Working from home is no reason to not dress up for the day. Taking the time to pull some good clothes out and putting together just the right outfit can be a real morale boost. Credit: Julia Bayly / BDN

When you work from home, as many are during the pandemic, there’s a real temptation to reach for a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt everyday instead of dressing for the office. But experts said that dressing up can be a morale booster and an important part of self-care.

“We have been talking a lot in health care about resilience and how we foster that resilience,” said Angela Fileccia, social worker and manager of Northern Light Acadia Hospital’s healthy life resources program. “One of the things we can do is get back to basics and that includes taking care of the physical self.”

Spending some time on personal appearance can be part of self-care, Fileccia said.

Although it’s easy to let once-daily routines slide as people continue to be isolated from colleagues or friends, there’s power in the routine, Filiccia said. Taking the time to shower, pick out a nice outfit and dress for the day restores some normalcy to life and can go a long way to improving mental health.

“Put on that favorite nice sweater or really dress up,” Fileccia said.

A 2012 study published in The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that attention increases when clothes with symbolic meaning are worn, such as a doctor wearing a doctor’s coat. At home, this might mean wearing business casual clothes during work hours to put you in the right mindset for work.

“Even if you are dressing up for yourself, pick out an outfit you love or cloth that feels good next to your skin,” Maine-based clothing designer Michael Shyka said. “It can be all about favorite colors and what you identify with that day.”

Shyka is a firm believer that when you love what you are wearing you feel more confident and self-assured.

“It’s not just how the clothes make you look on the outside,” he said. “We have an inner style that radiates outward beyond any shoe or ornamentation we put on and that makes the beauty we have that people can see.”

It can be easy in non-pandemic times to regulate a specific shirt or outfit to the back of the closet, bringing it out only for special occasions, Fileccia said.

“Some folks will have this favorite shirt or expensive shirt that’s only for certain occasions, even though they know they feel good wearing it,” Filleccia said. “Just wear it. You don’t need to save it for some sort of event and if it gives you comfort why not just put it on for the day?”

With so many events canceled and the likelihood of many future events not happening, Shyka said dressing up at home can help deal with the loss of activities.

“Putting on fashion or good clothes is something to do just for the fun of it,” Shyka said. “Sometimes you feel like expressing yourself with your favorite colors or designs so just do it.”

Julia Bayly

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.