Athleisure started out as a bit of a fad in 2010 and has since grown into a multi-billion-dollar phenomenon. Don’t believe me? Here’s one simple indication: Nike, Under Armour and Lululemon are in the top ten list of the most valuable brands in the world.
The athleisure trend is so ubiquitous that yoga pants have even infiltrated the office space! If that wasn’t enough, it single-handedly revived the Stan Smith shoe craze. In case you were wondering, that’s good news for us ladies by the way. And here’s why: those painful date-night high heels have been replaced by sneakers. I can hear the Hallelujahs from my computer screen!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few years, you must be familiar with the explosive rise of this trend. Suffice to say, athleisure is here to stay and it is the hottest trend of this decade.
Here are all the low-down on this trend followed by a guide for incorporating it into your wardrobe (if you haven’t already!).
Where Did Athleisure Trend Come From?
Athleisure isn’t a novel concept; it can trace its roots back to some previous fads. For one, it draws inspiration from those velour Juicy Couture track suits of the late 90s and early 00’s. Athleisure might even trace its roots back to the 80s when Run DMC’s Adidas tracksuits had become a craze. Those jumpsuits had made it cool to wear sporty looks for some fleeting moments of time.
But what those trends lacked in functionality and overall, subdued appeal has been rectified with today’s styles. Today, athleisure is a revamped, comfier version of those sporty styles. In addition, it is more functional because it can seamlessly transition from athletic to non-athletic settings.
What is Athleisure?
So, what is athleisure anyway? The term can be loosely used to define the type of clothing – suitable for athletic wear and casual wear – or, it can mean the style itself of blending athletic wear in everyday settings. Some call it the merging of business casual with athletic clothing.
In many ways, it is the pursuit of comfy all the time. People seem to be gravitating towards more comfortable styles nowadays since society has relaxed its fashion standards. We have revamped our views on what we think is appropriate in business and everyday settings and there is no need for the pant suit anymore. Collared shirts are not always necessary and Casual Fridays are a regular staple in every office.
There has also been an increased focus on living a more pro-active lifestyle today. It has given rise to the fitness craze. The mantra today is that ‘sporty is the new sexy.’ People often engage in several fitness regimes throughout the day. Young professionals are known to sneak in gym sessions before work, a Soul Cycle session at lunch and a hot yoga unwinding session after work followed by a 5k bike ride on their way home.
The idea is to transition from the boardroom to the gym and back again without a radical wardrobe change in between. It also helps that sportswear has made many advances to support that lifestyle. The advent of breathable material and the no-sweat technology allows everyone to switch roles between activities without breaking a sweat (pun intended!).
The Designer Athleisure Outfits
If you’re still not ready to get on board this trend, then here’s some reasons for ya’. Celebrities are not only rocking this style in droves but many of them are even going so far as to launch their own lines of athleisure. Fit celebrities like Kate Hudson, Hilary Swank and Beyoncé have all launched them in the past year alone. I am particularly fond of Hudson’s Fabletics because of its personalized online shopping experience.
Still not ready to jump ship? Well, know this: every clothing line from high-street – be it Chloe and Gucci – to fast-retailers like Urban Outfitters and Zara have launched their lines of active-wear. Meaning that you can just as easily find 700$ pair of sweat pants and a 10$ one, so there is something for every budget. How can you not love that?
If you don’t run into athleisure enthusiasts on the streets, then you will find them at the gym snapping selfies. Gone are the days when it was unacceptable to take photos at the gym. Going to the gym meant getting drenched in our sweat and because it was such a monotonous activity, we never dared to record ourselves in those conditions. Today, not only is it okay to take those gym selfies but it also okay to wear makeup and look good doing so.
This has given rise to a slew of “fit-fluencers” on social media. These are glamorous babes on Instagram with those ridiculous booties and to-die-for bodies who showcase their workout techniques through mini video clips. Not only do they make working out look fun but they also glamorize the whole activity and athleisure.
