Too Casual for a Weekend in the Office?

2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on what’s too casual for a weekend in the office, but you may also want to check out our more recent discussion on comfortable clothes for late nights in the office.

Today’s reader K asks a great question…

I’m a junior associate at a large corporate law firm, and I’ve been working a lot of weekends. During the week, I’m one of the more formally dressed people on my floor (there’s a fairly wide range). However, I walk about an hour to work as my exercise on the weekends, so I’m usually wearing sweats and a hoodie while I’m working on Saturday and Sunday. Personally, I figure that if I’m coming in off business hours, I can wear whatever I want as long as it’s clean and fairly neat. I have never run into a partner, and I usually just keep my door shut anyways. However, I have run into associates while going to grab food/coffee etc, and I’m wondering whether it’s inappropriate to let them see me in my truly casual clothes. Should I be wearing jeans, or something at least a little more fashionable?

I wrote a post on what to wear on a working weekend a long, long time ago that got some flack when it was picked up by Above the Law — I believe one of the AtL commenters said if they were working on the weekend, they felt they could come in wearing tighty-whities and roller skates for all the senior management had to say about it.  In honesty, that post was inspired after I’d spent a weekend filing a brief with a partner — I had shown up at 10 on Saturday wearing jeans, wet hair pulled back, and a sweater, having finished the Friday night work around 3 AM on Saturday morning.  The partner didn’t bat an eye, but the temp secretary I had to supervise (who had about 20 years on me) — well, that was a different story.  She took one look at me, rolled her eyes, and (I think) perhaps even asked if I was a lawyer.  Gee…thanks.  (Pictured: Working on the weekend, originally uploaded to Flickr by jfranklin.)

So I think it’s important to distinguish situations when you’re working on the weekend.

  • Sweats are fine if you’re running into a colleague in the coffee room (or, hey, tighty whities and roller skates).  (Personally, I’ve decided the Athleta catalog is my new inspirational “gee I wish my life/weekend fashions looked like that.”)
  • If you’re working closely with a colleague or superior, though, I’d say to make it “nicer” casual clothes.  To that end, think trouser jeans or dark rinse jeans, and perhaps a top or cardigan from your workweek collection.
  • Dress for respect if you expect to supervise people — whether it be junior colleagues or secretaries.  To that end, look for an authoritative blazer or cardigan.  (C’mon, you know I love a blazer.)  You can have fun with it, also — wear a hoodie under the blazer, or a concert T.

Readers, what’s your working-on-the-weekend outfit style? What are your thoughts on sweatpants, jeans, and blazers?

If you're going to be stuck working on the weekend, you may wonder: what should I wear to work? Especially if your workweek closet consists of conservative attire like sheath dresses -- and your weekend attire consists of workout clothes and date night clothes -- it can be tough to know where the balance is. Great discussion with the readers -- do not miss the comments!

Comments

  1. I really wouldn’t ever wear sweatpants to the office even if it’s the weekend and you were up until 4 AM finishing something up the night before. Jeans are just as comfortable but at least make it look like you made some kind of effort beside rolling out of your bed. I work in public service and wear formal attire during the week; my weekend work attire is usually nice dark wash jeans, nice flats, and a casual blazer with some sort of t-shirt under neath. A concert or other logo tee is a great way to put a little fun personality into the outfit without being too casual.

    If you’re walking an hour to work for exercise it’s completely understandable that you’d want to wear sweats for that long of a walk. However, I’d suggest maybe leaving a nice pair of jeans, flats, and a casual blazer in your office and changing into them once you arrive. That way you’re ready no matter who drops by your office – partner, fellow associate, or just the cleaning crew.

    • +1 on keeping jeans at the office if you often have to come in on Saturdays and would like to walk to work.

      Jeans and sweats are equally easy to put on and work in, so I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to look a little more put together. Even a sweater dress and leggings would be really easy and so comfortable.

      Maybe I’ve drunk the “What Not to Wear” Kool Aid, but I will always choose an outfit that is as easy and comfy as sweats but that looks way more pulled together because I don’t like looking like I just rolled out of bed, even at the grocery store.

      • Same – hence my love for wrap tunics and yoga pants in nicer material (where you dont actually know they are yoga pants).

        • I’m Anon from above. Good point on the nicer yoga pants. I guess I was picturing sweats like the gray ones that are all baggy. To me, those fit in a category like leggings if you’re wearing a nicer (i.e. non workout) shirt and they look like normal pants.

    • lawyerette :

      Long black yoga pants will feel that same as sweats but if you’re wearing a tunic (or long t-shirt) + long blazer and some cute flats (you can leave the blazer+flats at work) all of the sudden you look put-together. In the fall/winter I’d also add a thin colorful scarf.

      So long as your bum is covered most people will not be able to tell that you’re wearing workout wear (and if they can, it’s the weekend and that’s ok). Make sure they’re not too tight though.

      • Anonymous :

        I feel like yoga pants being acceptable and sweats being unacceptable borders on the same argument as “but these are NICE jeans” because they cost $200…

        If workout clothes aren’t acceptable attire, then it doesn’t matter if they are Champion or Lululemon – leave them at home.

        A LOT of women in my building seem to think that yoga pants are acceptable for casual friday. Here’s the thing – yoga pants are common. People know what they look like. They don’t look like pants – they look like athletic pants. And frankly, though sweats are far too casual, at least they aren’t as tight on the booty, which is really reason #1 why yoga pants shouldn’t come with you to work.

        • haha around here they are called “milf pants” for that reason..

