As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the athleisure fashion trend is exploding in popularity as people discover that it’s a lot more comfortable while they are doing Zoom meetings and homeschooling their kids.
Since lots of people expect to work from home for the foreseeable future, there’s no longer any reason to dress up in uncomfortable formal attire for a day of office work. Not only that, but comfortable clothes that can go from taking a Zoom meeting to getting in some yoga poses to playing with the kids and imploring them to please, just eat something that doesn’t come out of a box, have taken over the fashion industry as more traditional styles struggle.
Don’t get us wrong — the athleisure trend has been big for a long time. Yoga pants or leggings and a sweatshirt have long been a staple outfit for running errands or hanging out on the weekends. But now that going out is off the table for many, searches for how to wear the athleisure trend have gone up over 60% in the last 6 months, and brands are stepping up with fashion-forward pieces that can go from the (virtual) boardroom to the (home) gym, without missing a beat.
Here are a few reasons why it’s time for you to embrace the athleisure trend!
Working from Home Means Changing Your Style
While the athleisure trend has long been popular everywhere outside of the office, professional attire has remained rather staid, stuffy, and yes, uncomfortable. But stay-at-home orders and self-isolation, whether mandatory or just strongly encouraged, have left many professionals wondering what the point of those tight slacks even is. Working from home may mean moving from your station at the kitchen table, to the couch to take in a daily news update from the governor, to the kitchen for a snack, and to the treadmill for a quick walk or jog in your downtime. Daily routines no longer include shaking hands, large meetings, and public gatherings.
The demands of working from home have meant that many top athleisure brands have been forced to overhaul their designs. You need an outfit that can look presentable for your Zoom meetings, but still have moisture-wicking properties for your workouts. You need something washable, since you can’t get out to the dry cleaner anyway, and with kids home from school, you’re more likely to get stains and spills.
Quarantine Should Be Comfy — But So Should Your Return to Work
Early on in the pandemic, sales of sweatpants were definitely up, as suddenly homebound consumers ditched their regular office outfits and even their casual jeans in favor of sheer comfort. The world may seem like it’s falling apart, but at least you can have a nice, soft pair of cozy sweats thanks to the athleisure trend, right?!
However, with the onset of summer and the gradual return to many workplaces, consumers increasingly turned to more versatile pieces that look great at work and feel comfortable, too. With many offices and other workplaces operating on reduced schedules or rotating staff in and out of the site on on/off schedules designed to facilitate social distancing, it makes sense to hold out for both comfort and style.
Performance Fabrics Are Here to Stay
Performance fabrics are a big staple in this athleisure trend, because professionals working from home need moisture-wicking, stain-resistant fabrics that are good for work, exercise, and taking care of kids in the same space and at the same time. Brands like Epoque Evolution and prAna are offering comfortable core pieces that look sleek and professional, but offer the performance you need in this brave new world. Many new performance fabrics are made from recycled materials, and have a mind-boggling range of properties, from your standard moisture-wicking and temperature regulation to quick-drying, odor-control, stain resistance, and antibacterial qualities. For example, you can pick up a nice women’s polo, from brands like Nautica or Gap with moisture-wicking and temperature regulation for your workout, but a smart collar and buttons for your conference calls or days in the office.
Build Your Pandemic Wardrobe
When it comes to building your post-COVID wardrobe, look for high-quality, washable core pieces made with performance fabrics. Good brands for office-appropriate attire include Arc’teryx, which has been producing men’s trousers and tops that combine performance and professionalism, so you can go from your work-at-home week to your regular bike commute with ease. Uniqlo, Gap, prAna, and Restore Pima are also making more crossover pieces to meet consumer demand.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the boundaries between work, play, and parenting have been so eroded as to almost be non-existent — and your clothes need to keep up. That’s why more brands are making crossover athleisure pieces that are finally making office attire comfortable — and more consumers are jumping on the athleisure bandwagon to meet their own evolving needs.