I rocked athleisure to the office for a week and finally stepped into my comfort zone (literally).
I'll admit, I'm late on the athleisure train. Although I love trying out new activewear for my workouts (it's part of my job as the fashion editor for Shape!) as a fashion devotee, I worry that I'll appear frumpy in spandex or athletic sneakers outside of the gym, and especially during the workweek. But considering I'm lucky enough to work in an office that embraces an athleisure dress code, I decided it was about time I jump on board—in the most extreme way possible—by challenging myself to a week of wearing exclusively spandex work attire. (Related: Activewear You Can Legit Wear to the Office)
Luckily, Fitbox, a quarterly subscription service that delivers curated, premium activewear to your door, agreed to help me with the task at hand, sending premade outfits that I could personalize with my own trendy go-to pieces. Here's how I fared Monday through Friday for my week of dressing down.
My look: An NSF sweatshirt, Onzie leggings, New Balance sneakers (worn throughout)
My day: This was the first day of the challenge and I was a little uneasy showing up on a Monday in such a casual look. I worried I'd feel overly exposed or viewed as lazy and expected stares of disapproval, but instead I received compliments—a lot of them. The reflective leggings were especially a hit. Post-work, I had no problem walking the 3 miles home (and enjoying this sunset) because yes, I was that comfy.
Make it work for you: If you can't rock a sweatshirt to work, pair the flashy leggings with a simple black sweater that covers your backside.
My day: I started the day in a meeting and decided on an all-black look that felt "dressy" enough with a fun look-at-me pink running tank. I actually looked office-appropriate from the waist up but found myself hiding my sneakers under the table. Post-meeting, I cheated a little bit, and decided to change into black flats and felt much more "put together."
Make it work for you: Pair the dark leggings with a voluminous top that comes mid-thigh length. Flowy tunics or boyfriend-style blazers work best.
My look: Varley bra and leggings set, Boohoo jacket, State of Escape bag
My day: I felt much bolder this day and went for a flashier patterned look. It took me less than five minutes to get dressed, which made my morning incredibly relaxed. The statement mesh panels felt a little too sexy for the office, so I threw on a bomber jacket that I could zip up. After work, I wore the look out for dinner with friends and a few asked what workout class I had come from. When I announced that I was now dressing for comfort and actually wore the getup to work, they were in disbelief and slightly concerned about my "professionalism." Oh well!
Make it work for you: I know the majority of us can't wear a crop top to work; even I was pushing my luck and I'm the fashion editor for a fitness magazine! Instead, rock this shirt with a high-waisted skirt and a cropped jacket layered over.
My look: Varley sweatshirt and leggings
My day: This was one of my favorite looks because it felt closest to "real" clothes. The sweater was surprisingly detailed with statement zippers and a high collar, which made me feel more dressed up than I had all week. After work, I swapped the sweatshirt for a tank and went straight for a run, which felt really efficient.
Make it work for you: This sweater is an appropriate length for an office environment, but the leggings are on the flashy side. Downplay the busy pattern by swapping out the sneakers and tucking these into beige or brown ankle boots.
My day: I wore the top portion of this outfit with black leggings during the day and felt completely appropriate for a casual Friday in the office. The jacket pulled the look together and felt closest to my everyday outfits. Post-work, I met my friends out for happy hour and threw on a stretchy skirt, complete with an elastic waistband. Sure, I felt a little strange being at a bar in running sneakers at first, but I was crazy comfortable despite having been on my feet all day and even racked up some compliments. (Related: Celeb Stylist Monica Rose Shares Her Athleisure Styling Secrets)
Make it work for you: If you’re not comfortable with a thigh-high slit, swap the skirt for flattering skinny jeans for a look that still says sporty-chic.
Overall, dressing for comfort was a positive experience. The premade outfits from Fitbox took a lot of thinking out of it and still let me add some of my own touches from my own wardrobe. Sticking to this routine made my mornings so much easier (I really appreciated the extra sleep) and I can't say I missed having to schlep around an extra bag with my workout clothes and sneakers. Although wearing leggings felt inappropriate at times, I noticed that was mostly in my own head, and rarely felt as if others were judging me (besides my friends at dinner!). While I won't be wearing running sneakers to the office daily—I still like dressing up, too!—it's safe to say athleisure will most definitely be working its way into my work wardrobe.