        • lawyerette :

          I agree that yoga pants are not appropriate for a casual office during the workweek, but I disagree with you that you can’t look perfectly appropriate in the outfit I described above. Notice I said not too tight pants and a blazer! but to each their own :)

        • Agree. I think athletic apparel, including yoga pants, shouldn’t be worn at the office, weekends included.

          I think for me, it’s partly about not wanting that kind of intimacy (maybe the wrong word) forced on me… as in, as your co-worker, I don’t want to be among the people like your husband or your workout buddy who get to see you in your dressed-down, comfort mode. When you wear your sweats to work (why not your PJ’s?) you’re kind of changing our relationship and putting me in that inner circle, where I have no desire to be. Or maybe it’s just that it’s little ooky to see coworkers too far out of context, and being in workout gear is out of context at the office.

          • People are rarely in my office on the weekend, but I ran into a senior once and he was wearing overalls. Disturbing.

      • My thoughts exactly.

    • Wow, I find jeans SO uncomfortable. Amazed at the comparison to sweatpant comfiness. I can’t imagine choosing them when sweats are an option.

      • Really? I’m genuinely surprised. I’d think nothing of walking an hour to work in jeans (and frequently have worn jeans to work on weekends).

      • I find sweatpants really uncomfortable. I need some kind of sensation of being “held in” I guess. I love jeans, have about 30 pairs and that’s pretty much all I wear in my leisure time unless I’m at the gym or skiing.

        I wouldn’t wear either yoga pants or sweats to work, even on the weekends. I have some yoga pants but they are strictly gym wear. But, I am the type of person who doesn’t go to the grocery store after I work out because I’m afraid of bumping into someone I know when I’m sweaty and gross. My family is from Texas and it was drilled into my head from birth that you don’t go anywhere unless you are “put together.”

      • I was beginning to think that I’m the only one out there who finds jeans not so comfortable.

  2. Threadjack: Bra Help Needed :

    Ok, I didn’t want to be the first person to post and go off on a threadjack, but….

    Can anyone recommend a good place to get measured for a bra? (Either a national chain or in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.) I have been wearing a 34B for some time now because that’s the size I’ve been measured at previously. But it’s just not right. The front of the cups feel like they’re slightly smushing my breasts, and yet there is definitely some empty space in the bra cups right along the underwire. In addition, I do not feel like I’m getting good support. I was recently diagnosed with fibro-cystic breast syndrome (basically my breasts get really full, extremely achy, and lumpy for about a week or so during my menstrual cycle) so I need a really good, supportive bra to help alleviate some of the discomfort associated with that.

    I should mention that the place I was measured previously was Victoria’s Secret and the woman didn’t exactly inspire confidence in her measuring skills. Basically she took my underbust and bust measurements about three times with a rather perplexed look on her face, stepped back and kind of “eyeballed” me, then announced that I was a 34B. I checked online for a formula to find bra size and when I measured myself I got 32D (28 inches underbust, 36 inches bust). TIA.

    • Do you have Nordstrom in MSP? If so, go there — they will have trained fitters and a good selection of bras that are pretty and supportive.

      • SF Bay Associate :

        Agreed. Nordstrom’s website says there’s one at the Mall of America in Bloomington. Call the store ahead of time, and ask the operator to get transferred to a Personal Stylist. Tell the Personal Stylist you need a bra fitting and would really appreciate getting an appointment with her favorite lingerie associate. The Personal Stylists are always very nice and because they want to turn you into a client (which is free for you), they will make sure you get the best treatment. Have fun!

      • Anonymous :

        Nordstrom. Totally worth the headache of dealing with the Mall of America. I went there to get fitted for nursing bras after my son was born.

      • I second Nordstrom’s or Bloomingdales or any high-end department store. But try to pick someone who looks put-together or looks like they know what they’re talking about. It is the time of year for holiday help, which is often more about filling the floor with people than it is about training people who know what they’re doing.

      • Silicon Valley Associate :

        I agree with K on Nordstrom. I had a professional fitting a few months ago, and the fitter was so helpful. I think her knowledge of the appropriate bra for my size was more helpful than the fitting itself. She recommended a few of the Chantelle bras that are so supportive and flattering. I’m a 36DDD, so support and minimization is important. I can’t rave enough about the Chantelle line.

        • I am wearing Chantelle now, and love it! I am busty (to borrow a phrase from my 89 year old grandmother), and have never been able to wear a demi without falling out, but the Chantelle I have is pretty but incredibly supportive.

          Fit by Nordstroms, BTW.

      • The personal shopper for our local Nordies looks like a supermodel and has no idea what to do with you if you don’t. Their bra fitter was a disaster, too – she measured me for a size and instead of telling me that they didn’t carry it, tried to tell me that a bra two cup sizes smaller would be “just fine”. I’m delighted that others have had good experiences, and honestly, I’m a little jealous!

    • AttiredAttorney :

      Second Nordstroms. They are just as good as the “specialty” bra fitting stores.

    • That sounds more like a 28H. Go here
      http://breakoutbras.stores.yahoo.net/noname1.html
      This is the formula I use and it always works for me!

      • Yeah, IME those formulas always underestimate cup size and overestimtae band size, possibly to make more people fit into the sizes the stores carry.

        • I found that with VS for a while. No, VS, I’m not going to squeeze into your biggest cup size so you can make a sale. I’m going to Nordstrom or Lane Bryant for a solid, erm, big girl bra.

    • Nordstrom, definitely.

