Anh Sundstrom landed her first job as a marketing assistant for a small medical textbook publisher, which led to a role at a medical device company in a corporate environment where she was training surgeons on the technology. Like many women, she had to work hard to figure out how to look the part of polished professional with know-how and a knack for style. ”As a female, I almost felt like I had to overcompensate for that. I was always very conservative in how I dressed to make sure I was dressing appropriately.”
While Sundstrom found beauty and escapism in her favorite blogs, the aspirational styles weren’t real-world wearable. (Real women need practical, powerhouse pieces you can mix 30 ways with strong style possibilities.) “I started 9to5 as a daily journal of what I was wearing to work, thinking maybe there were other women out there who felt similarly,” she says. “No one wants to be stuck in the same rut of cardigans and pants. I challenged myself to bring my personal style into the workplace while maintaining a sense of professionalism.”
Fast forward to today, Sundstrom’s hugely successful blog is an inspiration to women looking for a consistent wardrobe that works as hard as they do. For those still figuring out what constitutes as “office dress” without an office to go to, Sundstrom has that down to a science: a WFH style formula to go from “home mode” to “work mode.”
DRESS FOR SUCCESS
“Everyone has their own journey, When I first started working from home, I was like, “Oh, awesome. I don't have to get dressed!” I did the casual thing for as long as I could handle. Then one day, I said, ‘I don't feel like me.’ So I had to balance out the days where I was in leggings and a topknot with no makeup with the days where I was actually getting dressed—and had the motivation to be like: ‘I want to be productive. I want to feel good about myself.’”
"I did the casual thing for as long as I could handle. Then one day, I said, ‘I don't feel like me.’"
“Feeling good about yourself, and feeling good about what you’re wearing, helps you throughout your day. It’s a small thing, but I don't think we should overlook those small things at times like this. Getting any sense of feeling good is so valuable right now. I’m going to take it where I can get it by getting ready for the day and dressing up a little bit. Even though I'm just going to be going from the deck to the couch to the desk to the kitchen, it makes a difference.”
“Feeling good about yourself, and feeling good about what you’re wearing, helps you throughout your day."
“I have my eye on clothes that make me feel good. But I'm also leaning more towards the comfy side of things, whereas before I could get away with wearing trousers and a blouse all day. Now I’m going for the fabrics that make it a lot easier to be at home all day. I love White + Warren’s cashmere because it’s cozy, but it also drapes really beautifully. I'm always cold, so I like feeling wrapped up and cocooned in the Travel Wrap. It’s a really special thing. I have two, actually.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“Other than not wearing heels, my style hasn't changed all that much. I'm not all of a sudden in a ton of loungewear. . . yet. I used to love wearing pencil skirts, but now I’m reaching for more wide-leg pants. They’re really comfortable but feel feminine, fun and fresh. Then I’ll tuck a top into them and that’s my new go-to uniform. I’m still aiming for a polished—polished but comfy.”
“[I first started working from home] about six years ago. I had my daughter, went right back to work after maternity leave and had a breakdown. I never thought I would be the person who comes back to work and puts in their notice a few weeks later because I just couldn't handle it. I felt like I was a failure in all aspects of my life, because here I was no longer the person staying super-late at work because I had to go home and nurse my child (and I was pumping at work and not able to pump enough milk for her for when I was gone). I felt like a failure as a new mom. I felt like a failure as an employee. It was a really rough time. When I finally made the decision to leave my job, it was crushing and the scariest thing I ever did, because I saw myself as a career woman through and through and always saw myself in that role. So I found a role that gave me the flexibility to work from home with my daughter while she was young.”
“I always say it took a lot of courage and it was crushing, but I’m so glad I did it.” The 24/7 approach to ‘getting it done’ paid off, as her passion project swiftly became Sundstrom’s full-time gig. “I had to create that balance for myself instead of expecting that it would come to me,” she says. “It is a position of privilege to be able to take a job and work in terms of my flexibility.” Adding: “I feel really, really lucky that I was able fulfill my ambitions as someone who wanted to work outside of my blog, fulfill my hobby and passion as a blogger and fulfill my need to be a mom to this baby.”