July 8th, 2014

Should you go Haute at the Home Office?

Dressing clients who work in formal office work environments is pretty straightforward. Yes to suit separates, blouses, cardigans, pencil skirts; no to flip-flops, distressed denim, yoga pants, etc. The challenge is to inject personality and update staid work attire. But what if you work from home like 1 in 5 Americans? Does anything go?  One rule of thumb that I read a while back and like to follow myself is this:  What if someone rang your doorbell in the middle of your work day? How would you feel answering it in what you are wearing? If “mortified” is the answer then maybe time to rethink/tweak your work-from-home look.

Our resident writer/blogger Jenn Barger spoke to some of the city’s work-from-homers to get their take on home-office chic. 


I’m writing from my townhouse front porch as we speak, one of the privileges (and, with the humidity, a challenge) of a freelance writer. But this is new stuff for me — both the working from home and the getting dressed for it. I’m used to being a cubicle fashionista, ambling into work in Rag & Bone  blazers and jeans or bright DVF dresses  and heels.

But today, I’m in yoga pants and an Old Navy tank top. If the Pulitzer Prize committee wanders by, they won’t be impressed.

So how do other women (and guys) with porch-, er, home-based offices do it? Can you keep your brain in a professional place while still sporting PJs? I checked in with some local success stories to find out.

Sometimes, of course, the comforts of Lululemon and polar fleece  win. “If I’m in my home office, I almost always wear something from Athleta,” says Alexandria PR guru Maurisa Potts . But if she’s meeting a client, it’s all about a nice dress. “Never arrive in yoga pants! Your first impression is key.”

Tom Natan, co-owner of First Vine wine imports, opts for shorts and a T-shirt if he’s just at his Adams Morgan rowhouse doing paperwork, but dressier clothes if he’s going to a vino tasting or other events.

Clearly, many people think it’s not worth the effort to go runway sleek if their big meeting of the day is with your dog, for his lunchtime walk.

But there are stylish dissenters. Take Kassie Rempel, the Mount Pleasant-based founder of fashion styling website Kassie’s Closet . When I arrived for a recent appointment at her townhouse, she was in a short striped skirt, a crisp white blouse and simple gold jewelry. “I always dress like I have something going on outside the home office,” says Rempel. “I’m an entrepreneur, so things shift and pivot in my day, and I have to be ready for that.”

Me, I’m considering trading today’s dumpy style for a chicer daily look. For home work sessions, I’m going to try a mix of resort glam — a maxi skirt and a pretty top, a tunic  and leggings. And if you’re a client, editor or just my source/lunch date, watch out — I’ll be dolled up in a J. Crew pencil skirt and silky blouse. Just don’t be too jealous that I can roll home afterwards and retreat to my yoga pants.

 Post by Jennifer Barger (www.jennbarger.com, @dcjnell)    


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