I’ve been talking about athleisure wear for quite some time and I’ve been getting a ton of questions regarding the trend, so I figured, it would be best to create a fun and helpful style and shopping guide for you. Hopefully, this will help clear up what the athleisure trend is all about, answer your questions, and help you incorporate the easy and comfortable style into your wardrobe. I’m going to talk about different ways to wear athleisure, my favorite athleisure brands, my style tips, where to shop the best athleisure wear, and most importantly, how to pull off athleisure street style and not look like you rolled out of bed.
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What is Athleisure?
So, what is athleisure? The formal definition of athleisure goes something like this: Athletic apparel or casual, comfortable clothing that’s suitable for both exercise and everyday wear. Honestly, I think athleisure was initially created when a celebrity threw a denim or leather jacket over their workout clothes after yoga and was unexpectedly photographed. From there it probably made it to Pinterest and the rest is history. Over time, athleisure has evolved into an actual trend and style, which is why we’re still hearing about it today. The difference now, you don’t actually need to workout to wear the athleisure trend.
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How Has the Athleisure Trend Evolved?
What started out as a natural and functional way to go from yoga to lunch (by throwing on another layer to look presentable) is now a full fledged trend we’re all trying to recreate. And I’m so not mad about it. You no longer have to break a sweat to wear the athleisure trend, which may be a new revelation to some. You also don’t need to wear your grungy workout clothes, either. I like to think athleisure wear is more about function and comfort, but slightly elevated. Think trendy and cute athletic clothes paired with your favorite accessories or jacket. You can run around and do all your errands, but still look cute while doing so.
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Ways to Wear Athleisure
For those of you who are new to the trend, feel a little lost, or just need some guidance, I’m going to explain 3 different ways to pull of athleisure wear.
- Wear your workout clothes (athletic all the way) – just choose pieces that are cute. If you’re looking at the athleisure style to be more functional for you than anything (you want it to work for working out and running errands, etc.), you’re going to want to invest in a couple cute pieces. This can be anything from black leggings with fun details (I love this pair) or a chic hoodie. Everything is functional, but elevated and makes you feel stylish.
- Wear your workout clothes and add in casual pieces (half casual, half athletic) – This takes those cute pieces I recommended purchasing above and mixes them with your favorite casual pieces. Think leather jacket, denim jacket, puffer vest, sunglasses, baseball cap, beanie, handbag, etc. This happens to be my favorite way to wear the athleisure trend. You’re comfortable, but you can elevate your look with whatever you have in your closet.
- Wear a normal outfit and pair it with an athletic piece (very minimal athletic) – This way of wearing the athleisure trend is a little trickier than the other 2, but something I love. Basically, you wear whatever you heart desires and then pair it with one (or two) athletic pieces. You instantly dress down your look, which is a nice way to balance out your outfit, but it also looks like you know what you’re doing. Those unexpected elements (pairing styles you don’t think go together) always create elevated looks. For example: sneakers with dresses, sweatshirt with a skirt, or a hat with a feminine blouse.
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Athleisure Style Tips
I could wear athleisure clothes everyday if nobody cared. I’ve always been a casual dresser and I’m naturally drawn to more tomboy or athletic pieces, so you can imagine how happy I am that the athleisure trend is an actual thing. I finally have an excuse to buy all those hoodie/sweatshirts I’m always eyeing. Since I have quite the experience with athleisure wear, I’m going to share my top tips to help you achieve the perfect athleisure street style look.
- Throw on a 3rd piece – Most often times throwing on a 3rd piece will complete your athleisure look. I usually opt for a leather or denim jacket, but I’ve been experimenting with utility jackets and trench coats. The 3rd piece is what really takes your basic athletic clothes and transforms it into an athleisure look.
- Work in some higher-end pieces (leather jacket, sunglasses, handbag) – This is a great way to elevate your outfit. Athleisure outfits don’t necessarily need to be worn with a super expensive item, so if you don’t have one, no worries. But, if you have a designer item you love or an item that makes you feel chic, throw it on with your athleisure look. It’s a great way to take a rather boring outfit up a notch.
- Color coordinate – This is one of my go-to tricks when styling. It’s something I’ve been doing for years and while I don’t think everyone likes color coordinating, I’m a visual person who likes to see cohesion in my outfits. It also makes for killer outfits. You don’t necessarily need to always match your leggings to your shoes, etc. But, have all your colors tie in somehow. Maybe go all monochrome and then use a pop of color (or neutral) as an accessory. You can also stick to 2 colors and create cohesion there. Maybe you have different shades of gray you want to wear all together. Color coordinating is a great way to elevate basic looks.
- Pick flattering pieces (you can’t just wear your grungy workout clothes) – This tip goes back to my first way to wear athleisure from above. It’s not about wearing old beat up workout clothes. You want to wear flattering and cute pieces. Pick up a pair of sleek and chic sneakers (I love the Nike Thea sneakers). Find a pair of leggings that flatter your legs. Because I’m small, I tend to go with black. But there’s a ton of different black options with fun details. Btw, going monochrome (all black, all gray) helps create long lines, so it tends to be more flattering. Also, for fellow petite girls, I find that the ⅞ or midi leggings hit at the perfect length to be regular leggings on me. So, no more rolling under or getting alterations. Essentially, find what looks best on you and run with it.
- Keep your pieces on-trend and fun – Because athleisure wear is so popular, there’s so many great brands and retailers that sell cute and affordable athletic clothes. I’ve been loving color blocked leggings, blush hoodies, and these cute bomber jackets. You’re going to want to do away with the idea of not wanting to spend $$ on “workout” clothes. If you want to wear athleisure and not look like you rolled out of bed, invest in some on-trend pieces!
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Athleisure Wear Brands:
Zella is my favorite athleisure brand. They have affordable pieces, but the best part, the quality is AMAZING. Their Live In Leggings are awesome – thick enough to wear to work out or with a cardigan and booties. They also have midi style leggings, which are perfect for petites. I have these and these and I wear them all year long!
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Athleisure Affordable Brands:
Over the last year or so, I’ve found some really great athleisure pieces at Abercrombie & Fitch. They have really cute and neutral fleece jackets and hoodies in their activewear section. They also do basics really well – think denim jackets, utility jackets, puffer coats, and pea coats – all great pieces to pair with leggings, sneakers, or tee shirts.
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Best Places to Shop Athleisure:
I really love Nordstrom for cute athleisure pieces. You can shop for sporty and non-sporty things in one place. They also tend to have cheeky graphic tees or sweatshirts, which makes the athleisure trend even more fun to try. I love the variety, good price points, and the incredible return policy makes online shopping so much easier.
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How to Put Together Cute Athleisure Outfits
If you’re just getting started on the athleisure trend, try combining 2 or 3 of the items below and you should be good to go.
- Leather jacket
- Denim jacket
- Wool Coat
- Puffer vest
- Moto jacket
- Utility jacket
- Trench coat
- Tee Shirt
- Tunic tee
- Baseball cap
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