The Runner’s Guide to Business Casual

My day job is an accountant, Senior Tax Analyst if you want to get into specifics.  This requires me to wear clothes other than my beloved running clothes, clothes that can be uncomfortable, especially during the peaks of training.

It has come to my attention that my business casual attire has taken a runner’s twist, where my outfits for my day job have come to incorporate pieces of my running attire, or at least pieces that make my aches and pains from running more comfortable.  The more I run the more my fashion suffers, but I have tried to find ways to make the two co-exist.

Here are a couple of my ways around tricks to putting a runner’s twist on business casual attire.

Hiding comfort


Business casual: sweater dress, knee high flat boots, and a scarf.

The runner’s twist: underneath both of those there are hidden inVigorator compression socks and lululemon wunder under pants.

Looks professional?  Yes.  Yet it feels like I am lounging around in workout clothes all day – WIN! 

I hide compression socks under boots all the time (as shown above), but also use compression leg sleeves on days I wear work pants but still need some compression action for those aching calves.

Compression sleeves hidden under work pants.

Shoes: comfort > fashion

I am not really a purse girl, I have a couple but don’t need one for every outfit and don’t really like carrying one in the first place.  Shoes however are a different story.

The old days of pretty high heels

Way back when in 2008 before I started running I really loved shoes.  I still have them all and look at them longingly in my closet, but the second I try and put them on my feet tell me otherwise.  My feet are very important to marathon training so I definitely listen to their preferences.


I used to walk around all day at the office in 3+ inch heels with no problem.  Nowadays I keep my tennis shoes on as long as possible, wear flats or wear a lower pair of heels that are off my feet immediately ones I sit down.

My pile of work shoes that stay at work.

I leave my work shoes at my desk since that’s the only place I wear them and then it requires me to do most of my walking up and down stairs in something comfy like my running shoes.

Asics are business casual?  Somedays.

My shoes now revolve around comfort and function to keep these marathon feet happy and anything other than running shoes uncomfortable are my feet as little as possible. 

What ways do you make your everyday clothes more comfortable to suit your running lifestyle?

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45 Responses to The Runner’s Guide to Business Casual

  1. Alisyn March 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    I really appreciate this blog post! I feel the same way – since running my fashion has suffered a tad. I don’t wear overly high cute shoes anymore, and yes like you, I hide my compression socks under my pants. No one is ever the wiser! On a side note, I am envious of the organization of your shoes all lined up neatly in a row. Could you come over to my closet and help me do the same? Love those yellow heels to boot!

    • Aron March 7, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

      haha they are not that lined up when they are in my closet, just for pics for the blog ;)

  2. Ana-Maria March 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    This made me laugh bc it is so me. I only wear compression socks or sleeves with pants at work. With sweater dressing I wear compression recovery tights (Zoot makes a pair that looks just like regular grey tights). No high heels for me, unless I have something special going on. These days I wear Ariat clogs (a little fancier than Dansks).

  3. Sesa March 7, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    I still wear my heels at work, but I insert gel insoles first. I’m pretty short, and I like to meet people’s eyes when talking to them. When I sit at my desk I kick my shoes off.

    When I’m not in the office, I wear flats. Even when I date really, really tall guys I don’t wear heels on dates. I just ask for a booster seat when we go to restaurants. :)

  4. Karyn March 7, 2011 at 1:46 pm # i love this sooooooooooooooo much! since i’m in a clinic i can wear sneakers occasionally, which was nice in the winter because i could wear pants with compression socks underneath. since the weather is getting nicer i’ve been wearing shorts under my dresses hahah. i still wear heels though…it makes me feel hardcore ;)

  5. Kim March 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    I LOVE this post :) I was actually walking into my office today and I saw some girl struggling to walk in high heels and thought to myself “wow, I can’t even remember the last time I wore heels!” I am a huge fan of the flat knee high boots and cute flats and I appreciate that they don’t kill my legs and feet! Luckily I have a few fellow runners in my office and I work in an extremely chill office so I usually wear jeans, and on Fridays when I don’t have any meetings I am dressed in Lululemon from head to toe! It’s so amazing being able to go to work and to yoga on Friday without changing :)

  6. Marlene March 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    I love this post! Soooo true… my fashion sense (whether or not I ever had much is TBD) goes out the window with running in general. I am all about flats and compression socks and the most comfy clothes possible. Running in the morning or at lunch also tends to make me FREEZE all day so lots of scarved & sweaters!

