Athleisure: What is it and Why do I wear it?

Okay, so if you are a regular reader of this blog and by extension, several similar ones, you’re probably pretty familiar with the term “athleisure” that was one of the buzzwords of 2016. If so, maybe skip this paragraph and read on to why I wear athleisurewear all the damn time. If not, don’t worry; you’ll soon be au fait with this relatively new word. Although the term came to fame in the last couple of years, it was first coined some ten years ago. Brands like Lululemon, and the rising popularity of yoga (and yoga leggings) were likely the driving force in making sports clothing both better looking, and more acceptable to wear outside of the gym. Athleisure refers to both the items of clothing themselves, and the way in which they are styled -a leather jacket or perhaps a pair of ankle boots are a very popular way to make sportswear more street appropriate. As such, athleisure definitely doesn’t refer to sweat-stained tops and holey leggings. Brands are creating beautiful, technical pieces designed to look expensive and eye catching. Patterns are becoming increasingly popular, although often in subtle colour ways to appeal to Northern European and urban aesthetic. Tight, sculpting leggings are paired with slouchy slogan sweatshirts for contrast, or with matching crop tops for a sleek statement. Brands and top designers are collaborating, and Sweaty Betty even set challenges for their items to be worn during New York fashion week. Athleisure has become big news, and was supposedly the only category of clothing to increase in sales last year, growing an impressive 16%. 

Top, Sweaty Betty; leggings, Varley; shoes, Adidas

So why do I wear athleisure most of the time? I’m not a PT or yoga teacher (yet) so my job doesn’t demand it. Firstly, it comes down to practicality and comfort. I cycle most places, making skirts a bit of a pain -not to mention the fact that tights often irritate my skin -and jeans get quickly damaged from being worn against the saddle. You don’t have to be an expert to know that a good fitting pair of leggings are one of themes comfortable things you can wear other than maybe pyjamas. I go to a small university filled with biologists, geographers and outdoor enthusiasts, and am based in an institute where half the staff members look like they’re on national geographic. Casual clothing is the standard where I am, and that definitely influences me. 

Crop top and leggings, Sweaty Betty; bra (just seen) Lorna Jane; top, Sweaty Betty; shoes, Nike.

Stylistically, I like the look of pairing slim fitting leggings with heeled ankle boots or pretty trainers and a big jumper. It feels cosy and yet pulled together and flattering. Moreover, I spend a fair bit of money on leggings -I joke that my all cash goes on food and yoga kit -and so I like to get good use out of them! Wearing athleisure also means that I’m always prepared for a potential photo opportunity if I’m out with someone and feeling bold! 

Vest, Gap Fit; leggings, Teeki

At the end of the day, athleisure is what makes me feel good, confident and comfortable, which is a pretty good thing to feel about your wardrobe!