What Is Athleisure & How To Style It

In recent years — especially post-pandemic — fashion has taken a more casual approach. More specifically, athleisure has blown up over the past couple of years. It seems that after spending so much time at home, we all collectively agreed to start dressing more comfortably… while still remaining stylish. 

This is where athleisure wear comes in. It’s a fashion trend that blends the functionality of activewear with leisurewear.

Leggings, sports bras, and matching sweatsuits have become more commonplace in streetwear styles, proving that looking chic can go hand-in-hand with comfort. Instead of dressing up, we are wearing our casual athletic attire when we go out and pairing them with other garments to elevate our look. 

You do not need to be an athlete to rock athleisure. No matter what your body type is and what activities you enjoy, athletic clothing is for you. 

You can do so much with the athleisure trend. Keep on reading and learn the true definition of athleisure, how to style athletic apparel, and some tips on the best places to display your cozy-chic style. 

What Does Athleisure Mean?

Athleisure apparel is comfortable casual clothing made for both exercise and everyday wear. However, we think athleisure outfits are so much more than that. 

The popularity of athletic clothing in our day-to-day style grew exponentially in the 2010s and only continues to grow. The early 2010s were defined by athleisure brands creating hoodies, yoga pants, and sports bras among other more casual athletic clothing that dominated the fashion industry. This was when it became clear that athleisure was here to stay.. 

Since the pandemic began, society’s collective style has shifted towards a more casual vibe. Retailers across the globe offer higher-quality athletic clothing — joggers, tights, and tees — that can be paired alongside other staple pieces like a black blazer, a stylish trench coat, and even a miniskirt. 

Street style has become increasingly more casual and athletic, with high-profile celebrities even hopping on the trend. Everyone has witnessed and experienced the benefits of wearing comfortable yet stylish clothing, whether on social media or IRL.

Now more than ever, people are incorporating athleisure clothing into their daily wardrobe. The best part about athleisure is that you don’t have to compromise your sense of style for comfort. 

So many workout clothes staple pieces are versatile. Sure, the best athleisure clothes can be worn to play sports, but they can also be crucial elements of a cool, chic outfit. There are endless opportunities to explore your sense of style with clothes on the athleisure market.

Before we dive into our favorite ways to style athletic wear, let’s take a glance at the interesting history of athleisure over the decades.

Athleisure Over the Years

Though the athleisure sector is currently peaking in popular culture, this comfy trend has always been a key fashion player. It’s easy to see how athletic street style has evolved over the past decades and evolved into the popular, chic style we know today. 

Athleisure has always been prevalent, especially with the popularity of clothing like sailor suits during the early to mid-1900s. Still, athleisure as we know it today truly began developing during the 80s. 

The 80s were a decade that extensively explored fashion. Everyone experimented with their individual style during this transformative decade. As a result, athleisure found a home in the fashion world. 

From bodysuits to leg warmers to spandex sweatbands, gym clothes have become commonplace in street fashion. Though those fashion items were designed for sports and working out, fashionistas of the past managed to repurpose those garments and convert sportswear into casual wear. 

The athletic wear trend continued through the early 2000s with the rise of sweat suits. In fact, the common athleisure of that decade could be a determining factor of your social status. If you walked around sporting a matching Juicy Couture sweatsuit, you were considered the coolest of cool. 

As we already touched upon, the 2010s also shifted more towards athleisure and even saw record-breaking fashion sales across the board in 2016

Sneakers and yoga pants were the preferred style, although these days you might see them marketed as flared leggings. These cute but comfortable trends only continue to increase in popularity, which is why athleisure is so prevalent everywhere today. 

Athleisure is an accessible, comfortable yet fashionable way to express your individual sense of style.

How To Style Athleisure 

There are countless ways to style your favorite athletic wear staple pieces while staying true to your fashion sense. Just because you have leggings on does not mean your outfit will make you look like you’re heading to the gym. 

Combine the staples of your wardrobe with the staples of athletic wear to create chic, fashionable outfits. 

Combine Athleisure With Leather

Hopping on the athleisure trend does not mean you have to sacrifice your punk sensibilities. Throw on your leather jacket and combat boots with your most comfortable athletic garments. 

Grab your favorite pair of draped culottes with a matching sweatshirt and wear your beloved leather jacket over the sweatsuit to layer. In the cooler months, this outfit will keep you warm and cozy while allowing you to display your sense of style with your favorite leather accessories. 

A leather bag will look equally as chic alongside your athletic clothes. There are many avenues you can explore when it comes to combining leather and athleisure. 

Sports Bra With An Oversized Top

Oversized clothes are on trend right now and pair perfectly with the athleisure trend. 

A great way to dress sharp and trendy while incorporating athletic clothing into your wardrobe is to combine a cute sports bra top with an oversized button-down shirt or jacket. 

Pop the buttons of your shirt or jacket to expose your torso and let your sports bra be the star of the show. You will have that added layer of the long-sleeve for added warmth, comfort, and style while looking sporty and fashionable with a sports bra or athletic bralette on underneath. 

You will look sultry, playful, and trendy using this streetwear trick!

Wear Heels With Your Athleisure 

Athleisure doesn’t mean sacrificing the classy, elegant elements of your wardrobe. Do not put those heels into hibernation! Rock them with your favorite sweatsuit for some flirty flair. 

Sweatpants and heels are an unexpected but golden combination. You have the best of both worlds with this fashion pairing: feel sporty and casual with your sweats while elevating the look with fashion and class. 

Heels add so much style and sophistication to any outfit, and that is especially true when you combine them with athletic pieces. 

Bike Shorts for Summer

Dressing for summer can be a real challenge, especially if you’re not thrilled about the heat. Jean shorts often lead to chafing, long pants are too hot, and cozy shorts can be hard to find. Thankfully, bike shorts are a summer staple. 

Forget about the bike — a stylish pair of bike shorts will allow you to move comfortably and freely during your day-to-day activities and allow you to explore your fashion in other areas. For instance, pair some beautiful jewelry with your bike shorts or put on a cute blouse on top. 

Bike shorts let you explore your fashion while staying comfortable.

Full Athleisure Look

Sometimes, the best outfits are entirely built out of athleisure staples. 

Do you have a matching set of sweats that you want to wear out? Perhaps a cute legging and sports bra combo? You can rock those combinations with running shoes and even a baseball cap and still look stylish. 

There is nothing wrong with dressing sporty for the day, and when you wear athleisure from head to toe, you are guaranteed to look fashionable and on-trend while feeling extremely comfortable. 

Comfort and style are not exclusive — comfortable athleisure staples will keep you fresh and stylish no matter where you go.

Athleisure for the Win

The trends of the past few decades have done nothing but prove that athleisure is not going anywhere. As these athletic garments continue to rise in popularity, you now have many more opportunities to explore your sense of style while taking your comfort into account. 

Athletic wear is perfect for virtually all occasions. No matter what your destination is or what activities you plan on engaging with, an athletic flair it’s only going to elevate your outfit. Expand your style and dress comfortably today when you add athleisure staple pieces to your wardrobe.



The rise and fall of Juicy Couture | Business Insider

Sailor suits | FIDM Museum

Designer sneakers and $200 leggings: How luxury stepped into the rise of athleisure | Digiday