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The Work From Home Clothes I Always Reach for as a Mom

May 21, 2024

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If you work from home, then you know it’s a very unique lifestyle that comes with its own advantages and challenges. Throw motherhood into the mix—whether you send your kids off to daycare or school, or they stay home with you—and you’re practically talking about the Wild West. Let’s be honest: Working from home in conjunction with motherhood is very much a new frontier that many of us are still figuring out how to master. One aspect of being a work-from-home mom that can be especially challenging is determining what clothes to wear day in and day out.

As someone who sends their toddler and baby to daycare, I’m fortunate that I can focus on dressing professionally for my management-level job during the workday. That being said, there are plenty of days when my kids are either home sick, home for a holiday, home for an unexpected closure—as some of you can probably relate, it does feel like they’re home an awful lot.

And how does one dress appropriately for both work and childcare in one fell swoop? And even if the kids are at daycare during the day, which outfit pieces serve the work-to-daycare-pickup well? In other words, which clothing items can stand up for a Zoom meeting as much as they can changing diapers and cooking dinner?

I’ve been a work-from-home mom for almost three years now. And in that time, I’ve learned a lot. For example, I’ve learned which pieces in my closet I’ll reach for again and again, and which will hang there unworn due their inability to serve me during this phase of my life. Here are the winning work-from-home clothes I reach for the most.

Jeans are a mom fashion no-brainer. They’re comfortable, timeless, and go with just about anything. And—unlike working in an office—when you work from home, you can wear them as often as you like, which makes transitioning from working at your desk to childcare absolutely seamless. Right now, I am fully here for the ‘90s jeans revival—the looser fits are so comfortable, even when sitting at your desk all day or chasing your children around. Straight-leg and mom jeans are also practical (and stylish) options.

Not the most exciting items on the list, but probably those I reach for the absolute most. A tee or tank can serve as a practical base layer. Throw a cardigan, vest, or button-up shirt over top whenever you need to “run” to a Zoom meeting (more on each later) and dress down again before serving your kids lunch or breaking out the playdough.

Button-ups are obviously a professional wardrobe staple. I especially love them as a WFH mom because I can quickly throw one on over whatever I’m wearing for the day if I need to jump on a Zoom meeting. I can’t tell you how many times this trick has come in handy while simultaneously working and tending to my kids who were home sick from daycare. Throwing a button-up on is also a sneaky trick for instantly helping you mentally transition into work mode.

Similar to button-up shirts, I love how a collared sweater or sweatshirt nods to a laid-back professional look, while also keeping you comfortable throughout the day. These tops are perfect for both online work as well as childcare, so grab for one on the days your kids are home or if you’ve got a packed after-work agenda, full of your children’s extracurricular activities.

I’ve always been a big fan of prep, and love how a sweater vest—layered over a tee or button-up shirt—can add some visual interest to your look without sacrificing comfort. This wardrobe staple communicates professionalism, but not so much so that it feels out of place while working from home.

I have to wear prescription eyeglasses every day and am always sure to customize my frames with blue-light-blocking lenses. Even if your eyes don’t require a prescription, I can’t recommend these specialty lenses enough to anyone who works in front of a screen all day. I swear that filtering out blue light helps me fend off fatigue—a capability I’m sure no mom is looking to pass up.

Coming back to the idea of layering—cardigans are another great way to very quickly dress up a basic tee or tank, making an outfit appear more professional over camera and/or hide the baby food currently smeared all over you. If you have a day free of meetings, a cozy cardigan can be a quietly luxurious way to elevate your working environment and subtly put you in a more pleasant state of mind.

I’ve recently become a huge fan of tennis skirts. I love that they’re cute enough to be paired with business casual pieces like cardigans and sweater vests, but practical in the sense that they’re comfortable while running errands on my lunch or chasing my kids around following daycare pick-up. Golf shorts are another sporty chic option for warm weather (half the reason I pursued a WFH job was so that I could wear shorts during the workweek) and leggings are—of course—a winter staple. Faux leather leggings help you feel even more put-together (cue Amy Poehler’s “I’m a cool mom” line) without sacrificing practicality.

Children—though wonderful—can put restrictions on your budget and strain on your feet. So, the more comfortable and versatile a pair of shoes, the better. Some of my personal favorites include loafers, UGG boots, clogs, and sneakers. All of these shoes can be worn through multiple seasons, styled with countless outfits, and stand the test of keeping up with your kids—whether they’re toddlers who don’t sit still or school-aged kiddos who are involved in approximately 1,032 different extracurricular activities.

Somewhere along the line in my mothering journey, I acquired a habit of taking a shower in the morning and praying for the best when it comes to my hair. As a result, nothing is usually more humbling than my first Zoom meeting of the day. I have a small (but always growing) collection of headbands and am reaching for it constantly during the workweek. They add a little something extra to the section of my outfit that’s visible over Zoom, help to artfully hide the mess that is my hair on any given day, and also keep my hair out of my face when the kids are home and it’s go-time.

Living in Central New York, I see all four seasons and enjoy reaching for different styles of comfy dresses throughout the year. During the warmer months, I love nothing more than a comfortable sundress that I can wear while working outside or taking my kids for a walk. In the fall and winter, I’ve found that sweater and sweatshirt dresses can help you feel put-together for work and—when styled with a pair of sneakers or boots—also make for a practical go-to outfit for spending time with the kids.

I’ve learned which pieces in my closet I’ll reach for again and again, and which will hang there unworn due their inability to serve me during this phase of my life. Here are the winning work-from-home clothes I reach for the most.