    • To be fair, according the to VS way of measuring, you are a 34 B. They add 5 inches to the underbust measurement and round up if need be, then use the difference between that measurement and the measurement around your bust to get the cup size. I don’t think it’s a super-accurate system, but in fairness to the saleswoman, she did you give the size she should have, based on their system!

      Anyway, I agree with others: Nordstrom is a great option!

      • Nordstrom in the MOA. I have gone there for fittings a few times, and the sales people are incredibly helpful and accurate.

        • 100thing Nordstroms – the trick is to go there and find out your size and a few brands and styles that work for you, then go to Nordstrom Rack and find them for much less $$.

          I am evangelical about bra fitting – it really does make you look like you lost a few pounds and also somehow improves your posture.

      • This is a little more work than Nordie’s, but you might see if there’s a bra shop in the area who works with mastectomy patients. I used to patronize one, and that’s where I got FITTED. To me VS and company do “sizing,” as in they can take 45 seconds and a tape measure to guesstimate your size, but the specialty bra women can adjust you, bring you different garments, etc etc to make sure the bra FITS. It’s like sizing pants and darn near everything else: sure you might be a 10 but does it FIT?

        I miss my former bra store. It was owned by a nurse whose mother had breast cancer. Unfortunately the mom died and the nurse closed the shop and moved.

    • govvie girl :

      And if you’re ever in Alexandria or Virginia Beach, VA, I recommend The Full Cup. The one in Alexandria/Old Town had excellent customer service, and my saleswoman was very knowledgeable with a good “bedside manner.” She put me at ease right away. I think those qualities are important in any store/department. Will say that imported bras seem to be sized differently from those made here.

    • I think it’s fine to get measured, but don’t assume that just because you have your measurements you know your side. Trial and error is the only way to find bras that truly fit. Measurements are just a starting point, and every brand has a different formula for what measurements equal a given size.

      This page has some really good bra fitting advice: http://www.knickersblog.com/the-do-it-yourself-bra-fitting-guide/1083

      Another note: if you get fitted at Nordstrom and after a couple weeks the bra isn’t fitting right, don’t hesitate to take it back. I’ve done this before with no problem.

      • Wow that is an amazing bra-fitting guide. I’m printing it out and taking it with me next time I go bra shopping! Thank you!

    • Drs office is one thing, but... :

      Confession- I’m a little embarrassed to get a professional fitting. I never have, and I can’t imagine standing there topless and have someone measure my boobs, am I alone in this? Any tips?

      • I felt the same way. I just picked out the most matronly looking one (my mom does all my alterations, so it felt the same) and went with her. I shouldn’t have worried.

      • i’ve had people measure me with a bra on (not recommended for fit, but good for modesty) and with just a tee or cami on and no bra under to get a potentially more accurate measurement while still not standing there naked.

      • It’s ok if you wear a thin top (cami, tee, etc.) braless. And they don’t do it in public – they take you back into a big fitting room or whatever.

    • Little old lady at the Macy’s in Ridgedale is FANTASTIC! I wish I could remember her name, but I can’t, it’s been a few years.

    • Ugh steer clear of VS. They don’t go above D or DD so you won’t get your accurate size. I was measured as a 34B by VS but turned out to be a 32G. And I echo someone’s comment that despite measurement, you have to rely a bit on trial and error to arrive at your true size. I started with 32DD and then moved to a 32E because that felt better and then ultimately to 32G because that just felt perfect. And I second Chantelle – best bras for busty bodies!

      • Echoing the above posters who were told by VS associates (plural) that I was a 34B. I’m actually closer to a 30DD. It doesn’t make sense to me; I can wear some of their 32D bras relatively comfortably, so it’s not as if they had to fudge numbers -too- much to get me into one of their bras (though they do only have one or two lines in the stores which offer 32Ds).

        I sent a complaint to VS about the fitting results being off, and they brushed me off, saying they would need “more information”. I gave them the store numbers, the times I was there, and the name of one of the associates, so I don’t know what other information they would need. I don’t think they’re really interested in giving honest measurements if you aren’t one of their well-stocked sizes.

      • Do you have Intimacy near you? We have them in NYC and they were extremely helpful and put me on the right track with a few Chantelle bras to get me started. I’ve never looked back.

        Steer cleer of VS–in a pinch, I ran in to pick up a bra in my correct size, 32c. They tried to convince me that 34 b, my sister size, was “exactly” the same (whereas I had been wearing a 34b for years prior to my Intimacy fitting with poor results). They didn’t even carry 32c which cements my belief that they’re more of a “fit the woman to the bra” rather than “fit the bra to the woman” type of place.

  3. I wear jeans on the weekend with cute flats. On top, I usually wear a normal shirt or sweater or tank/cardigan combo – nothing fancy. I definitely don’t feel the need to wear a blazer or heels. It’s pretty much what I would wear out to the mall or grocery store or other errands. I’m not a sweat pants in public type of person to begin with.

  4. Never never never on the sweats at work, no matter what you do professionally. OK – possible exception – personal fitness trainer. (But even then, you should be wearing clothes that sculpt your body, to better show your great physique!) Also, I would avoid ripped clothing and stained clothing.

    I actually like the Athleta suggestion very much! Or check out Boden for a casual, sharp look.

