The rise of athleisure wear as acceptable and fashionable clothing can partly be attributed to the fact that fitness and nutrition have become emphasized to greater degrees in popular culture. The rise of “behind the scenes” celebrity social media accounts and reality TV shows, Instagram stories, Snapchat and live video streaming gives the average person a greater idea of how the beautiful and famous get and keep their athletic, magazine-cover-ready bodies.
This has made athleisure a very popular new category of clothing that can be seen as a hybrid of business casual and athletic wear. Another reason of this rise can be attributed to the rise of the millennial startup culture and relaxed workplace trend. Millennials don’t care about nonessential workplace rules such as strict dress codes. Hence, much of the clothing that people now consider work-appropriate incorporates sports-inspired materials like spandex, Lycra, and other synthetic fibers. It’s combining two trends that have dominated casual clothing — durability, and comfort — in a versatile way.
More and more people are being drawn to athleisure in larger numbers every year. In 2015, while the whole of retail sales was flat for the year, sales of athletic wear were up 12%, according to Fortune Magazine. More people are changing the way they dress and the rise of athleisure is more of an evolution and not a trend or fad. Comfort clearly matters to the new and improved savvy customer and so high fashion is trying to adapt. Top designers and brands are finding ways to blend high fashion with athleisure to give the customer the comfort they want while still being fashionable. A good example of this blend is the Designer Bags. These designer bags are fashionable and dressy but still fit in seamlessly with athleisure wear given the users the versatility and comfort they want and need.
Wearing athletic wear all day and every day has become an acceptable thing to do. Going on a school run, standing in line for coffee, grabbing a business brunch or even drinks the athleisure wear has become acceptable in all these situations in American culture. It’s a trend that people of all ages are picking up. People are wearing their workout wear all day now, whether it’s leggings with a longer coat and a scarf, or someone younger wearing a cropped T-shirt with a denim jacket and some high-heeled boots. People shop for their athletic wear with the intention of wearing it to the studio or gym and on the streets blended with other items in their closet.
This trend is more common in the American culture but not so much in European cultures. You will not see people in Paris walking around or taking the train in their gym clothes (except it’s an American tourist). But as designers continue to work hard to blur the lines between leisure and casual outfits and accessories (with products like the Fawn Designer Bags) this trend will continue to grow more and more popular and across cultural borders. If you want to get on this trend and make the most of it, below are some rules to follow when wearing athleisure clothing.
Keep up with seasonal trends
Pay attention to what is on trend for the season. For example, it used to be all black but now color blocking and mesh panels are on trend and some pieces bring together a whole look. Be on the lookout and make the most of it.
Invest in pieces that mix function and fashion.
The Fawn Designer Bags I mentioned above are a perfect example of this. Invest in pieces that you can transition from athleisure wear to – not athleisure wear. Buy clothing made using performance fabrics so it looks appropriate and it’s not see-through when you bend forward.
If you do it properly, it could only take one piece to take your athleisure look from the gym to the street. For example, a pair of mirrored sunglasses, a structured leather jacket, a shirt tied around the waist, a backpack or an oversized sweater. The key is that the piece has a sleek, sporty feel itself. Don’t add a vintage fringed jacket to your Lululemon Wunder Unders or cat-eye sunnies to your zip-up Nike jacket.
Dress for the occasion
This might sound ironic considering but everything does have a limit. The athleisure trend might be picking up steam but it still has its time and place. Don’t wear your running clothes to a fancy restaurant or party and expect it to be ok. You might get turned away or worse, be grossly underdressed. If you are not strategic and wise about when you choose to wear your athleisure wear outside the gym you are going to end up looking like a hot mess.
When in doubt, stick to neutrals
If you are not confident of your ability to pull off a colorful print legging then stick to black and work your confidence up from there. It’s a bit of a risk to put yourself out there and wear something very vibrant that makes a statement so you can start with a geometric print or stick to black, white, and gray and then move into brighter colors as you get more comfortable with it.
If we learned anything from the just-completed fashion week it’s that activewear and athleisure wear have a grip on our wardrobes is stronger than ever. With major designers including track pants in their runway lineups to black leggings becoming the street style staple of choice for New Yorkers, surely all that’s left to do is figure out how to make activewear a part of your wardrobe (if you’re into that “get with the trend” sort of thing). Hopefully, the tips above will help you come up with clever ways to make activewear work for nearly every other occasion.