What Is Athleisure?

Woman stretching on her terrace dressed in athletic wear

By: Heather Bien

Long gone are the days of rushing home after a workout to change out of your oversized, stained T-shirt and ratty leggings before heading into the office. Today, athletic wear is better looking, better fitting, and better designed than ever before. Think: bamboo joggers for women. Some people even like to wear their gym clothes all day, whether they hit the treadmill or not. 

This comfortable athletic gear is called athleisure apparel

Ever since Lululemon capitalized on the versatility of yoga pants in the 2010s, clothing companies have been vying for a top spot among athleisure brands as they realize this style appeals to, well, just about everyone.1

In this guide, we’ll define what is athleisure wear, how the athleisure fashion term and sustainable athleisure trend came to be, and how you can successfully pull off this look. Check it out. 

Young woman smiling sitting on a high chair dressed in athletic wear

Defining Athleisure

There’s something about comfortable, stylish athleisure clothes that everyone from gym rats to fashion gurus can’t get enough of—experts have said that athleisure is a $300 billion dollar international industry.2f realize this style appeals to, well, just about  

Forbes has even gone so far as to declare that athleisure is the “defining fashion trend of the 21st century.”3

Even celebrities and top fashion designers are cashing in on the athleisure industry: Stella McCartney has a line with Adidas, Tory Burch has Tory Sport, Kate Hudson has Fabletics, and Beyonce has Ivy Park.2

It’s important to note: While athleisure can be just about any hybrid of stylish, comfortable, athletic clothing, it is not always the kind of gear you want to actually work out in. Some items in the athleisure market are meant purely for show, not for wicking sweat or staying dry during an hour-long HIIT class. It’s also important to note that there is a difference between loungewear and athleisure; to learn more, we’ve written in detail about what is loungewear for your convenience. 

Athleisure is sportswear meets business casual wear, and can include the omnipresent yoga pants, as well as sneakers, hoodies, jackets, and even dresses.4 

The best athleisure is a balance of fashion and function—yes, you want your matching yoga set to look cute, but you also want comfortable clothing that stays in place and supports you during your hot vinyasa class. 

Young woman in athletic wear standing on a street

A Short History of Athleisure

So what does athleisure mean and where did this term originate? 

The term athleisure—athletic and leisure—first appeared in an issue of Nation’s Business in 1979, used to, “describe garments and shoes designed for those who want to appear athletic.”2 

Emphasis, here, on “appear.” 

In 1997, Women’s Wear Daily used “athleisure footwear” to describe “non-performance styles such as canvas and suede.” 

Again “non-performance” or “athletic for appearances sake” continued to be the defining factor of athleisure until 2016, when the term made its way in Merriam-Webster.

Athleisure has evolved from traditional sportswear to the everyday wear aesthetic we know today due in large part to advances in technology. Today, designers can use breathable, sweat-wicking fabric to create coveted athleisure staples that seamlessly transition from the street to the office to brunch to, yes, an actual gym.2

Young woman in jeans and athletic shirt standing next to a wall

womens bamboo clothing

How to Rock an Athleisure Aesthetic 

Creating your own athleisure wardrobe is pretty straightforward. 

Simply choose athletic (or athletic-looking) items you know you’ll be able to wear for multiple situations. The most versatile athleisure is typically slim-fitting and neutral, making it just as easy to accessorize with tennis shoes as it is with stilettos. 

Some athleisure outfit aficionados have never run a mile in their lives, some people slip into athleisure as one of their ways to relax before bed, while other folks who gravitate toward this look actually plan to sweat a little in their outfits, or plan to pull on their athleisure immediately post-sweat.  

If you fall into the latter category, you’ll want to invest in soft, breathable clothing made out of textiles like bamboo clothing viscose and organic cotton. 

Boody Eco Wear has sleek, neutral Weekend joggers and pullovers that are sure to complete your dream athleisure look.5 Wondering how to style joggers? You can pair these soft staples with Boody Eco Wear activewear: try wearing the racerback sports bra with joggers or the active high-waisted shorts with that uber soft pullover. 

Complete Your Athleisure Look With Boody Eco Wear 

The near universal appeal of athleisure stems from our natural desire to want to be comfortable as often as possible, for as long as possible. While leaving the house in sweats is still a bit taboo, leaving the house in a sleek athleisure getup is perfectly acceptable, even encouraged. 

The definition of athleisure has evolved over time, and the companies that specialize in this style continue to expand, from traditional sportswear brands to designers that are best known for sandals and handbags. 

When putting together your best athleisure look, remember to strike that happy balance between function and fashion. With Boody Eco Wear, you can rest assured knowing you’ll receive compliments on the street in your Weekend joggers—even if you’re still rocking that post-yoga glow. 

 

About the Author:

Heather Bien is a copywriter and writer based in Washington, DC. She works with retail, ecommerce, and creative brands on their website copy and digital presence, and her freelance writing has appeared on MyDomaine, Apartment Therapy, The Everygirl, and more. When she's not with laptop and coffee in hand, you'll find her planning her next weekend getaway, working on her budding green thumb, or scouting for her next great vintage find.


Sources:

  1. Investopedia. Athleisure Definition. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/a/athleisure.asp 
  2. Fashionista. Fashion History Lesson: The Origins, And Explosive Growth, of Athleisure. https://fashionista.com/2020/01/the-history-of-athleisure 
  3. Forbes. Why The Word "Athleisure" Is Completely Misunderstood. https://www.forbes.com/sites/chipwilson/2018/04/18/why-the-word-athleisure-is-completely-misunderstood/?sh=10fbbf0b4697 
  4. Business Insider. Athleisure is not just a trend — it's a fundamental shift in how Americans dress. https://www.businessinsider.com/athleisure-is-more-than-a-trend-2017-2 
  5. Boody Eco Wear. Bamboo Athleisure & Sweats. https://boodywear.com/collections/athleisure 
  6. Elle. 26 Best Athleisure Brands To Get You Through 2021 https://www.elle.com/fashion/shopping/g36181775/best-athleisure-wear-brands/ 



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