These days, professionals are either Team Pants or Team No Pants. If you fall into the second camp, you may want to change your clothes every now and again. After all, one of the most common nuggets of advice to boost productivity while working remotely is to shower, run a comb through your hair, and physically prepare for the day ahead.
Those who groom now as they did pre-pandemic will rave about how good it makes them feel and how much more focused they are on their meetings and deliverables, by merely wearing a clean shirt. Or, ahem, sporting anything other than leggings.
Here, experts shed insight on the psychological impact of getting dressed:
It gets us into a routine
Remember back in February when you rose with the sun and did the daily commute to your office. It seems like years ago, but before COVID-19 forced professionals to conduct business from their dining room tables, they all followed a routine. By going through the same getting ready motions, minus sitting in traffic, or catching public transportation, celebrity stylist Amber Alexandria says we put ourselves in the right frame of mind. “Being a self-starter and making sure you are as productive as possible has been challenging for some people who are used to a routine of waking up, getting dressed, getting in the car, going into the office, and interacting with coworkers, because when you are by yourself, it’s a whole different ballgame,” she continues. “Luckily, our wardrobe can have a big impact on our mood and productivity so we can actually set ourselves up for a successful day.”
It gives us a sense of control
As we all experience the waves of the pandemic, with various stages of opening, it can feel like a seemingly never-ending waiting game. Since it’s tricky to plan for the future in terms of travel or significant events, many are left feeling as if they are spinning their wheels. What can boost our spirits is feeling like we have control over something. Even if it’s the decision to pull out a new garment from your wardrobe in the morning. As a career and life coach Joanna Lovering, MA, the founder of the Copper + Rise, explains that many seek balance and power in an abnormal time to be alive. “Studies show that by making choices in our wardrobe, we can alter our mood and, therefore, our productivity. Being intentional with our choices is the key,” she adds.
We associate different emotions with different outfits
Think about the one suit or dress that always makes you feel like a rockstar. Now, what about the one that instantly relaxes you? Another where you feel ready for an adventure? Alexandria shares studies have shown that we associate different emotions with different outfits. Some of these are due to the experience we had in those garments, but more are universal. “People associate wearing glasses as being smart. So by putting on a pair of glasses, people actually feel smarter and perform better,” she continues. By putting on a tailored blazer, you might feel more powerful and focused, therefore feeling good, enhancing your mood, and being more productive.”
It fights against depression
Many people are experiencing heightened depressive symptoms due to the lack of social interaction and the many lingering unknowns currently and in the future. According to psychologist Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ph. D, any measure we can take to feel more like ourselves can make a difference. “By preventing oneself from not making an effort and slipping into more apathy, helplessness, or distress, a person can hold onto his or her sense of self-pride and proactively put some energy into self-care this way,” she shares. “By showering, at the minimum brushing one’s hair, and dressing up for work even if work is now at home, the person can feel more physically attractive and confident which can positively increase one’s mood and performance on the job, too.”
It can create work and life boundaries
Though anything tends to go in terms of a wardrobe when working remotely, there are some outfits you associate with your professional persona, while others are more casual. According to Alexandria, putting on your work-appropriate clothes in the A.M. and changing into the cozy stuff in the P.M. creates much-needed boundaries. “When you’re done working change clothes to signify to yourself, this outfit is associated with doing stuff around the house such as cleaning, cooking, laying on the couch, and so on,” she continues. “This helps you transition into different mindsets.”
It can put you in a better headspace
If you woke up unmotivated and in a sour mood, try implementing a bit of color into your look, Dr. Thomas recommends. How come? Bright shades work to improve our attitude and make us feel happier and lighter. “By getting creative with a pop of color, it can help to prevent boredom and complacency in general and on the job. Be it a bright scarf, t-shirt, or lipstick, paired with other more neutral pieces; this can boost one’s energy and add some spark to one’s work,” she notes.