How to Wear Leggings to Work This Fall

Outfit ideas that move from commute to yoga class to afternoon meeting.

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(Image credit: Will Vendramini)

Mentally raise your hand if you've ever looked at your workout clothes and wished, so badly, that you could just wear them to the office. Between the technical advancements and the fashion-focused design of what we put into our gym bags, fitness wear is at an all-time high—and it's starting to become harder and harder to figure out why we shouldn't be wearing it straight into real life.

Wonder no more. Athleta has bridged the gap with its new Commute/Work line, a collection designed specifically with the office (and getting there) in mind. Some shapes look like standard workout gear—leggings!—while button-downs, knits, and wide-leg trousers have more in common aesthetically with ready-to-wear.

Below, our favorites with notes on how to wear them into work.

Wear leggings with tailored classics

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(Image credit: Will Vendramini)

Athleta Track Tux Tight, $89


Worn with: Athleta NOPA Shirt, $79,; Equipment Blazer, $538,; Vince Ankle Boots, $395,; H&M Bag, $30,

If you're active beyond the walls of a workout studio, it's imperative that your clothes move with you. Ninety-nine percent of the reasons we love leggings translate for IRL wearing too: They're easy to move in, comfortable, and make a neutral base for styling.

A classic button-down shirt and menswear-inspired blazer take them to work seamlessly. Worn untucked, the top gives the length needed for a bit of extra coverage (key to making curve-hugging leggings office appropriate). Flat ankle boots are professional without majorly contrasting against the pants' sporty vibe.

Find trousers you can move in

Athleta Gramercy Track Trouser, $108


Worn with: Tibi Blouse, $375,; Athleta Sweater, $98,; Aldo Oxfords, $75,

Athleisure designers are fluent in ready-to-wear silhouettes, remaking classic go-tos in smart fabrics. Wide-leg trousers, typically done in heavy wool, are easy to move in when rethought in a material that's breathable, quick-drying, and wrinkle-resistant. These are made from recycled plastic bottles to boot.

Beyond being comfortable to wear, they're practical for busy, active women. With generous give, you can take an afternoon stretch break without worrying about popping seams (or creating major wrinkles).

Top cropped pants with a leather jacket

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Athleta Wander Slim Pant, $108


Worn with: American Eagle Jacket, $100,; Steve Madden Loafers, $90,; Topshop Bag, $68,

When it comes to a commute that doubles as exercise, what you wear is key. Clever designers took the best parts of leggings and brilliantly revised them with trouser detailing (like a zipper, pocket, and crisp cuts at the ankle). Wear with a lightweight sweater, leather jacket, and flats for a sophisticated look that's perfect for biking in.

Style leggings as you would denim

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(Image credit: Will Vendramini)

Athleta Stellar Tight, $98


Worn with: Adorn by J/Slides Sneakers, $140,; Sea Tee, $80,; Current/Elliott Jacket, $298,; Topshop Bag, $48,

To wear leggings on a casual day (or always if your workplace is generally laid-back), think of them as jeans. Wear with a simple blouse, top with a denim jacket, and slip-on sneakers.

The elevated, fashion feel should come via the little details. Pick skater shoes instead of lace-ups and a shoulder bag with metallic accents. Small touches, like vertical cuts at the ankle and pockets, make the leggings themselves read more like skinny jeans than workout clothes.

Use a workout tank as a layering piece

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(Image credit: Will Vendramini)

Athleta Stellar Trouser, $128


Worn with: Athleta Tank, $39,; COS Top and Bag,; Gigi Hadid for Vogue Eyewear, $140,; Mercedes Castillo Mules, on sale $100,

Yogi or not, there's something amazing about workwear that allows you to move (whether you're legitimately running to a meeting or giving your desk chair a break in favor of the floor). Seaming and waistband details done in the manner of traditional tailoring make for pants that look like proper trousers, yet retain the feel-good parts of fitness apparel.

The form-fitting top you wore to a low-impact morning workout can double as the world's most perfect base layer. Keep it on after an a.m. session and top with a sculptural blouse. You can strip back down during a mid-afternoon stretch break.

Shop key pieces below

(Jewelry throughout from Alta OraLeigh MillerBon HeurLuz OrtizSelin Kent)

Leah Melby Clinton

Leah Melby Clinton is a writer, editor, and serious shopper who loves discovering new labels, detailing the best ways to build a wardrobe, and interviewing interesting people.