You should

Dress like a lunatic

If you work

From home


You should dress like a lunatic if you work from home

Work sucks, so you might as well inject a bit of levity into your day.

Though it can be inconvenient, isolating, and altogether zero percent fun to work from home, it also has its benefits. While it’s generally good for your mental health to be around people at least some of the time, it’s way more fun if those people are friends of your choosing or your pets rather than your co-workers who were randomly assigned to you by the universe. On top of that, as someone who’s worked from home for the past three years, it has become apparent that a truly astonishing amount of one’s workday gets sucked up by things like meetings, commutes, the commotion of an open-office plan, and the social obligation of having to shower more than once every three days. So much of a day in the office is spent doing not-work that you’d assume those who work from home would, through being able to trim the cruft from their day, get their work done more quickly and therefore spend less overall time working.

Sadly, nerds who research this stuff have found that this may not be the case. This Inc article discusses a Stanford University study of a company that allowed half its employees to work from home which found that the telecommuters “took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days, and took less time off” than the employees who stayed in the office, while the company itself saved roughly $2,000 a month in rent.

According to Census data, roughly 8 million Americans work from home. I think it’s safe to say that as internet speeds get faster and companies begin to scrutinize their bottom lines in new and disruptive ways, even more of us will be working remotely in the future. This impending collapse of our private and professional lives may very well cause us to work harder and for longer, further increasing the gap between employee wages and employer profits.

However! There is one way to offset the bad parts of working from home and it does not involve getting a WeWork membership or buying of those dumbass pomodoro timer apps. Instead, the way to beat the work-from-home blues is to change your clothes throughout the day, and every time you do, to dress like a complete and total maniac. For example, while preparing to sign into The Outline’s Slack and write this article, I switched out of my pajamas into this:

Now, I am not the first person to realize that it helps to get dressed from work even if you’re telecommuting. A Wall Street Journal investigation into the subject quoted a writer for Gweneth Paltrow’s website Goop who explained that because she “went to a prep school with a dress code,” it was “ingrained in me that dressing nicely makes you sit up a little straighter in your chair.” While I’d argue that quote says more about who the WSJ’s editors think reads their paper than it does about what normal people wear when they work remotely (even if it’s for Goop), there are bajillions of articles out there that offer prescriptions for hacking your work life through hacking your wardrobe. “People simply feel more powerful and capable when dressed for business,” claims this Quartz piece, even when they’re typing up TPS reports all by their lonesome. Fast Company seems to think you have to wear designer athleisure to telecommute, while GQ says if you work from home, you should… dye your hair red? And never, ever, whatever you do, warns The Guardian, wear pajamas when you’re on the clock from the couch. While I appreciate the sentiment behind these articles, especially since I’m writing a stupid-guy version of one of them, anyone who tells you that you have to spend lots of money on snazzy clothes and/or hair dye in order to succeed at something that involves sitting at your computer in your house clearly does not have your best interests in mind.

The author wearing the TRUE uniform of a telecommuter.

The author wearing the TRUE uniform of a telecommuter.

I have always been someone who was both very into clothes and simultaneously very bad at wearing them. My devotion to terrible style might be great if I was a “fashion influencer” who had the power to create and destroy trends with a single Instagram upload but, instead, I write and edit articles for readers who should not and do not care about what I wear while working from home.

There is valuable freedom in this arrangement. Though working from home can be quite lonely, you can dress like no one’s watching, because they’re not. Whenever I go out in public I try to dress as normally as possible — “We live in a society,” etc. — but during work hours, I can and will look like an idiot. For me, putting on, say, a drug rug, a tie-dye T-shirt I bought off a mushroom dealer at Bonnaroo in 2008, and a pair of Crocs and then trudging over from my bedroom to the slightly smaller bedroom that I use as an office is my version of hopping on the freeway and heading into an office. I am wearing a drug rug that I bought at a truckstop in New Mexico, I tell myself, and I will not take it off until I have finished with my work. It would embarrassing to be seen in this drug rug except at Bonnaroo, which I have not been to since 2008, but it does not matter, because I work from home. In case you were wanted to see, here is the drug rug:

Wearing different clothes throughout the day can also help me break up my day or put me in the mindset to knock out certain tasks. Sometimes I catch up on email dressed like I work in a real office (the key to sending a quality email is dressing like you belong the office of whoever’s receiving it), write in a Hawaiian shirt (“content creation” kinda rhymes with “content on vacation”), and then edit an article while wearing a hat that has a purple translucent visor (it makes me feel like I’m a poker dealer at a fancy casino). If I know I’m going to spend the entire day on one big project, meanwhile, I’ll dress up like I’m getting ready to go do sports, because sports are like work in that they require effort, but unlike work, sports are fun.

The author, ready to play the sport of work.

The author, ready to play the sport of work.

I would highly recommend this system anyone who works from home. It injects an element of play into your day, and emphasizes one of the benefits of working from home rather than all the things that suck about it. You might put on office clothes even if you’re working from bed, or indulge your worst sartorial impulses away from the prying eyes of society. In case you need some tips on becoming so bad at dressing that you will be immediately shamed if you so much as go out and check your mail, allow me to offer some below.

  1. There is no such thing as patterns that clash, only simultaneous patterns that combine to create happy accidents.
  2. Gigantic clothes are generally better, because they promote airflow and also look funnier.
  3. Similarly, never wear big pants with a belt, because doing so might cause you to be able to get up without your pants falling off, which would mean you would be able to stop working.
  4. Buy all of your work clothes at thrift stores or else you’ll go broke.

In closing, working from home, like working in general, will never be fun, but you may be able to have fun while working from home by dressing like a maniac. And by the time you’ve internalized this advice, you should have trash bags full of clothes in your house at all times, and the only thing that should separate those clothes from actual trash is that you are willing to put them on your body.