In the coming months, as more and more people return to the office, you will hear the word “workleisure” in regards to office apparel with increasing regularity. If you have never heard the term before, it is similar to athleisure. “Athleisure” is defined as athletic-style clothing that is also suitable as everyday casualwear, and “workleisure” is simply casual wear, including athleisure clothing, that can be styled to wear to the office. The concept has been around for a few years now, but with the insistence on comfort that staying home for a whole year has created in much of the American workforce, we believe that workleisure clothing is poised to gain real traction. Offices that have hitherto been formal are likely to go business casual, and business casual offices will likely be fully casual. Both of those situations will allow for workleisure clothing, especially if you use our clothing recommendations and styling tips to pull off maximum comfort in office-appropriate clothing with casual or athletic features.
Knits, knits, knits! The more stretch in your clothing, the more comfort and ease of movement you can achieve. Consider ponté pants in an elevated cut—perhaps a trim slim-straight silhouette—instead of your regular dress pants. When you might before have worn ponté pants, see if high-quality (i.e., opaque) leggings will work with that that tunic or long sweater. Instead of a denim pencil skirt, try a knit pencil skirt with Lycra in the fabric; it will be extremely comfortable and hold its shape all day. Knit dresses are as easy and comfy as nighties, but look terrific and are always appropriate. Try styling one of your pre-lockdown go-to office outfits with a knit top in place of a woven blouse. Knits, whether they are soft jersey or performance fabric, will likely make up the foundation of any versatile workleisure wardrobe.
Look for your personal wardrobe workhorse items in easier cuts or fabrics. I myself rely on blazers, from seersucker to tweed, to cover a multitude of sartorial sins. Blazers balance the figure, elevate anything your pair them with, hide the occasional lunchtime spill, and cover up the past-their-prime T-shirts we all sometimes inadvertently grab in the mornings. So, I’ll be looking for blazers made of comfy knit fabrics, still with some structure and heft, but blazers that are easy and relaxed rather than sharp and tailored. I know my style and taste, and won’t be donating my beloved blazer collection anytime soon, just adding a piece or two in order to gain greater comfort and ease of movement in workleisure ensembles. You can do the same with any go-to piece! If you wear jeans daily, look for stretchy pull-ons. If you rely on button-down blouses, look for easy care fabric with lots of stretch. Think about how you might adopt the workleisure concept by adding easy, comfy pieces similar to what you already know and love.
If your office is a bit more formal and you don’t believe a workleisure wardrobe is right for your place of business, you might consider where in your tried-and-true outfits you can swap in a workleisure piece relatively unnoticed. A jersey dress under your regular blazer, ponté pants with your cashmere sweaters, comfy tights instead of pantyhose. . . you get the idea. Stealth comfort. It will make the transition back to the office easier to bear, and feel better in the long run.
I am sure that every single person reading this knows at least one real-life example of this person: She invariably wears black polyester knit pants, black orthopedic shoes, and a long top, always of the same cut but in a few different colors, every single day between October and May? When it’s hot out, she switches to T-shirts. On one hand, I admire any woman who successfully creates a personal uniform, but think about the tiny things that person could tweak about her ensembles so that you remember her as a person rather than that unvarying outfit! A scarf tied around a ponytail here and a statement necklace there would have made a world of difference. Think about that as you create workleisure outfits. Style your super-comfy clothing like business wear so that it reads like business wear at first glance.
Choose comfortable, supportive loafers, elevated “dressy” sneakers, smoking slippers or low block heels over bulky athletic shoes or heavy-soled Oxfords. Accessorize with a colorful scarf, statement necklace, or brooch to give your ensemble interest and panache. If you wear makeup, consider trying a new shade of lip gloss to perk up your look. The idea is to show your polish and style without sacrificing comfort, not to sacrifice your polish and style in the name of comfort. Read that sentence again; it’s important.
Things are different now, and that is an undeniable fact. We have all been through a long, difficult ordeal and while some things will fall into place easily as we return to our regularly scheduled lives, other things are simply never going to “go back” to what they were. We truly believe that office wear and office culture is one of those things, and we are here to help you navigate the new business casual, including workleisure wear. This is a good thing, even if it feels foreign now—comfort increases productivity! You can jump in feet-first or you can slowly incorporate workleisure pieces into your work wardrobe. However you decide to try workleisure clothing, we think you’re going to love the comfort, ease and balance of workleisure!