Dressing for the gym is now appropriate for more than just working up a sweat. Gym attire has been dubbed as the “athleisure” look — athletic apparel that people can wear in non-athletic settings (think men wearing sweatshirts in more formal settings and CEOs wearing sneakers to board meetings). Not only is the look comfortable, but it does not require you to be any sort of an athlete to truly make it work for you. In fact, the athleisure trend is part of a growing market. According to Forbes, the athleisure trend is continuing to rise, and research from the NPD Group found that U.S. consumers spent $323 billion on apparel, footwear, and accessories in 2014, which was a 1% increase since 2013. That 1% might not seem like much, but it represents about $2 billion in sales, driven mostly by consumer spending on athletic wear and related accessories.
With this trend on the rise, it’s important to know how to properly wear it. Here’s a breakdown of what you should and shouldn’t be doing when incorporating sportswear into your everyday look.
Sweatshirts are some of the easiest pieces to incorporate into your wardrobe. These are very different from your typical heavy and toweling versions; rather, these sweatshirts are made for leisurely athletes (or hobby athletes). Rocking a plain cotton crew neck sweatshirt or fitted zip-up hoodie is always an order. To wear this look correctly, opt for sweatshirts made with lightweight, breathable fabrics and mesh panels.
These slim-cut sweatshirts, made from high-tech materials meant to wick away moisture, can in fact add new dimensions to your outfit. As fits tend to run snug, again to better suit athletes, FashionBeans says these sporty sweatshirts are perfect to be worn under a minimal overcoat in winter, or by themselves when the temps begin to go back up. Try something similar to Nike’s Dri-FIT crew neck fleece. It’s perfect for streamlining a silhouette but also offers a cool aesthetic that will look perfect under an overcoat or with a nylon bomber jacket.
Here are a few other suggestions to give it a go.
Wearing tapered jogging pants is as easy as switching out your slim-fitting jeans for something like Nike Tech Fleece sweatpants or similar skinny knit pants from brands like John Elliott + Co, which sells higher-end athleisure-wear. In fact, Tom Kalenderian, executive vice president and general merchandise manager for Men’s at Barneys, told Complex that the ubiquity of the trend also inspires designer fashion and translates well to retail: “The key items in many designer collections today undoubtedly turn out to be the sneaker, the jog pant, the sweatshirt,” he says.
Complex calls this aesthetic part-streetwear, part-gym rat, and 100% sneaker-oriented. Nice kicks look fantastic with a cuffed hem (or elastic) slim sweats.
Incorporating joggers into your attire is easy: Robin Ghivan, fashion critic for The Washington Post, told NPR that the jogger/sweatpant aspect of the trend came from the city streets: “It really came out of the idea of streetwear, and the way that so many people who live in urban centers end up essentially carrying their entire day’s worth of wardrobe and errand-running material, and half their closet with them sometimes,” she said.
Ghivan says when men choose to wear fancy sweats, it’s essential to always dress them up and not down. “I would not wear them, for instance, with a t-shirt. I would wear them with a sport jacket, and maybe a sweater underneath the sport jacket.” She adds that when the look is done right, it “feels very familiar and reassuring, but just makes men look like themselves, just better.”
This trend is not just about function, but also fashion. Brands are catering to the athleisure trend by giving into the fact that people not only want a trainer they can run in, but also one that looks great and can be worn every day. The most popular sneaker brands like Nike and Adidas have the game on lockdown, says FashionBeans, perfectly combining their decades worth of success in producing fit-for-purpose athleticwear, combined perfectly with up-to-the-minute aesthetics, which is, of course, why they remain the go-to brands for comfort and style. Nike and Adidas trainers offer comfort and promised performance, and they are cool enough to wear with almost any pair of tapered joggers. They almost guarantee that whichever way you choose to wear them, you’ll look stylish. Pair them with your favorite joggers, slim-fitting chinos, or cuffed jeans.