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There is an ad taped to a telephone pole on a street corner in my neighbourhood. "Work from home and make your own hours!" it reads. "No more tiring commutes!"

Theoretically, you could spend the rest of your days selling diet pills by phone with your favourite soap opera on mute. It is interesting note, however, that in the two months since the poster went up, not a single phone number has been ripped off the bottom. I have a sneaky suspicion why.

It's not the economic uncertainty of freelance employment that people fear, it's ... yoga pants.

And rightly so. Lululemon is to blame - not just for the commodification of an ancient spiritual practice - but for the decline in morale among the home-office work force.

Before I worked out of the house, I had a rose-tinted view of what home-office life would be like. It would be wonderful, of course. I would wake up early each morning and go for a run in the park, followed by a quick shower and high-fibre breakfast, then down to work by 9 a.m. sharp.

When I say "down to," I did not imagine myself toiling in a bathrobe in some miserable basement cubbyhole. I envisioned a working environment roughly along the lines of Diane Keaton's beach house in Something's Gotta Give.

Remember the montage where she cries out loud while writing a hit play about her affair with Jack Nicholson? That was going to be me, without the crying part. I had it planned out: There I'd be, in a casual slip dress, reclining by the fire with a laptop balanced on one knee and a homemade latte on the other. A stylish, centred and self-employed member of the global home-office work force.

That was before I realized I didn't own a slip dress. Or a

fireplace. Or a milk steamer.

Day by day, my aesthetic standards slipped. I stopped wearing skirts or dresses because I couldn't be bothered with tights. Hair brushing and drying seemed pointless since it was usually up in a pony by noon. Where once I had refused to leave the house without mascara and powder, now I couldn't be bothered to put on a slick of lipstick when I heard Patrick's key in the lock at the end of the day. What was the point when he had seen me looking the same eight hours earlier?

The final slip down the slide into official home-office slobbery came - as so many dark things do - as the result of the best intentions.

One sunny morning, I hopped out of bed and dressed for a run. I put on my athletic bra, yoga pants, tank top and micro-fibre hoodie, only to find that by the time I was ready to leave the house, it was drizzling. I decided to wait it out, but the drizzle turned into sheets, which turned into horizontal hailstones.

When I next looked at the clock, it was quitting time. I had spent the whole day working in yoga pants and I felt ... fine. The following morning, I passed over my jeans. They were comfortable, but why not be more comfortable? Besides, who's going to know?

Since then, I have worn yoga pants every day of the week, except Saturday - when I do the laundry in my bathrobe.

While my productivity hasn't suffered, other parts of my life are feeling the strain, or the stretch, as the case may be.

I am loath to have lunch meetings (too much fuss) and Patrick has taken to calling me "the urban hick," because of my new habit of wearing rubber boots around the house instead of trainers (no more inconvenient laces).

My homebody nature has morphed into a reclusive paranoia and my slovenly appearance belies my increasingly obsessive personal habits. The doorknobs, for instance, look so much cleaner when I scrub them with a toothbrush.

I'd aimed for Something's Gotta Give and ended up with As Good as it Gets. I was trapped in the wrong generically named Jack Nicholson star vehicle.

I needed expert help!

Stylist Sarah Collins runs her own image consulting business in Toronto ( http://www.scimage.ca). When I told her about my new work wardrobe, she was horrified.

"Productivity and putting yourself together, do go hand and hand!" she assured me in an on-the-fly e-mail interview. "Cozy, stretchy and non-restrictive yoga wear is attire to be worn for leisure, lounging and running - NOT WORK."

Then she followed up with a few helpful hints, including the importance of grooming, accessorizing, getting out of your PJs and my personal favourite: "Wearing a bra!"

Having felt the yoga pant effect, I suppose those people who apply full makeup and put on business attire before descending to their home offices are right. Even in a home office - perhaps especially in a home office - you have to fake it to make it.

Does that mean I'm going to don a pantsuit while I sit at home and work all day? No, but I will pull on a pair of jeans. Even if it means I end up selling diet pills and watching soaps, at least I'll be dressed for my lack of success.