For those of us with the privilege of working from home while sheltering in place, we’ve been at it for several months now. Maybe we’ve been getting away with answering conference calls and creating spreadsheets in a dress shirt and underwear—a “business-casual” combination in the most literal sense of the term.
But no matter what kind of work-from-home job we have—or even if we’re unemployed and tackling personal projects at home—we should fully dress as if going into the office, as if others were to see us. Dressing in pants (REAL pants, not sweatpants) while preparing for working remotely can set the tone for a productive day. However, the benefits go beyond feeling more work-ready.
You’ll Get More Proportional Use out of Your Wardrobe
In other words, you’ll wear your top-half and bottom-half businesswear equally as often. This is a bigger issue with suits than it is with suit separates or jeans. Each time you put on your suit jacket and neglect the matching trousers, you’re giving the jacket a day of wear that the pants miss out on. Enough shifting in your chair or unwittingly brushing against the wall, and you’ll wear your jacket out sooner than the pants that would otherwise be moving with you. How important it is, then, that your pants be exposed to the same environment as the matching jacket.
This idea may not make much difference in the short term, but we don’t know how long we’ll be working from home. Keep up the jacket-only look, and you’ll end up with a suit whose top half wears out long before its bottom-half companion. After quarantine, the last thing you want is to put on your full suit and find that the pants look newer than the jacket does.
Sure, you may end up with a nice pair of slacks that you can mix with other jackets, but you’ll still have to buy a new jacket, and there’s no guarantee that your new jacket will mix harmoniously with your pants; that will take some searching and money. Try to wear your suit pants as often as you wear your suit jackets, or at least make up for it somehow (perhaps by wearing your trousers by themselves for several wearings), and you’ll be able to retire both pieces at the same time.
You’ll Keep Your Weight and Diet (Read: Your Waistline) in Check
There are two pitfalls to neglecting your work-appropriate pants during a quarantine workday: becoming too big for them or becoming too small for them. People may run into the former case more often than the latter case. Unless it has been your goal to beef up or slim down during this quarantine to build a “new you,” staying the same size in pants can be an incentive to maintain your normal eating habits and exercise routine, two things that may fall by the wayside while working in such close proximity to your fridge and pantry.
Sweatpants, basketball shorts, and underwear, in all their elastic splendor, are forgiving around the waist and can conceal weight changes. It’s the comfy and easy option to tuck a nice shirt into your drawstring fleece lounge pants, because on Zoom, who’s going to know?—but it’s the deceiving option if your diet and exercise have changed. You’ll know whether your work pants fit only if you continue wearing them.
Buying new pants because you no longer fit your current pairs can deeply hurt your wallet and your self-esteem. It can also hurt your closet space. You may tell yourself, “I’ll fit back into those pants one day!” And you just might.
But whether you stay in the new size or work to fit back into your former size, you’ll have pairs of pants that are unusable, hogging valuable space in your wardrobe. Wouldn’t it be far more headache-free and cost-friendly to continue using the perfectly good pants that fit you because you KNOW that they fit?
If you haven’t put on your work-appropriate pants lately, please try them on as soon as possible to know where your waistline stands. And now that you’ve tried them on, KEEP them on, provided that they still fit you. How come? Keep reading.
You’ll Be More Productive
This is the most rewarding reason to wear your good pants at home while you work. Perhaps you’ve heard hiring managers, executives, or motivational speakers advocate for wearing your work-appropriate pants even when no one can see them. It’s true, though; you will take on your workday with greater poise and professionalism than you will in mere sweatpants. Be it a conference call, personal brainstorming, a virtual job interview, or a portfolio update, you’ll comport yourself differently.
Note how you carry yourself when you walk around in your nice pants. Note how you sit at your desk. Note how your tone changes when interacting with people. You’re going to look, sound, and feel more put together because you are more put together.
Bonus Reason: You’ll Want to Complete Your Outfit with Socks and Shoes
Since you’re almost fully dressed, you might as well put on your work-appropriate socks and shoes. You’ll feel obliged to do so. Don’t you miss it? (You may not, but I do. I love a killer shoe-sock combo.)
You’ll feel funny walking around in slacks barefoot or with slippers. Covering your feet in proper attire will take your professional demeanor to the next level. Not one bit of you will be dressed like you just rolled out of bed, and although you may have just rolled out of bed, getting in your complete outfit will help to leave any grogginess at the bedroom door so that you sound alert, composed, and in control of your workspace. Fully committing to an outfit—pants, shoes, and all—may give you the edge you need to succeed.
The Bottom Line
I’m not saying that you have to put on your good pants every single day while you’re working from home, but you might try it if you feel stuck in a rut with your quarantined nine-to-five. Wearing pants—proper pants—takes extra effort while working from home during quarantine, but you won’t regret it.
If you show some love to your bottom-half attire, then you won’t have disproportionate wear on your suits, and you can avoid having to live with a closet full of widowed trousers. You also won’t have to shell out money for blazers that pair well with your neglected dress pants.
Additionally, if you put on your pants regularly, you can be motivated to keep up your eating and exercise habits to ensure that those pants continue to fit. On both counts, your wallet will thank you.
Finally, wearing pants can be a security blanket if for nothing else. You eliminate the risk of standing up during the Zoom call and scarring your coworkers with an eyeful of pasty thighs and tighty-whiteys. Yikes.
Have you been wearing work-appropriate pants during quarantine? Why or why not? If so, how has wearing pants improved your performance? Let me know in the comments.