Alice Casely-Hayford is the Fashion Editor of Refinery29 UK. Refinery29 is a lifestyle destination that delivers non-stop inspiration to live a more stylish and creative life.
For a number of years the buzz words in fashion, particularly regarding more urban day-to-day casual wear were ‘sports luxe’ and ‘streetwear’. Now those phrases have been usurped by the latest trend or term “athleisure” but what exactly does it mean?
The broad phrase, which is now officially entering the Merriam-Webster dictionary (though its first use traces back to 1976!) encompasses everything from a yummy mummy in her yoga kit at the school gates to teens and 20-somethings wearing their activewear to work and then straight out for cocktails and then maybe even to the club afterward.
Less than a decade ago sportswear was purely functional but it has been increasingly embraced by designers, who are introducing athleisure lines and a key factor in its growth and popularity has to do with celebrity endorsement such as Kanye West’s ongoing collaboration with Adidas or Beyonce’s soon-to-be-released athletic-inspired collection with Topshop, which I for one am very excited about.
But celebrity collabs aside, the main reason why athleisure has become so prevalent is because we now live in an age where fitness is a key element of our lives. The prevalence of athleisure is not a trend, it’s a cultural shift. So why are people proud to be seen in sportswear all day errryday? It makes you look like you take yourself seriously, respect yourself, think of your body as your temple and that you’re a general boss not a slob.
Here are my tips and tricks on how to do athleisure well:
1) Look to items that fuse design and functionality. With athleisure becoming more status quo, many designers and brands are marrying performance wear with a beautiful design that is as fitting in the gym as on the catwalk. Brands such as LNDR, Koral Activewear, Nike and Whistles X Frame are technical without compromising on aesthetics.
2) Look for inspiration on the catwalk from Chanel and Dior couture to Versace. When Chanel and Dior sent models out wearing trainers at their Spring 2014 coutures it demonstrated how big athleisure had become. Couture is the most luxury outing on the fashion calendar where we might expect to see £100,000 gowns and heels so to see sneakers on the catwalk proved the impact athleisure has made on the industry as a whole. This season Donatella Versace put her spin on the movement for Atelier Versace’s Spring 2016 couture show, for a collection referred to as “athletic couture”, featuring hand-crocheted ropes studded in Swarovski crystals, tough leather and white-on-white ergonomic detailing on jackets and parkas.
3) Keep a pair of heels or a blazer under your desk to transform your outfit from day to night.
4) Don’t be afraid of leggings. They’re surprisingly flattering if you invest in a good pair and very versatile. They’re the new black jeans.
5) Update your gym bag to a chic, classic style that you can take to your workout then straight out afterwards. This gorgeous Hege Leather and Canvas Backpack by Sandqvist even features a sleeve to carry your laptop.