  5. My first couple of years out of law school working weekends, I always wore casual clothes that would have been fine for a business casual day at the office (think slacks with a workweek type top/sweater/twinset). Now, I tailor it more to the situation. If I work on a weekend and I am not working with someone directly/closely and I am planning to go to the yoga class after I work, I will wear black yoga pants with a wrap tunic (which covers the tank top for yoga/working out) and flats or boots – the truth is, there are so many yoga brands that have blurred the line between casual weekend wear and yoga wear, unless someone is looking closely, it’s hard to tell. If I am going to the gym I will wear a variation of the outfit where I wear the same pants and tank top, with a long-sleeved top and longish cardigan over and sneakers into the office (which I change into work week flats while I am there if anyone is around).

    Funny story: one weekend last year where I was working closely with a partner who was wearing sweatpants that Saturday, I wore slacks with a sweater the first day and the second day, ended up wearing thick leggings, tall boots, a long tunic (which honestly looks like a dress) and a long cardigan over the tunic (it was freezing in the office incidentally). The funny part is both days I was told I was way too dressed up to work on weekends (to me the leggings + tunic/dress was casual, but the whole outfit actually looked very put together in a casual way I guess). The following weekend (working with the same partner) I just wore jeans and a sweater.

    I agree with Kat’s advice to tailor to the situation – particularly if you are supervising someone who, frankly, may feel the need to get dressed up to come in on a weekend will resent you if you do not at least wear slack or nice jeans with some sort of a blazer (I am very partial to the knit blazers even though it took me a while to warm up to t hem).

    Finally for the person who posted the question – I think in her situation it is up to her. I would personally upgrade sweat pants and hoodie to something from Athleta, and perhaps swap the sneakers out while at the office, but I don’ t think it is mandatory.

    • This doesn’t necessarily relate to this post, but the topic reminded me: When I was a summer law clerk in SF, one of the senior male attorneys at the firm would bike to work every Friday (the office was in one of the larger buildings in the Financial District). In full bike gear (i.e. spandex shorts w/ a definite, uh “outline”). My first Friday, he caught the same elevator as me going up in the morning: bike, bike shorts, spandex top, helmet and all…

      • My first job as a lawyer I shared an office with a male lawyer. He rode his bike to work. Then changed into his suit in our office!! We had these important early morning meetings that I had to prepare for so I just sat with my back to him working away at the computer while he changed behind me. Wierd, huh. I thought he should go to the the bathroom to change. Everyone knew too, when our door was shut, what he was doing. We ended up friends so I guess it worked out.

        • Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler :

          Because of the conversation thread earlier this week about old 90s tv shows, the first thing that popped into my head was Stephanie Tanner with her “how rude!”

      • When I was a general surgery resident, we would regularly need to change from clinic clothes to scrubs for operating. The girls would always go to the locker room. The guys always just changed in the bullpen of the big office we all shared. For better or worse, guys are just not as worried about it. They were often keeping boxers and undershirts on, so maybe it feels less exposed?

        • Consultant :

          Whether or not men are worried about changing in front of others, a situation like Lobbyist’s is a sexual harassment complaint waiting to happen. It’s fine that Lobbyist didn’t mind that, but if one of my clients had a similar situation, I would recommend immediate counseling, notations in his employee file about the counseling, and if he didn’t remedy the problem, disciplinary action and move to another office, even if it was a converted janitor’s closet. A male employee stripping down (even if it’s just to underwear) in front of a female employee he shares an office with is basically begging to be slapped with a “hostile environment” challenge.

        • I’ve been wondering about the etiquette for this situation. I’m a med student and right now the only woman on my surgery team. While I still change in the locker room it’s not because I’m modest (the med student locker room where I change is unisex), but rather I don’t want to break some unspoken rule or taboo about undressing in front of my male evaluators. The residents all change in the office, often with the door open, but I don’t know how they’d feel about a woman (and a med student) doing the same. The only female attending I’ve seen in this dept has her own office where she changes. It hasn’t been an issue yet, but I dread the day when we’re running late to/from clinic or get an urgent page to the OR and I’ll lag behind because I have to go to a different floor to change. Any advice?

  6. Re the bra measurement hijack, I’d look for a specialty store in your city. I don’t know what is in MSP, but here in Chicago there is a store called Tina’s Closet. The woman is amazing. She really knows what she’s doing. I would trust them far more than I would Nordstrom — I like Nordstrom just fine, but I doubt their salespeople are really as trained as an individual person is.

  7. Gym attire? :

    Along the same lines (kinda) what do you wear to the gym where you inevitably see a co-worker, opposing counsel, judge? I just started working out at a downtown gym and think I may need to transition from the cheerleader shorts and t-shirts I wore to the gym during law school.

    • I am a law student and work out at a gym where I used to see attorneys from my summer associate firm all. the. time. I was really self conscious at first, but soon shrugged it off and continued wearing what I wanted. I usually wear running shorts and a wicking t-shirt that is form fitting. If the gym is particularly hot and I’m doing a particularly difficult cardio work out, I have been known to take off the t-shirt and just wear the sports bra.

      I’ve found that the athletes I’ve come to know are the least modest people on the planet, and I have never seen them get weird about someone wearing too few clothes (as a side note, that goes for people of all sizes). These aren’t all “gym people,” though, and I’ve found some gyms to have different cultures than others.

      • another anon :

        Haha my pet peeve is when women (it would go for men too but I don’t see them do it) take off their shirt at the gym.

        • Why?

          • Anonymous :

            Because it is tacky?

            Sorry, maybe I’m too conservative for this blog :) but I played sports growing up in a hot, humid climate (FL), I train mostly in gyms where a/c doesn’t exist (boxing gyms, mma gyms), and I’ve never once resorted to whipping off my shirt to deal with the heat.

