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July 14, 2022

Modern fashion is vastly more diverse than it ever has been in human history. Thanks to global trade and massive manufacturing capabilities, clothing designers offer their consumers a million different looks and styles to pick from when shopping for new outfits.

One of these trends that are extremely popular and here to stay is fashionable athleticwear, commonly known as "athleisure." But what isathleisure—and more importantly, how do you style it? Read on to learn helpful styling tips and interesting background information on the trend as a whole.

The History of Athleisure

The athleisure fashion movement might seem like a new trend for the modern era, but the term was actually coined back in 1979, included in an issue of Nation's Business magazine. Their description of athleisure was simple—shoes and clothing that make an individual look athletic! But in the 80s, athleisure clothing was mostly referred to as sportswear, such as running shorts and performance garments.

It wasn't until the late 1990s and early 2000s that this fashion term described high-quality workout clothes that could be worn in other contexts. A major influence in athleisure's rise to popularity was Lululemon, founded in 1997. At the time, they were the first athletic clothing brand to create stylish workout garments suitable for other activities outside of the gym. As you already probably know, Lululemon became a market leader through its yoga pants, sports bras, and leggings.

However, the stylish designs of these items weren't the only reasons people flocked to athleisure, as clothing materials improved in quality and technology. Instead of traditional workout fabrics such as cotton or wool, newer trends consisted of lab-created materials like polyester, nylon, and synthetic wool blends. These fabrics were strikingly more comfortable and breathable, making an athleisure outfit the perfect way to work out and grab a bite to eat after with friends.

Athleisure has evolved tremendously in the past few decades. The easiest way to truly understand the legitimacy of this style is by observing airplane passengers and their outfits of choice. For many decades, appropriate air travel apparel was formal—men wore stuffy suits and dress shoes, while women donned dresses, blazers, and high-heels.

After the rise of athleisure, more and more individuals, specifically affluent and first-class passengers, began flying in comfortable clothing. But this trend wasn't exclusive to air travel. In almost no time at all, this style became acceptable for social functions and activities, and today, you'll find individuals dressed in yoga pants or joggers at upscale restaurants and establishments.

Anti-Faux Pas

You might be wondering, "Why did I just get a crash course into the history of this fashion trend?" In truth, the origin of athleisure demonstrates the departure from traditional styles within our society. As such, this long-held fashion faux pas changed and evolved. So before you learn proper styling techniques, you must understand how athleisure rules dramatically differ from other fashion styles.

Mix and Match

First and foremost, athleisure outfits can include a mash-up of designs, colors, and patterns, which is considered a major faux pas for many other trends. Athletic clothing is typically loud, vibrant, and striking by appearance, as you can mix various articles of unique clothing to create the ultimate athletic outfit. Basically, don't concern yourself over whether articles clash with one another.

Furthermore, you can add athleisure elements to other types of fashion as a compliment, such as pairing an athletic and loud top with denim jeans. This freedom to combine different looks and patterns makes athleisure one of the more expressive fashion styles out there.

Or, Match and Match!

Fashion faux pas exists on a spectrum; if one end dictates you can't mix and match different colors or patterns, the other end imposes you don't create an excessively "matchy" outfit. For most traditional styles, it's important you add a color break, ensuring natural tones complement more vibrant ones. Once again, athleisure doesn't follow these principles.

Instead, it's totally acceptable (and uber trendy) to wear an athletic outfit consisting of matching garments, typically muted or neutral colors like black, tan, white, green, and blue. You can also pair multiple items made from the same fabrics, such as polyester, to create a cohesive and uniform look.

Stylin' Time

You now know the historical significance of athleisure and how this fashion trend deviates from traditional faux pas. It's time to get stylin'! Since we already covered rules related to mixing and matching items, let's focus on the other important tips—mainly, how to create multi-functional outfits that look and feel great.

Tone Down, Dress Up

Not all athleisure outfits are created equal; some are best suited for actually working out in, some are great for social gatherings or events, and others have a perfect happy medium. You can dress your athleisure outfit down for activities such as hitting the gym or going for a run, but make your ensemble simple.

Yoga pants, sports bras, and tank tops paired with athletic headwear and shoes are perfectly suitable for getting some exercise while also looking great. Conversely, you can add other pieces, like leather jackets, jeans, or high-end items to create a more formal look that is still comfy. The more depth and complexity added, the better suited your athleisure outfit is for activities outside of working out.

Total Outfit Considerations

Most of us see outfit construction as a simple equation—combine pants with a top to create a solid look. However, athleisure is best done when accessories and other items are included! Shoes, specifically lifestyle shoes or sneakers, are a huge aspect of athleisure that can make or break your outfit.

A clean pair of athletic shoes can either complement or contrast your overall look, meaning you can wear a boldly designed sneaker or a plain, crisp sneaker. When styling, you should also consider accessories such as hats, backpacks, jewelry, and sunglasses. You can make your athleisure outfit more than just workout gear by including these items.

Congratulations! You are now an athleisure pro. Now that you know how to style it, you can begin creating the perfect athleisure outfit! Luckily, we at Escape Outdoor feature an impressive collection of quality athletic gear from some of the top brands. Our Kuhl outdoor wear is a great option for those looking to make functional and fashionable outfits fit for any occasion. Browse our selection today!

What Is Athleisure and How Do You Style It?

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