Yes, An Athleisure-Only Wardrobe Can Work (Even At Work)

Over the summer, I wore athleisure clothing for an entire month. It was a wholly professional endeavor, I swear — I was doing it for a story. And I was very committed to the challenge of wearing gym-appropriate clothes to all kinds of non-gym places. Everywhere I went, and for anything I did, I was outfitted in attire that could potentially be worn for a workout. I ended up enjoying the experiment far more than expected, though it can get very pricey to wear the (increasingly less) casual category 24/7.

I owned ample exercise garb prior to kicking off 31 days of athleisure; let's just say my leggings collection couldn't be crammed into a single drawer. But the objective was to make sure I didn't perpetually look pre-, mid-, or post-workout. So I sourced a selection of athleisure items that looked like..."normal" clothes. That meant dresses, skirts, and skorts, plus shirts that could pass muster at, say, a birthday party or a family gathering, without looking like I was about to go run a couple miles.

Ahead, check out an (almost) exhaustive rundown of what I wore during my month of all things athleisure.

This story was originally published on August 31, 2016.

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Every so often, I encounter that elusive sports bra that's far superior to the rest of my collection. You know, the kind that's so comfortable and chafe-free, you strategically wear it for, say, a lazy Sunday (and, hey, maybe even to work on Monday, too) before deigning to get it sweaty in a spin class. The wide, slightly glossy straps are ultra-soft, and you won't mind the T-shaped back detail peeking out from under a shirt.

Beyond Yoga Wild Heart Cut-Out Bra, $69 $28.40, available at Beyond Yoga.
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I've never been much of a polo-wearer (too preppy). But a fully pleated back lends an interesting twist. (Bonus: extra back ventilation, perfect for the steamiest summer days.)

Lacoste Pique Polo Shirt With Pleated Back, $108.47 - $155, available at Amazon.
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A staple alt-lingerie option for my underwire-free life. Splashed with a retro-tinged print featuring palm fronds and pink blossoms, you'll probably (okay, definitely) want this pretty bralette to peek out from your tank.

Lively The Mesh Trim Bralette, $35, available at Lively.
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The most convincing pair of athleisure pants I came across in my, uh, very extensive research. The glossy, faux-leather finish doesn't look like sausage casing when cut in a cropped-trouser silhouette, but it's still done in an ultra-stretchy, lightweight fabrication.

Cushnie et Ochs Juno Pant, $175, available at Bandier.
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It's one of my favorite workout tanks, complete with a surprisingly supportive built-in bra, sumptuous sueded texture, and the magical ability to smooth without suffocating. The crisscrossed back detailing made it acceptable at a nice dinner out, too.

Beyond Yoga Cutout Cami, $84, available at Zappos.
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Behold, one of the four least-obviously-athleisure pieces I discovered. I got tons of mileage out of the sculptural, high-cut neckline, and sexy, strappy back on this LBD that garnered all the compliments.

Carbon38 Polymorph Dress, $145, available at Carbon38.
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I haven't owned a circle skirt in years. This was a longer, grown-up version of the Abercrombie microminis I adored in high school, complete with three flouncy layers of coverage. Plus, it was the perfect pairing for my ambivalent foray into crop tops and (very minor) midriff exposure.

Hedge
Willa Tutu, $225, available at Hedge.
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Another indispensible piece in my athleisure wardrobe. It's got a double V-neck, substantial (but not stifling) heft to the fabric, and perfect mid-thigh mini-length.

Carbon38 Spectrum Dress, $135, available at Carbon38.
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An elegant tennis dress that doesn't look aggressively tennis-y: Yep, it exists. And the stretchy, cotton-linen blend, though very wrinkle-prone, feels glorious.

Hedge Quimby Dress, $220, available at Hedge.
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The high-cut, sleek mesh paneled neckline felt fancy — and, thankfully, quite breathable during an intense cycling class.

C9 Champion Gym Tank, $16.99 $10.18, available at Target.
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These made the cut for my self-imposed "leggings chic enough to wear in lieu of pants, once a week" rule, and damn, do navy and black look good together. They're a great, versatile option for actually working out in, too, be it a total body conditioning or yoga class. Post-athleisure challenge, these comfortably got me through 10-plus hours of air travel, connecting flights and all.

Outdoor Voices Two-Tone Warmup Legging, $95, available at Outdoor Voices.
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Leggings worthy of swapping in for pants on occasion: I love these so much, I have 'em in two lengths.

Alala Captain Crop Tight, $105, available at Alala.
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I was highly skeptical that a wool-blend tank, purported to be great at wicking away moisture, would be bearable in mid-July. I was pleasantly surprised, though wool can be irritating for highly sensitive, itch-prone skin.

Outdoor Voices Merino High Neck Tank, $65, available at Outdoor Voices.
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A completely office-appropriate skort, this is the sweat-wicking miniskirt with built-in thigh chafing protection that your summer commute's been sorely lacking.

