After two years of staying home (thanks COVID-19!) in comfortable clothing, adjusting to going back into the world can seem like a daunting task.
We know that when we put on our jeans, we automatically wish we could just wear sweatpants. This is where the concept of “workleisure” comes in: our saving grace for this tough adjustment period we are all going through. After all, how can we be expected to suddenly be OK not wearing pants with an elasticated waist anymore?
We know there is plenty of evidence that shows us that what you wear affects how you act and how you feel. Consequently, this influences your motivation and productivity at work. So while maybe a full-on sweatsuit isn’t the best option to go back to work in, there is definitely a middle ground to be explored.
What Is Workleisure?
With the perfect mixture of workwear and comfortable loungewear, the concept of work leisure has come to help us all. But how exactly does it define itself? To a certain extent, you can take a page out of your off-duty style. Think mixing knit sweaters, t-shirts and elasticated trousers in smart fabrics and looser silhouettes as an example.
It’s about moving away from any constricting and suffocating clothing—think tight shirts, overly structured pieces—and finding the perfect middle ground between office wear and your quarantine outfits.
While this isn’t exactly a new concept, the pandemic gave it its moment to shine. In fact, last year there was more than a 100% increase in online searches for loungewear and activewear as everyone looked for comfortable clothes to sport at home. This being the case, it makes perfect sense that the next logical transition as we step back into reality and head back out to our physical office spaces would be workleisure. It’s the perfect compromise between looking good, presentable and professional, but not giving up our home comfort just yet.
What Do You Need?
You might be wondering what exactly makes up a workleisure wardrobe, but wonder no more because we come with answers. We’ll be giving you the 411 on what pieces you should be looking for to achieve this perfect workleisure aesthetic.
When looking for tops, tap into looser, more relaxed silhouettes. Pick blouses, oversized straight fit shirts and well-fitting quality t-shirts or knit tops with interesting details that are comfortable yet still look put together.
Try for pieces with different necklines, like a square one, and stand-out sleeves to balance out the more relaxed nature of the fabric or the fit. Smart sweatshirts paired with the correct pieces can make you look as professional as ever while staying super comfortable.
For your workleisure bottoms, remember you can still have comfortable options that are work appropriate. Look for pieces that feature an elasticated waist with a wider leg. In general, a wide-leg silhouette gives you a smart look with the added comfort of not having tight pants. Pick this in more structured fabrics like cotton for a more career-wear feel, or fully lean into the more leisurely aspect and go with silk or linen. The trick with these types of trousers is balancing out the rest of the outfit with smarter options that are still comfortable.
Another great type of pants you’ll want to try out in your workleisure wardrobe is paper bag waist trousers. These give an outfit an amazing starting point and look great with a simple. streamlined t-shirt tucked in.
If you’re not ready to give up on your sweats just yet, opt for a good quality cream or black pair for a more refined look. Add an oversized shirt and knit vest over top. Finish it off with a pair of loafers and we can guarantee no one will know you’re still as comfortable as you were at home.
If you’re not even ready for trousers in general and skirts are more your speed, we’ve got you! Go for flowy midi skirts with a comfortable elastic waist in silky fabrics. These will always make you look office-ready while feeling as if you’re wearing nothing!
Another option is knit skirts, either knee-length or midi. These will keep you both warm and looking professional. With its stretchy nature, it’s comfortable on the waist and just like wearing a blanket — but with a lot more of a fashion edge to it.
Workleisure dresses are all about stretch and comfort, and what says workleisure more than a t-shirt dress? Essentially a big, oversized t-shirt that is made to look presentable through fit and cut, it’s the ultimate piece for achieving this style. Styled with the right pieces, it will give you endless style options.
Another amazing workleisure piece is the knit dress. Stretchy and comfortable, these are amazing pieces to add to your work wardrobe when returning to the office. These are easy pieces to have that can require little— if any—effort on your part since it’s a full outfit in itself, making it a great piece to throw on and walk out the door.
Workleisure outer layers
Now that we’ve tackled your main pieces, let’s talk about what to layer on top, either to keep you warm or just add extra interest to your outfit.
Swap out your overly structured blazers, jackets and coats for more oversized and slouchy silhouettes. These will still give your outfit the professional, classic workwear feel you are looking for, but in a much more comfortable fashion.
If you’re just not that into the jackets anymore, think about exchanging them for some smart knit sweater and cardigans that can do the trick just fine as well. These provide the outfit with a classic touch to it making look professional and put together, without your sacrificing any comfort in the process.
While shoes might seem like the item where you have the least leeway, there are ways you can update your closet with more comfortable styles.
If you still need to wear heels, opt for either a lower kitten-type heel such as a mule or a slide. If you’re still wanting to add a bit of height with your shoes, choose a thicker heel that will give you more support and be easier to walk in.
If you’re ready to ditch the heels, just stick to flats. There are so many options you can go for. Look for ballet flats, loafers, sandals and slides. All of these will give you a different feel to your look, especially depending on if you go for a chunkier sole or a more classic one. You can also look at flat boots for the colder months. From ankle boots to over-the-knee styles, you’ll find something to suit your taste.
As for whether you can get away with sneakers, it does depend on your office environment. Sure, some styles lean toward a more classic look, but it is still a casual shoe. If you think your office is open to sneakers, look for neutrals and more streamlined, minimalist pairs. Options in leather (or fake leather) are always a good way to look more put together. A good-looking pair of slip-on sneakers can also work when you apply these principles. Just make sure you know how to keep them looking clean!
Workleisure seems to be here to stay. And thank goodness for that. We know we’re happy that’s the direction workwear is headed. While pieces with a more classic workwear feel and more structure to them can also be fun to wear, nothing beats being comfortable while working. It allows you to focus on your work instead of trying to fix your clothing and make yourself comfortable.
Leaning into a workleisure style also doesn’t mean you can’t mix your pre-Covid wardrobe with some of your new workleisure pieces. It’s up to you if you go full-on into the workleisure style or just dabble a bit into it while mixing it with other styles.
So what do you think? Are you going to give this new trend a chance? Or are you sticking with your tried and true pre-pandemic workwear style? Wherever you fall on the spectrum, we’re sure you’ll look great wearing it!