This one thing will boost your confidence and productivity while working from homeApr 05, 2021
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This post will benefit you if you’re working from home and struggling to figure out how to dress for more confidence and productivity.
Remember that show “What Not to Wear” on TLC? In my twenties, as I found myself lazily flipping through channels, I always seemed to land on that show. And while I certainly wasn’t a fashionista I always asked myself, “What is she thinking?” Then, I became a mom and my own appearance took a slight backseat to everything else. I finally got it. It’s easier than you think for moms to end up a guest on “What Not to Wear”!
Let’s just go ahead and add another layer. When nearly the entire workforce started working from home in 2020 the question about work from home dress codes bombarded Google and Pinterest search bars.
So, to demystify this popular topic of conversation I asked Stephanie Gisondi-Little, Fashion Therapist and Founder of ComposedCo, to shed some light on how to be comfortable, yet professional, when working from home. What Stephanie shared in her interview blew my mind when she shared how what we wear when working from home affects both our confidence and productivity.
Read on for my interview with Stephanie and be sure to follow her on Instagram for more insight and tips on what to wear.
Kelli: Stephanie, thank you so much for joining me. I want to talk to you a little bit about this topic around how to dress for better productivity at work because the working moms that I talk to really struggle with this. Especially now with all of this work from home stuff. And they're kind of confused at what they should be wearing when they're on Zoom calls and what they shouldn't be wearing.
Does it really matter if they're in activewear all day versus professional clothing, etc? So, we're going to shed some light on this topic. Why don't you take a minute and introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your company?
Stephanie: Sure. I’m Stephanie Gisondi-Little I am what I call a Fashion Therapist. I have a background in fashion having worked for two noted designers, Emanuel Ungaro and Nicole Miller. And then I did a decade-long stint in entertainment, running a production company in feature film.
Those two experiences gave me a lot of insight into a corporate workplace that is sometimes dressier and sometimes quite relaxed. What’s acceptable really spans the gamut. I started my company because I was a mom that went from a corporate environment to finding myself in leggings 24/7. I realized the mental and emotional dive I took. I felt like I was just dressing to be covered and not for myself.
We all have to get dressed. Some folks derive a lot of pleasure from it and I like to help people access that. I also like to demystify fashion, which is very overwhelming for a lot of people. So that's the crux of what I do—focus on the wellness, the uplift, the confidence, the productivity. And that has real data behind it—linking how we dress to how we put ourselves out there and operate in the world or even in the house.
Kelli: I can relate to that. I have worked from home for a decade. I was one who was always in yoga pants and a t-shirt. It wasn't until recently that I really started getting dressed to go to work in my own home. I started to feel like I needed to. It made me feel better to look halfway decent.
You said there's data behind the connection between productivity and how you dress. So can you shed a little light on that for me?
Stephanie: Absolutely. So in social psychology, there's a concept called enclothed cognition which states that we become what we wear. Take that in for a minute. There are a lot of studies where they would take random strangers off the street and put some of them in a lab coat and others they would not. And uniformly, time after time after time, the people in the lab coats would perform better. And this was a random assortment of people.
I think you make a great point when you said a lot of us might have been working from home, but the pandemic has made this clear. In the beginning people were excited about sweatpants all day, every day. And then during the course of this I think some came around and realized they can't be that person all day. Others, however, feel great about wearing leggings or sweatpants all day and that’s fine too. What matters is that you feel good about yourself.
Kelli: I think that is a really critical point. It's not so much about what you're wearing. It's asking yourself if what you're wearing makes you feel good.
Stephanie: Right. There's more data around that too. Stella McCartney, the designer, dressed the Olympic British team one year. And in practices, every single athlete reported better times when wearing her clothes. Now that's not to say designer clothes are better. But the sloppy sweat pants that make you feel sloppy, will feel sloppy in your brain too. You won’t level up. That's why when people put on a suit for a job interview, they feel like their professional self.
Kelli: Let's talk about this idea of leveling up. A lot of people would not associate leveling up with what they wear.
Stephanie: I think we have subconscious signals that we send ourselves. We're part of a society where certain garments are considered more acceptable. That's why we associate the lab coat with intelligent and experienced scientists or doctors. Some of those assumptions are absolutely incorrect and unearned. More than ever today, we're seeing the normalization of a broader category of what's acceptable. And I think that's good. We do the same when we take a shower, dry our hair, and put lipstick on. You are likely sending yourself signals that you are putting on your professional head.
