In the last three or four years, my shopping habits have seen a major shift. Much of the money I used to spend on jeans and blouses is now being saved for nice workout tights, supportive sports bras, and super soft tanks that work equally well at the gym and as a base layer under a sweater or featherweight tee. The athleisure (workout or workout-type clothing that doubles as streetwear) trend is big right now, you guys, and I am embracing the hell out of it.
However, as much as I love the fact that I can get more use out of my favorite workout clothes, I also really love fashion and firmly believe in dressing appropriately for certain occasions, so before you start telling people, “Yes, you can wear yoga pants all the time! Kristen said so,” let’s get a few things straight.
How to Do Athleisure Right
Rule 1: You shouldn’t wear it everywhere. You can get away with it in a lot of places — brunch with your friends, running errands, maybe even catching a movie with some buddies. But there are plenty of places where it’s still just not appropriate, regardless of how cute it is or how much it cost — think fancy restaurants, the (non-movie) theater, and maybe the workplace (although, hey, I don’t know your life — if your office environment is decidedly pro-Lycra, then you do you).
Rule 2: Make sure you’re making the right statement for you. Just as wearing stilettos to the grocery store makes a statement, so does wearing athleisure. It’s an authentic choice for me because I live an active, healthy lifestyle, and probably 80 percent of the time you see me in stretchy black capris, I’m coming from or going to a workout of some sort. Athleisure works best if it actually fits your personality and lifestyle, so, if you haven’t worked up a sweat since the Clinton administration, think about why you’re wanting to rock the trend. Is it because you’d like to be viewed as more active? If so, great! Use that as motivation to get moving!
Rule 3: Watch the skin. If you wouldn’t wear, say, a pair of denim booty shorts or a crop top to a restaurant, then you probably shouldn’t go there in just your bun huggers and a sports bra, even if it was a hella perfect outfit at the gym.
Rule 4: Mix up the fit. This is probably my biggest fashion rule, and Heather Cvitkovic, director of global apparel product management and merchandising at Brooks Running, backs me up. Pairing a flowy piece with something that’s fitted is a great way to create a stylish silhouette. So, if you’re wearing running tights, look at a long, loose, tunic or a cropped, boxy hoodie to pair with it. And fitted (but not obscenely tight) tops work beautifully with some of the looser sweats that are so popular right now!
Rule 5: Layer, layer, layer. I’ve probably purchased more featherweight, slightly sheer tops in the past year than anything else, and I wear them all. the. time. Lightweight and loose-fitting tees, hoodies, sweaters and cardigans are a really simple way to transform the outfit you just wore to the gym into something that’s more appropriate for sitting in a coffee shop. Add an infinity scarf, leg warmers, a hat or whatever accessory speaks to you to make whatever you’re wearing just a little more fashion-forward. Adding a watch or some jewelry also helps to polish up a casual outfit.
Rule 6: Don’t be afraid of color, prints and textures. Another fab piece of advice from Cvitkovic is to mix prints, add pops of color and include different textures when possible. “It’s all about the mix of sporty with fashion!” she says, and I am so on board. Don’t be afraid to pair a chunky knit with a more traditionally athletic material — it could just become your signature look!
Rule 7: Consider your shoe situation. If your shoes look beat up and smelly, that’s going to take the whole outfit down a couple of notches. Now, you don’t need to put on a pair of heels or anything, but if you’re not actually going to work out, think outside of the running shoe box for a second. Do you have some casual kicks that you don’t use for workouts that might work? I often wear my Chucks or Sanuks, and I know Jenn rocks these a lot. They’re casual and comfy but not quite so fitness-y.
How do you feel about the athleisure trend? Do you embrace it or think it’s the end of civilization as we know it? I think there’s room for all opinions on this one! —Kristen