How to Wear Athleisure to the Office (Plus 10 Must-Have Items to Shop)
Perhaps the best part of working from home is the opportunity to wear whatever you’d like (within reason) to the ”office” (aka, the kitchen table). Now that more companies are requiring folks to return to their desks, we’re reluctant to give up on our wonderfully comfy lifestyle. The compromise, it seems, is the advent of workleisure.
What is “workleisure”?
Just as the name suggests, it’s a hybrid of work-appropriate styles and leisure wear. Think relaxed cashmere blazers and structured scuba joggers in place of both tailored suiting and flared leggings.
Simple enough. So how do I wear workleisure to the office?
You can’t just show up to work in a cozy sweatsuit with heels and call it a day. There are definitely some tricks and rules to pulling this off. But don’t fret, they’re very easy to follow.
- Stick with neutral and dark hues over bright patterns. You loved your tie-dye sweats to death this past year, but now is not the time to wear them. Black, navy, chocolate brown or even dark green will naturally look more polished than your college grays.
- Nothing too tight or too loose. Both spandex tops and baggy knit pants wind up looking unprofessional, so opt instead for pieces that hit that Goldilocks level of loose while still maintaining a sleek silhouette. (The only exception here is sometimes black opaque leggings, which can look office-appropriate when worn with an oversize sweater or longer button-down shirt.)
- Leave the shorts for another day. Shorts are never OK for an office setting, especially bike shorts. Leave those for workout classes and weekend brunch and stick with pants or skirts that hit below the knee, no matter how casual your office dress code may be.
- When in doubt, accessorize. Adding a brown leather belt to a cozy knit sweater dress or some pearl earrings to a black sweatshirt can elevate these athleisure staples to feel more polished overall. Sleek tote bags, leather loafers, dainty jewelry or a pair of pointy-toe pumps can all help boost those workwear vibes.
Now, onto the fun part: Shopping for new workleisure attire. Here are 10 must-have pieces to help you transition from a life of sweatsuits to one of office meetings IRL.
The Best Workleisure Items to Shop:
1. lululemon Scuba High-Rise Jogger
We prefer joggers over flared knit pants or sweatpants, as they aren’t quite so baggy or flowy but are still supremely comfortable and this lululemon pair is our top pick for fall 2021. We love the subtle detail of a stripe down the sides, and the scuba material looks more polished than cotton or nylon. It’s also less likely to wrinkle or crease so you’ll continue to look professional long past 5 PM. We suggest you wear these joggers with a crisp white button-down and coordinating white sneakers, or a structured shell top and pointy-toe flats.
Available in sizes 0 to 20
2. Athleta Zephyr Tank
Best Tank Top
Especially while temperatures are still high, we’re all about wearing sweat-wicking pieces that don’t necessarily look like gym wear. This top, which comes in five colors, works well with a regular T-shirt bra and is a phenomenal layering piece for just about any type of office environment. Layer it under a blazer or cardigan, or tuck it into some structured joggers and you’ll be sitting pretty, no matter how humid it gets this week.
Available in sizes XXS to 3X
3. Everlane The Track Half-Zip
Making sweatshirts look office-appropriate can be pretty tricky.Avoid hoodies or anything with a kangaroo pouch, and leave the graphics for the weekend. Your best best is to try something like this 3/4-zip design from Everlane, made from a sturdy cotton blend, rather than terry cloth which can feel far too casual. Layer a coordinating black-and-white stripe tee underneath or a white button-down for a pop of fun.
Available in sizes XXS to XL
4. Weekend Stories Noah Knit Dress
Best Sweater Dress
Yes, this dress comes with a side slit (which may not work for offices with more intense dress codes), but it isn’t too high, in our opinion, and can be easily played down with the addition of a blazer or cardigan and a leather belt cinched at the waist. Plus, the ridiculous soft wool-silk material is just too luxe not to wear as often as humanly possible.
Available in sizes XXs to XL
5. Daily Practice by Anthropologie Lounge Jumpsuit
We love a good one-piece wonder for mornings when we just can’t be bothered to try to mix and match separates. This cotton number from Anthropologie is loose, but not too loose, and looks as good with a blazer and heels as it does with a pull-over knit and loafers.
Available in sizes XXS to XL
6. New Balance Made in US 990v5
Not all athletic sneakers look good with workwear staples, but this supremely comfy classic style from New Balance definitely does. The gray color of these dad-approved shoes helps them to blend in with neutral-hued office attire better than a neon blue or bright red sneaker ever would. Plus, they’re perhaps the comfiest sneakers we’ve ever worn, so embrace the 990s now while they’re still considered cool and trendy.
7. adidas Originals Adicolor Classics Track Pants
Best Track Pants
If you don’t love the ankle-hugging silhouette of joggers, try a pair of wide-leg track pants, like this Adidas style, instead. The seams down the front mimic your old go-to trousers, and the legs are just the right amount of flowy to look easy but not messy. If you’re going to rock track pants, we say stick with simple black and white and pair them with other black or white staples—a button-down shirt, a slim-fit turtleneck, pointy-toe flats—for a streamlined look.
Available in sizes XS to XL, also 2X to 4X
8. H&M Rib-Knit Tunic and Pants
Best Elevated Knit Set
The key to pulling off a knit set like this one is to choose fabrics with enough heft and texture, and use accessories to elevate the outfit. Beige leather or suede loafers or flats, pearl earrings or a simple gold pendant will look way more polished than backless slides, chunky chains or colorful jewelry. Add in a sleek handbag for good measure.
Available in sizes XS to XXL
9. Pact Revive Swing Dress
Best Lounge Dress
For those not yet ready to give up forgiving, oversize silhouettes, try a swing dress in place of your favorite nightgown. This long-sleeve version from eco-friendly company Pact is easy to dress up or down depending on your company’s expectations. A shorter length also means you won’t get swallowed up by an excess of flowy fabric.
Available in sizes XS to XXL
10. Soma ENBLISS Bralette
OK, so realistically no one at work should know what you’ve got going on under your clothes, meaning you should wear whatever makes you most comfortable. That said, this bralette is our absolute favorite for everyday wear for two reasons: it’s ridiculously comfortable, and it provides real support for those with larger chests while maintaining a flattering shape, i.e., no uni-boob, smashed chest or droopy situations here. It also has removable cups so you can maximize coverage at the office. This pull-over styles runs from a S to an XXXL, with sizes corresponding to band size (34 through 44) more than cup. (Although we highly recommend checking the size chart before you order.)
Available in sizes S to XXXL