Whether you work from home, never stopped going into your workplace, or are among the millions of Americans now facing the reality of the daily commute once again, you’ll likely be hesitant to prioritize formality over comfort when it comes to your personal fashion.
If you’re curious about styling athleisure for work, read on for our series of tips that are guaranteed to suit anyone from office employees to healthcare workers and beyond.
1. Comfort Can Always Be Stylish
This might be the single most essential philosophy behind the rise of the athleisure trend. The movement to prioritize comfort over traditional notions of formal fashion has coalesced around a growing acceptance of more casual outfits at work.1
Because athleisure wear unites the sleekness and simplicity required for workout clothing with the standards for comfort we all want while lounging in the comfort of our homes, it presents countless unique style options for workers to incorporate into their outfits. Additionally, a pair of stylish and comfortable work shoes can elevate any look while keeping you on your feet for the long haul.
As you begin to make athleisure workwear fashion choices that work for you, it’s important to remember that comfort and style are not mutually exclusive. You can, at least, in this case, have your cake and eat it too.
For example, a pair of sleek high-top sneakers designed for comfort and support could stand out nicely with a light high neck mini dress or a simple blouse with black leggings.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Mix and Match
Pivoting to athleisure wear for work doesn’t mean you have to get rid of your formalwear altogether. In fact, it’s clear that workers are looking for how to dress up in activewear in order to retain comfort in more traditional work environments.
Fortunately, plenty of athleisure pieces are designed with dressing up in mind, allowing you to mix and match different parts of your wardrobe without losing that seamless look you wanted all along.
If you work in an office that requires you to wear a blazer or even a pantsuit, you could try matching a flowy and breathable athleisure blouse with some sporty slip-on platform wedges.
However you choose to mix and match, just remember that athleisure is infinitely adaptable to your unique workplace and work clothes needs. For example, if you work in administration at a busy hospital, requiring you to be on the go at all times, you might want to try a tasteful slip-on sneaker or machine washable slip-on to keep your feet supported and ready for anything.
3. Use Layering to Your Advantage
Athleisure style is preeminently adaptable to your professional comfort needs. One way to incorporate athleisure styles into work clothing is to wear layers, either by alternating between form-fitting and looser pieces or by layering your more casual clothing with formal options.
Layering can be one of the easiest solutions to the question of how to wear athleisure styles to work. For example, match a pair of comfortable leggings with a simple t-shirt and a chunky sweater when it’s cold out, or try the same with a tunic-length tee in the warmer months. Complete your look with a denim jacket or bomber and maybe a pair of rubber-soled traditional leather sneakers.
Layering isn’t just convenient. It’s also incredibly trendy and conducive to keeping your wardrobe sustainable.2 By finding new and exciting ways to incorporate older casual clothing, you avoid contributing to the fashion industry’s often negative impact on the environment while ensuring you get the most out of your hard-earned money.
4. Mix Fabrics to Optimize Comfort and Creativity
Athleisure clothes come in many technical fabric options. All of these are designed with both comfort and performance in mind, striking the perfect balance between sporty and comfy without sacrificing style in the process.
Some of these technical fabrics include:
- X-Static – Invented by Noble Biomaterials, X-Static uses strands of interwoven silver and nylon yarn to decrease static and provide antimicrobial resistance to bacteria, helping its wearer naturally reduce odor. Additionally, X-Static has been found to provide effective resistance against human coronavirus OC43.3
Bamboo – Fabrics blended with all-natural bamboo fibers provide a sustainable solution to the common problems of breathability and odor faced by any athleisure wearer. This type of fabric is particularly attractive to consumers looking for new ways to cut down their carbon footprint by leading eco-friendly lives.
Nylon – Originally a silk substitute, nylon has since proven to be one of the most versatile and inexpensive options for athleisure clothing. Nylon is uniquely breathable and quick-drying, making it an ideal choice for both workouts and your lengthy commute.
Polyester – Made from plastic, polyester is simply everywhere. Known for its lightweight durability and resistance to wrinkles, polyester is a great, cost-effective choice for any of your athleisure apparel needs.
Spandex – Perhaps the most iconic of athleisure clothing fabrics, spandex provides unbeatable comfort and stretchiness to such ubiquitous pieces as leggings and sports bras. To those in the know, spandex is much, much more than those cheesy, intoxicatingly colorful workout videos of the 1980s would have you think.
By mixing technical fabrics, you provide depth and texture to your layering while ensuring maximum usage of all your wardrobe items. Try dressing up a pair of quality leggings with a denim jacket or bomber, or throw that sleek leather jacket you’ve been dying to wear over a breathable athleisure dress.
As with all workwear trends, athleisure clothes should be both convenient and versatile, allowing you to work comfortably, efficiently, and confidently all day long.
5. Keep Colors and Patterns as Simple as Possible
If you want to dress up your athleisure pieces to suit a business casual look, you might try avoiding some of the more vibrant, colorful, and busy styles available. Remember, you’re trying to look professional and stylish without sacrificing comfort.
We’re not saying you should only wear monochrome outfits or that you shouldn’t look beyond the usual suspects of blue, black, grey, and brown. There are plenty of tasteful and unique color options to suit your athleisure apparel needs, especially among the less-vibrant shades of yellow, red, purple, and green.
While some patterns, such as polka dot, striping, checked, and even floral, are certainly acceptable in most workplaces, you’ll probably want to avoid such options as camo and tie-dye when it comes to wearing athleisure wear in the office. Additionally, it’s always best practice to avoid logos wherever possible.
6. Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize!
Just because you’re choosing comfort doesn’t mean you should limit your style options. That means accessorizing however you would with more formal workplace wardrobe options.
Don’t be afraid to add a pair of earrings or a simple gold necklace to your athleisure outfit. Stay in-season with a matching winter hat and glove combination, or with a great pair of designer sunglasses. You can even carry your cute clutch or trusty leather tote with you as you navigate your way to the workplace.
The customization options are endless and truly depend on personal preference or whatever trend you’re looking to emulate. What’s important to remember is that comfort can always be stylish. We know we’re repeating ourselves here, but we think this is absolutely essential to making athleisure work for your workplace.
7. Make Your Shoes a Statement
Shoes might be the most exciting possibility athleisure has to offer. Gone are the days of unbearable heels and tiny flats which offer as little comfort as they do support. Wherever and however you work, there are plenty of options for you in terms of versatile footwear suitable for the office, the train, the hospital floor, and even your own home.
If you’re in need of something formal for the fall and winter months, why not make a statement with a pair of weather-resistant, block-heeled ankle boots? If you can afford to dress down a little, you might want to try some modern leather sneakers complete with soft orthotic inserts.
Maybe you’re one of the countless nurses who kept us safe and healthy during some of the darkest years of our lifetimes. We know how hard you work day in and day out, both during pandemics and, of course, every other year. If you’re on the front lines, we want you to find the best shoes for healthcare workers. If you’re in need of slip-resistant, durable, comfortable, and stylish nursing shoes, there are plenty of sneakers and slip-ons designed to suit you.
Make Athleisure Work for You with Vionic
With so many exciting options to choose from, there’s never been a better time to incorporate athleisure into your workplace wardrobe. Whether you’re heading back to the office for the first time in month—or years—or just looking to spruce up your everyday at-home workwear, we hope you’ll consider athleisure as a viable, versatile fashion option.
Athleisure is all about comfort from head to toe—step into Vionic’s digital showroom to find the perfect fit to complete your day-to-day athleisure look. With shoes designed for looks and support, you’ll be strutting with style and comfort no matter where you’re headed.
- Kale, Sirin. ‘Why should I have to work on stilts?’: the women fighting sexist dress codes.” The Guardian. 11 July 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jul/11/why-should-i-have-to-work-on-stilts-the-women-fighting-sexist-dress-codes
- Kale, Sirin. “The layering secret: how to get a whole new wardrobe from your old clothes.” The Guardian. 22 Septebmer 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2019/sep/25/the-layering-secret-how-to-get-a-whole-new-wardrobe-from-your-old-clothes
- “X-Static fabric tests effective against coronavirus.” Innovation in Textiles. https://www.innovationintextiles.com/xstatic-fabric-tests-effective-against-coronavirus/
- “Athleisure Trend Accelerates During Lockdown.” Direct Commerce. https://homeofdirectcommerce.com/news/athleisure-trend-accelerates-during-lockdown/
- “Athleisure wear: A trend movement in the fashion and sportswear industries.” Heuritech. https://www.heuritech.com/blog/articles/athleisure-wear/