The Office Beckons. Time for Your Sharpest ‘Power Casual.’

Instagram ads for one brand are touting a style known as “power casual.” Other retailers are calling it “business comfort” or “workleisure.” Heels are dropping lower or disappearing altogether, pants are getting “elasticized,” and Silicon Valley executives are throwing graphic T-shirts under blazers to smuggle a version of self-expression into a board meeting.

The Office Beckons. Time for Your Sharpest ‘Power Casual.’

Welcome to the new world — and marketing-speak — of work clothing.

Retailers that once trafficked in solidly reliable dresses are scrambling to cater to the new demands of the hybrid workweek. They want to tempt a dazed customer base that is returning to offices and in-person meetings with trends like “the casualization of the lower half” and fabrications that look like 2019-era professional garb while offering “secret comfort.” (The secret is usually spandex.)

In fact, the retail industry has so fully embraced softer and stretchier styles that some professionals say they have had to turn to used clothing sites to find appropriately formal clothing for law firms and government jobs.