The Great Debate of 2020: Dress Pants or Sweatpants?

Business casual, or real casual. It’s a decision a lot of us have been making while we transition to working from home.


Way back in the day, work-wear was typically a suit for men, and a tailored dress for women. Thankfully, the “business casual” trend came in the 90’s to give us some more options. There are still places where traditional (at times archaic) rules are still enforced on clothing, hosiery, makeup and hairstyles, but the times are changing! With Millennials now being the largest generation in the workforce, it’s not surprising we are seeing more of these more relaxed styles in the workforce, especially as people work from home. Millennials have never been one to follow societal norms, so don’t be surprised if these styles are here to stay once we are back in the office.


So, is one truly better than the other? Recent studies suggest yes, but others say it’s all about personal preference. Some swear that getting into traditional work attire makes them more productive, while others say they feel the comfort of loungewear makes them enjoy the work day more.


Some studies show that women are rated by others as more competent when in formal attire. As if wearing a dress makes me more productive… Luckily, other studies show that if you make a good first impression in your workplace, and you prove you’re a hard worker, people won’t notice your wardrobe that may tiptoe the dress-code line at times. Plus, more and more workplaces are looking for authenticity and individuality, which has blurred the lines of “proper” business attire.

Here's what we think some of the PROS and CONS of each are. Read them, and then you can decide for yourself!


Business Casual


Pros:


Increases Productivity


Taking the time to get up and pick out an outfit fit for the office can help you set a productive tone to start your day. Forcing your brain to wake up and start your morning routine transitions from rest mode to work mode, which can increase your motivation to work and level of productivity.


Sense of Normalcy


If you’re someone who is new to working at home, getting dressed in the morning might be the only part of your normal routine left. Keeping up with it can decrease the stress of a huge change, which is a huge benefit to your mental health. Maintaining a little bit of normalcy in your life is important during these unpredictable times.


Improves Self Image


When you’re dressed as a professional, you feel like a professional out in the workforce. Prioritizing getting ready for work in the morning like you would if you worked outside your home can boost your mood and raise self confidence.


Cons:


Time Consuming


We have all felt like we don’t have enough time in day, and working from home can help us gain a few more precious hours. Going bare faced and throwing on some comfy pants and a sweater can save you time in the morning, allowing you more time to prepare for the day in other ways.


Uncomfortable


A lot of people don’t love the feeling of stiff dress pants, button up tops, or for women, HIGH HEELS. Yet they are often staple in what people deem “office attire”. For us, the tops and jackets are restricting and the pants never seem to fit right.


Expensive


Dress clothes can be expensive, and not everyone can afford them. This is why dress codes have often been seen as classist, as not everyone has the ability to afford pricey clothes specifically for the workplace.



There are many reasons why getting up and into your business attire can benefit some people during their work day. Whether it’s the last “normal” thing in your work day, you just love getting into that suit and tie, or maybe you have a Zoom . Whatever your reason is, don’t stop! That routine is what will help you get through the hardships. Just make sure you’re not hard on yourself when one day you’re too tired and only want to get half dressed for your morning Zoom meeting.



Lounge Wear


Pros:


It’s Not All Frumpy Sweats Anymore


Wearing sweats no longer needs to make you feel like you’re hungover on a Sunday, ready for a day filled with Netflix. With recent trends of “fancier” loungewear, you can look put together, even if you’re covered in cotton. Plus, there are plenty of ways to dress up lounge wear. In Winnipeg, we love to get inspo from Margaux at WhatMWore.


Decreases Stress, Increases Productivity


Wearing lounge wear while you work can decrease your stress by increasing your comfort. When you’re comfortable, you’re more equipped to handle the high levels of stress during the work day. Plus, you’re more likely to stay focused for longer periods of time. It also takes the stress out of deciding what to wear each day based on what fits “business casual”.


Practicality


Life is crazy right now with a lot of us transitioning from the office to home. Figuring out that home office space where you’ll be productive is hard enough. Some people are working while trying to juggle taking care of their loved ones and homeschooling their children. For those people, a suit might not be the most practical thing to be wearing while running between the office and the kids. Plus, once you’re done with your day, you’re already in the perfect outfit to get up and take the dogs for a walk or to start game night with the family.


Affordability


Loungewear is typically more affordable than business attire, swapping button up shirts with comfy tees. It’s also very versatile, meaning you don’t have to be buying outfits you know you’ll only wear to the office. You can also splurge on a few staple pieces of business casual attire and add elements of loungewear to save money while dressing up your wardrobe.


Cons:


No Work-Rest Transition


Separating work hours from relaxing hours is a good habit to have. Unfortunately, this is more difficult to do when you wear the same comfy clothes all day. Changing out of your office attire can be a quick way to signal to your brain it’s time to recharge. This can lower your cortisol levels, reduce mental health symptoms, and promote a state of rest. If you’re going to choose loungewear while you’re at home, at least change out of your PJs!


Decreased Productivity


While wearing comfortable sweats can help keep your stress low throughout your work day, it can also decrease your productivity. As you work from home, if your clothes are too comfy, you could feel like it’s a Sunday where you’d rather be in bed. Making it easier to be distracted. Putting on a put together outfit, accessories, etc can help train your brain to feel like you’re actually headed out for a normal day at the office.


Self Image


While you want to be comfortable, if you take the “real casual” look too far it may have a negative effect on your confidence at work. You may start to feel as though you’re lazy, messy and unorganized. Feeling “put together” can give you that extra boost, even when you might not be feeling your best.



There are definitely ways to bring lounge wear into your work attire, without looking frumpy and disheveled. Whether it’s a blouse with a nice pair of sweats, or a crewneck over a white button up, there are ways to make “business casual” a little comfier.



The good news if you don’t have to pick one or the other, you could flip between the two as you see fit. Running late? Throw on some sweatpants and an oversized sweater. Have an important zoom meeting? Wear those dress pants and a button-down shirt. You could also do what a lot of people are calling the “work mullet” where it’s business on top, casual on the bottom. Who says a blazer can’t be worn with yoga pants? At the end of the day, you should wear what makes you feel your best.


It’s 2020, our world has been turned upside down and a lot of us are working from home. So, wear WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT!