Fashion For Real Women

What To Wear

When You Work From Home

What should you wear when you work from home?

It's a question I'm asked frequently in my image consulting business, and one that bears thoughtful consideration. For just as your appearance matters when you report to work in the "outside" world, so, too, does it matter when your commute is just down the hall.

Now before you snicker at this notion, let's get a bird's eye view of the matter.

If you work from home, you credibility is suspect. While more than 90% of the population worked from home prior to the industrial revolution, people who work from home today are viewed as less serious than their commuting counterparts. Even with the number of home-based businesses expanding at an incredible rate, the question of legitimacy still remains.

So how do you combat this bias? By always being professional. One of the easiest ways to convey this is by simply dressing the part.

Of all the home-based businesses I've dealt with in my life, most of the successful ones understand this basic concept. The ones who struggle or fail, don't. It's such a simple element -- but one that can have a huge impact on your bottom line. And I mean huge.

So how should you dress when you work from home? It depends on two critical factors:

1. Your line of work.

2. Your customer contact.

If you work in a business with little or no customer contact, such as writing, assembling products, composing music, running a mail order business, etc., your primary concern should be comfort. Jeans, shorts, sweats, in drag--if no one sees you, you can pretty much dress as you please.

But the instant you come into contact with others, you influence their opinion of you. Even if you're just dropping off or picking up something or you conduct all of your business at your front door, how you dress can influence your bottom line. If you want your business to grow and prosper, you'll dress to meet your customer's expectations. If you want your business to remain small and expand at a snail's pace, you can dress to please yourself.

Here are some basic guidelines:

  • If you're a professional, such as a lawyer, doctor, accountant, business consultant, financial planner, etc., you need to dress the same as your commuting counterparts dress in your community. Why? Because people expect professionals to dress professionally, whether they engage them at the local office park or at the big yellow house that faces the park.

You and I both know that your skills don't improve by simply putting on a suit jacket. But try to negotiate a big money deal wearing a t-shirt and jeans with your client in the room, and see how far you get. If the deal falls through, you'll be blamed for your lack of professionalism. Why set yourself up like that? Dress like others in your profession dress-at least when you're meeting with clients--and save yourself the headache.

  • If you're in a service-oriented business, like hairdressing, catering, tailoring, personal shopping, etc., dress in business casual. This includes long pants and collared shirt, if you're a man, and a skirt, slacks, or dress, if you're a woman. Business casual denotes the seriousness of the work environment yet offers you something comfortable to wear.
  • If you're in a labor-intensive business, like housekeeping, auto repair, yard maintenance, or handy man, consider wearing an easy-to-clean uniform. You can buy them at the local uniform supply company in your town, or you can create your own by simply pairing work pants (jeans, khakis) or shorts with a polo shirt or t-shirt. You could even add a logo to the shirt, if you like, and insist that everyone in your employ wear them. It's an inexpensive way to add instant credibility.

So, do you still doubt the importance of dressing appropriately when you work from home? Stop for a moment and think of all the home-based businesses you've dealt with over the years. Who got your business more than once? Who sent you running in the other direction? Why?

The biggest offenders on my list have two things in common: a filthy workspace, and a complete disregard for personal appearance. Is my criticism based solely on the fact that I'm an image consultant? No. It's because as a home-based entrepreneur myself, I've always taken the time and effort to make my office and myself presentable before conducting business. At the very least, I expect others to do the same for me.

So what should you wear when you work from home? Clothes that instantly convey your professionalism and establish your credibility. Your client is already leery of doing business with you--don't give her another reason to go elsewhere. Dress appropriately!


Need more help in deciding if your work at home attire is appropriate? Grab a copy of Business Wear Magic by author and image consultant Diana Pemberton-Sikes to discover how to increase your income by dressing appropriately for your line of work--even if you work from. Find it online at  .

 Business Wear Magic - work from home

 Other Business Attire Articles You Might Enjoy:

More Fashion Articles

FREE Fashion Tips!

Clothes That FitSign up for our FREE ezine and get the How To Find Clothes That Fit Report instantly!

Further Training

Discover your best style and colors

Wardrobe Magic

Look great every day yet save a ton of money on clothes

Define your style and stretch your budget with accessories.

Accessory Magic

What ultra chic women know about accessories that you don't

Want to make more money? Here's how.

Business Wear

Business wear secrets your competitors don't want you know.

Nail the dress code every time

Occasion Magic

Crack the dress code to easily determine what to wear when

Look fabulous head to toe

Beauty Any Age

Beauty secrets of the well-groomed and fabulous


What Our Readers are Saying...

"You have helped me so much!!! My closets are beautiful because of you!"

Patricia Brown
San Francisco
, CA

"I've found your adobe book and your articles absolutely invaluable. Your advice is applicable and practical."

Fay Grant

Charleston, SC



“I wanted to thank you for your terrific newsletter. It is always so informative and has helped me to dress better, consider purchases and refine my style.  What I have found is I am spending less money, looking better and have a smaller but more versatile wardrobe. Thank you for all the valuable information and extra confidence to dress with success and style!!!” 
Debra Quartermain
New Maryland, Canada