So, you say – it’s great that you’re telling me about how to dress for the office, but I don’t work in an office! How do I look pulled-together as someone who works in (or from) her home?
First things first – even if you aren’t going into an office, you still need to look pulled-together. Your clothing choices affect your productivity and your view of yourself. Start swanning around in ragged shorts and stained t-shirts, and you’ll find yourself losing interest in your work – as well as some self-respect.
Pulled-together doesn’t mean that you’re dressed up, or that you’re wearing expensive clothing. Being pulled-together means that if the doorbell rings, you’re not going to be ashamed to open it to the kid across the street who wants to sell you a candy bar (and whose mom is standing five feet behind her). Being pulled-together means that it takes you five minutes to get ready to walk out the door, not thirty. Being pulled-together means that when you clean the hall mirror, you don’t avoid looking yourself in the face.
So, let’s start with your face. You don’t need a full-face of makeup, especially if you’re not a makeup person. But you do need to take care of your grooming rituals. A bit of tinted chapstick, eyebrows that have been shaped, and some moisturizer might be enough. Your hair should be properly brushed, and put in order. Five minutes to make a nice ponytail instead of thirty seconds to slap on an elastic won’t make much difference to your schedule, but it does make a difference to how you feel for the rest of the day.
Your clothing should be fit-for-purpose, neat and in good repair*. Yes, I know you’re going to get dirty as you chase after the kids and clean the house and convince the cat to take its pill. Clothing fit-for-the-purpose of at-home work is washable, and comfortable. If you can’t bend over and crawl behind the toilet and that’s what needs to happen today, then your outfit isn’t working for you.
But how many of us honestly spend the entire day at home, even when that’s our job title? Errands, whether running to the grocery store or taking the kids to school, happen nearly every day. If you’re going to be going out, you need to be presentable. An outfit in which you can quickly switch a cat-fur covered tank top for a blouse and head out the door (see: be ready in five minutes) is going to make you feel far more in control of your persona than something you have to change completely.
So, what items do I suggest for a stay-at-home wardrobe? (Mom or otherwise)
- Long, wide skirts. Gypsy skirts (tiered skirts) in particular give you freedom of movement and are fun. They’re more traditionally modest than jeans or shorts, and they’re great for herding small children.
- Jeans. A well-fitting pair of jeans is a basic – it goes with everything. You can dress up a pair of jeans in the time it takes to change your shirt and put on a flashier pair of earrings.
- Long shorts – something in which you can bend over without the least worry.
- T-shirts with a feminine neckline
- Wide-strap tank-tops (because you’re wearing it over a bra, and bra-straps are tacky).
- Button-down shirts (to be worn over the t-shirts and tank tops for a slightly dressed-up look, and on their own with interesting accessories as a medium-dress look).
You want as much mix-and-match as you can manage. The easiest way to do this is choose whether you like pattern on top or on the bottom, and select a color palette to work with.
You’ll note that everything on this list can be tossed in the wash. And it will be. You probably don’t want to invest very much in t-shirts or tank tops in the messier stages of your life, but fortunately one can find basics of both in the most affordable price ranges. Buy a selection, and be ruthless about disposal. (All-cotton items make good rags, if you feel wasteful).
Flexible pieces can be dressed up easily… here’s a denim skirt (jeans +1) and white blouse with a simple necklace. It looks clean and elegant. Good blouses will change basic pieces like jeans from “at home” to “ready to run to the bank” in only a few minutes. Picture this with a neat ponytail and some hoop earrings – which would have been just as appropriate with a t-shirt and apron, frying bacon for breakfast.
It is entirely possible to look and feel polished and put together, even when you’re “only” going to be at home. For, say, ten years…. or twenty… and do you really want to spend all that time in a pair of yoga pants?
If you’d like help making up a personalized wardrobe or finding your style, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll start working on your solutions today!
*But when can I wear my grubbies?? If you’re painting, refinishing, or otherwise engaging in clothing-destroying activity and you don’t do this activity at least once a week, feel free to wear your grubbies. That’s why you have them. If you do whatever activity frequently, it’s time to invest in specialty clothing or protective gear. E.g. apron or overalls.