5 Things You Only Know About Clothes If You Work From Home
The Debrief: Just ask yourself: is it a formal pyjamas day, or a smart-casual pyjamas day?
Hurrah! So you’ve decided to become a home-worker. Welcome, friend, to a new frontier in the world of your wardrobe. You’ll soon be issued with your regulation pyjamas – one pair for everyday, one for smart-casual and one for best – but first, there are a few things you really ought to know.
1. You do not shop less, or save any money. At all.
'The great thing about working from home is that I won’t shop anymore!' you think, when you first go freelance. 'There will be no more office outfit one-upmanship. Instead of throwing hundreds of pounds at Topshop every month, I will wear the same capsule wardrobe of slouchy jersey items every day, save loads of money and grow on a spiritual level.'
And do you stop shopping? Do you bollocks. If anything, working from home somehow means you shop more. Because you’re free to go to Westfield at 10am on a Monday when it’s calm and quiet and you don’t have to fight a load of fawning adolescents for the free pretzel samples. You’re also free to shop online without having to minimise the tab every time a boss walks past your shoulder, and so you do. Constantly.
Then there’s the charity shop round the corner, which you take to popping into daily, just in case a local millionairess has popped in and donated all her Dior. She hasn’t, so you buy another mohair cardigan and half a yellowing tea set instead. You’re benevolent like that.
2. Pyjamas are not just pyjamas. They have power all of their own.
Here’s the thing about pyjamas that office-dwellers don’t realise: spending all day in them isn’t nearly as fun or decadent as you might think. For one thing, they have the power to make you feel fluey, hungover, or as though you’ve just been dumped, purely through psychosomatic association.
Working in your pyjamas is a slippery slope – metaphorically, and also literally if you choose not to put pants on. You start off sitting upright at your desk in a nice clean pair that you wouldn’t be ashamed to face paramedics in, but before long you’re doing a conference call with a duvet over your head, wearing joggers covered in so many mystery smears it seems selfish not to donate them to cancer research and panicking that spending so many hours braless is going to give you long boobs like spaniels’ ears.
The dream isn’t worth the reality. Eventually you have to give up and put some proper clothes on.
3. Despite never wanting one before, it’s hard to give up the dream of a ‘work wardrobe’
Dude, you don't need eight pencil skirts. You don't need one pencil skirt. You barely even needed a work wardrobe when you had a work.
Now that ‘work’ is your own kitchen table – or bed, on a cold day – you need a work wardrobe like a fish needs a bicycle (you don’t need a bicycle either. Put the Halfords catalogue down). The only aspirational item that you need in your wardrobe is a slanket without egg down it.
To justify the pencil skirts, you tell yourself you need to look smart ‘for meetings’. This in reality just ends up being your GP casting a furtive glance at your stilettos and silk pussy bow blouse and asking if you’re going anywhere nice as she hands over your prescription. You’re not going anywhere nice. You’re going to the Post Office, then Londis.
4. What you DO need is a cool creative outfit
Once you’ve made your peace with never having cause to dress like an Apprentice contestant, you focus your energies on dressing like the cool creative you are instead. What would Virginia Woolf have worn, you ponder, if she were a freelance social media manager in Deptford? The answer: an outfit so ridiculous that nobody except the ASOS delivery man will ever see it. (You know the ASOS delivery man's name, by the way. It's Brian and his kids are doing fine, thanks for asking).
So you buy cropped velvet dungarees and you layer them over a man’s shirt, with one side tucked in and the other side flowing loose because cool creatives can’t be hemmed in by symmetry. You swirl your hair into a bun using only a pen. You wear your Dad’s hiking socks, pulled up to your knees. You look like the kind of work-at-homer who might casually knock up a bowl on a potter’s wheel at lunchtime. You EXUDE creative nonchalance.
You also develop a UTI because pissing in velvet dungarees is such a colossal faff. But hey, it’s all inspiration.
5. Actually that’s a lie, what you need is knitwear
You thought that working in an office was a hotbed of temperature politics, but those were balmy days, my friend, compared to working from home. That pass-agg email chain titled ‘AIR CONDITIONING!!!’ had nothing on the lonely battle you are now locked in with your boiler, your bank balance, and goosebumps so alarming that you’ve started worrying they might be smallpox.
So you layer up. You pile on jumpers until they actually start to affect your mobility. You buy fingerless gloves so that you can still type, AND pretend to be a cockney market trader from a musical. You start to fancy yourself a suffering artist, sacrificing personal comfort for nobler things, like artistry and not pissing off your stingy flatmate. You’re owning this look, actually. You’ve become one of those women who casually wears four scarves, a pair of long johns and a poncho and looks adorable on a cold hill in a Toast catalogue.
You believe this, until one day Brian the ASOS delivery man points out that you look like Joey in the episode where he wears all of Chandler’s clothes.
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At work? With your gran?
You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating