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Athleisure in the Workplace: Dos and Don’ts

Lady showcasing her athleisure workplace dos and don'ts outfits with a black hat, black leather jacket, t shirt, and a red sports trousers, with white sneakers

Navigating the “athleisure workplace dos and don’ts” is becoming essential as this fashion trend blurs the lines between gym gear and office attire. 

Athleisure, the stylish hybrid of activewear and everyday wear, is making its mark in professional environments, offering women a comfortable yet polished option for their work wardrobe. 

This guide aims to simplify the integration of athleisure into your office attire, providing straightforward advice, styling tips, and the essential dos and don’ts.

Whether your workplace is creatively casual or leans towards the more traditional, you’ll find practical insights to confidently embrace athleisure at work, ensuring you look as professional as you feel comfortable.

Understanding Athleisure

Athleisure, a blend of athleticism and leisure, redefines casual wear, merging the comfort of gym gear with the chicness of everyday attire. It’s designed for those who value functionality and style, allowing wearers to transition seamlessly from a yoga session to a coffee date without a wardrobe change. This fusion of exercise-ready fabrics with street-style aesthetics underscores its versatility and comfort, making it a staple in modern wardrobes.

This fashion trend has evolved from mere gym wear to a significant style statement, gaining widespread acceptance for its blend of practicality and style. The shift towards athleisure reflects a changing lifestyle preference for comfort and ease, paralleled by a growing market that embraces wellness and a relaxed dress code ethos. As athleisure continues to gain momentum, it underscores a cultural shift towards a more active, wellness-oriented lifestyle, without sacrificing style for comfort.

For those looking to delve deeper into this trend and discover how to effortlessly blend fitness with fashion, explore our main pillar content, ‘Athleisure Fashion: The Ultimate Guide to Chic Comfort,’ to elevate your athleisure game to new heights.”

The Do's of Wearing Athleisure to Work

When embracing athleisure for the workplace, it’s essential to strike the right balance between comfort and professionalism. Here’s how to do it right:

1. Fit Matters

Choosing athleisure that fits well is crucial for a professional look. Opt for full-length leggings for a sleek silhouette, or cropped leggings for a touch of modern flair. The key is to ensure that whatever you choose hugs your body just right, and not too tight or too loose. Well-fitted athleisure pieces not only enhance your figure but also lend an air of put-togetherness to your outfit.

2. Simplicity is Key

Keep your athleisure ensemble simple. A minimalist design with clean lines projects sophistication. Avoid overly busy patterns or too many colors that can detract from the sleekness athleisure can offer. A monochromatic look or subtle color blocking can make your outfit stand out in a chic, understated way. Remember, less is more when it comes to mixing comfort with corporate.

3. Appropriate Footwear

The right sneakers can elevate your athleisure outfit. Choose clean, stylish sneakers that complement your attire without overshadowing it. This doesn’t mean your gym shoes; look for footwear that blurs the lines between sporty and smart. A pair of minimalist sneakers, for instance, can add a polished touch to your look while keeping it grounded in comfort.

4. Undergarments

The athleisure look often includes tops that might showcase your undergarments, like sports bras or bralettes. Make sure these are presentable and intentional. A sports bra in a neutral color or a bralette with delicate details can add a tasteful touch to your outfit, especially when paired with open-back tops or low-armhole tanks. These pieces should complement your look, adding to the athleisure vibe without diminishing its appropriateness for work.

The Don'ts of Wearing Athleisure to Work

While athleisure offers a bridge between comfort and style, certain missteps can compromise its workplace appropriateness. Here’s what to avoid to ensure your athleisure attire remains professional:

1. Avoid Too Loose Fit

Oversized athleisure pieces, when worn together, can convey a lackadaisical attitude, far removed from the professional image you might wish to project. This doesn’t mean everything must be skin-tight; rather, aim for a tailored fit that flatters without restricting movement. Combining a fitted top with more relaxed bottoms, or vice versa, can maintain balance without sacrificing comfort.

2. Color Coordination

Bright, flashy colors can be distracting in a work environment, especially one that leans towards the conservative side. Opt for a more subdued palette that complements the office setting. Neutrals like black, navy, gray, and white are safe choices that can be accented with softer tones for a bit of personality. Remember, a cohesive color scheme helps in achieving a polished look.

3. Inappropriate Footwear

While athleisure blurs the lines between casual and formal, certain footwear, like flip-flops or sandals, firmly falls into the casual realm, potentially undermining your professional credibility. Stick to sneakers that lean towards the sleek and sophisticated, or consider athleisure-compatible shoes that offer a nod to formality, such as minimalist leather sneakers.

4. Socks Visibility

Visible socks, especially those of contrasting colors or with bold patterns, can detract from the streamlined look athleisure aims to achieve. If socks are a must, opt for no-show styles that keep the focus on your footwear and overall ensemble. This small detail can make a significant difference in maintaining a cohesive, professional appearance.

Styling Tips for Athleisure in the Workplace

Influencer Nicole Russell showing off her athleisure outfit in all monotone



Incorporating athleisure into your work wardrobe doesn’t just add comfort; it injects a dose of contemporary style that can fit various office environments. Here’s how to elevate athleisure for the workplace with style and sophistication:

Mix and Match with Wardrobe Staples

Athleisure pairs wonderfully with classic pieces to create a look that’s both chic and office-appropriate. Consider these combinations:

  • Leather Jackets: A sleek leather jacket over a pair of high-quality leggings and a sporty tank top bridges the gap between edgy and casual, perfect for creative or less formal workplaces.
  • Trench Coats: Layering a timeless trench coat over athleisure pieces like joggers and a fitted athletic top adds an air of sophistication, making your outfit suitable for a variety of settings, including more traditional offices on casual days.
  • Jeans: For a smart-casual look, pair your favorite athleisure top or sports bra with high-waisted jeans. Add a blazer or cardigan to refine the ensemble.

Style for Different Workplace Environments

Different workplaces have different vibes, and athleisure can be adapted to suit them all with a bit of creativity:

  • Creative Settings: Here, you have the freedom to experiment. Mix bold patterns and bright colors with staple athleisure pieces. A graphic sports tee with tailored joggers, topped with a statement necklace or earrings, can make for a dynamic outfit.
  • Traditional Offices with Casual Wear Policies: In more conservative settings that still allow for casual wear, focus on subtle athleisure elements. Pair a crisp, white athletic-inspired top with dark jeans and a structured jacket, or opt for sleek, black leggings with a long, button-down shirt and a pair of smart sneakers.

When styling athleisure for the workplace, the key is balance. Combining functional, comfortable pieces with more formal elements can create a versatile look that’s both stylish and suitable for the office. 

Remember, the goal is to maintain a professional appearance while enjoying the flexibility and comfort athleisure offers. By carefully selecting pieces that complement each other, you can craft outfits that are not only workplace-ready but also reflective of your personal style.

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