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‘Workleisure’ is now a thing. Here are the best brands for a work-play wardrobe

There’s a new work uniform for our hybrid lives: polished, comfortable pieces made from performance fabrics.

‘Workleisure’ is now a thing. Here are the best brands for a work-play wardrobe
[Photo: courtesy M.M. LaFleur]
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While athleisure dominated our early pandemic wardrobes, many of us are getting accustomed to a new hybrid lifestyle that requires more than just matching sweat suits (as much as we love them). We’re still more at home than in pre-COVID years, but also now tapping into our professional identities during regular (if part-time) trips to the office and other work functions. Which means it’s time for a new style of clothing to emerge.

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Occupying that literal comfort spot between work attire and leisure wear, workleisure’s moment has arrived. And there’s a slew of brands ready to fulfill our need for soft, stretchy, and simple work-friendly attire. Technical workwear is nothing new: Athletic and outdoor apparel brands have been making life-proof, semi-tailored pants and shirts for years. But now, with even more brands on board, they’re getting a design-forward upgrade.

Performance fabrics and super comfortable designs are the basic building blocks, but now they’re appearing in polished, timeless pieces that will last—and look good—for years to come. Here are our go-to brands for work apparel that checks all those boxes.

Alex Mill

Helmed by Alex Drexler and his father Mickey (of Gap and J.Crew fame), who now serves as  CEO, this New York-based brand makes cool men’s and women’s basics that are rarely boring. Be on the lookout for menswear details on soft knits, stretch fleece-lined suiting, and effortless, polished office attire that practically does the work for you. 

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[Photo: courtesy Alex Mill]
Parker Sweater Jacket
A little more structured than a cardigan, with bold buttons and chunky collar, this sweater reads as cozy, not frumpy.

[Photo: courtesy Alex Mill]
Davie Fleece Pant 
Are they chinos? Are they sweatpants? Of course, they’re sweatpants, but you could have fooled us. (There’s a matching fleece cardigan for the most C-suite sweat suit known to mankind.)

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Ministry of Supply

We turn to MoS for smart engineering and style. The brand’s workwear is designed to sustain long commutes and hours behind the computer—often made with easy-care, sweat- and wrinkle-proof fabrics and fits, designed for heavy rotation.

[Photo: courtesy Ministry of Supply]
Zero Band Collar Tunic
. . . it has pockets.

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[Photo: courtesy Ministry of Supply]
Apollo Shirt Dress
A button-front and clean lines keep MoS’s shirt dress polished and practical. It’s made from stretchy and ultra-breathable fabric with the brand’s signature temperature-regulating Phase Change materials.

Athleta

More than just yoga pants and running tanks, Athleta, the women’s active-apparel subsidiary of Gap Inc., is full of comfortable, price-conscious office basics that you can move in (all day long).

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[Photo: courtesy Athleta]
Brooklyn Ankle Pant 
Trouser-style in the front, stretch for days in the back.

[Photo: courtesy Athleta]
Purana Wrap Sweatshirt 
Likewise, this is a dual act: The front panel drapes elegantly but also attaches to a hood, ready for those deep-focus days.

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M.M.LaFleur

A longtime capsule wardrobe champ, M.M.LaFleur launched in 2013 and since has been making modern, size-inclusive professional apparel for working women who want a wardrobe that works.

[Photo: courtesy M.M. LaFleur]
Rogala Stretch Culotte
These stretchy, knit culottes offer a unique silhouette that pairs with a range of styles: silk blouse and sling-backs, chunky knit and sneakers, turtleneck and tall boots . . . the list goes on and on.

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[Photo: courtesy M.M. LaFleur]
Merritt Jardigan
Structured like a blazer with collar and lapels (and removable shoulder pads), the jacket features a stretchy knit fabric for cardigan comfort and a smooth silhouette.

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Aday

Aday uses eco-friendly methods to create performance fabrics in work-play designs that are comfy, versatile, and fashion-forward. The pieces look minimal but can be worn in many (many) ways.

[Photo: courtesy ADAY]
Power Suit Belted Jumpsuit 
Why wear a suit when you can wear a jumpsuit?

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[Photo: courtesy ADAY]
Like a Glove Bodysuit
This super-soft bodysuit with elbow-length sleeves and a polished crewneck is crafted from a blend of recycled materials and merino wool for all-day comfort (plus snaps at the gusset for easy on-off wear).

Everlane

Timeless staples are Everlane’s thing. And its workwear is based on a similar mindset: elevated building blocks that are unfussy and easy to wear. We turn to them for workwear so breezy that it easily becomes our weekend uniform, too.

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[Photo: courtesy Everlane]
The Dream Pant
An all-season stretchy, tailored trouser made with a cotton-modal blend. These pants include a pintuck-pleated front, flat finish, stylish hit-at-the-ankle length, and an elastic waist (nobody needs to know).

Linen Short-Sleeve Notch Shirt
In luxurious and laidback linen, this button-front top with a notched collar and cropped cut will become your “I have nothing to wear” hero.

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Époque Évolution

The design team at this emerging brand creates small collections of work-travel-play attire that can be tied, cinched, cropped, and twisted for a multitude of looks in one garment. Bonus: Fabrics are ethically conscious and designed to be easy care.

[Photo: courtesy Époque Evolution]
Trail Blazer
A machine-washable, slouchy, but still chic, blazer, created from wrinkle-resistant, high-stretch, bonded fabric that’s also UPF 50 for excellent UV protection, should you want to take an all-afternoon meeting in the great outdoors.

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[Photo: courtesy Époque Evolution]
Work from Anywhere Trouser
Stretchy with a little flare, these wear and fit like yoga pants but look like trousers. Win-win.

Lululemon

Some of my favorite office-friendly pieces come from Lululemon, which seamlessly integrates streetwear and fitness gear, appealing to the pre-work workout warrior I wish I were. Poke around the brand’s Casual section for reliable performance fabrics, (almost always) consistent fits, and stretch for days .

[Photo: courtesy Lululemon]
Warpstreme High-Rise Jogger
Made with Lululemon’s Warpstreme wrinkle-resistant, sweat-wicking fabric, these pants feature elastic cuffs (perfect for bike commutes), pintuck pleats, and a button-front closure. They’re your favorite joggers, now ready for their 9-to-5.

[Photo: courtesy Lululemon]

Softstreme Belted Wrap
Looks like a blazer, feels like a bathrobe.

Fast Company’Recommender section is dedicated to surfacing innovative products, services, and brands that are changing how we live and work. Every item that we write about is independently selected by our editors and, wherever possible, tested and reviewed. Fast Company may receive revenue from some links in our stories; however, all selections are based on our editorial judgment.