Fashion's Experts On What To Wear When Working From Home
You are working from home and you are killing it. You rise, without an alarm, at 4 a.m. to do 1,000 jump lunges and 1,000 burpees, followed by two baths (I do not know how this works, one next to the other? Hop in and out?). You then generously apply a deep pore cleanser lotion to your face followed by a herb-mint facial masque, before getting dressed into Brioni flannel-cashmere tailoring in charcoal grey, with a crisp white Charvet shirt, stiff collar, Hermès silk tie. You slip Crockett & Jones brogues, in deep chestnut brown, onto your freshly manicured feet. You sit perfectly upright in your Pollock Executive chair at your Nakashima desk, morning light pouring in from the eastern-facing floor-to-ceiling windows of your penthouse, where you live alone, by choice. You check your Patek Phillipe Nautilus in steel, blue face. You did not have to join the waiting list. It is only 7 a.m. Today is going to be a good day.
You are very successful.
Could this be you?
Oh, wait, no, in reality, you're working at home properly for the first time and you have no idea what the fuck to wear. In which case, welcome to the comfortable, lazy, terry cloth-clad club.
When you work in an office there are rules. There is structure. You wear clean shirts and smart trousers and nice shoes because people are looking at you and, if you turn up in running shorts, pool sliders and a t-shirt from the ‘Tequila University’, your boss will call you into a meeting room and say, “Don’t do that, this is an office. There are rules here.” And they’d be right. But at home, where your bed is your office? At home, your wardrobe can feel like the endless sea, a Nietzschean abyss. Every morning, I stare at my clothes and my clothes stared back. What do I do with these trousers again?
Turns out that, despite being a fashion professional, in the absence of professional obligations, my daily uniform swiftly becomes deeply unprofessional. So I asked much more professional people what they're doing – and wearing – right now.
“Getting the smart/relaxed balance just right without being either stuffy or slovenly comes down to a simple strategy – choosing classic silhouettes but cut in more casual fabrics,” says Oliver Spencer, the British designer who has mastered the types of clothes you want to both work and lounge in: soft-shouldered suits, smart sweatshirts, and cashmere tracksuit bottoms. “You get all the benefits of traditional tailored shapes but with none of the uniformity."
The biggest "benefit" is an enduring sense that even though you are at home, you are at work. One of the trickier parts of working from home, aside from the moment when you start talking to yourself and your Spotify playlists begin to slowly drive you mad, is knowing how to balance the respectability/comfort equation. The sloppy-smart index as I like to call it. Veer too far towards comfort and you'll ignore spreadsheets in favor of your PlayStation. Go too far the other way and you're wearing a suit while working at a desk you've fashioned from an ironing board. Like a psychopath.
"When I’m working at home it’s all about comfort: joggers, shorts, hoodies, that kind of thing," says Lee Goldup, menswear buyer at Browns Fashion. "My current go-to is a pair of Reigning Champ tracksuit bottoms and some Neighborhood x UGG slippers."
For Wes Robinson, a menswear illustrator who has worked for the likes of Drake's and Gant and has been a freelancer for two years, you should wear what makes you happy. "Some days it may dawn upon you that you are a ‘man without master’ and if you want to sit in a tweed jacket, candy stripe shirt, emblematic tie, and deerstalker hat, no one can really suggest otherwise," he says. "Saying that, I normally opt for a striped rugby shirt with a comfortable pair of Edmmond chinos, which I appear to have an abundance of."
Time for a uniform?
"Working from home doesn’t usually change my outfits," says Charlie Gates, a freelance fashion photographer who has worked for Esquire, the Wall Street Journal and many others. "I like to try and keep a routine of treating a day working from home like it's any other. I feel my daily outfit is very relaxed, even when I’m shooting, it's always a vintage t-shirt, baggy trousers, usually from Arket, and some colorful socks."
From this small sample survey of the men's fashion scene, you can see that there is more than one way to skin a cat/wear a pair of trousers, but the common thread that runs through all of the responses is that a sense of consideration and consistency – in routine and clothing – plays an important role in how to successfully structure a day without a predetermined set of rules laid out for you. If you roll out of bed and into a pair of weekend tracksuit bottoms, it's likely going to be more difficult to get into the mindset of your next Zoom meeting followed by a nice big stare out of the window.
"We don’t have a dress code, so casual and informal is the standard – but that doesn’t mean boring," says Raoul Shah, founder and CEO of Exposure communications agency. "I’d opt for the Folk, Maharishi, Engineered Garments and Noah schools of comfort. Amazingly comfortable fabrics, easy to layer, stylish silhouettes, brave use of color and all work well on video calls.
"Sitting in your pajamas for the first few days may seem like fun, with a sense of 'bunking off'," he adds. "But, for most of the population that likes work and enjoys the fruits of working, don’t be caught out by the idea of being at home."
"It is easier to put in some serious work if I have everything in order, including what I wear," says Adam Lewenhaupt, CEO, creative director and founder of minimalist Swedish sneaker brand CQP, who favors cashmere jumpers, jeans and a pair of shoes (not slippers) in order to feel dressed for the day. "I don’t think walking around in a robe will lead to great results, so clothes can help in getting you into the right mindset."
Personally, I've found my own Steve Jobs-ian dress for success plan to be a plain, smart sweatshirt in dark grey or navy, a more colorful logo-free t-shirt by Sunspel or Uniqlo, a pair of navy or black Universal Works pleated track trousers, which have the comfort and elasticated waist of tracksuit bottoms, but with the structure of a suit trouser, then sport socks (white, for my sins) and a 'smart' pair of plain black slides by Nike or, if business is booming, Suicoke. Now, rather than panic, I look forward to the temporary specificity of getting dressed in the mornings.
And the Tequila University t-shirt? That's just a weekend treat from now on.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.