Recently, someone criticized me for not working and not getting dressed before 9am. He/she didn’t realize or care that I worked at a job other than my 12+ year gig as stay-at-home mom in my pajamas for two years. Maybe he/she doesn’t get the notion of unconventional jobs and/or schedules that don’t require an old-fashioned, Mad Men-esque dress code. I see nothing wrong with wearing your pajamas or casual, no-fuss, grungy clothing when you work.
Whether you’re working at a computer, doing laundry, gardening, tabulating figures on a spreadsheet, mowing the lawn, making a conference call, taking care of children, writing a proposal, eking out the deal of the century or even running errands, if few people see you doing these activities, and you’re comfortable, what’s the problem?
Of course, when running errands like the bank, returning a library book or picking up a prescription, I wear a clean shirt and bra, but the pajamas I wear are t-shirts, athletic shorts or sweats – items that could easily pass for regular clothing. If no one sees me except the unexpected flash of a neighbor outside, I’m not worried about stains. And I’ve observed my share of boxer shorts and undershirts, derogatorily classified by some as “wife beaters,” around town.
When visiting Walmart, for example, I may run into an acquaintance that may balk at my attire. However, it hasn’t happened yet. I don’t worry about appearing on People of Walmart. No thongs peeking out, no extraneous flesh hanging over my sweats or oddball t-shirts emblazoned with dirty logos. Out in my so-called pajamas while running errands, my dress code is as bland as they come: hair pulled back in a ponytail, average jeans or neutral sweats and a t-shirt advertising a local sports organization my kids participate in or a rock concert/band tee. Flip-flops/sneakers round out the ensemble. I’m too boring to appear on the site! Penalize me for dressing drab.
When I did work for a magazine, my boss actually touted wearing your pajamas to work as a perk. Works for me! And this also applied to the fact that I fulfilled my work duties at night when everyone was asleep hence my pajama-clad state.
Occasionally, when I need to meet with someone in public, even if it’s coffee with a friend, I’m showered and dressed accordingly. Up close and personal requires me to look decent. Smelling bad when encountering another human for more than ten minutes I cannot tolerate. My hair is basically wash-and-wear, so gone are the days of blow-drying, curling and excessively spraying my hair – that went out with the 1980s, right?
I’ve heard studies before that stated if you work at home, you should get dressed and ready as if you were traveling to an office where numerous employees of all lifestyles gathered. For me, I don’t think I need to dress so uniformly and rigidly to perform well at a job.
Currently, I write for a few publications, volunteer online for an international mother’s organization and act as stay-at-home mom to my children who attend school full-time besides maintaining my household and playing secretary to my husband (get your mind out of the gutter!) Wearing the right clothing for what I do in the privacy of my own home doesn’t affect my work performance. My mind and faculties need to be present, not my dressy slacks, heels and fancy silk shirt. And forget about pantyhose! If I forced myself into traditional work clothing like the suits I wore to my first job before altering the dress code to business casual, I’d feel like the clothing constricted and distracted me from managing what needs to be done. And I won’t clean a room, top to bottom, in nice clothing lest it get ruined by dust, grime and the cleansers that abolish those items. Bleach is the enemy of nice clothing!
Lately, thoughts have been turning toward my future. What job will I undertake? How will I earn money? Knowing that I’m disciplined and comfortable enough to work from home, I don’t think I want a job outside of home. And if I find that opportunity again, either by starting my own business or getting a telecommuting position, I’d snatch it up. If not, I’ll land on my stylishly shod feet. And that’s the trick for most of us – finding a livelihood that fits our lifestyle best. Some flourish in a formal environment, surrounded by people; others succeed alone without water cooler gossip and co-workers close-by. The Seven Dwarves whistled while they worked; I’ll wear my pajamas.