  7. Kristy@RunTheLongRoad March 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    Hysterical! Who knew ;)

    I cannot wear heels at all. They aggravate my calves and ankles. I mostly wear flats and have my work pants hemmed. If I can get away with it, I’ll wear Uggs. I’m totally not fashion-forward at all!!!!

  8. Lauren @ Sassy Molassy March 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Awesome, I love it! Thanks for doing this post since I pretty much requested it. :) I really need to get some compression socks.

    MY feet are terrible (wide and have bunions) so I have a hard time even putting on most cute business type shoes. I wear Danskos a lot and a few pair of other work shoes that are not necessarily the cutest, but are walkable and my feet don’t hate me bc of them. When I first started working I’d wear this awful pointy, painful things and I finally got smart and realized there was no reason to be suffering at work more than I already do….ha!

  9. Morgan March 7, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    Check and check… although I am lucky and can wear my sneaks all day ever day. Thank you casual job!!!

    • Aron March 7, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

      lucky girl!!

  10. Liz March 7, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    I wear my Toms with work pants now. They are so comfortable, but dressier than sneakers at least.

  11. Lauren March 7, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    Ever since my plantar fasciitis flared up nearly a year and a half ago, I ditched the heels! I now wear Alegria shoes by PG Lite. A nurse friend turned me on to them. Fabulous orthotic insoles!

  12. Nicole March 7, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    Im most excited about my new business casual work attire! That sweater dress, boots and leggings will be on my to wear this THIS week!

  13. Michelle March 7, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

    Hee! Love this! Your cover up is great :)

    I’ve had to give up heels since I started running. I only wear them on special occasions (and they KILL my feet). It makes me feel so old! I walk a lot at work (my facility is huge) so flats are necessary. Boo!

  14. Runner26 March 7, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Love this! My job doesn’t make me dress up but we’re supposed to look professional. I usually go for comfort, esp now being pregnant. Leggings are the best! And flats are key; not only during my high mileage days but also now that comfort is no longer a luxury. And also since i walk everywhere in the city!

    Im wondering though, are you really comfortable wearing your compression socks all day long? I find they work best for me while running or short periods of time after. But that’s great that you’ve figured out a way to dress as a runner under your work clothes ;)

    • Aron March 10, 2011 at 10:44 am #

      I have never worn my compression socks running, but I love wearing them all day after a run :)

  15. Kristen March 7, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

    Oh those are some great shoes…I would be sad to give them up, but I definitely understand the need.
    Now that I work from home, I get to wear whatever I want- which is great, but I was definitely the one trying to make comfort look more “business” when I worked in the office.

  16. That Pink Girl March 7, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

    I’ve def been known to rock Zensah compression sleeves under my work pants! Oooh, so comfy. And so warm in the Winter!

  17. Demi (Rio) March 7, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    Those heels are awfully pretty! I know wear “sensible” shoes that I’m not all that crazy about for work, but my feet feel good!

  18. Kerrie @ Mom vs. Marathon March 7, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    Great post! The other day, I knew I’d be going on a lunch run, so I wore my tights and sports bra under my clothes. That way, I had less time changing and more time running! We are so weird.

  19. Laura March 8, 2011 at 4:45 am #

    I posted last week how I was icing my knee at my desk..while wearing my boots, skirt and tights…my coworkers have no idea what to think of me anymore.
    I discovered that my ‘fancy’ bondibands are perfect for post lunch time runs when I can’t dry my hair…yet another reason why my coworkers are at a loss.
    I also miss my cute summer sandals when I can’t get a pedicure because I want to keep protecting my marathon training feet.

  20. Bethany March 8, 2011 at 4:48 am #

    wow! those shoes are pretty! I actually just bought my first pair of heels, they are very low and are for my wedding. You look adorable all dressed up! I often wear my compression sleeves to work and i always wear sneakers. It says in the dress code no sneakers but it’s been 3 years and I haven’t got in trouble yet!

  21. heidi @ runaroundaroo March 8, 2011 at 5:13 am #

    I have a similar method for my business casual attire…I’m not in marathon training but I often wear my compression sleeves under my tights and wear shoes that are easy to slip off.

    If I do wear boots I’ve found that they work great for holding an ice pack in place if you are looking to ice your shins or calf muscles – if you stick the ice pack in there just so you can walk around with it and no one knows!

