The best clothing brands for a work-leisure wardrobe

While athleisure dominated our early pandemic wardrobes, many of us are getting used to a new hybrid lifestyle that requires more than just matching tracksuits (as much as we love them). were still more at home than in the pre-COVID years, but also now tapping into our professional identities during regular (if part-time) trips to the office and other professional functions. Which means it’s time for a new style of clothing to emerge.

Occupying that literal comfort point between workwear and leisurewear, workleisure time has come. And there are a host of brands ready to meet our need for soft, stretchy and simple work-friendly clothing. Technical workwear isn’t new: Activewear and outdoor brands have been making life-proof semi-fitted pants and shirts for years. But now with even more brands on board, they benefit from an avant-garde upgrade.

Performance fabrics and super comfortable designs are the staples, but now they appear in polished, timeless pieces that will last and look great for years to come. Here are our must-have brands for workwear that tick all those boxes.

Led by Alex Drexler and his dad Mickey (of Gap and J.Crew), who is now CEO, this New York-based brand makes cool basics for men and women that are rarely boring. Be on the lookout for menswear details on soft knits, stretchy, fleece-lined suits, and effortlessly stylish office outfits that practically do the work for you.

[Photo: courtesy Alex Mill]

Parker sweater jacket
A little more structured than a cardigan, with bold buttons and a chunky collar, this sweater reads as comfy, not frumpy.

[Photo: courtesy Alex Mill]

Davie fleece pants
Are they chinos? Are they sweatpants? Sure, they’re sweatpants, but you could have fooled us. (There’s a matching fleece cardigan for the most C-suite tracksuit known to mankind.)

We turn to MoS for smart engineering and styling. The brand’s workwear is built to withstand long commutes and hours behind the computer, often made with easy-care, sweat- and wrinkle-resistant fabrics and cuts designed for heavy duty rotation.

[Photo: courtesy Ministry of Supply]

Zero Stripe Collar Tunic
. . . it has pockets.

[Photo: courtesy Ministry of Supply]

Apollo shirt dress
The button front and clean lines make this shirt dress from MoS stylish and practical. It’s made from a stretchy, ultra-breathable fabric with the brand’s signature temperature-regulating phase-change materials.

More than just yoga pants and running tank tops, Athleta, the women’s activewear subsidiary of Gap Inc., is full of comfy, budget-friendly office basics you can move into (all day).

[Photo: courtesy Athleta]

Brooklyn Ankle Pants
Pants style in the front, stretch for days in the back.

[Photo: courtesy Athleta]

Purana wrap sweatshirt
Likewise, it’s a double act: the front panel drapes elegantly but also attaches to a hood, ready for those days of deep concentration.

A long-time champion of the capsule wardrobe, MMLaFleur launched in 2013 and has been making modern, size-inclusive workwear for working women who want a wardrobe that works.

[Photo: courtesy M.M. LaFleur]

Rogala Stretch Panties
This stretch knit culotte offers a unique silhouette that pairs with a range of styles: silk blouse and slingback, chunky knit and trainers, turtleneck and high boots. . . The list is lengthened increasingly.

[Photo: courtesy M.M. LaFleur]

Merritt Jardigan
Structured like a blazer with collar and lapels (and removable shoulder pads), the jacket features stretch knit fabric for cardigan-like comfort and a smooth silhouette.

Aday uses eco-friendly methods to create performance fabrics in work and play designs that are comfortable, 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?

[Photo: courtesy ADAY]

Like a body glove
This super soft bodysuit with elbow-length sleeves and a polished crew neck is made from a blend of recycled materials and merino wool for all-day comfort (plus snaps at the gusset) for easy donning).

Timeless basics are Everlane’s thing. And his workwear is based on a similar mindset: elevated building blocks that are simple and easy to wear. We turn to them for workwear so light it easily becomes our weekend uniform.

[Photo: courtesy Everlane]

The dream pants
All-season stretch tailored pants in a cotton-modal blend. These pants feature a pleated front, flat finish, sleek ankle length and elastic waistband (no one needs to know).

Notch Short Sleeve Linen Shirt
In luxurious, laid-back linen, this button-up top with a notched collar and a cropped fit will become your “I’ve got nothing to wear” hero.

The design team at this up-and-coming brand creates small collections of work, travel and playwear that can be tied, cinched, cropped and twisted for a multitude of looks in one garment. Bonus: the fabrics are ethically friendly and designed to be easy to care for.

[Photo: courtesy Époque Evolution]

track jacket
A baggy, yet still chic, machine washable blazer created from a wrinkle-resistant, high-stretch bonded fabric that’s also UPF 50 for excellent UV protection, if you’re looking to host an afternoon meeting in outdoors.

[Photo: courtesy Époque Evolution]

Work from Anywhere Pants
Stretchy with a little flare, they wear and fit like yoga pants but look like pants. Win-win.

Some of my favorite office pieces come from Lululemon, which seamlessly integrates streetwear and fitness gear, appealing to the pre-workout workout warrior I’d like to be. Search around the mark 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 wrinkle- and sweat-wicking Warpstreme fabric, these pants feature elasticated cuffs (perfect for bike commutes), pintuck pleats and a button-front closure. These are your favorite joggers, now ready for their 9 to 5.

[Photo: courtesy Lululemon]

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

Quick business’s recommender is dedicated to showcasing innovative products, services and brands that are changing the way we live and work. Every article we write about is independently selected by our editors and, where possible, tested and reviewed. fast company may receive revenue from certain links in our stories; however, all selections are based on our editorial judgment.

Michael O. Stutler