Reader A wrote in with a great question that we haven’t talked about in a few years: What is the most comfortable workwear for late nights at the office? Here’s her question:
I’m starting my first biglaw job at a business formal law firm in NYC and would love to see a post about “comfortable” workwear, especially for late nights and weekends. For example, I bought the Betabrand dress yoga pants and am a big fan. I’m curious to hear about particular fabrics or brands known for being less constricting/more “cozy”. I would love to hear thoughts as to HOW casual is appropriate for late nights (e.g. can I change into leggings and a cardigan at 1am?)
Great question. We talked about working late and professional clothes before, what comfy clothes to keep at the office, and what to wear for a weekend in the office — but it’s been a while. Readers just had a great threadjack about super comfortable work clothes, as well, so let’s discuss.
My default rules, at least when I was junior, were that a) as soon as my secretary left for the day, I could get more comfortable, whether that was to take off heels and happily pad to the printer in flip flops if I needed something, or to take off skirts or dresses entirely and put on yoga pants and a black t-shirt. A couple of points that should probably be noted: a) my office culture was one of a lot of closed doors, so it really was just trips to the printer or the bathroom where I might run into colleagues, and b) everything I changed into was black, opaque stuff — no crazy patterns or mesh cutouts. This isn’t to say that you CAN’T wear that stuff, just that when selecting the default stuff you keep at the office, maybe choose the conservative option. It’s probably also worth noting that I didn’t change into more comfortable clothes every night at work, because I didn’t consider every outfit to be so uncomfortable that I needed to get out of it, and there were definitely differences between nights when I knew I had 6 hours ahead of me of document-intensive work and would need to stretch out on my office floor surrounded by piles of paper and highlighters and notes; regular nights where I thought I could get out by 8 or 9, or was meeting friends afterwards; and nights where I was working in conference rooms with other people or running around and managing other teams where it just didn’t occur to me to go put my comfy pants on.
As for WHAT to wear, I think these days you have a lot of options in addition to the classic yoga pants, from pull-on ponte pants that might be comfortable and appropriate enough to wear all day (readers were just singing the praises of these Lands’ End ones as their “holy grail ponte pants,” as well as NYDJ ones*), to more traditional leggings (I’m a big fan of the Hue leggings* for opacity, durability, comfort, price, etc.), to comfortable jeans/jeggings. (I also have the readers to thank for turning me onto the pull-on JAG jeans*.) Know your office, but I think the conservative take on “I might be going to or coming from the gym” might also work for weekends or late nights — by “conservative take” I don’t mean sports bra + running shorts or “strappy sexy yoga bra + leggings with daring mesh cutouts” — but again, know your office. (I say “daring mesh cutouts” because there are definitely some that seem more… well, daring… but obviously it’s hard to find workout leggings without mesh cutouts of some kind these days.)
Over to you, readers: What do you consider to be comfortable workwear for late nights? What do you think is off-limits — and what factors would influence your decision to change or not change on a particular night? (Slightly off topic, BUT two more Qs: a) what’s your opinion on mesh cutouts/gym looks, and b) do you think it’s ever acceptable to put on a “comfy bra”? The closest I have in my closet to an “18-hour bra” right now is the shorter version* of this one, so I might choose that one at the beginning of the day.)
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Picture via Stencil.