If you’re a stay-at-home-mom, or if you work from home most of the week it can be challenging to create casual outfits with sufficient pizzazz to suit your style persona. It’s much easier to amp up an outfit with a pair of shoes, a coat or jacket, or a scarf, handbag, hat and chunky jewellery when you head out the door. But you don’t need these items indoors, so you need to find other ways to make a stylish statement.

The trick is to create outfit drama and stay comfortable at the same time. Here are six things I suggest to my clients in this situation.

  1. Dramatic Hair: Make your hair a more dominant feature of your style. Add rainbow streaks. Go asymmetric. Highlights. Lowlights. Create spikes. Create more curl. Braid it. Straighten it. It needn’t be high maintenance, and it has a big impact.
  2. Dramatic Eyewear: Be bold with your specs if you wear them most of the day. Make them the focal point of your outfit, and don’t play it safe with classic styles. A fun pair of fashion forward or retro specs will make an outfit of simple wardrobe essentials look special.   
  3. Lighten Up: Wearing wardrobe items in shades of white, tan and oatmeal can be as dramatic as black, ink blue and dark grey. Lightening up a colour palette feels particularly fresh for Autumn and Winter when our tendency is to wear dark clothing to match the cold grey weather outside. 
  4. Statement Knitwear & Tops: First, make a statement with colour, pattern and shine. Do not underestimate the dramatic effect of a vibrant colour, a bold pattern, or daytime sparkle in a simple silhouette. Second, look for tops and knitwear with interesting silhouettes and design details if solid neutrals are more your thing. Think beyond basic. 
  5. Dramatic Pants: Again, think colour, pattern and shine. Essential blue or black jeans are not your only option. Plaid pants, jacquards, metallics, waxed and coloured denim are great alternatives. Wear upscale track pants and leather leggings. I have a pair of bright yellow tartan pants and gold jeans that I wear year round — both out and at home. They provide ample drama on days when I’m working at home and feeling bored with regular jeans. 
  6. Lippie & Finger Nail Polish: Wear make-up, even if it’s just a bit of mascara, eyebrow pencil and lippie. A little extra facial polish goes a long way to making you feel more pulled together and looking a little brighter. And if you like, have fun with nail art. There are ways to prevent the colour from chipping if that’s your concern.

Of course, none of this is free, so you need to give yourself permission to invest in pieces that you will wear at home. But this is your life, and you have just as much of a right to feel pulled together and fabulous when you stay at home as someone who gets dressed up for a business casual office each day.

Plus, dressing well might help you to be more effective. We all accept that the way we dress affects the way other people perceive us. But studies have shown that the way we dress also affects our own performance. This is part of a growing field of psychology called embodied cognition. Simply put, if we dress the part, we play the part better.


See this recent forum thread for an interesting discussion and more thoughts on this topic.