ve learned that “skinny” jeans, while a questionable style choice for some, actually hold their shape quite well after days or weeks without being laundered due to their high level of elasticity.  Use the same washcloth from Step #2 to dab away any visible stains.

7) Time to change your shirt? No way! Just add an extra layer to mask whatever stains you’ve accumulated over the past few days. A sweater vest is perfect for hiding the grape jelly stains on your torso:
IMG_2347Choose a cardigan for when your front is clean but you accidentally dipped your elbow in chocolate cream pie (I actually did this on Sunday).
Re-heat the same cup of coffee over and over again. Alternately, leave a cup of coffee in the microwave for days on end.  Wander around the apartment aimlessly while drinking your coffee, put it down, and promptly forget where you left it.  Especially if you use cream and sugar, your kids will be thrilled to discover it days later covered in green fuzz.
IMG_2272Leave the radio on for at least  eight hours a day. This is the closest thing you have to human interaction, and the hourly change of programming will give you a sense of the passing of time. I like to take a coffee break at 11:00 AM to chat with Terry Gross. Plus, you’ll always know when someone famous dies, cause she’ll immediately air their interview from the archives.


Terry Gross, lounging on a bed of rose petals, just as I always imagined.

Finally, pay special attention to your local traffic report.  Pity the poor members of the Commuting Class, while sipping your fifth cup of reheated coffee.  Just don’t spill any on your sweatpants.

* This means I also get to be full-time cook, laundress, grocery shopper and butt-wiper. Jealous?


12 thoughts on “Dress Like There’s Nobody Watching: The Working-from-Home Style Guide

  1. yes. guilty for leaving coffee in the microwave.
    me- “where the heck is my blue mug? i haven’t seen it in days!”
    husband- “did you check the microwave?”
    me after finding mug with filmed over coffee in microwave- “shut it.”


    • Strangely enough, my husband manages to lose more coffee cups in one weekend than I do all week. He’s much more of a coffee wanderer where I am more of a chronic re-heater.


  2. Yes to pretty much everything but I never bother trying to spiff up my hair. The gunkier it is, the better. (who needs product when you can have benign neglect?) I notice you don’t take on the issue of running. I have the special ability to stay in my running clothes–after having actually run–for hazardous amounts of time. I cannot in a public forum to go into the gory details. But I am def a fan of spot cleaning of the key bits. I could use more explicit names for this process, but should keep it PG-13 I guess.


    • Gin, I get so sweaty in my running clothes I usually can’t stand to be in them for more than a few minutes after I get home. Also, I need help getting my sports bra off so I have to get that done before Scott leaves for work, or I’ll be stuck in it forever! I’m a big fan of spot-cleaning — a technique I’ve used on the kids with great success. They have a lot of spots that need cleaning.

      I remember my mom telling me as a young girl that if you need to “sponge off” quickly, just do your armpits and your crotch. Seems like good advice to me. Is that PG-13?


  3. As I’m reading this my “working from home” outfit comprises of a coca-cola t-shirt that fits my 6’5″ boyfriend, thus making it like a baggy sack on me, a pair of floral board shorts, and some thick red wool socks I got to wear with my hiking boots. I’m accessorising with some home-made fingerless mittens that remind me why I don’t knit very often and a very large mug of tea that I’ve just zapped again.


    • Glad to see I’m not the only one who’s rockin’ the borrowed-from-the-husband look! At the moment, I’m actually wearing the exact same thing in that photo (striped shirt plus hubbie’s sweatpants), wool socks, and yes — the cup of coffee that’s been microwaved twice already. Do other work-from-home folks also have a “uniform” that they find themselves in on a daily basis?


  4. My working at home outfit for the winter used to be: oversize flannelette PJs, topped with a down vest zipped up over a hot water bottle (to save on the heating), sheepskin Ugg boots on my feet and a beanie to cover the greasy hair if required. If the PJs aren’t too lurid, you can even go outside like that. Now I live in the tropics, it’s unironed huge cotton shirts and baggy shortie PJ bottoms and bare feet. Dirty hair scraped back under a hairband or bandanna. And I make it a point never to nuke the coffee more than twice, or it just gets too nasty. I’ve enjoyed reading this so much I’m going to have to start following you…


  5. Pingback: Too Weird to Scan? A Revolutionary New Approach to Choosing Paint Color | projectophile

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s