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I was delighted to be featured in Forbes again discussing my work with Afterpay in understanding how the pandemic has forever impacted workwear.

For many people, sky high heels and underwire bras are relics of a long forgotten, less enlightened time. Casualisation of dress codes has been occurring for some time and now that we’ve all had a taste of what it’s like to look good and feel great while working, we simply can’t let that go. 

The pandemic has sped up the casualisation of office dress codes that has been occurring for the last few years. After more than a year of working from home, what we wear day-to-day for work has made a more significant shift with many people foregoing traditional workwear and opting for loungewear and a waist-up approach to dressing. 
We all have a dynamic relationship with clothing that impacts the three different ways we view ourselves; the person we want to be, the person we hope to be and the person we fear to be. 
Studies have also shown that comfortable clothing aids cognition making it easier for people to concentrate and focus on their work. So, it’s understandable why people will be slow to let go of their new comfortable workwear pieces. 

Click here to find the full article.

If you asked anyone to describe what loungewear is their first remark would be “it’s comfortable”. Professor Lubos Hes defines clothing comfort as “a state of satisfaction indicating physiological, psychological, and physical balance among the person.” Doesn’t that sound lovely? Loungewear often features stretchy and soft fabric that induces a state of comfort, one that is typically absent when we wear day to day clothes like suits and jeans but what impact does this have on our ability to do our jobs?

How leggings became the new jeans

Since COVID-19 shook the world upside down many have us will be working from home for the foreseeable future. In the absence of a restrictive work environment, every day is casual Friday. In the UK, loungewear sales have jumped a whopping 49% since lockdown. In the states, 56% of adults have admitted to incorporating more loungewear into their daily styles but some people have taken their affinity for loungewear one step further. A survey found that 1 in 8 Americans would rather have a casual office dress code than being paid an extra $5K annually! On the surface that sounds pretty insane but when you think about the psychological impact of comfort dressing, it makes sense.

Femme Luxe Stone Rib Two Piece Loungewear Set - Aloranna
Outfit (gifted): Femme Luxe Stone Rib Two Piece Loungewear Set

If you feel good, you’ll think good...

Loungewear may be the key to you killing it at work. One study revealed that comfortable clothing can enhance cognitive performance. Psychologists Bell, Cardello and Schutz investigated the relationship between clothing comfort and exam performance in students. The results revealed that students who wore more formal clothing had a lower comfort level and ultimately, a lower test score. Think about an outfit you love that’s completely uncomfortable. Although it might make you feel amazing and powerful, the physical discomfort is a distractor causing a cognitive overload that prevents you from giving your all to any task at hand. The extra cognitive boost you get from comfort dressing could be the missing key to that commendation or even that promotion. 

But if you feel good AND look good, you’ll be unstoppable

Feeling comfortable is one thing but looking good at the same time can have a major positive impact. Fashion Psychology research has shown that positive feelings about your clothes change the way you think about yourself in numerous ways. Most importantly, it can change your perception about how good you are at your job while negative feelings about your clothes can make you feel incompetent.

Femme Luxe Grey Marl Off The Shoulder Loungewear Set - Imana
Outfit (gifted): Femme Luxe Grey Marl Off The Shoulder Loungewear Set - Imana

No matter how comfortable you are, if you think negatively about an outfit, chances are you will act in accordance with your negative assumptions. With that being said, you shouldn’t spend your workday in holey leggings and stained hoodies. Invest in a core set of loungewear essentials that both feel good and look good. Not only will these pieces make you feel positive about your capabilities it will help you to crush any curve balls that come your way. 

Have you witnessed your productivity levels change by wearing more loungewear pieces? Let us know in the comments below. 





Sadly, research has found that 75% of women in the UK lack confidence in the workplace and two thirds of UK women suffer from ‘Imposter Syndrome’ at work. Luckily, by being aware of the impact of attire on impression formation and feelings, women can choose the right clothes that will positively impact their self-perception.

Last week, it was my pleasure to reinforce the relationship between fashion and psychology by speaking at Next’s Workwear and Denim event. In an audience made up of influential bloggers and fashion and beauty experts, I revealed the psychological research behind some of Next’s must-have pieces that will enable women to #DressLikeABoss!

Here are 4 takeaways from my talk:

London, UK 23.01.19 Shakaila Forbes-Bell at the Next #DressLikeABoss Denim and Workwear event. Photography: John Hylton

1. Comfort is Key!

Next Cosy Roll Neck Jumper

When putting together your work attire always make sure that you consider your comfort first. An easy way to do this is by introducing soft shapes like skirts and soft fabrics such as jumpers into your wardrobe. This is because studies have shown that clothing comfort effects cognitive performance and uncomfortable clothing is associated with distraction and increased cognitive load. (Bell, Cardello & Schutz 2005)

2. Formal clothes allow you to think differently

Next Double Breasted Relaxed Suit

Taking a formal approach to business attire is advised as research has found that wearing formal clothes makes people think more broadly and holistically, rather than narrowly. It also encourages people to think about the fine-grained details. Additionally, wearing a suit encourages people to use abstract processing more readily than concrete processing. That essentially means it encourages people to think outside of the box (Slepian et al, 2015)!

3. Darker denim is best for High-Low dressing

Next Lift, Slim And Shape Slim Jeans

In more casual work environments, integrating denim into your work attire is an easy way to get the best benefits out of formal and casual clothing. A study on teachers found that those wearing jeans were rated highly on sociability and extraversion and were deemed to be more interesting (Morris et al, 1996). Also, dark denim is associated with higher prices (Rahman, ‎2012) and thus, the wearer may appear more successful.

4. Black clothes evoke authority

Next Black Jumpsuit

According to Damhorst and Reed (1986), managers evaluate job applicants wearing black clothing as possessing more integrity and a greater moral reputation. Managers or those in higher positions are also encouraged to embrace the hue as those wearing black clothing were found to have a greater influence over others in group settings (Vrij, Pannell, Ost, 2005).

London, UK 23.01.19 Shakaila Forbes-Bell at the Next #DressLikeABoss Denim and Workwear event. Photography: John Hylton