Don’t lie and say that you weren’t wearing mascara at your last gym session, okay? We are all guilty of it and the makeup industry has stood up and made it easier for us to do just that. Many big brands and subscription makeup services like Birchbox have launched no-drip or no-sweat makeup. Yay!
When all the forces of fashion are goading you to work out and look good, then why shouldn’t you?
The Rules for Mastering Athleisure
So now that you know every detail about the hottest trend of the decade, you need to know how to pull it off with the right panache. Here are six chic ways to rock athleisure like a boss:
1. Phase It In
I know that I’ve been harping on and on about the wonders of athleisure but the truth is that there are many cities where the fad hasn’t quite caught on. Yes, athleisure is in full swing in New York and LA but old-fashioned cities like Boston and Paris still haven’t gotten fully on board. Here is a hilarious tale about a New Yorker caught off guard because of his athleisure getup in the Beantown.
Anyway, my point is that if you want to rock the trend, then you need to be mindful of the setting you will be in. Even many work places frown upon this trend, so in this case, you will want to conceal your athletic wear as much as possible with casual wear.
Here’s how: take that Nike crop-top and add a denim shirt or a bomber jacket over it. Maybe opt for some black slacks instead of yoga pants to blend in the athletic top some more. You can tie up your shirt into a knot and none will be the wiser about your athletic wear underneath.
You can employ the same logic with your workout pants or sweat pants by adding an overly dressy top or even a blazer to ‘upcycle’ your look. This is not suitable for work settings however because the sweat pants are still quintessentially athletic wear.
You can also try the sneakers-with-everything technique to pull off this ‘phasing it in’ technique. Any sort of trainers – be it the aforementioned Adidas Stan Smiths – or retro high-tops, anything goes. Because the sneakers are your only noticeable “sporty element,” make sure to wear something more business casual on top such as a jumpsuit and a blazer or a dress – for a very eclectic style.
If sneakers aren’t your thing then you could even sport one of those Adidas slippers with your jeans and make a casual entry at brunch with your girlfriends. Your feet will thank you!
2. Camouflage It
Because clothing stores offer athleisure, you can find clothing made without athletic fabrics but with elements of sportiness. These items are unsuitable for actual athletic wear but they are sportier takes on regular clothes. What I mean is that you can find slacks with striped sides at the likes of Zara and H&M – a playful twist of work pants and track suit pants.
The text or floral pattern emblazoned sweat shirts that have caused quite the ruckus recently. These are also a great alternative to sweaters in cooler climes. Wear these comfy “tops” as your regular casual wear and none will object to this camouflaged athleisure look.
3. Accessorize It Up
You could add accessories like jewelry, sunglasses and purses to give your athletic outfit a more casual setting as well as dress yourself up. Hoop earrings, shades, a tote bag and platform heels all indicate that you are in fact not headed for the gym but dressed to impress.
4. Follow the Pants Trends
The thing about workout compression pants – either for yoga or running – they all seem to follow some trends. For a while, the classic black straight-cut Lululemon yoga pants were all the rage. That transitioned into the skinny yoga pants or the legging variety and then the side-mesh trend was all the rage.
The problem with the mesh was that they were see-through and they revealed too much skin while women were working out. Today, the trend in workout pants is colorful prints and patterns either in ankle-length or full-length and in the skinny style.
5. Color It Up
Previously, the trend was to wear neutral colors like black, grey and blue as athletic wear. This has changed to all colors in the spectrum as athletes like Rafael Nadal champions the neon blue and green in his outfits. Even the Seattle Seahawks’ lime green accents are a great feature in sports outfits today. Another great color for the ladies is purple for ladies.
6. Use Co-Ords
Monochrome tracksuits from the 80s have given rise to co-ord outfits today. This means that it is chic to dress to match tops and bottoms either in florals or in monochrome colors. Another great way to match tops and bottoms is to wear color block.
Good luck mastering this hot trend of the decade! Stay stylish and stay fit!