Kelli: That makes so much sense. On that note, there are a lot of working moms that are going from professional hat to mom hat to a million other hats. How can they dress so that they're comfortable, whether they're in work mode or mom mode?
Stephanie: Let's presume the majority are doing video meetings. It's very true that people are making assumptions about what we wear, whether you want them to or not. I think it's a good rule of thumb to wear a comfortable jean or a pant and a top that looks professional. Then, in case you need to stand up in a meeting and they’ll be seen, they're comfortable, but they also send a message to your body.
It could be a pair of earrings with a simple top. A sharp, plain t-shirt with a great necklace or a pair of earrings or lipstick can work, too. But wear something that sends a message that you care. And running between I think it's great to have an awesome apron around as you’re changing responsibilities. If you're preparing food, then you don't have to worry about your nice work shirt as much. You don't need so much, you just need the things that fit your body now for work and for your life. Whatever those buckets of life are—play, exercise, cooking, hobbies, work, date night, etc.—have a few things to fit each one.
Kelli: I love the apron idea. You brought up a great point about showing up and sending a message that you care. That's really important because not only are you sending that message to the people that you're in a meeting with, but you're also sending that message to yourself, right?
Stephanie: Foremost to yourself, honestly. And I really prioritize it in that order. That's a huge productivity thing in and of itself to be able to subconsciously and consciously say to yourself, “I care about what I'm doing.” And typically when you care, you will be more productive. If there's chaos around you—especially on your body—you can't focus as well. So, a chaotic closet is going to create chaos and getting dressed, which then is a bad way to start your day.
Instead, I'm a proponent of picking a few pieces that you would want to take if you’re traveling. Take note of them and why they appeal to you. Is it the fit? Is it the comfort? Is it the silhouette? Add more pieces like that.
Kelli: How often should you take a look at your closet and reassess what’s in it?
Stephanie: First of all, I operate virtually with people so I can help folks with that. But I understand that it's a big job for people to execute on their own. Put an empty bag in your closet. And every time you're getting dressed and you come across something and you don’t love it, drop that piece in the bag. Chip away at it and when the bag is full get rid of it.
Kelli: For moms that really miss being in the office or traveling, walking into their closet every day and seeing what they might wear to the office might make them sad and miss it. So, for now, put those clothes away and focus on what you can wear right now that still makes you feel good and put together, right?
Stephanie: Yeah. I find most often people feel that way about clothes that don't fit them anymore. And it's a real trigger. Look, we all have those pieces that we don't want to part with that. But in general, the negativity you take on every time you look at a garment that doesn't fit you is actually bigger than the reward of keeping it.
Kelli: This has been so helpful. My final question for you is how can moms work with you, especially virtually, and how can they find you?
Stephanie: My website is ComposedCo. And I'm on Instagram. My initial service offering for a new client is a one hour call. Prior to the call, I send an easy questionnaire so that we can really hit the ground running when we do have our call. Then, it’s individual after that. For some it will be taking me virtually into your closet and showing me the top five pieces that you don't know how to style. Or, it could be that you feel totally overwhelmed and need a total overhaul. I can also shop for people. Also, I'm happy to extend a 20% discount to anybody that mentions Mindset Mamas. It's actually a really great gift for Mother's.
Kelli: Thank you so much. This has been super helpful and eye opening. I hope our community takes advantage of your offer.
Stephanie: Thank you for having me. Really at the end of the day, it's not rocket science. Getting dressed shouldn't be the most important thing in your day. It should just be there to support you and make you feel and achieve your best.
ComposedCo founder Stephanie Gisondi-Little is a ‘Fashion Therapist’, a personal stylist and wardrobe organizer. Her passion is demystifying ‘Fashion’ for all and cultivating awareness around the wellness and self-care of dress; how it affects our mood, productivity and more. Working virtually, Stephanie tailors one-on-one sessions with personalized preparation to identify current pain points and curate steps for resolution. As a speaker, she addresses minimizing overwhelm, unnecessary spending and mental chaos that often accompany the never-ending question, ‘What should I wear?’ and provides mental tools for ongoing use. Her experience as a Senior Executive in both fashion and feature film and now as a Founder provides valuable insight and understanding of personal presentation across industries. She can be reached at [email protected].
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