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Does It Matter How I Dress When Working From Home?

We all know that appearance matters in the workplace.  We know that clothing and grooming influence the way people perceive us.

With COVID-19 keeping us at home but still working, does it matter what we wear? What if no one sees us? What if we’re just on a Zoom call? Does it really matter?

The answer is a resounding YES!

Recent studies show that our clothes affect the way we think, feel and perform.  Psychologists Hajo Adam and Adam Galinsky from Northwestern University, have coined the term, “Enclothed Cognition,” which describes the systematic influence that clothes have on the wearer’s psychological processes. Enclothed cognition recognizes both the symbolic meaning of the clothes and the physical experience of wearing them. According to Adam and Galinsky, “Clothes invade the body and brain, putting the wearer into a different psychological state.”

Additional research from a team of scientists from California State, Northridge, and Columbia Universities, determined that dressing to impress increases the ability to think abstractly and improves self-perception. Yes, dressing well, it turns out, can improve your creative thinking and performance.

Just like a uniform prepares an athlete for the game, our attire and grooming tell our brain we’re ready for action.

Several clients and friends this past week have complained of brain fog; other folks felt great and were energized.  I noticed that those who felt sluggish dressed in gray sweats or something similar.  Those who felt energized looked like they could step into any professional situation with confidence, despite working from home.  Dressing in a structured manner, even if they were comfortable, set the tone for them to be productive.

Know also that we set a tone with color. Color psychology says drab, muted colors make us feel more relaxed, even sluggish. Because of that, those colors may be better for evening or weekend wear. Meanwhile, bright, more saturated colors can energize and motivate us.

In looking at research and anecdotal evidence, combined with my training as an image consultant, I would say it certainly matters how you dress… even when working from home.

Tomorrow morning when you prepare for the day, pick an outfit that makes you feel great. It can be comfortable but be certain the colors make you look healthy and mentally sharp. That means choosing deeper or brighter tones such as navy and red instead of light gray or pastels. The style should say you are ready to get things done, even if you’re the only listener.

Wear a structured or collared shirt not a wrinkly T-shirt from the laundry basket (clean or dirty). This will boost your mood and energy, giving you the confidence to take on the challenges that might be waiting for you.

If you are meeting with co-workers online, be sure that the top half of your body looks professional and well-groomed.  Remember as stated in my previous article, your environment is a factor as well.  Make sure you have good lighting behind the camera on your computer, and that visual distraction is kept at a minimum.  Zoom and other online meeting platforms offer “virtual backgrounds” if you do not have an office to meet in.  If you need help with this, I am offering a complimentary, 15-minute Zoom call to work out your best online presentation.

Click here to schedule your 15-minute Zoom call with Pat.

Pat Gibson is a certified Image Consultant, Personal Stylist, and owner of The Artistry of You, LLC. To learn more about how Pat can help you achieve your best personal style and image call 440-212-2269 or email, or click here to schedule a complimentary style discovery session!