            I really just can’t think of why I’d want the entire gym to see me 1/2 naked. Esp if said gym is full of possible colleagues. When I see a man or woman working out sans shirt, I assume that they are just trying to get attention, esp as I know for a fact that you can go entire 90 minute grappling classes without air conditioning, and while wearing a gi, and be just fine.

          • another anon :

            Its crazy tacky, its never so hot you need to take off your shirt and oh! what’s this? Oh its my cleavage and rippling abs how did those get there?

          • I can see how it’s tacky if you’re taking off your shirt to lift weights or something, and I can see how it might be a safety issue to want clothes covering your body while grappling or boxing. If you’re doing a HIIT workout on the treadmill, I think it is legitimately more comfortable and cooler to not have the heavy, wet shirt slapping against you all the time. A sports bra and running shorts is way more modest than most swim suits.

            I guess when it comes to workout gear, I am very much of the mind that people should dress to make themselves feel comfortable.

          • lawyerette :

            I agree that when people are working out sans shirt (men or women) to me they are trying to call attention to themselves and I would add “in a sexual way” (as in: look at me, I’m hot — not the temperature kind). I don’t see anything inappropriate per se, but just know that this is the image you are portraying for many people (including possible work colleagues).

          • Maybe its because I am old and grumpy, but if I saw the summer associate working out in the firm gym in her sports bra it would be a big eye roll (and a possible cursing my lost youth:)

          • Another Sarah :

            I don’t like this either. There’s this one woman in my spinning class who takes off her shirt just before class (so she’s in spin shorts and an exercise bra, and then tucks a towel into her waistband in the back, so it’s like a skirt. Yeah, I get it, it’s to stop her from sweating ALL OVER creation, but jeebus. :-)

          • another anon :

            There are plenty of shirts that don’t get wet and heavy when you run… I guess that’s why it has such a bad rap, because the impression is that no matter how hard your workout it, you don’t need to take off your shirt. Hence the “look at me” association I have with it.

          • I didn’t realize there was such widespread vitriol about this issue.

            All of the people that I work out with take off their shirts (men and women) on occassion. I’m not saying that I go to the gym with a perfectly coordinated bra/shorts combo, planning to take off my shirt (and I don’t have cleavage or a six pack), and it certainly doesn’t happen every day, but if I’m feeling especially sweaty and/or hot, the shirt is coming off. I don’t know how the other no-shirters feel, but when it comes to that point, I am not strutting around feeling attractive and trying to get attention, I am just trying to be more comfortable.

            I hope we can all still be friends.

          • I think it’s a bit awkward when women aren’t quite fit enough to rock the look but still do. If a woman has the body for it, it’s eye-roll inducing, but who cares. If she can command that sort attention and wants to do so, I say go for it.

          • I’m not saying I recommend wearing a sports bra to the gym, but I grew up exercising outdoors in the cold and now rely on the gym for my evening workouts. I find it UNBEARABLY hot in the gym. I’m too self-conscious to whip my shirt off these days but instead of judging the girls running their butts of on the treadmill in sports bras, I am jealous.

            More power to those of you who work out in hot climates with no A/C, but I seriously doubt I could ever handle that without passing out.

          • Anon for this one :

            Yikes, I had never known about this either. Like some others on this thread, I get very hot when I’m working out indoors, and I sweat a lot. Particularly when I have an intense workout planned, I will often wear just a sports bra and shorts. It had never occurred to me to notice or care whether others are looking at me (let alone looking and thinking I am trying to attract negative attention), perhaps because when I am at the gym I am paying attention to my workout and could not care less about what others are wearing. Honestly, I am not exposing any cleavage or sexualized body parts, and am therefore inclined to believe that anyone’s issue with my gym clothes is their problem, not mine.

          • I have the body to take off my shirt, and do so when playing beach vball. But on a treadmill? No thanks. It looks like showing off. I go to the gym to exercise, not to get picked up on. Taking off your shirt raises the chances of the latter. The fact is, if you are hot on the treadmill, a sweaty, wet t-shirt will keep you cooler than going sans shirt anyway.

            Back to the original post though, if you are seeing colleagues, you should definitely keep your shirt on. But you do not need to wear ultra-modest clothing, it is a gym after all – people are there to work out.

        • Dang, I’m just happy that there are other women grappling and boxing, shirtless or not (sports bra definitely required)!

      • I would die of embarrassment if I saw colleagues or even familiar faces from my industry at the gym with me wearing a sports bra. I would never do it, even if I can pull it off. Anyone who thinks that people will not gossip about that sort of thing have their head in the sand. Law, finance, etc. — all small intertwined universes within each city (even big old NYC), and people DO talk. All. the. time. Don’t kid yourself, and go to Lululemon’s or Modell’s and get a special shirt designed to address the sweat-absorption issue.

        • As a dedicated and happy reader of this site for the last 2 years, I’ve come to realize that someone is going to be talking about me or judging me for something, no matter what I do. I am careful to wear 2 inch heels with no toe cleavage, a tasteful but fashionable suit, and fun but not too blingy jewelry. I am careful not to be too thin or too chubby, and I am nice to everyone so as not to be a b*tch but not too nice so that I’m not seen as a pushover. However, no one is taking away the pleasure I get from a summer breeze on my stomach while I run around the lake near my house, even though I occassionally see my coworkers and even the dean of my old law school. They don’t blush or shuffle uncomfortably when I come into a room, so I figure it’s all okay.

          • Anon for this one :

            This!

