Affordable, Comfortable, and Not Hideous: The Best WFH Attire

“I’ve really adopted the idea of dopamine dressing. To me, this means when I put on a garment, it feels like a sigh of relief.”
Jessica Craig, Manager of a National Athleisure Brand Store in Eugene, Oregon

In the span of a decade, the landscape of the workforce has undergone a substantial transformation, shifting more towards remote work. A decade ago, the concept of working from home (WFH) was a rarity, often reserved for freelancers or a select few in tech-centric roles. Fast forward to today, and the number of people working from home has surged dramatically, propelled initially by necessity due to global health challenges and subsequently embraced for its flexibility and efficiency.

Accompanying this shift from traditional office environments to the comfort of one’s home is a noticeable transition in workplace attire. Gone are the days when formal suits, ties, and high heels dominated the office landscape. Instead, remote work has ushered in an era where comfort is preferred to formality, allowing for a more relaxed dress code that ranges from business casual to cozy athleisure.

“What we see now is that so many more things are acceptable and work for so many more folks. Sure, it can still change rapidly, but there are also some things in the new work-from-home wardrobe that will endure longer,” says Jessica Craig, personal shopper, stylist, and manager of a national athleisure brand store.

While it can feel daunting to change a wardrobe to fit the new WFH standard, it is not as challenging or expensive as it may seem. “A dear friend of mine who has worked from home for almost 20 years told me, ‘I just wear clothes.’ For her, there has never been a different or separate wardrobe. At the end of the day, it is about wearing things you like,” says Craig.

However, even while working from home, it is important to understand that what you put on informs other people about you and needs to be appropriate, even when dress codes seem relaxed: “I have seen male colleagues who will roll into a meeting that’s really important wearing a T-shirt. In some instances, that’s perfectly acceptable because I do work in a more casual industry, but in some instances, it isn’t acceptable,” she notices.

To help you put together a great WFH wardrobe, we have compiled Craig’s expertise and advice and some of the top brands out there to look great and feel good.

Meet the Expert: Jessica Craig

Jessica Craig

Jessica Craig is the manager of a national athleisure brand store in Eugene, Oregon. In her current position, she balances managerial work with in-store time, where she has the opportunity to outfit and style people from all walks of life.

Before this role, she was self-employed as a personal stylist and shopper for more than a decade. Her previous experience working in boutiques gave her the expertise to work one-on-one with clients, helping them hone their personal style and learn how to dress to meet their personal and professional goals. She has a bachelor’s degree from Portland State University in art history and multimedia design.

Comfort: The Key Factor

Traditionally, most office wear has been stiff and formal, with suits and dress shoes being the standard. That’s just not the case anymore: “Stop thinking about a duality between comfort and style. It is very, very much one of the same now. And I think that women especially have been fed this concept that to look good, there’s some sort of suffering involved,” notes Craig. And it all starts with one small thing. “You have to be comfortable. At the end of the day, we’re all working for [money], so comfort will help you stay engaged in your work,” she says.

Finding comfort can be challenging for some people. With her years of experience, Craig has some excellent advice. “How does it make you feel? I’ve really adopted the idea of ‘dopamine dressing.’ To me, this means when I put on a garment, it feels like a sigh of relief,” she explains. “For most, this starts with many of the amazing fabrics out there. I think fabrics like that have that buttery softness or give you that sensation of being held without being squeezed really hit the mark.”

To know if something is really going to be comfortable, though, the trying-on process needs to be intentional. “Spend time trying things on and really living in the clothes. Connect to them,” she says. “Sometimes, this means you have to be a little quiet. When you’re in the fitting room, and there’s a salesperson talking to you, or you’re with a friend, it’s easy to get hyped. You need to consider what it will be like at home in front of your computer trying to get a promotion. Think about if you can wear this for eight hours of work or are you going to have to change midday? Think about how you can utilize this good feeling to create a better work environment for yourself.”

Where To Find WFH Clothing Inspiration

For those not inherently drawn to fashion, understanding how to dress or compose outfits for work-from-home scenarios can feel like navigating a labyrinth without a map. The abundance of style guides, fashion influencers, and online inspiration can overwhelm rather than assist, making it hard to decipher what fits personal style and professional requirements: “I start with peer influence,” notes Craig. “I think we’ve all been on a call where someone looks really effortless and comfortable. Pay attention to those things in the same way you would walking through a boutique or walking through the store.”

