Athleisure, the comfortable aesthetic that blurs the line between the clothes you’d wear to the gym and those you’d wear to the café, has become completely embedded in the fashion world and in our wardrobes. In a matter of years, athleisure has gone from a trend to a lifestyle.
Whether you’re new to athleisure or your daily uniform consists of leggings and a sleek crewneck, we’re breaking down how to build the perfect athleisure wardrobe that’s packed with pieces from some of our favourite brands.
Athleisure wear: a brief definition
So what’s the story behind this active-meets-urban trend that’s taken over our closets and Instagram feeds? To break it down simply, let’s look at the term itself: “athleisure” combines the words “athletic” and “leisure.”
It means taking sporty clothing made from technical fabrics, which might normally be worn to the gym, and integrating these pieces into your everyday casual wardrobe. This effortless, versatile style has really taken off in the last few years, which can be partly owed to the yoga pants/leggings craze of the 2010s – but a lot of athleisure’s credit is just due to just a general shift of prioritizing functionality and comfort in fashion.
How to Wear Athleisure Style
The five commandments of athleisure style are simple. Ready ?
1. Comfort, comfort & comfort
Athleisure has mastered the balance of staying comfortable while still looking effortlessly put-together. The ideal athleisure look is one that says you’re always on the go. It’s something that can be worn anywhere: the gym, the grocery store, the office. So when you’re putting together your athleisure outfit, make sure you’re incorporating pieces that’ll be comfortable no matter where your day takes you.
2. Oversized pieces mixed with body-tight pieces
Big pants, little shirt? Or little pants, big shirt? With athleisure, either one goes. Think baggy t-shirts and sweaters paired with tight-fitting bike shorts. Then think sweatpants or loose-fitting technical pants paired with a workout top or chic sports bra. A baggy item of clothing keeps things casual, while a body-tight element elevates your look.
3. Technical materials & brand logos mixed with classic pieces
A big part of athleisure style is showcasing the logos of the best athleisure brands, but it’s important not to make logos the whole part of your look. The key to athleisure’s laid-back allure is balance, so be sure to contrast branded clothing with classic, simple pieces. Plus, pair technical athletic fabrics with materials like cotton.
4. Stylish clothes with clean cuts and minimalist aesthetics
When it comes to crafting an athleisure outfit, stick with more minimalist pieces. You should invest in stylish clothing that features clean cuts and simple silhouettes, which will shine in your wardrobe as stand-alone items, but will also go with everything…making it that much easier to master the “I just threw this on!” look.
5. Avoid overly bright colors or big patterns/prints
As mentioned above, athleisure typically favours minimalism. The casual vibe of the athleisure aesthetic is generally owed to simple colour palettes, so make sure to first build the foundation of your outfit with black, white, grey, or neutral-toned pieces, before maybe adding a pop of colour. To achieve the classic athleisure look, keep busy prints or patterns to a minimum as well.
How to Wear Athleisure Style
In a world where wellness is the ultimate luxury, cool is no longer synonymous with partying until the sun comes up. It is now much more fashionable to wake up early and put on workout gear before heading out to hot yoga. Or skip the workout altogether, and head to work sporting your most stylish athletic wear.
1. A Classic Dad Hat
Whether you’re team beanie or team ball-cap, a classic dad hat is the ultimate athleisure statement piece. It completes the chill look from head to toe, and can even hide unkempt hair if your day in fact includes a stop at the gym (or just your no-gym-but-bad-hair-day kinda day). If you really want your style to stand out, try a bucket hat.
2. A Touch of Elegance with Sunglasses or Jewellery
Though the essence of athleisure is athletic wear, you can always dress it up a bit. Contrast the sporty look with chic sunglasses, or by adding simple jewelry, like a delicate necklace or graceful hoop earrings.
3. A Chic Sports Bra
We said athleisure was all about being comfortable, right? There are so many refined, stylish options out there for this everyday staple. Wear your sports bra to your yoga class or as a tank top on hot summer days.
4. A Technical Tee
If you’re new to athleisure and don’t know where to start, a technical tee is a great foundational piece to own. It goes with everything, meaning you can easily wear it with gym shorts for an evening run, or pair it with slacks and casual sneakers for an office-ready look.
3. A Pair of All-Around Leggings
Where would we be without leggings? They’re part of what started the whole athleisure trend, after all. Make sure to invest in a pair you can really live in…like…everyday
4. Good Old Sweatpants
Ah, sweatpants. The pinnacle of comfort. Athleisure wouldn’t be complete without them, but there is a line between elevated and frumpy. If you’ve still got a pair of sweatpants with your high school logo on them, it may just be time to trade them in for luxurious organic cotton.
5. An Oversized Hoodie
Remember what we said about combining oversized pieces with tight-fitting clothing? No athleisure wardrobe is complete without a baggy hoodie. Keep your look minimalistic with a plain, neutral hoodie, or use it as an opportunity to show off the logo of your favourite brand.
6. A Bold Layering Overlay
Ready to take the athleisure trend up a notch? Set yourself apart by incorporating fashionable fabrics like leather or denim into the sporty aesthetic. You could also try a statement jacket, like a trench coat, to really turn heads.
7. A Pair of Sneakers
Sneakers might as well be the official shoe of athleisure style. Whether you prefer something that doubles as a gym shoe, or something that brings out all the normcore-dad vibes, a good pair of sneakers is a great (and comfortable!) way to subtly express your personal style while maintaining the athleisure look.
7. A Stylish Backpack
Athleisure wear is for those who are always on the go. So of course, you’re gonna need a stylish backpack for all the stops you make throughout your day. A sleek, minimalist backpack can create a more professional look for when you’re on your way to the office.
ATHLEISURE WEAR FAQ
Q: What is athleisure?
A: The athleisure trend embraces athletic clothing and turns it into stylish, minimalist, and comfortable looks that can be worn every day and everywhere.
Q: What is the difference between athleisure and sportswear?
A: Athletic clothing is at the core of athleisure style. But at the end of the day, even though the trend does feature sporty, functional clothing, the purpose of athleisure is more fashion than functionality. Sportswear is designed for sports, mainly used for sporting activities, and normally features more technical properties.
Q: What are some athleisure brands?
A: If you’re looking for the best athleisure brands, look no further than adidas, Alo Yoga, Reebok, Löle, Girlfriend Collective, Praise, and Reigning Champ. They really get what laid-back luxury is all about. Check them out to start building your own personal athleisure style.
It’s become clear that wearing athletic wear no longer means you’ve given up on style. Sure, athleisure has been touted as lazy at times (haven’t we all?), but athletic brands have heavily stepped up their game when it comes to the style and technical benefits of fitness wear in order to stay at the top of this multi-billion-dollar industry. A perfect athleisure wardrobe offers the style, tech and comfort you need to confidently transition into the new season.