How to Not Dress For Success: Top Ten Fashions For Being Alone in Your Apartment

[This post was inspired by the success of the “Top Ten Sweatpants” post. Obvs.]

SO. It seems like a lot of you are familiar with “the feeling of is the sun setting already, I haven’t even been outside yet” or “the feeling of being all undressed up with nowhere to go,” and therefore could probably use additional fashion tips from me. I am the queen of all undressed up.

I’ve been rolling out of bed, walking across the room and turning on my Macbook every morning since mid-2007, when my then-girlfriend had a psychotic break and I had to quit my job and consequently I became a temporary agoraphobe and started working freelance from home. So now, in lieu of structuring my days in a traditional way or really at all, I’ve settled into a comfortable routine in which the transition from “work” to “play”/”playing while working” is indicated primarily by a shift in sobriety and a change in outfits.

People who work “in offices” have all kinds of rules for how a person should dress for success — rules which involve blazers, uncomfortable shoes, ties, pressed pants and other concepts that ultimately stifle the human soul. Working from home allows you to tap in to your most authentic self — but let’s not confuse that with “being lazy, apathetic and generally aimless/hopeless about life.”

One quickie before we begin: I do advise — and I’m being serious! — that if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like to be seen without your pants on/makeup on/hair done, that you should do those things first thing in the AM, just like if you were going to work. Otherwise the prospect of answering the door, video-chatting, or running an errand will seem gradually more and more insurmountable, as “put pants/eyeliner on” is another overwhelming step strengthening inertia’s deadly grip.  Putting on pants also helps your mind register the transition between “play” (the underpants you slept in and a ratty t-shirt) and “work” (clean sweatpants, a hole-free t-shirt) and enables you to take yourself more seriously. Because GIRL YOU ARE SERIOUS. BEING UNEMPLOYED AND/OR WORKING FROM HOME IS SERIOUS BUSINESS. And just because we don’t have to iron our pants doesn’t mean we can’t have our own share of the market! We are the future of America, everybody.

Basically, I’ve been at this for a while, and I pretty much look like shit. But G-ddamn am I comfortable, and you should be too.

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Top Ten Stay-At-Home Fashions

1. Hoodies

Hoodies are like the Swiss Army Knife of torso-wear, because they’re a hoodie AND a spring jacket AND a hat (the hood). Ideally during the day you should put on and remove your hoodie several times as the temperature changes in your room, based mostly on what drugs you’re on and if the air conditioner/space heater is working.

You need AT LEAST 2-3 hoodies. It’s good to have either a black or navy blue hoodie, a grey hoodie, and a color that looks good with all the t-shirt colors you wear most often.

Let’s be honest — nobody does a hoodie like American Apparel. This is unfortunate, because Dov Charney is an ass.

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2. Basic T-Shirts

via lookbook.nu/user/89493-JAIME-L

A three-pack of Hanes V-Neck T-shirts is like $15. Plus, white is such a “clean” color that wearing it is almost like dressing up, and when you spill coffee on it you can say “well, at least it only cost six bucks.”

I enjoy American Apparel v-neck t-shirts. However they are obnoxiously overpriced. So either you find someone to get you a bunch of them, which’s what I did, or you get off your ass and product test some fucking juice or babysit someone’s kid or something and then buy yourself a t-shirt. They’re cheapest on Amazon, IDK why.

Also stock up on wifebeaters. You can never have too many wifebeaters. See, look how happy she is:

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3. Gigantic Sunglasses

When you’re spending 75% of your day in various stages of “recline,” it’s important that you don’t lose your sense of importance. I am totally averse to celebrity magazines ’cause I don’t care who anyone is dating, but I do enjoy flipping through them at the nail salon for fashion tips.

Celebrities are special in that people want to photograph them in their sweatpants with no makeup on. When you’re just a regular person, people want you to put on real pants and makeup before they’ll take your picture. So in this way celebrities are actually our only guides to Hangover-Wear.

And they all wear gigantic sunglasses. The bigger the lenses, the bigger the hangover.

To comfort myself about my overall failures in life, I like to really get into character, trudging up to Starbucks in my giant sunglasses thinking to myself “G-d I wish Mary-Kate would stop being so mean to me” or “I can’t believe Kevin thinks HE deserves full custody of Jayden!” You know?

Get some cheapies at Alloy, these stylish Aviators from Steve Madden, or make like the famous people do and spend $325 on Oliver Peeples Sunglasses that you’ll probably accidentally leave at Applebees.

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4. Actual Glasses

I also recommend ACTUAL GLASSES, like these clear-lens geeky glasses from ASOS. I was always envious of my near/farsighted friends in college b/c all they had to do was put their hair in a ponytail and put on glasses instead of contacts to indicate “I am so busy and frantic today that I didn’t even have time to put in my contacts!” which is exactly what you want people to think when you slept through your alarm.

I now have actual glasses because staring at this screen and reading books in the dark for 28 years finally caught up to me.

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5. Fuzzy Boots / Flip-Flops / Slippers

You might think that if you’re inside all day, footwear is not important or even necessary. WRONG. See above w/r/t leaving open the possibility of leaving the house, and also, your kitchen floor is colder than you think it is. You will realize this when you leave your room to go make toast, and realize I am right. When you first look at these boots (below) you might think, “ugh so ugly!” But actually, they’re the best boots of all time, I own them, and I wish Puma hadn’t discontinued them. However, I believe there’s a number in China you could call.

“Is it ever okay to wear Uggs?” you might ask yourself. YES OF COURSE IT IS. Uggs are PERFECT for your lifestyle, except they cost a lot. Less expensive options include these Roxy Glee Booties or these Minnetonka (As LA Gear is to Reebok, so Minnetonka is to Uggs).

I don’t like flip-flops but I understand why they’re a hit amongst people without very sensitive between-the-toes-skin.

The key here for slippers, flip-flops or booties is that there are no ties/buckles involved, requiring only minimal commitment to shifting activities from outdoors to indoors while emanating an aura of effortlessness.

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6. Baggy Jeans + Adult Jeans

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Pair #1: Baggy & holey.

You should be able to pull these jeans down without unbuttoning the waist. Secretly I actually find nothing more adorable/sexy than a girl in baggy-ass jeans. These jeans will be so cozy, they will almost feel like pajama pants. If your parents were hippies, they probably have some in the attic, or you can go to a thrift store or Old Navy or the mens section.

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Pair #2: Dark & Tight.

this homoerotic photograph features dark/tight jeans

Keep these on-hand for an impromptu special occasion like going to Whole Foods, picking up your child from a rich person’s house or going to the gas station right next to your old high school.

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7.  Multiple Pairs of Sweatpants/Leisure Pants & Leggings

We go into detail about sweatpants in top ten sweatpants. But it’s hard to say too much about sweatpants. You will need at least:

+ One (1) pair of comfortable/warm sweatpants

Ideally in a dark color so they can double as a napkin.

+ One (1) pair of “Surprisingly Sexy” leggings or yoga pants.

What happens if you’re at home editing a video and your girlfriend suddenly shows up at the door? Yes, she claims to love you unconditionally, etc., says you look cutest with no makeup on just like Drake, but what’s the harm in pre-packaging your butt in loungewear that appears both lazy/accidental and SECRETLY HOT.

+ 3-4 additional pairs of your choosing

Underwear Tip: if you wear tight, thin boyshorts that cover your entire ass, then you won’t have to change underpants when switching from leggings to gym shorts to jeans to bed!

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9. Sneakers, Gym Shorts & a Sports Bra

My number one piece of advice for stay-at-home people is to leave your home. Specifically, I want you to go to the gym. Not because I think you need to lose weight (I don’t) but because working out is really the only thing in the world guaranteed to make you feel better about yourself afterward without any negative feelings, consequences or complications tacked onto it. Also, when people make snide remarks about you staying at home all day, you can say “I go to the gym every day,” and then they’ll feel like an asshole because they don’t go to the gym and you are therefore a supreme being. If you can’t afford a gym, we totally get that and recommend walking down to Dunkin Donuts every day instead, or going for a run just when you know the cute barista at the place down the street will be leaving work and unlocking her bike. She will be impressed by your athleticism.

All you need are some cheap shorts, the wifebeaters I already told you about, a sports bra, and some sneakers.

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10. Legwarmers

I prefer stirrup legwarmers (these Stretchy Oversized Boucle Stirrup Leg Warmers look warm) worn by actual dancers because they stay put, but you can find more stylin’ styles if you venture out of stirrup-territory. I can’t tell you why these are so important, but they are. And if it’s really hot out, you can wear them with boyshorts and it’s practically an outfit and perfect for housecleaning.It’s like being on FAME! 24/7.


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Profile gravatar of Riese

Riese is the 35-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City and mellowed out in California before returning to Michigan for reasons that are unclear to her now — she is currently plotting her return to the West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2394 articles for us.

124 Comments

  1. 0

    the inertia reason is a good reason to put on pants first thing, but there are other good reasons too.

    like say it’s a hot summer day and you are working at home in nothing but your short polo shirt and your glasses and your neighbor-friend comes over and you start talking to her in your doorway, first behind your door because, y’know, you don’t have pants on and you are in an area with heavy pedestrian usage. but you get involved in the conversation, so soon you’re standing in your doorway with the door wide open without your pants on. then your neighbor-friend suggests going for a walk and you’re like, hey, that sounds nice, so you slip on your vans and walk outside. you might make it surprisingly far before your neighbor says, i’ll just wait over here while you go put your pants on. at which point you might scream, oh fuck, i’m not wearing any pants! which might cause everyone in shouting distance to stop and stare you. yeah so lots of good reasons to put on pants when working at home.

  2. 0

    So I was looking at the old boyshorts post, and I have this ambition to buy boys/mens underwear and the only thing stopping me is not knowing what brand or size to get. Anybody have some advice on this?

    • 0

      I am a huge fan of the Calvin Klein boxer briefs (see AS calendar girl for a nice visual) as well as the Versace. Check them out on a Macys website–where you can also order them.

      re: size—use boys/mens pants/sweatpants as a guide, this may help….

      really. the boxer briefs just rock.

      ( & gf thinks so too, js)

        • 0

          I agree. You fancy! Otherwise, I put in a vote for a variety of boys underwear from boxer briefs to trunks to just straight up briefs.

          I just had a thought. (Yes, I’m a little drunk, what?) You can try on men’s jeans but not men’s underwear. Buuut men’s underwear is listed in sizes that correlate to men’s jeans. So you should be able to find a range that is appropriate for your underwear if you try on some jeans while you’re at the store.

    • 0

      If you are willing/able to shop online, these people make boxers specifically designed for wimmin: http://www.myboxercraft.com/category.aspx?category=1510 <-note: these can be a good way to transition, I started with them, going straight to legit boxers can be a bit unnerving all at once.

      If not, then I swear by Old Navy boxers, they are cheap, durable, and comfy, I am wearing some right now.

      If you think you're more of a briefs sort of person, I'd hit up Target for cheap ones, American Eagle if you have monies.

      Okay. Now. How to tell your size: you will probs have to take some measurements of your hips. Generally, 28-32 inch hips=small boxers, 32-34 is a medium, and so on. Most boxer/brief packages will define what size hips they are designed for.

      Have fun! 🙂

    • 0

      That’s what I was thinking too, but then I realized that this comfy clothes thing is almost MORE important for those of us that wear uncomfortable (but awesome, I actually love business attire) clothes all day, because when you get home after a day of jackets and collars etc, it’s so satisfying to change into something super comfortable. I’m staying with my dad right now, and we both get home from work in the evening and immediately go change out of suits into pajamas and then go make dinner and I must say it’s a pretty good outfit progression.

      • 0

        i have a business casual job! but yet, i am expected to do yoga & other flexible moves that just don’t work in those clothes. this whole post (and the alternative haircut one) actually inspired to go shopping tomorrow for LUSH shampoo & AA hoodies & comfy pants.

        yay double snow days!

    • 0

      I have two pairs of these fingerless glove-like things (they’re like mittens but with no fingers at all, like legwarmers for your hands!) that i wear to type so that the base of my palm doesn’t get bruised from constantly whapping it against my keyboard’s laptop. I don’t know if anyone else has experienced this, or if I am the biggest loser in the world. I call them “typing gloves.”

  3. 0

    I have been working for The Government for awhile now and they like us to stay in the office where they can watch us. It’s scary to work in an office with people who have been there for 30 years because you see what will become of you if you don’t find a way out. What will happen to me if I say? Stirrup pants and sweatshirts with seasonal appliques. Fortunatley, they are now allowing us to work at home which gives me hope because maybe, just maybe, I’ll dress like the people in this post rather than the county workers who’ve been chained to their desks for so long.

  4. 0

    I wear my white hanes v-neck under my baggy goodwill button downs so when I leave my Starbucks job I am wearing a clean (i.e. not covered in mocha, chai, whip cream, etc) shirt and tight black pants so I can see my gf and only smell like coffee. Then go home and take off pants. Which is me right now. Bam.

    Also, I enjoy the term ‘funemployed.’ Been there and know how to dress for it. Thank you Riese for the constant comfort inspiration.

  5. 0

    Does anybody else wear boxer shorts? Because they look super cute peeping out above the waistband of baggy jeans and you can also wear them around your apartment with your roommates none the wiser or even accidently take a walk outside in just your underwear and maybe people will think you have eccentric taste in short-shorts but you won’t have to go back inside to put on your pants.

    Also? Extra-super breathable. Just sayin’.

  6. 0

    This post is sooo good. Fav part: “that if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like to be seen without your pants on/makeup on/hair done, that you should do those things first thing in the AM, just like if you were going to work. Otherwise the prospect of answering the door, video-chatting, or running an errand will seem gradually more and more insurmountable, as “put pants/eyeliner on” is another overwhelming step strengthening inertia’s deadly grip.”

    I mean seriously. My life. Explained. Great advice 🙂

  7. 0

    my friends & i do that too! acting famous in a Starbucks in L.A.! it’s fun.

    whichever of us is rocking the Hungover Celebrity look will go in first, on her phone, & not look at anyone while she’s in line. then the rest of us go in as a group, pretend to ‘recognize’ our friend by whispering to ourselves “Hey, isn’t that her?” “Ohmigawd it totally is!”

    to take it to the next level, someone tries to get a picture of her on a phone, & she snaps at us “Excuse me! I’m just trying to get coffee, like a normal person, okay?”

    EVERYONE in the Starbucks will then stare at our friend, trying to figure out who she is, & on occasions people have approached her.

    bonus points if the barista doesn’t ask for her name when she orders, which i guess they’re not supposed to do when it’s a famous person.

  8. 0

    Was i the only one who was taken off guard by the plus size pic?
    I dont mean that in a negative way, it pretty much freaked me out that i was so attentive to it because its something you dont see every day. if anything its kind of sad i had such a reaction.

    needless to say, i approve. interesting.

  9. 0

    I go with a hooded sweatshirt as opposed to a hoodie, because the line of the zipper on a hoodie like bends inward and digs into me. I wear tshirts that don’t have stiff things on them like a logo made of thick paint, because it scratches me and hurts the same as the zipper. Tags also hurt me and I rip them out.

  10. 0

    I recently bought a sweater that was on sale for $7 at Old Navy and it is the coziest sweater I have ever owned. It’s gray on the outside with black fluffy lining on the inside and zips up/has a hood. It’s so warm and soft that I have been wearing it in place of a winter coat on occasion… I go to school in New England and this thing basically keeps me as warm as a coat. Best purchase. I am afraid that if I wash it, the fuzzy stuff won’t be as fluffy and the zipper will start making weird shapes like all zippers on sweaters tend to do, so for now it is my “lucky sweater.” I got another, thinner dark gray pullover hoodie at the same time and I have been wearing both of these together around my apartment ever since.

    Other favorites: Fleece-lined Plush leggings (which I learned about in an Autostraddle post) and “lounge socks” (fluffy socks, usually with the little dots on the bottom for traction).

    • 0

      I too have a sweater I use as a coat. But lately I’ve just been wearing my bathrobe if I have to go out, which I do a lot because of my dog. I’m sure I look like a reclusive woman who never puts on real clothes. The bathrobe is just so cozy and warm (thick fleece) and so easy to put on.

    • 0

      I think I have that sweater, only mine is black on the outside and white on the inside. It’s super warm and comfy and I looooove it! I washed mine recently because I got into a fight with a tube of pink lipgloss, and the sweater/hoodie turned out just fine. If anything, the dryer restored the fluffiness that was going on because of non-stop usage of said sweater.

  11. 0

    I got a little jealous about the fact that people get to wear coziness all day until I realised that I get to wear scrubs all day. Scrubs are like socially acceptable pyjamas with many pockets. Nobody even looks twice if I wear them to places in which pyjamas would be inappropriate. Until they try and show me their rashes and I have to tell them to get their plague-rat selves away from me.

    • 0

      Exactly! We’re also allowed to wear “regular” clothes to work, but… why would anyone ever choose that when scrubs are an option?? It’s so easy in the morning! I probably own more scrubs than any other kind of clothing.

  12. 0

    this is a quality post. i think you guys really know your audience. i have to disagree with the uggs though.

    also:
    1. birkenstocks are really helpful because they have good arch support and they slip on.

    2. i’m really grossed out by the guy modeling that american apparel shirt. it makes it look like it doesn’t even fit properly! the pulling at the shoulders, eww.

  13. 0

    This is the story of my life…

    I’m so far down the funemployment hole that I consider my american apparel hoodies my “going out” wear, as I find the wrists constricting. Spend the day in massive fuzzy university sweatshirts. I even got so annoyed that they were too thick to wear under my winter coat that I got a puffy vest for Christmas. Now I don’t have to change sweatshirts to walk the dog! (this was a very exciting development in my life)

    When I graduated from student to self-employed work from home, I made the conscious effort to switch out of Christmas themed pajama pants and into my nice lounge pants. (they have different dresser drawers which my partner mocks me for endlessly)

  14. 0

    Dammit. I’m reading this while still in my pajamas. I’ll go shower and change just after I share 2 clothing items you missed.
    1. Puffy vest. The constant pressure on your chest is very calming.
    2. Fleece. It is the yummiest fabric on earth. But you have to live in a cold city and probably open your windows otherwise you will sweat head to toe.

  15. 0

    i can’t believe no one has mentioned socks! i wear socks 24/7. seriously, i only take them off to shower. they keep your feet nearly always just the right temperature, which eliminates the need for flipflops and slippers, (unless you like to wear them, which is fine, but i think they’re way too cumbersome), and also keep your feet from getting dirty. (i cannot stand having dirty feet.)

    p.s. i completely agree with the person who doesn’t like zip-up hoodies. they are so uncomfortable.

  16. 0

    I actually picked up a bunch of cheapo wife beaters at Forever 21 when I was in the states on the weekend (the Forever 21 in Toronto blows). The ones from Urban Outfitters, even in XS, are too big for girls like me (ie. girls with no boobies). $2.50 each! And I’m from Canada, so for me they were like, $2.49 each! Can’t go wrong.

    I love going to Buffalo. The people at Target must think such weird things about me, because I come to the checkout with the most random shit ever to bring back home to show the other Canadians how cosmopolitan I am. I bought three 3-packs of those Extra Dessert gums, because we don’t have those here, and like, 15 packs of heart and butterfly-shaped stickers for the kids I teach at work, because I can never find non-Hannah Montana/Toy Story/Tinkerbell stickers here. Oh, and a Wonder Woman notebook. NBD.

  17. 0

    I laughed very loudly reading this because I’m literally wearing most of the things on this list right now at my desk. Fuzzy slippers, check. Hoodie, check. Comfy tee, check. Glasses, check. Lounge pants are my new baggy jeans. Yes, I said lounge pants. I am 85.

  18. 0

    I agree with all of these, except uggs because moccasins are clearly superior.

    Plus, when I’m looking to shake up my life a little bit I switch from sweatpants to men’s flannel pajamas. Pro tip: Buy men’s pj pants and sweatpants, because unlike women’s, they have pockets. Plus they’re usually cheaper. Layer with boxers so you can have the perfect temperature variability.

    I must also add booty shorts. You know, like volleyball shorts? Elastic, make your ass look good short-shorts. Feels like not wearing pants, but you can go outside. http://www.sportsauthority.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3973046&cp=3077569.3079702.2806308.2810843.694712&pg=3&parentPage=family Like these, only they’re usually plain black or grey. Pair with white hanes v-neck for perfect lounging.

  19. 0

    This article is awesome because it’s awesome and awful because it reminded me of a traumatic event. Some dude was pounding the fuck out of my door, so I crawled over to answer it wearing a ratty t-shirt and some sweatpants. Also, my hair was all over the place because it’s always all over the place. The guy was there to talk about electric companies but quickly decided that telling me I looked like I had just been having sex was a better topic for discussion.

  20. 0

    this article makes me happy because it reminds me of how lucky i am to be a freelancer, and also that i need to buy some wifebeaters, stat. Also, i’ve been wearing my sunglasses all day just to feel like i’m awesome, so i’m glad i’m not the only one who feels that way.

    • 0

      I really recommend working from home! Today I slept in, made a giant pot of tea, and did all my work from bed while wearing sweatpants and a snuggie.

      The downside is that I just got a part-time gig that involves leaving the house and standing up in front of people and giving talks, and I no longer have any workplace-appropriate clothes. I mean, my boss doesn’t seem to care at all, but I feel like it’s easier to hide the fact that I don’t really know what I’m talking about when I’m not wearing a Pikachu hoodie, leggings, and Uggs.

  21. 0

    Um, is anyone else really NOT into calling undershirts wifebeaters? As in “I just took off my button down and tie so I can get the evidence of my domestic abuse all over me!”

    My feminist brain isn’t humorless, just not that into beatings.

  22. 0

    My big splurges are Banana Republic tanks (they’re practically seamless and sooooo comfy) and Lucy yoga pants (usually cheaper than Luluemon and your ass looks just as good). Currently combining that w/my men’s H&M hoodie (aka my Bieber sweater) for a gooooooood night 🙂

  23. 0

    So I’m kinda obsessed with the Puma boots and would love to get a pair. Do you know the name of the style so I can search for them on somewhat more reputable sites than “China-direct-buy”? Thanks!

  24. 0

    “Underwear Tip: if you wear tight, thin boyshorts that cover your entire ass, then you won’t have to change underpants when switching from leggings to gym shorts to jeans to bed!”

    INSTANT SOCIAL ANXIETY. Do people really own enough different types & pairs of underwear that they can change their knickers 5 times a day? b/c I don’t. At all. Am I supposed to be wearing different underwear RIGHT NOW?

    SIGH.

  25. 0

    My #1 life goal right now is to find a way to work from home so I can wear All the Comfy Clothes all day instead of from 3:30 pm – bed and weekends.

    My #2 life goal, perhaps more exciting, is to find a way to get right between those two amazingly curvy, supremely sexy women and their tight dark jeans.

    Preferably sans jeans, but I’ll take what I can get.

  26. 0

    Really. I’ve been looking for relaxed/baggy jeans for like 2 years. Mens jeans never look right and girls baggy jeans are usually cropped short (like those old navy ones [yes, I basically immediately went to try them on]).

    Any other suggestions..??

  27. 0

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  28. Pingback: How to Not Dress For Success: Top Ten Fashions For Being Alone in Your Apartment | The New "Dress For Success"

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