Is workleisure a new or rehashed opportunity?
The casualization of office attire has morphed from “Casual Fridays” to “business casual” and now to “workleisure.”
Workleisure brings athleisure, often described as workout clothes that are stylish enough to wear to the coffee shop or other low-key social occasions, to the workplace. The term is being cited as an emerging trend as people stuck at home during the pandemic have grown accustomed to comfort.
Nordstrom released a survey in early July showing that 41 percent of respondents plan to dress comfortably for the rest of their life. At the time, the upscale retailer said it had been seeing a 165 percent spike in online searches for work clothes on nordstrom.com as corporations were planning returns to offices.
“Many brands are scaling back their production of suits, adding more stretch to their pants and using new phrases such as ‘workleisure,’” stated a recent Wall Street Journal article. “They are turning out yoga pants that look like dress pants, T-shirts you can wear to work and a dressier version of cork-lined sandals dubbed the ‘Work Birk.’”
As with other attempts to bring more relaxed styling to the workplace, a debate has ensued about what’s appropriate to wear to work within the workleisure trend.
“For me, workleisure begins with the basics of the off-duty wardrobe (T-shirts, pullovers, track pants) translated in the materials and details of the office,” wrote Vanessa Friedman, chief fashion critic for The New York Times. “That means elastic waistbands are acceptable, but only if attached to the type of fabric — silk, linen, wool, pinstripes — that suggests a different kind of effort. That, when you catch them out of the corner of your eye, suggest you sit up just a little bit straighter.”
In its spring trends guide, Nordstrom described Work Leisure Essentials as, “Evolution for the work-from-home wardrobe focusing on comfort and versatility. Leisure-inspired pieces and elevated everyday essentials in calming neutrals keep this trend sophisticated and refined.”
Ben Checketts, co-founder of the DTC activewear brand Rhone, summed workleisure up to Glossy: “You fell in love with sweatpants during the pandemic, so you buy dress pants that are as close as possible to sweatpants.”
- Nordstrom Sees 165 Percent Increase in Online Searches for Work Clothes – Nordstrom
- You’re Finally Going Back to the Office. What Are You Going to Wear? – The Wall Street Journal
- Behold, ‘Workleisure’ – What will we wear come fall? – The New York Times
- Spring Fashion Trends – Nordstrom
- With office life coming back, activewear brands are pivoting to ‘workleisure’ – Glossy
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is workleisure a new trend bound to reinvent the opportunity around business casual? What do you see as the essential elements that may differentiate workleisure from pre-pandemic takes on business casual?