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Workout clothes in the business place

clothes1Would you ever wear your workout gear out to work? Beyond my wordplay is a more serious question; have we reached a point at which fitness clothing, most recently marketed under names such as ‘athleisure,’ are acceptable in the business place? And if so, is this due to a change in mindset, or a streamlining in the style of fitness clothing?

The business magazine Fast Company considered this to be enough of a question to assign a writer the challenge of wearing yoga pants to her office located in the World Trade Center and monitor her colleague’s reactions. The slightly anticlimactic verdict was this: no one said anything.
clothes2After reading the story, I was left with questions. First, she didn’t include any photos of what her fitness clothing selections looked like. Any of us that owns a fair bit of workout gear knows there is a scale of style that ranges from ‘I am going on the treadmill in the darkness of my own basement at 5:30 a.m.’ all the way to ‘I know that these are running tights but they look so nice I’ll pair them with heels and wear them out.’

In my own opinion, the appropriateness of fitness clothing at work depends entirely on where the piece sits on this scientific scale and the previously-set standards of your workplace.

It is a sign of respect for your occupation and co-workers that you look presentable at work. That being said, why should presentable, or business-appropriate, have to mean uncomfortable?

Here are some things to keep in mind:

clothes31) Moderation

It is fine to incorporate fitness gear into a work outfit, as long as you remember that it remains a work outfit. This may mean wearing that comfortable singlet tank under your favourite blazer and throwing a long necklace on, or dressing up your nice running tights with a pair of riding boots. But — and this is a significant but — you should avoid dressing like you might take off on a run at any moment, unless that is your profession.

2) Stink

Wearing the shirt you wore on your run this morning to work? Probably a no go.

3) Consider the situation

What will you be doing at work? If you have meetings with clients, the running clothes may need to be left at home.clothes4 The opposite situation is valid too: if your office has casual Fridays, go for it.

4) Shop with versatility in mind

If you shop for running clothing that does style double-duty, your wallet will thank you. Increasingly, big name designers like Stella McCartney are recognizing the fashion sense of fitness lovers and are designing with them in mind.

5) No screaming brands

As a general rule, the t-shirt that screams logos across the chest is not office-appropriate. Again, exceptions if you work in a gym, or fitness-related field.

Now I’d like to open the floor to you guys; have you ever worn your ‘athleisure’ gear to work? If so, what was it? Did anyone say anything?