          • Well said. :)

          • another anon :

            I mean, obviously. Everyone is allowed to break any rule they want. You can wear 5 inch pumps with toe cleavage, some people won’t notice, and some will roll their eyes. You can go to the gym in a bra, some people will think wow she takes good care of herself, some people will roll their eyes. People are just letting you know that its something a lot of people have an aversion too, and you decide whether you follow it or not.

      • Anonymous Poser :

        I don’t see co-workers when I work out, but for the folks here who are assuring others that they cannot get too hot while working out to need to remove their shirt–so long as it’s made of a moisture-wicking material…I disagree.

        I’m not thrilled about running in my sports bra, but it provides much more coverage of my bust than a lot of bikinis do (and more than some one-piece swimsuits do, in that area), and I do not tolerate heat well at all. I do start out wearing a wicking tank top, but it sometimes gets too hot in the spring and summer to keep it on. For comparison, I just bought some short-sleeved shirts for running in temps into the *low* 40s, because I’d get too hot wearing long sleeves while running. I’m not trying to show off, and I hope people don’t mind, but…I’m not really running for them. I’m running for me.

    • I’m a fan of yoga pants + sports bra + racer back tank top. I’d maybe avoid cleavage (I’m busty, so it can be an issue for me w/ some sports bras/ tanks) and perhaps wear a tank long enough that it covers your midsection even when you lift your arms up (or maybe just go for one that covers your butt)?

      • That’s similar to my usual gym outfit: running shorts + sports bra + tank top. This summer I bought a whole bunch of very thin tanktops at old navy for $3. I bought them a size bigger so they wouldn’t cling. They provide coverage while still keeping me cool. There is no need to take your shirt off at the gym.

    • I used to belong to a gym where I was always running into coworkers, and I agree that it can be a bit weird. I didn’t go out and buy new clothes, but I did wear the longer of my shorts (still not super long, but longer than my old soffees) because I felt more comfortable in them while stretching/doing sit ups/etc. I also wore tshirts that were more innocuous–IM basketball, race tshirts–as opposed to old sorority tshirts or the like.

      Bottom line: do what you’re comfortable with. New workout clothes can be cheap enough that it isn’t worth it to feel uncomfortable. Also, if you’re going before work (and getting ready at the gym), bringing a short robe to wear while doing your hair/makeup is a good option. I always felt a little weird changing and getting ready in front of women I recognized but didn’t know well.

    • A bra is a bra. Underwear.
      Definitely has that connotation and you don’t want to be seen in it by colleagues or others you are not intimate with.

      • Meh. Sports bras are hardly what one thinks of when one thinks underwear. If a woman walked down a suburban street in a bra, there’d be blatant pointing and whispering; most people take no obvious notice if it’s a sports bra.

        This same thinking caused the nonsense surrounding Brandy Chastain way back when. Maybe I’m generalizing, but I just don’t think athletes think of it in the same way–we’re working out and for the most part, we’re focused on being comfortable.

  8. It’s funny to read all this concern about this — I guess I work in a very pleasant, respectful, place where the people I technically “supervise” aren’t looking for a reason to resent me and the people who technically “supervise” me aren’t looking for a reason to give me a lower evaluation. When we work on the weekends, people (from secretaries to associates to partners of all levels) wear whatever they want. I’ve seen sweats (though I wouldn’t wear them myself in public, anywhere) and I’ve seen put-together Boden-type outfits. It’s never even occurred to me to wonder if any of them were appropriate — I just figured they reflected the place those people were before they came in, or were going after.

    • This! Same with working out with those people (see line of comments above). I spend all week dressing respectably and according to firm policy (and common decency). If I come in on the weekends in sweats, so be it. Similarly, if I work out in skimpy clothes or raggy t-shirts at my gym, so be it. Both of these things are occuring on MY time.

  9. Anon for this :

    Thread hijack:
    After seeing all of your lovely bags on the briefcase post, I am now starting to question my own bag. I usually wear this bag to meetings, court, etc. Please let me know if I am off-base and need to upgrade to something more professional. Mine is in black, with all of those tag things removed.

    http://images.teamsugar.com/files/upl2/41/416654/34_2009/b11d94fc22317f77_coach_madison_magazine_tote.xlarge.jpg

    • lawyerette :

      I see nothing wrong with your bag! It’s prefectly lovely and totally professional.

    • Anon for this :

      sorry that link is not working, here’s another

      http://cgi.ebay.com/NWOT-COACH-MADISON-MAGAZINE-JULIANNE-LEATHER-TOTE-BAG-/130461047583?pt=US_CSA_WH_Handbags&hash=item1e60159b1f

    • Looks perfect to me. Personally I wouldn’t use it for interviews just because I don’t like any metal on my bag but its looks very professional with the tag things off.

    • I think this bag is completely professional and sends a positive message. Really, I can’t think of a more professional-looking handbag, especially if you have it in black.

    • Looks lovely to me!

  10. I run errands in yoga pants and a tank all the time on the weekend, but I just can’t bring myself to wear them to work on the weekend (and no one would care, I work at a very laid back firm). I usually wear jeans and a top of some sort (i.e. some iteration of a “casual Friday” outfit by my firm’s standards). With that said, I don’t judge the male attorneys who come in in basketball shorts and dingy T-shirts. Although I do think it’s funny, it certainly doesn’t translate into an “I think less of you for having done that” sort of experience.

  11. Divaliscious11 :

    Anyone have an Eddie Bauer code?

    • Free shipping through Thursday 12/9 with STNICK. After that, free shipping over $100 with HOLIDAYEB. That’s all I got.