Another great place to find ideas is from the brands themselves. Athleisure brands have marketing strategies that highlight their products and serve as a significant source of outfit inspiration. Their innovative campaigns often focus on the versatility and comfort of their clothing, demonstrating how items can transition from work-from-home settings to dinner out or even to the gym, reflecting a lifestyle rather than just a clothing choice.

According to Craig, going into stores and talking to staff is always a great option. “The people that work for these brands are so incredibly well trained. These brands have spent millions and millions of dollars to make sure that every single person that’s on that sales floor understands their product and can outfit you,” she says.

Also, the rise of so-called “airport” or “airplane sets” has made waves in the fashion world and social media, showcasing coordinated, comfortable, yet stylish outfits ideal for travel or lounging. “These sets are typically a shell tank, a flowy pant with a higher rise, and then something to throw over it, like a cardigan or a little jacket. These outfits easily translate to work from home, and those pieces all function independently,” encourages Craig.

Other Top tips:

With more than 15 years in the fashion industry, dressing people from all walks of life, Craig offers the following tips to keep in mind while shopping for affordable, comfortable, and not hideous WFH attire:

  • If you have a hybrid work schedule, structure your week so you don’t have to change your clothes midday. If possible, have at-home days and in-office days to prevent quick transitions and needing to rethink your outfit constantly.
  • Have items that are multifunctional, such as a sweater that fashionable but also cozy and warm. This is the cornerstone of not feeling like a garbage heap when you’re working from home.
  • Really think about how the basics can serve you. Look for high-quality fabrics and buy fewer pieces that are better fitted to you. For example, a high-quality crewneck t-shirt or even a lightweight Merino sweater with a beautiful neckline is always going to flatter you and make you feel great.
  • Consider your background if you will be on video calls. Craig is a big fan of turtlenecks or mocknecks because they focus attention on your face. However, if you wear a blurred background, you can sometimes look like a floating head, so you will have to experiment with that before a call.
  • She mentions this before but it can’t be reiterated enough: take time trying things on. Walk around, sit down, stand up, cross your legs, sit at a table, and try it out on camera if possible. Experiment with the outfit to see if it makes sense for what you’re doing.
  • Footwear is also an important part of a WFH outfit. Craig almost always has something on her feet, even if it is socks. If it is an important meeting or a presentation, she finds shoes to help her feel more professional and sit up straighter.
  • Fabrics can matter a lot. She is not the biggest fan of 100 percent cotton for work from home and will admit my full bias since she works in the athleisure industry where they very rarely have a fully 100 percent anything. Fabrics that contain even a low amount of stretch will be the most comfortable while still looking great. If you want a natural fiber, bamboo can be a great option.

Top Brands to Consider When Shopping:

These brands offer comfortable yet stylish options for those who want to look good while working from home. Here are a few top picks recommended by Craig:

  • Athleta: Known for its high-quality fitness and loungewear, Athleta offers functional and comfortable options that can easily transition from a workday to a workout.
  • lululemon: Another popular athleisure brand, lululemon offers stylish and versatile pieces that are perfect for those who want to prioritize comfort while looking put together.
  • Everlane: This sustainable clothing brand offers a range of modern basics, including soft and cozy loungewear that is perfect for working from home.
  • Pact: Pact offers organic and sustainable loungewear options that are perfect for those who value comfort and sustainability.
  • Marcella NY: This brand offers stylish and comfortable workwear options specifically designed for remote work. Their pieces are chic, versatile, and perfect for video calls. They also have a strong commitment to ethical sourcing and sustainability.
  • Odd Bird Co: Showcasing beautiful textiles, Odd Bird Co fights against fast fashion with chic housedresses, robes, and tunics that can seamlessly go from WFH to errands around town.
  • Beta Brand: Known for their stylish yet comfortable dress pant yoga pants, Beta Brand offers a variety of work-appropriate options that prioritize comfort without sacrificing style.
Kimmy Gustafson
Kimmy Gustafson

Kimmy Gustafson is a freelance writer with a passion for sharing stories of bravery. Her love for world-traveling began when her family moved to Spain when she was six and since then, she has lived overseas extensively, visited six continents, and traveled to over 25 countries. She is fluent in Spanish and conversational in French. When not writing or parenting she can be found kiteboarding, hiking, or cooking.

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