    • Aron March 10, 2011 at 10:45 am #

      GREAT idea!! Will definitely be trying the ice pack in the boot ;)

  22. Stephanie March 8, 2011 at 6:28 am #

    I also quit wearing my beloved heels when I started running marathons, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of any of them. I only wear flats now and my feet are so happy about that. I also quit trying to do my hair every day. I used to be so uptight about having my hair done for work every day- I have mastered the professional looking bun and ponytail- saves so much time!

  23. Vava March 8, 2011 at 6:51 am #

    Asics with my suit are a typical sight around my office. Nobody minds. Or at least I don’t notice if they do…

  24. Emily March 8, 2011 at 7:17 am #

    I’m totally brewing up a nearly identical post to this! I’m all about the mizunos with dress pants, compression socks at work and tights with a sweater dress to ensure maximum comfort and healthy feet over looking good at work.

  25. Nancy March 8, 2011 at 7:21 am #

    I love it!!! I wish I could hang in running clothes all day!!! I have a pair of pants though from J Jill that feel like I’m wearing sweatpants but look like black wide leg trousers….love them!!! They are a Friday must!

  26. Lizzy March 8, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    Hahah love it. My business casual- wearing my hair in a wet bun all day because I decided to run that extra mile instead of dry my hair. I also haven’t worn heels in a REALLY long time. Comfort over style for me!

  27. Mica March 8, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    Ha, this post is interesting for me because I’m still in grad school and can wear basically whatever I want. (I try to look clean and put-together, but I definitely am super-casual. I can’t imagine not being able to wear sneakers.I’m such a wimp!) I think you look great in your running/professional get-up. I would definitely choose you to help me with my taxes!

  28. J March 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    I need to get those compression sleeves because they will be perfect for summer when I can finally wear cute shoes again! Usually at work I just wear my compression socks under my pants because I can’t wear open toed shoes. I love heels too but I have been giving them up more and more and I run more mileage!

  29. Allison March 8, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    This is a great post! :) I definitely have worn compression socks under dress pants or with knee high boots. I love the tights and dress look – haven’t tried that one yet!

  30. lindsay March 8, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    haha. i def wear my compression socks with no shame to work. and they’re not even black! girl you need to sell/donate your old heels. yes they are beautiful, but if you aren’t going to wear them… sell them and buy a new pair of running shoes! :)

    • Aron March 10, 2011 at 10:45 am #

      NEVER!!!! ;) they get worn, just not as often as before.

  31. Lauren March 8, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    Love this!! I find myself doing this more and more as marathon training ramps up. Compression socks under boots is my favorite. And comfortable shoes. I rarely wear heels these days, opting for more comfortable flats even when my pants are probably too long for flat shoes. And I think I need to get myself a pair of those wunder unders – everyone seems to rave about them!

  32. Holly March 9, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    i’ve definitely wore compression socks under my work pants/boots before, but i still wear heels the majority of the time. they do tend to get “lower” when peak weeks are here, but for the most part, i still rock the heels. i honestly find them more comfortable than flats most of the time (i wear a lot of wedges and shoes with thick heels – they are easier than the stiletto variety). i also have been known to wear flip flops to the office the day after a marathon- thankful for a casual office environment.

    anyone have suggestions on cute, comfortable, supportive flats? i’m not opposed, i just find that most flats have zero cushioning and my feet ache by the end of the day.

  33. naomi March 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    My PF issues have slightly flared up again so I’ve had to stop wearing my low-heeled shoes and even my flats. While I can wear sneakers to work, I get so tired of them so I invested in my black pumas which are still sneakers but you can get away with making them look a little more dressy and are wearable with dress slacks.

    I’ll also confess to wearing Lulu’s Run Swiftly T’s and LST’s under jackets and blazers – no one can tell they’re really running shirts. :)

  34. Laura March 9, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

    Ha! Love the sneakers with the dress pants! If I had to mention one nice thing about my job I guess I could list the dress code. Jeans and tennis shoes work just fine.

  35. Michaela March 11, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    I totally relate to this! I used to wear towering heels all the time, but now that I’ve started running, I’m all about the flats and kitten heels. I’ve actually sold most of my old sexy heels via consignment store, and I’m now replacing them all with comfier shoes from brands like Dansko and Sofft.

  36. Roisin March 12, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

    I’m a big shoes girl too, and running and grad school have definitely put a crimp in what I wear! Most days now, it’s flats or shoes with a wide, low-ish heel.

  37. amy April 1, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    Hahaha – this sounds like my attire down to the last detail, and picture. Though, I also can get away with straight-up gym clothes, which I do often when I don’t have outside meetings. I justify it by saying my time working and/or working out is more important than my time showering/changing.


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