    • Divaliscious11 :

      Thanks. Hubby needs a new winter casual coat and they have 3xl and tall….

      • Ah, the joys of shopping for husbands that look like ex-linebackers :) My husband is 6’2″ and wears an 18 1/2, 36-37 dress shirt but has a 38-inch waist. Buying clothes for him is all types of fun. Finding things that will actually fit him is like finding gold under a rock.

  12. Personally I would never be seen in public wearing sweatpants or yoga pants or any kind of knit pants except inside the actual gym itself. I don’t think badly of others for doing it, I actually am annoyed with myself sometimes for than having this hangup because for late nights at the library it sure would be comfy. And it would get me out of my house faster if I didn’t have to get dressed up on weekends.

    That said, my go- to for office weekend wear if I needed to be super comfy but still look put together would be high waisted wide leg slacks in a soft fabric (easy to move in and I have one such wool pair that goes with an old suit) and a thick sweater over a long sleeved knit cotton top. Leggings, tunic, and flat boots sound nice too.

    I really like the blazer over concert tee idea, though!

    • People who regularly work weekends usually have little time to go to concerts! I suppose I could resurrect one from my lost, lazy, youth … Nirvana, anyone?

  13. Oh, Kat, I love that you mention the Athleta catalog! That thing has a way of inspiring all sorts of detailed, riduculous fantasies for me – like moving to Albuquerque and working part time at the coffee shop and part time in a stall at the farmers market. On weekends I go running in the mountains in snowshoes and then put on my kicky sweater dress for capuccino in the lodge afterward. And I can only wear cross-body bags because my hands are too busy walking dogs, working in my herb garden, and paddling my canoe….
    okay – back to real life!

    • Anonymous :

      Lol! Athleta always makes me dream of the day when I have the time to be that fit and fab.

    • Funny! Whenever I read the Title 9 catalogue, I’m always motivated to go to the gym because their (real people) models are amazingly ripped.

    • R.S.: I’ll come with you! I actually lived in ABQ for a time and I like to think that if I had stayed, my life would TOTALLY be just like an Athleta catalog. Well, that plus this catalog called “Silpada” that has somehow made its way into my possession …. :)

    • OMG I want this life that you’ve just described.

    • I’m in. Where do we sign up?

    • Wait, is THAT what Albuquerque is like? *goes to Orbitz & buys a ticket*

      • Um, no. And I live here, so I can say. Unfortunately, a part-time job at a coffee shop and one at the farmer’s market would net you enough money to rent a teeny one-bedroom apartment in a run-down complex in the bad (meaning truly scary and unsafe) part of town, and maybe take the bus a few places a week – forget affording expensive outdoor sporting equipment. Our cost of living, while not high compared to big-city standards, is not low either. The outdoor stuff is great, though – although on long weekends, when you really have the time to get out there, everyone else is out there too. Kind of ruins the “wilderness experience” sometimes.

        The one thing I can say about Abq is that the pace here, in general, is laid-back and people work to live, they don’t live to work. Work is something you do to afford the skiing/snowboarding, hiking, mountain/rock climbing, snowshoeing, kayaking, running, mountain biking, camping, jam-band-concertgoing, etc. you do in your “real life” outside of work. People who live to work and are fanatical about their “careers” are seen as hyper, annoyingly Type-A, and kind of strange here. It drives some people from California and “Back East” (if you are from anywhere east of the Mississippi, you are from “Back East” not New England or the Mid-Atlantic or whatever) crazy, because they are used to a more go-go-go pace of life. But I love it when I get up in the morning and see my friends’ status updates on Facebook that say “Got up and watched the sunrise for an hour this morning” or “Great trail ride this a.m., 25 miles before breakfast, now headed into work” at 10:30 a.m. There are a lot of entrepreneurs here, and a lot of companies with flextime policies, so it’s not at all unusual for groups of people to get together at 10 in the morning or 3 in the afternoon on a weekday and go do something completely unrelated to working.

        Oh, and if you like rugged, outdoorsy guys? Fuhgeddaboutit. :)

  14. When I was clerking, my judge set a jury instructions conference for the weekend. We met in the courtroom, all counsel were present, no clients, no courtroom staff, and it was off the record. Everything we hashed out was summarized and put on the record on Monday.

    The judge wore a fleece vest and jeans. The male attorneys wore something along the lines of dress shirts and khakis. The woman attorney, a senior associate, wore slacks, low heels or nice flats, a nice professional blouse, and business-like jewelry (as though she were wearing a suit, but without a jacket). I wore a suit.

    I remember this because the lesson for me was that the person with the highest status (the judge) had the most flexibility. Then as the status went down, the dress code went up.

  15. Once in middle of a hot Chicago summer I was working on a TRO over the weekend, and the partner (oldish, short, skinny) dropped by my office in CUT-OFF JEANS. I don’t think I heard a word he said to me, I just felt so embarassed in the presence of so much bare leg.

    Point being, and this is what I was trying to say above, that I think in polite society, it’s a nice idea to dress not only for your own comfort but for the comfort of others—within reason. I am referring only to keeping an eye on the appropriate level of formality for a professional environment, and am not at all suggesting that we bow to other peoples’ style preferences, sexist expectations, or anything like that.

  16. SIL Gift Advice :

    Off topic — I need some advice on possible Christmas gifts for my sisters-in-law. A little background: They are both in college. Neither is working at the moment and they are not getting much in the way of financial assistance from my in-laws. (Honestly, I have no idea how they eat and pay for clothes, but that’s a different story.) I’d like to get them something they need as opposed to just something they want, but no one is providing me any ideas. Short of giving cash, can y’all make any suggestions as to useful gifts you received while you were in college? I’d be willing to spend up to $75-100. TIA.

