When this year started, you probably had some sort of fitness-related goal, right? (We definitely did!) As we’re really digging into 2018, we’re still chasing those goals—and trying to look good while doing it. Our top tip for an easy way to feel fit? Pick up a few new pieces of work-to-workout attire; it’s certainly been helping us up our style game in the gym (and everywhere else). Get on the fit and fab train by incorporating these athleisure trends into your wardrobe. After all, keeping it sporty and comfortable 24/7 is the dream!
What is athleisure anyway?
At its core, the athleisure trend involves wearing gym clothes outside of the gym—in a fashionable way. The term athleisure has been around since the early aughts but didn’t become a global trend until fall 2014, when the world decided leggings and a hoodie could be worn in a fashion-forward way. (Thank you, Vogue.) When we think athleisure, visions of yoga pants, leggings, and sports bras dance in our heads, and shopping bags from athletic clothing companies like adidas, Nike, lululemon, and Athleta abound. Pair one or two of those items with some casual closet staples and you’ve got yourself a solid athleisure outfit. If you haven’t seen women wearing sneakers and sweat-wicking tops everywhere from school to the grocery store, you haven’t been looking. Women’s willingness to take these sporty essentials out of the gym and studio is why athleisure has become—and remains—so popular. This trend has been seen all over the globe on everyone from big name celebrities to fashion bloggers to your co-workers. Personal trainer Massy Arias even kicked off 2018 in an athleisure outfit on New Year’s Eve when she paired athletic leggings with metallic sneakers, a crop top, and an edgy metallic jacket. True, some people may say the trend is dying, but a glance around during any shopping trip or coffee run will show you otherwise. If you’re late to the athleisure party, have no fear; we’ve got your back. Read on for our favorite pieces (and how to wear them).
How to Buy Athleisure (That Actually Looks Good)
The great thing about wearing an athleisure look is that you probably already have a gorgeous piece or two in your workout clothing drawer. Beyond those go-tos, we suggest you keep a few things in mind as you begin building your athleisure arsenal. Ideally, your athleisure wardrobe should consist of functional workout wear. This is most important for leggings or yoga pants because these are items that can get worn out easily. Plus, they’re typically more expensive, meaning you won’t have as many leggings to swap out as you will cotton t-shirts or tanks. Don’t forget to look for workout gear with interesting details. Shiny leggings that look like faux leather? You got it. Moto-inspired stitching or padding? Absolutely. These are the kinds of things that make an athleisure outfit look intentional, instead of like you forgot to change after spin class.
Athleisure That’s Worth the Splurge
We’re always on the hunt for the newest and best workout gear, and getting a stylish outfit out of the deal is an awesome bonus. That said, prepare to splurge on pieces that you’ll actually wear to work and to work out. High-quality leggings will never be a bad choice; cheaper leggings have a tendency to be see-through (or become see-through with regular washing), which isn’t ideal. The same goes for yoga pants. “No athleisure outfit would be complete without yoga pants. I love my workout pants, but I often find them too constricting for leisurely activities. Yoga pants work better for me because they’re as comfortable as sweats but look cuter,” says NYC-based fashion blogger Claire Shay. Other items, such as gym sneakers, jackets, and sports bras, are a great place to invest in your workout wardrobe. Ko Im, who is a yoga and meditation teacher and editor of NY YOGA + Life, says you always need a good sports bra for your favorite workout activity. “And socks—always need more socks.” We also suggest splurging on pieces you know you’ll wear for years. If you’re just dipping your toes into the athleisure trend and your usual style doesn’t include workout gear, it can be better to save. But if you’re a regular gym-goer who’s ready to incorporate your love of function and mobility into your everyday (and night!) wardrobe, look at pricier athleisure pieces like leggings from Girlfriend Collective and Alo or a supportive bra from Vimmia.
Save your pennies on these athleisure pieces.
There’s no need to drop a bunch of cash on a whole new chic athleisure wardrobe. Pieces you can save on are hoodies, joggers, sweatpants, and your collection of workout tees. Some of these (like cotton tees) you probably already have a whole bunch of. Im, for one, says not to waste your money on workout shirts: “You get freebies all the time and you get tired of wearing the same design anyways.” These items are pretty much a dime a dozen, and a luxury pair of joggers probably won’t look significantly different from ones you can find at Target.
Our Fave Athleisure Product Picks
“I wear athleisure when I need to run errands or if I want to look cute but don’t feel like wearing a real outfit. Athleisure is also my go-to when I need to travel!” says Shay, who even wears athleisure to work—proving that she’s dialed in to the 24/7 athleisure life. Here are our favorite picks to get you started:
You can’t go wrong with a classic adidas track jacket—it’s an athleisure must-have, if you ask us. If you’re not digging the ’90s vibe, try this PUMA jacket instead. It has a boxy shape and reminds us of a bomber jacket gone sporty. You can wear it in the exact same way as the adidas jacket (without looking like you’re headed to a soccer match).
Sweatshirts and Hoodies
If you’re going to wear a hoodie in a fashionable way, we suggest looking for interesting details. A plain old hoodie can do the trick sometimes, but if you’re feeling fancy, why not try out something a little different, like this twist front or criss cross sweatshirt? They do the same job but don’t look like the hoodies you stockpiled in high school. We also love this boat neck sweatshirt for understated French girl vibes and this cropped adidas hoodie for changing up the shape of an otherwise standard piece.
