This is the one thing that helps me be productive while working in quarantine
Introducing the office cardigan—at home
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
Like a lot of people, I used to work in an office. In this different, far-off world (that is, about six or seven weeks ago) I woke up every weekday around 5:30 or 7:30 a.m.—depending on if I’d booked a pre-work exercise class or not—got dressed, and took myself to the office. Now, all these things—early morning fitness classes! Commutes! Outfit selections! Open floor-plan offices!—seem defiantly foreign and luxurious, though I know I must have resented them at the time. (I was a fool then, you see.)
Getting to wear pajamas all day is great—until it isn't
For obvious reasons, I now work at home. I am lucky to have the ability to do so, and I relish the luxuries that go along with being able to perform my job not in an office, like technically only having to wake up at 8:59 AM to be sufficiently on time for the day, microwaving fish without fear of my colleagues turning on me, and playing Vanderpump Rules on mute all day as a silent, chaotic-in-a-comforting-way backdrop. But such luxuries are accompanied by a confrontation of the knowledge that, without a routine and the little rituals that signal yes, your day is starting—particularly the ritual of getting dressed—I am a little lost.
Yes, I could wear my pajamas and a bathrobe all day, and no one I work with would be any the wiser. But my bathrobe also makes me feel like it is time for me to go to bed, which is helpful when it is time for me to go to bed, but not so helpful when I need to send emails, get on video conferences, or churn out some of the content I am expected to write. Fortunately, I have one thing that, for whatever reason, allows my brain to switch from “sleep time” to “work time:” My Office Cardigan.
What is an Office Cardigan?
I can’t imagine that I am the only person out here who relied on an Office Cardigan in a past Office Life, though it is possible that not everyone referred to it that way. To me, an Office Cardigan is a long-ish, office dress code-appropriate sweater with an open front that allows you to hang it over your desk chair so you can pull it on without ruining whatever you decided to wear that day when a chill strikes. Mine is a chunky knit, brownish yellow, sadly now sold out BP number that I’ve had since last summer. I happened to grab it on my last day in the office before the quarantine—mainly, I confess, because I couldn’t remember if I had ever washed it.
On my second or third day working from home, I slid it on (at this point, it had gone through the laundry), and that day went better than the ones before it, in which I had struggled to get through small, should-have-been-five-minute tasks. At the end of the day, I took it off, which, while not the same mental shift that happens during a commute home, helped me feel like the day had actually ended.
I don’t know why, but for me, it really is that simple. When I wear leggings, my International Thespian Honor Society long sleeve tee from high school, and a bathrobe—for example—I am a couchbound slug who finds it impossible to focus on any subject for more than a few minutes, and for whom even the task of making coffee in my French Press is far too much. But when I wear the same base but substitute the robe with the cardigan? I am a productive, attentive go-getter who uses a standing desk and not only makes coffee in the French Press right after waking up, but also goes through the effort of using a milk frother to make the experience of drinking my java that much more special. Oh, and I actually manage to do what is expected of me in my 9-5—wait for it—between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Of course, this is just what works for me. Some people say the only way to feel productive inside the home is by wearing jeans (I would never) or even a suit (I cannot fathom what this would feel like, let alone actually doing it myself). It is possible that all your cylinders are firing when you wear sweatpants, or a button-up shirt and no pants, Risky Business-style, or even, yes, a bathrobe. All I know is that I get more done when I wear my Office Cardigan than when I do not, and this could be the case for you, too.
If you feel you could benefit from an Office Cardigan, and don’t have your actual Office Cardigan with you, here are some good options.
A light but cozy cardigan
As the weather gets warmer, all that's needed to stay sufficiently cozy is a lightweight, breathable sweater. Reviewers love this one from Halogen, which is made of a linen blend, drapes past the hips, and looks great with jeans, leggings, and dresses.
"These cardigans should be in everyone’s closet," writes a reviewer. They are lightweight and perfect for a cooler evening where a heavy coat is not necessary. "
Get the Halogen Long Cardigan from Nordstrom for $27.60 to $40.40
A cool textured cardigan
This simple-textured cardigan skims the waist but does not land past it, so it’s a great choice for people who don’t love cardigans that peek out beneath jackets. It also has dropped shoulders, which gives it a slouchy yet stylish look.
"I’ve been looking for a shorter length sweater for a few months ago but I haven’t been able to find much more than a traditional cardigan...until now!" Writes a reviewer. "I ordered this in black and now grey and I love it! Cute cut, flattering but still slightly oversized."
Get the BP Casual Open Front Cardigan from Nordstrom for $23.40
A soft, luxurious cardigan
The Barefoot Dreams cardigan has a lot of fans, with more than 3,000 reviews and a near-perfect 4.7 star rating. Reviewers love its delicate-yet-warm knit fabric and sophisticated design, which makes it feel like a blanket but look great inside or outside of the house.
"Almost embarrassed to say that I have worn this sweater nearly every day since receiving it," writes a reviewer. "It is absolutely lovely, cozy and snuggly. The indigo is gorgeous, I am ordering a second one and believe this sweater is totally worth the price. Oh, also love the length and that I can wear it out and about, even with leggings because it covers your assets."
Get Barefoot Dreams Lite Circle Cardigan from Nordstrom for $116
A cardigan with lots of color
If you want a sweater that "pops" a little more (even if all you're doing, for now, is working on your laptop on the couch), consider this piece from B.P. It features navy, pink, and red ombre stripes that provide a boost of spirit-lifting color and add umph to yoga pants-centric outfits.
"Colors are exactly as pictured," writes a reviewer. "It's really soft and I love that the sleeve is not open (extra warmth). Really good value for the money."
Get the B.P. Blouson Sleeve Ombre Cardigan from Nordstrom for $23.60
The product experts at Reviewed have all your shopping needs covered. Follow Reviewed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest deals, product reviews, and more.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.