    • In that situation, I would say cash or gift cards unless you know what they specifically need/want. Maybe throw in some small cute jewelry to make it more personal….

    • I know it’s kind of similar to cash, but what about a gift card for a nearby grocery store or restaurant? A gift card to a store with work-appropriate clothing (along with a note about the money going toward an interview suit, etc.) could work if they plan on interning or are close to graduating. Other than giftcards, I feel like it is so hard to get someone something they need. I feel that they are a little more personal than cash, though. (I was very lucky to have parents who paid for my gas, oil changes, etc. in college, but I recall gas giftcards being very popular among friends, as well.)

    • Gift box/basket of useful necessities — toilet paper, dish detergent, kitchen towels. Or go a food route and put in staples, esp pricier ones (blanking right now on good examples…olive oil is a staple for me, but perhaps not them). If they live in a city, a transit card with $ on it…think about what you spend money on and don’t think about it, but if someone said “you can’t have that bottle of Dawn detergent” you’d be stressed.

      • Not trying to be snarky, but are you really suggesting toilet paper as a Christmas gift? Cash all the way….if that’s what they really need, they can buy it themselves.

        • I’m not suggesting wrapping up a 12 pack of TP. I’m saying you can make a gift basket of useful stuff. I’ve seen it done, I’ve received such gifts, and I think its more thoughtful (if geared to the person and what you think they need) than most xmas gifts.

    • I know you want suggestions other than cash, but when I was in college cash was the best gift ever. I say give cash and a cute/ funny card.

    • I got a vaccuum cleaner when I was living in my first apartment at age 20. Also, a really, really good, portable toolkit. Both were absolutely invaluable. I’ve loaned tools to my building’s handyman when he forgot something when he came up to make a repair in my apartment, and if I have to install something or fix something myself I always have what I need.

      Other nice things I received that are useful but less essential: Crockpot, food processor, blender, toaster oven, nice bedding, nice towels, area rugs.

    • What about a present & a gift card/cash for a lesser amount (e.g., $40 sweater & $50 giftcard)?

      I would also think movie gift certificates could be useful; giftcards to BN can be used for textbooks; one of the best gifts I got in school was a $60 gift card to Starbucks — I could buy coffee/snacks without thinking about it for quite some time (dunkin donuts does the same thing). A giftcard to the local supermarket would have been equally useful. If you’re thinking clothes — maybe a nice button down shirt or sweater that can be worn on interviews?

    • In college, cash is king.

      • This a million times!!! One of my aunts would always give a small, feminine gift (something like scented sachets to go in your lingerie drawer or a cute cosmetic bag) with a $50. I looked forward to it every year!

      • YES!

    • What about gift cards for things they can treat themselves to? Restaurant in the nearby city accompanied with movie tickets, gift card to a “specialty” supermarket like Whole Foods, etc. Things they would spend money on anyways but that they then will feel less guilty about.

    • Anonymous :

      Target gift card. They can get groceries, makeup, cleaning supplies, clothing, dorm furniture . . . whatever.
      If you really don’t want to go the cash/gift card route, you could do your own version of “Oprah’s Favorite Things”, only with practical items that still might not be something they’d spend limited cash on. Your favorite olive oil, stain remover, lip gloss, pens, pricey snack, lingerie wash, hosiery/socks, thriller/trashy novel, soap/body wash, etc. Put it in a cute bag (maybe one of the unbelievably useful, incredibly inexpensive ($3-5), indestructible bags that fit in their own pouch) and that is its own gift. As they use these small luxuries throughout the weeks and months ahead, they’ll have the pleasure of appreciating the gifts again one at a time.

    • Amazon.com gift card – they can use it on books for school or anything else they’d need or want to purchase.

  17. HeyNonnyNonny :

    Try Allure on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. I think there’s a new location in the western suburbs, also.

  18. As a junior associate, I got a call one Saturday morning to come in ASAP because a deal had suddenly heated up. It ended up being the only time I met the CFO, and I was there all weekend with partners. Another reason not to wear sweatpants: sometimes you don’t know what’s in store!

  19. I have worked in law offices in a number of environments: big city downtown, suburban downtown, suburban outskirts, small city downtown. I think what I wear to work over the weekend is somewhat governed by where the law office is. How will I look to others and feel walking into the front door of the building and into the office suite, not just is it right inside of my office.

  20. SrAssociate :

    On the weekend: wear what you would wear on the weekend. If you feel like sweatpants are too sloppy, don’t wear them. If you turn into Lady Gaga on the weekend, then maybe you should consider toning it down. Duh. If your work is good, no one cares.

    Or: ask a senior person that works with you. If the answer is “I don’t know, people are never here on the weekend” then STAY FOREVER. :)

  21. Big Firm Lawyer :

    ooh one of my co-workers wears a sweatsuit on the weekends and it’s just awful. It’s not even one of those velour suits or a track suits, I’m pretty sure it’s Hanes. I’m generally not one to criticize (much) but it’s just so, so schlumpy. And she complains that she isn’t taken seriously, poor thing.

  22. If yoga pants are too casual, I’d recommend cargo pants or some of the hiking pants that are on the market. They look a bit dressier but they would be comfortable to walk to work in and would look okay with sneakers. Top with an appropriate t-shirt, various layers etc. You can always dress it up with a cardigan and a pair of loafers (I always leave one of each in the office) if need be.

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