“Athleisure” At The Office: My Week Of Wearing Yoga Pants To Work

Do yoga pants now pass as corporate wear? Co.Design tests out the “athleisure” trend.

“Athleisure” At The Office: My Week Of Wearing Yoga Pants To Work

A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that in the last year, sales of yoga clothes went up 45%, but participation in yoga only went up 4.5%. Apparently, there’s a growing group of poseur yogis wearing athletic clothing everywhere but the gym.


This echoes a larger trend: Over the past five years, the size of the athletic apparel market–what retailers are calling “athleisure”–grew an average of 5% a year, from $54 billion to $68 billion, while participation in individual, racket and team sports fell and outdoor, water and fitness sports remained flat. It seems people too lazy to deal with buttons and zippers on real pants are resorting to stretchy waistbands for everyday wear. Maybe even office wear.

To test the hypothesis that yoga pants are now Acceptable Workplace Attire, my editor forced me gave me an assignment to wear spandex at the Fast Company office every day for a week. Maybe it would turn into a surreal Shirley Jackson-esque horror story, with the whole staff stoning me in a meeting for violating dress code. Maybe it would start an office trend, pushing normcore into slobcore. Here, a week-long diary from this revolutionary experiment:

Day one: Debut new slobcore look. Pair yoga pants (several years old, off-brand, holes in calves) with oversized men’s buttondown to hide as much of lower half as possible. At office, Lady in Louboutins gives me side eye.

Day Two: Hide legs under desk for seven hours. Suited-up boss stalks by, sniffing out lazy millennials in inappropriate attire. Cower in shame. Sound of silent judgment is deafening.

Day Three: Paranoia that I’m being stared at begins to ease up. Still feel weirdly naked.


Day Four: Disappointed in coworkers for not being meaner. No one has said anything.

Day Five: Ruin experiment by soliciting criticism and ask Co.Exist writer Sydney Brownstone to voice her true feelings about my outfit. She delivers in a GChat message: “WHAT A LOSER I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU’RE WEARING YOGA PANTS. GO MOVE INTO A LULULEMON, YOU FREAKAZOID. THIS IS FAST COMPANY, NOT YOGA TO THE PEOPLE. THE ONLY TIBETAN SINGING BOWL WE HAVE HERE IS THE SWEET SOUND OF PAGE HITS. YOU’RE RUINING MY FIELD OF VISION.” Finally!

Flickr user Elvert Barnes

Thus ended the uneventful week of dressing like a gym rat at work. Yoga wear is officially copacetic–at 7 World Trade Center, anyway. Granted Fast Company’s dress code is more casual-casual than business-casual, with tattoos and piercings on display everywhere, so yoga pants looked comparatively wholesome and conservative. Conde Nast employees might not have had it so easy.

About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.