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It’s Yoga Pants and Sneakers at the Gym and Everywhere Else

By Marisa Finetti

 

You’ve seen them at morning coffee, business lunches, school drop-offs, the office, and more. Performance-wear, such as leggings, and the idea of them being worn outside of the athletic club has become so popular that it’s carved itself its own niche in the clothing industry. Louis Vuitton is selling athleisure. Gap, Victoria’s Secret, H&M and Tory Burch do as well.

‘Athleisure’ has even garnered some ink in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which defines it as “casual clothing meant to be worn both for exercising and for general use.” A champion in a waning apparel industry, with an estimated market size of $44 billion in the U.S. alone (according to research firm NPD Group), it might be clear to say this trend has swept the nation.

One of the reasons for the massive popularity of the athleisure trend is that it has filled a gap in the marketplace, where clothing that was functional wasn’t particularly stylish or comfortable. Its popularity is also connected to the rise of fitness-conscious consumers who look at athletics not only as a hobby but also as an all-around lifestyle.

Such clothing can be worn to the gym, as well as everywhere else. This relaxed standard of clothing has been largely driven by the millennials, the largest demographic in the U.S., comprising 28% of the population. Their increased health consciousness, and a cultural shift in the workplace, has made it more acceptable to wear sneakers and leggings to the office.

Still, people don’t want to appear like they are wearing gym clothes. Fortunately, the latest activewear brands to hit the racks blur the lines between spin class and everyday wardrobe. Athleta has dresses that, when worn over leggings and paired with a jacket, define “cozy dressing simplified.” Canadian retailer Lululemon is a well-known player in the athleisure market. Aside from its technical pants, sports bras and tanks, you’ll find pullovers and wraps made from luxurious merino wool.

Graced by Grit, located at Tivoli Village and offering premium athletic apparel for running, pilates, crossfit, yoga and more, also sells pieces from the “street style” and “relax” categories, boasting v-neck tops and sleek jackets, not to mention the travel dress with the mid-thigh slit that easily doubles as a new favorite.

“We designed a dress that travels perfectly,” says Graced by Grit co-owners Kimberly Caccavo and Kate Nowlan. “It has a long, sleeveless mock turtleneck with a high slit up the side. The dress can be worn tied up for hiking and worn long for sophisticated events.”

Graced by Grit prides themselves on mixing function with fashion, filling a need for women’s athletic apparel that not only performed at an exceptional level, but was also designed in a flattering, attractive, and unique way. “We think athlesiure is so comfortable and can be styled to look incredibly chic.”

As for those ubiquitous pieces: “Leggings can be worn to the office, in the ocean and even as your base player for skiing.” They recommend wearing them with short or tall boots, pumps for a surprisingly stylish look and with any favorite top, such as fun sweater, coat, or blazer.

Here are three golden rules for working your gymwear into your daily routine:

Stay with neutral colors. It’s not only a risk, but perhaps inappropriate to opt for vibrant colors and patterns when heading to the office. Stick to tone on tone patterns if you must have a pattern. Black on black is always a good option.

Dress for the occasion. Going to the office? Throw on a blazer over the leggings, put on some chic black boots and walk into the boardroom with confidence. Meeting the ladies for coffee? Grab the jean jacket and suddenly, you’re street chic.

Accessorize. Whether you’re wearing a gym top or leggings, it only takes one piece on your entire ensemble to look like you’ve just stepped away from the gym. Throw on a leather jacket, add a coordinating scarf, accessorize with a statement necklace or arm candy to finish the look.

Need more advice? Pinterest has over 1000+ ideas how to channel the athleisure trend.

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