By Molly Bello
I used to say I’d never be caught dead in sneakers outside of the gym. Leggings were for yoga only. I have now worn sneakers with jeans, and leggings styled with sweaters. Athletic clothing is not just for the athletes anymore. It has become more mainstream than ever.
Everyone is wearing athletic clothes while lounging, or while doing other non-athletic activities. There are even leggings designed to be worn out at night, with metallic or mesh panelling or a funky print.
“Athleisure” has become a frequently used fashion word, in blogs and online magazines, like The Man Repeller, InStyle.com, and even Forbes. Brands everywhere are creating athletic wear lines even though their target customer may not even lead an active lifestyle.
Athletic clothes are built to be flattering, and are comfortable. They also tend to provide motivation to actually get to the gym, and you’re already wearing the outfit, right?
Athleisure provides comfort dressing while remaining stylish, and presumably athletic. Street style photos are showing models, celebrities, and other fashion professionals wearing sneakers with cropped pants, dresses, wide leg pants, skinny jeans, and anything else you can think of.
“Perhaps it’s a statement that fashion has become too fussy. It used to be that if you didn’t show up to a fashion party in killer heels, you had to make excuses about ‘forgetting them at the office’ or something to hide the embarrassing fact that you were pretty much the only woman there in flats,” said style.com writer Kristin Tice Studeman. “Now it’s the opposite—everyone’s in their fashionable sneakers, whether they’re Nike Flyknits or Chanel.”
Read more on Studeman’s opinion in her article “From Alexander Wang to Beyonce, Everyone’s Doing It: A Look at How Gym-to-Street Became the New Uniform.”
Chanel has luxury sneakers, perhaps a little too fancy for my taste in running footwear, but an exciting movement all the same. Stella McCartney has a line of athletic wear for Adidas as well. The exercise apparel world and the fashion world have collided.
Victoria’s Secret is known for their sweatpants and yoga pants. Their “Pink” label is wildly popular with teenagers and 20 somethings. I personally own a grey Victoria’s Secret crew neck sweatshirt with a star pattern on the front. I feel more put together wearing it than a typical hooded sweatshirt. It’s versatile and also very comfortable.
Forever 21 also has a full athletic wear line. With a lower price point, they provide a more covetable line that is trendy and functional.
Leggings have become a wardrobe staple. Just a plain black pair can work with just about any outfit. They can look like an opaque pair of tights under a dress, or work as pants alone.
Leather (or faux leather) elevate any outfit and create a sleek and slimming silhouette. They are often lined with a comfier fabric, so you aren’t stiff walking around.
There is no longer an excuse to wear old, ill fitting sweats. There are comfy options that still allow you to be creative with your outfits.
Molly Bello is a Comment Columnist. Follow her on Twitter at @mollybello.