Lacoste Contrast Tipped Stretch Gabardine Skirt, $125, available at Lacoste.
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For years, this has been my absolute favorite "traveling bra." (What, doesn't everyone have one?) I loved having an excuse to get one in another colorway...and to wear 'em constantly. Despite the pretty lightweight construction and sexy keyhole cutout, the Steeplechase miraculously holds everything in pretty well, even in higher intensity workouts.

Outdoor Voices New Steeplechase Sports Bra, $55, available at Outdoor Voices.
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The triple-cutout action on the abs felt like way too much for the office, but was perfect for a Saturday night. Plus, it's got a nice thickness that makes going sans bra appealing (and not completely revealing,).

Cushnie et Ochs Cora Tank, $165, available at Bandier.
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My very first crop top foray, this one's got a high neckline and a very shoulder-flaunting cut. It's also a supportive sports bra for particularly jiggly workouts.

Outdoor Voices Athena Crop, $50, available (in other colors) at Outdoor Voices.
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Another excellent crop top option for novices like me, this version from Aday works well for dressier situations. Bonus points for the fully perforated back, which sports a great oil-spill-esque metallic trim detail.

Aday Don't Stop Top, $60, available at ADAY.
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Another offering from Hedge, a chic new tennis brand, this one's got a fit-and-flare silhouette and sleek, flattering fabrication. I loved that the roomy pockets, intended for tennis balls, stay hidden (they're made of mesh). However, sweat stains do show on this deep blue hue, so keep that in mind on sweltering days (or when actually playing tennis).

Hedge Dune Racerback Dress, $235, available at Hedge.
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The breakout star of my adventures in athleisure: the fashion-y take on the skort, that looks like a sleek little mini, with the added secret thrill that you're basically traipsing around in glorified bike shorts. I'm not the only Court Skort fan, apparently: It's currently out of stock in the charcoal hue on the brand's site, though you can get on a wait list. (Or get the paler version shown here, though it's pricier than getting it from the source).

Outdoor Voices Court Skort, $96.09, available at Nergy.
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Another go-to alternative to "real bras" I relied on...and still can't stop wearing.

Lively The Geo Lace Bralette, $35, available at Lively.
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A smoothing, truly opaque pair of leggings, and one of the very few patterns that I'll actually choose over a plain black pair, these legitimately slide on easily, which is major for anyone prone to frantic, sweaty, multitasking changing feats in cramped bathrooms or crowded locker rooms. If the nearly triple-digit price is a deterrent, well, you're actually getting two pairs for $49 apiece with this reversible score.

Tone It Up High Tide Reversible Crop, $98, available at Bandier.
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The racerback shape is the only thing that gives this fancy, bonded-seamed tank a remotely sporty feel. And, yes, you can absolutely hit the gym in this.

Aday Dream Harder Tank, $50, available at ADAY.
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This mesh-, silk-, and cotton-paneled style befuddled my boyfriend ("looks like futuristic hospital scrubs" was the official review). Nonetheless, I found it to be a breezy upgrade on a standard tee.

Nike
Bonded T-Shirt, $55 $34.97, available at Nike.
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This passed muster for a "cocktail" dress-coded event at The Met with heels, following a day at the office where it was paired with loafers. I even took a nap in it on another day. Now that's versatility.

ADay Late or Never Jumpsuit, $140, available at ADay.
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Another skort that isn't white and pleated, this one, designed by tennis pro Chris Evert, features an optional side rouching detail and bright purple shorts underneath.

Chrissie by Tail Marlen Skort, $77, available at Tail.
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A bit short for the office, but these were a weekend go-to, thanks to the tonal zebra print and high-cut thigh detail.

The Upside Deep River Makau Short, $94 $66, available at Carbon38.
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A fun play on volume and proportion, with lots of room to breathe, thanks to the roomy cut, exaggerated, wide-weave mesh sleeves, and back slit.

Vimmia Relax Boxy Crop Tee, $114, available at Carbon38.
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Because not every piece had to be stealthily athleisure; some stuff, like this logo-pocket tank, could just be straight-up activewear.

Nike Signal Tank Top, $35, available at Nike.
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Another pair of leggings thick and smoothing enough to swap in for pants, with monotone mesh detaling, designed by Koral and Something Navy's Arielle Nachmani hence the whole navy-on-navy schtick.

Koral Sector Legging, $154, available at Bandier.
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For my actual active endeavors, this cooling towel was a great new find: It legitimately drops a couple degrees when you wet and snap it a few times.

Mission Enduracool Microfiber Cooling Towel, $14.99, available at Mission.
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I'm a bit discerning when it comes to patterned workout garb. But with the dark base hue and subtle print, coupled with unexpectedly delicate and pretty double straps, this tank won me over.

Patagonia Latticeback Tank, $59 $41, available at Patagonia.
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