Sick of wearing activewear yet?

By Elizabeth Yuko
September 22, 2020
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For those of us fortunate enough to have—and keep—a job that has allowed us to work from home for the past six months, much has changed. From creating an at-home workspace (i.e., corner of the dining room table or a “standing desk” at the kitchen counter) to wrangling the kids while on a conference call, even parts of the day that used to be easy now take special effort. Another major shift has been in what we wear. For the first few weeks spent measuring the commute in feet instead of miles, we threw on whatever combination of T-shirt and elastic-waist pants we grabbed from the floor. Sure, there was the occasional video conference meeting where we may have gotten half-dressed, but our office clothes remained mostly in the closet.

Queer Eye's Tan France
Express Dream Big

As convenient as comfy clothes may be, our clothing choices—even (or especially) when we’re at home all the time—can impact our mood. If what we wear affects our confidence at the office, the same could be said of our work-from-home-wear. The good news is, it’s easy to pull ourselves out of a lack-of-fashion rut, according to Tan France, Queer Eye’s resident fashion and style expert.

How does what you wear impact your mood?

According to France, when you wear something that makes you feel good, it can change your mindset for the day. “It can make a difference, not only to your appearance, but also your mental health, because you're telling yourself in the morning when you decide what you're going to put on your body, how seriously you take yourself and how seriously you take the life you want,” he says. At a time when many are struggling with issues beyond their control, anything that can make you feel better—including what you wear—can make a difference.

Not only is this something France addresses on nearly every episode of Queer Eye, it’s something he knows about from his own experience. “I was a small business owner up until a few weeks before I started working on Queer Eye, and I know what it feels like to struggle with circumstances out of your control,” he says. This is also one of the reasons France is partnering with Express on the Dream Big Project, a new, ongoing fundraising initiative that will support a different organization each season. The first fundraiser of the program, which launched on September 17, benefits the GoFundMe Small Business Relief Fund, which will distribute the money raised to small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19. France sees the project as a natural extension of the brand's mission to create confidence and inspire self-expression—something that also applies to what we wear when working from home.

Here are a few of France's tips for using clothing and accessories to lift your spirits when you’re stuck at home during the pandemic.

1

Anyone who has seen France’s work on Queer Eye knows that he, in his own words, “loves a good print,” so it’s not surprising that this was his first suggestion. “If you can find a way to throw in a print that makes you feel a little more jovial, and more playful than a simple black item, always go for it,” he says. If you find a print that you love and makes you feel unique, including it in your work-from-home outfit can help you feel more like yourself. 

2

As we’ve thought about work clothes over the past few months, we may have grouped them into distinct pre- and post-lockdown categories. France’s advice is to find a happy medium and opt for items of clothing that make you feel (at least somewhat) polished and professional, without sacrificing comfort. “Instead of throwing on a regular jacket, try something with some more stretch to it, or a little looser fabric, or something a little more oversized, so you’re still comfortable, but you look professional and appropriate,” France says. “If you can find little ways to inject whatever you're trying to convey into your wardrobe, it's going to make such a difference.”

3

After several months of work-from-home wardrobes being all about comfort, it may feel a little odd to add some accessories to your outfit in the morning. “You will often find me—when I’m not on a Zoom call, when I’m in my kitchen baking—I have most of my jewelry on,” France says. “It makes me feel nice. It gives me a kick up the butt that I need.” So if you have a scarf or pair of earrings that you truly enjoy wearing that makes you feel more confident, put them on at home, just for your own benefit.

4

Along with accessories, we may also have certain items of clothing we’ve deemed too “nice” or “fancy” for everyday wear. And we’re not talking ball gowns or other formalwear—it could be an everyday item that you typically save for special occasions. 

This is something France knows about firsthand, thanks to his husband. “I will buy him something gorgeous, and he will let it sit in our closet until a special occasion,” he says. “Not many of us have that many special occasions in our lives—we're just chilling with our friends. And so it’s frustrating when I see that beautiful thing that I spent a lot on and really considered, waiting for the queen to arrive. But the queen’s not visiting our house. Are you going to waste something that would make you feel so good?”

If that sounds familiar, France recommends adding some of your special pieces to your at-home rotation. When getting dressed, he suggests asking yourself, “'Is this the way I want to feel today? Could I be happier?' If the answer is yes, maybe try something else on."