If you’re into fashion, you’re probably familiar with the word “athleisure” – and if not, you almost certainly have seen someone wearing it. The trend’s specific origins are debatable, but it’s easy to spot. Take a piece of sports clothing – sweatpants, or a puffer jacket, for example – and wear it as a casual outfit. Bonus points if you can pull it off with a distinct or niche sports brand – Adidas or Nike, Bogner or Speedo. The idea is to take the comfort out of its intended function while looking stylish.
Not just a trend
Athleisure’s origins are often traced to Chip Wilson selling mass-produced yoga pants in 1998. But fashion history suggests that the practice of taking activewear, or apparel designed with athletes in mind, and transforming them into everyday clothes, goes back a lot farther than that.
Staples of casual wear such as sneakers and polo shirts, for instance, have their origins in tennis. Shorts were originally a gym staple and became popular with women as attire for biking. These are just a few examples of items that have crossed over from their sporting roots and become mainstream staples for nearly a century.
While athleisure is indeed a rising trend, the practice behind it has been going on for decades at least. Taking a design intended for a specific function, and trying to make it mainstream, is part of how fashion works.
Athletic wear is designed to be comfortable. For evidence, look no further than the product display pages of any sports apparel website. If a piece of clothing was meant to be worn by an athlete, it was designed with comfort as a key consideration. No one wants to engage in sports or strenuous activity while wearing uncomfortable clothes.
This extends to daily activity as well. Most people perform multiple tasks and go in and out of the house on a given day. Sportswear provides flexibility and comfort for your daily needs without any need to change your outfit every time, which is a huge convenience.
It may not be an appropriate look for dress-coded events or venues, but sportswear has the additional benefit of being associated with fitness and an active lifestyle. Health and fitness are highly valued in today’s world, which increases the coolness factor of athleisure.
Making it work for you
If you’re looking to ride the latest trends, chances are you’ll want to follow fashion gurus and trendsetters whose style and aesthetics match your own personal tastes. When it comes to pulling off a look, there are a number of ways to accentuate athleisure, or to dress up or down. Images posted to blogs or social media accounts can provide instant visual inspiration for you to use.
Your own lifestyle should play a part in how you incorporate activewear into your wardrobe. A lot of sports apparel is designed with the consideration that the people who wear it will be active, possibly hot, and sweating. Thus, the fabrics used tend to be light and breathable. If you live somewhere warm or wear the same outfit from your home to the gym to the department store, for example, that’s perfect. But if you live in colder areas, or in winter, you can adjust your outfit. Add layers, pull on ski wear, or swap out yoga pants for joggers.
Fashion innovation comes from people taking inspiration from all sorts of places, and finding a home for it in everyday life. Chances are you’re already wearing things that are derived from sports attire. Check out what the athleisure trend has to offer – it might just end up becoming a future staple.