Shop Sweatshirts and Hoodies:
If you’re buying leggings specifically for an athleisure look, go for something with a little more oompf than your plain old black leggings. We’re loving moto-inspired leggings: Check out this ultra-chic matte shine and mesh pair from Alo and this leather-look pair from HPE. Both pairs are so stylish that they can be worn from the studio to the streets with ease. If you want something that’s a little more basic but still great for everyday, opt for the Athleta Organic Cotton Be Present Tight.
Need a break from the leggings? Keep it loose and light with a standby pair of joggers. The tapered leg gives you more shape than your typical sweatpant, and they can be scrunched to emphasize a fun pair of shoes. We love these ultra-lightweight Outdoor Voices cropped joggers for spring and summer because you won’t get too hot. For a full-length pair, go for these lululemon joggers or the more budget-friendly adidas classics.
Picking the right trainer is definitely dependent on comfort and the type of workouts you do, but when it comes to both style and function, we can’t get enough of these APL Running Shoes. (We’re loving those black-and-white speckled soles.) For something less suited to running but equally stylish, you can’t go wrong with the tried-and-true adidas Superstars or Gazelles in a fresh colorway.
Gym accessories are typically limited to headbands and hair ties, but when you’re styling an athleisure outfit, your options are unlimited. To keep things sporty, we’re vibing with this Bando hat (to keep your post sweat-sesh hair locked down) and this neoprene backpack from Dagne Dover that can take you from work to gym and back again—a true athleisure power move.
How to Style Athleisure Pieces
Shopping is the easy part, but styling an outfit can be challenging if you aren’t used to the athleisure life. “Styling athleisure is so different for everyone because it’s such a diverse area of fashion,” says Shay. We’ve broken down a few situations to help you come up with your ideal outfit:
Gym to Coffee
The key rule of thumb for all your athleisure looks: Make sure your athleisure gear isn’t dirty, sweaty, or smelly. If it was arms day and your fitness chic leggings are still clean and fresh, switch out that sweaty top for an oversized sweater and grab your favorite statement clutch bag to accessorize. You can pop out for that coffee and feel confident while doing it.
Create The Look:
A Night Out With the Girls
Comfy clubwear coming your way! Philadelphia-based fashion blogger Kylie Francis says, “Don’t be afraid to go out for a night on the town rocking athleisure! Style up a mesh tee and leggings with statement earrings and wedges and you’re good to go!” We also suggest cute joggers with a pair of pumps. (Trust us, it’s way more chic than it may sound.) As for tops, you can try them in so many different ways. You could tuck in a slouchy tee, wear a cropped tank, or opt for a bodysuit that you can dress up with statement earrings or a bold bag. A night out dancing never felt so good.
Create The Look:
Depending on where date night is, athleisure can totally work! Mini golf date, burgers and a movie, or trivia night at a local brewpub? Athleisure is absolutely a-okay. Think trainers, leggings, a tunic, and a jean jacket. It’ll definitely send that laidback vibe you’re going for. That being said, athleisure might not be the best choice for a more formal affair. Dinner at a ritzy upscale restaurant? Save the leggings for tomorrow morning.
Create The Look:
Wear to Work
Wearing athleisure to work depends entirely on your workplace dress code. If you have a strict business-wear dress code, don’t go around getting notes in your HR folder because you’re dying to test the athleisure trend. But for workplaces with relaxed guidelines, we suggest a cool pair of sneakers, your favorite skinny jeans, a tank of your choice, and a zip-up track jacket. Wear your hair in a ponytail and go for fun earrings! If you can go all-out athleisure style, try Francis’ standard work outfit. She wears “leggings (think fun ones, like crop or mesh) and always pair them with a strappy back bra with a open back tee or sweater. And I always pair my outfit with my Nike Metcons, since CrossFit is my go-to workout!”
Create The Look:
Athleisure getups are perfect when you’re going for a casual, comfortable look. We love trainers, scrunched joggers, a plain white tee, and a utility jacket. It’s sporty and casual—but fashionable enough to look like you’re put together.
Create The Look:
Quick Tips: Athleisure Do’s and Don’ts
In the world of fashion, there aren’t really any rules! That’s even more true when it comes to athleisure. When the look is relaxed, so are the rules. Shay says, “I think the great thing about athleisure is that there aren’t any don’ts because you can do what you want with the style!” But we threw together a few tips that can help you get a handle on the trend. From there, you can get experimental and put your favorites together in new ways.
- Wear your athleisure look out and about before heading to the gym.
- Mix with other wardrobe staples. Class up your comfiest joggers with a pair of slick heels. Wear leggings and a sports bra with an oversized sweater.
- Take notes from Im, who suggests you pair the “sporty and the soft.” She says she likes to pair classic leggings with a cozy sweater, sexy top, or cool jacket and will finish the outfit with “a rockin’ pair of boots.”
- Wear your sweaty or stinky post-Bikram sports bra as a fashion statement.
- Wear old or worn workout shirts with jeans.
- “Be afraid to show off a fun sports bra with a really cool cutout back tank or tee!” This comes from Francis, who encourages everyone to make sure their bra is a good fit. Shay chimes in, “I find that athleisure outfits never look good on me when I don’t wear the right bra … Most workout tops are designed to be worn with workout bras or designed to have a bit of the bra peeking through for detail. Wearing the wrong bra can really damage that look!”
- Get too matchy. Francis advises against wearing a distressed tee with distressed leggings, for example. Instead, she suggests picking just one statement piece and rocking it with staple items.
Wearing your favorite workout gear as a fashion statement is a must in 2018. Not only can you wear athleisure trends pretty much anywhere—with the right forethought, they’ll look downright smashing. Use this guide to start you on your way to an all-athleisure, all the time personal style.