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Survey: Would You Wear Sweatpants to Work?


Want to make your parents (or grandparents) roll their eyes all the way back into their heads at your next family gathering? Tell them that it’s now OK – at a few companies, at least – to wear sweatpants to the office.

fancy sweatpants 

(Photo Credit: …love Maegan/Flickr)

“You can get away with wearing sweatpants to work,” assures a headline at The Cut, before a brief post on Madewell’s upscale boiler suits, while an NPR story on “athleisure” examines the phenomenon of high-priced athletic apparel that you can dress up with a jacket and wear to the office.

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“My colleague Travis Larchuk said of my look, ‘It’s like Monet clothes. From far away you look like a put-together person. But then close up, you can you can see that you’re really schlubbing it up at work,” writes NPR’s Sam Sanders.

Of course, Sanders’ athleisure look was based on Bonobos sweats, which retail for $98. And that seems to be a constant thread in any story on dressy sweatpants: to get away with wearing your gym clothes to work, you apparently need to spend as much on them as you would on a nice pair of trousers or a pencil skirt.

Then there’s the issue of perception. While you might think that dressing like a slob makes you look anything but successful, studies show the exact opposite – which makes sense, when you consider that wealthy entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg clock in every day wearing the same outfit you recently bought for your toddler nephew to wear to Gymboree.

But Is It Really OK?

Not everyone agrees that sweatpants are now appropriate for business casual.

“It doesn’t matter whether your sweatpants are the $100 Nike Tech Fleece coveted by the masses or the $6 Fruit of the Loom worn by the masses, sweatpants, by virtue of their aesthetic, construction, and intended use, are not to be worn at the office,” writes Dennis Green at Business Insider.

Green spoke with Barron Cuadro, of the blog Effortless Gent, who agreed: “regardless of how well-fitting they are, they’re still sweatpants. …Unless you work at a gym, keep them out of the office.”

Depending on where you work, the decision might be made for you. Some offices still have dress codes, especially if employees meet with outside clients, and still others have unofficial dress codes – in other words, no one will tell you what to wear, but unless you dress to impress, you’re never going to get a promotion.

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Tell Us What You Think

Do you think sweatpants are ever OK at work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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