The latest buzz in the fashion industry is to add an element of comfort to clothes, without compromising on design. Practical yet stylish clothing is the mantra of this season and people are embracing it with open arms. From the airport to the boardroom, one can spot a switch towards fabrics that allow the skin to breathe and yet leave room for expressing an individual’s personality. This trend of incorporating sportswear inspired attire in the daily wardrobe is aptly termed as Athleisure, a name that it is here to stay.
Athleisure goes way beyond simply wearing your Yoga pants to work; it is essentially overhauling the definition of business casual clothing. Some common instances of Athleisure, which have carved a niche for themselves as acceptable wardrobe choices, are wearing sneakers with dresses and sporting bralettes with a pair of jeans for a casual day out. However, if you dig deeper, Athleisure has also encouraged brands to bring out casual collections that use stretchable and comfortable fabrics, such as Lycra and spandex. These materials that were once restricted to athletic wear are taking the market by storm. From t-shirts to leggings, they offer a new level of comfort that was formerly associated only with sports apparel.
Cute silk pajamas are rapidly being replaced by more practical loungewear, such as tank tops and spandex leggings. With innumerable colors and patterns hitting the stores, these outfits provide an added bonus that you can step out of the house without changing. As the SoulCycle co-founder, Julie Rice, expressed in an interview with Vogue  “It’s a trend. People of all ages are wearing their workoutwear 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 athleticwear thinking, How can I wear this from the studio to the street?”.
Even in a business environment, more and more companies are slackening their dress codes to make them flexible and convenient for the employees. While track pants and t-shirts were frowned upon just a decade ago, they are pretty ubiquitous this year in the modern workplace. In fact, the work environment is where Athleisure can make the hugest difference. Sweat absorbent and odor-resistant fabrics can really help a busy executive as he or she wrestles with mounds of work round the clock. Ergonomic yet aesthetically pleasing, Athleisure is the harbinger of a revolution in the workplace – a shift in the mindset of corporate giants. The days of judging a professional by the crispness of his shirt and the perfection of his Windsor knot are slowly but surely disappearing.
Not only is Athleisure a sensible choice, it is a fashionable one too. Check out the Instagram pictures of any fashionista and you will notice elements of sportswear mixed and matched with high fashion items. Jennifer Bandier, the owner of the active fashion game changer BANDIER, mentioned in a conversation with shape.com “The fashion industry is inspired by today’s ‘it-girls’ and tastemakers who wear leggings all the time, pair Nike sneakers with dresses and incorporate active, bodycon components into their overall look,”. Bandier has hit the bull’s eye as to why Athleisure has become such a massive rage in such a short span of time. After all, if your favorite fashion diva can rock those leggings to a brunch with the girls then why shouldn’t you?
The key question that arises is, how much is too much? There is a thin line between looking casual chic and looking like you had to make a mad dash from the gym to the office. The secret lies in not going too overboard and adding just a sprinkle of sportswear to your outfit. Take a cue from the latest obsession of mixing high-end and low-end pieces in one look. A well-fitted jacket or a beautiful choker can instantly elevate a casual outfit and can make it look way more put together. The right accessories go a long way in transforming you from a sweaty mess to a show stopper, as explained by stylist Rob Zangardi in his conversation with Vogue , “A pair of mirrored sunglasses, a structured leather jacket, a shirt tied around the waist . . . 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.” Also, stick with the neutral shades for work, black, gray and white leggings are way more appropriate than neon pink ones, which are better suited for a casual outing.
Athleisure is one trend that, when mastered, can make styling outfits an extremely easy job. It is this simplicity that has appealed to the masses, making Athleisure a global phenomenon. From the United States of America to China , Athleisure has spread its wings over the planet and it is not going anywhere. If anything, it is beginning to leave its imprint on formal attire as well. The amalgamation of active wear and glamor seems to be the next big leap for Athleisure, and it is already making its presence felt in the world of high fashion. Red Carpet dresses and haute couture inspired by gym wear is not as far-fetched a prediction as one may think.
Combining the luxurious element of high-end fashion with the breathability of sportswear is the direction which Athleisure seems to be approaching. Gowns with mesh details, sneakers embellished with studs, and bomber jackets made with silk are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential of this groundbreaking trend. If there is a way to look fashionable that does not involve straps digging into the flesh and corsets sucking the air out of the stomach, there are bound to be many takers. Perhaps, with time, the word leisure will get dropped from the equation as athletic wear starts to make an appearance at all occasions ranging from job interviews to formal galas!
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P.P.S. – I wrote this article for my Niume profile a few months back and have taken it down from there since. Just thought that you guys might enjoy this article, so sharing it here 🙂