Blame the designer athleisure boom or the annual glut of New Year’s resolutions to hit the gym on the regular, but this month you can expect to see even more women than usual wearing workout gear. Be it on the school run, in the line for morning coffee, over a business lunch, or even drinks, performance wear as everyday wear for women of all ages is becoming de rigueur. “It seems that it is now totally acceptable to wear your outfit all day, every day,” says studio owner Simone De La Rue. “Even if you haven’t worked out.”
“I think wearing your athleticwear all day is more than acceptable,” says SoulCycle co-founder Julie Rice, whose devotees are notorious for showing up to class decked out head to toe in the studio’s branded leggings, sports bras, tanks, and bandanas. “It’s a trend. People of all ages are wearing their workoutwear all day now, whether it’s leggings with a longer coat and a scarf, or someone younger wearing a cropped T-shirt with a denim jacket and some high-heeled boots. People shop for their athleticwear thinking, How can I wear this from the studio to the street?”
But what may pass for sporty chic on a Victoria’s Secret model sipping a post-workout shake at Equinox might not have quite the same charm on a professional who squeezed in a Spin class before a meeting . . . with little time for an outfit change. “You do not see people in Paris walking around in their gym clothes—it’s not seen as appropriate,” points out Live The Process designer Robyn Berkley, who also works as a brand consultant for lines such as The Elder Statesman and Sophia Webster. In a color palette of nudes, taupes, heather grays, dark blues, and charcoals, and muted patterns, the label’s signature pieces include a high-waisted pant and corset bra that are designed to be seamlessly integrated into your wardrobe. “I didn’t want people to look at me knowing I was in my gym clothes,” says Berkley.
“Until about a year ago, fitness did not have trends. It used to be all black; now it’s seasonal,” says Amanda Freeman, owner of the cult SLT studio. “Mesh panels were big, now not so much . . . now it’s bigger placement patterns and color-blocking.” SweatStyle will deliver a curated selection of the latest premium activewear pieces to you every three months.
2. Invest in pieces that mix function and fashion.
“First and foremost, it’s got to be clothing made using performance fabrics so it’s not see-through when you bend forward, you can’t see cellulite through it, and you’re not going to get a muffin top,” says Australia-based Vie Active designer Noa Ries. “The key is that the workout apparel is made from performance fabric, so it’s quick drying, it’s odor resistant, it’s moisture wicking.” Jessica Alba and Alessandra Ambrosio are fans of the brand’s compression tights.
3. Accessorize appropriately.
“It only takes one piece to take your athleisure look from gym to street,” says Los Angeles–based stylist Rob Zangardi, who works with Jennifer Lopez and Gwen Stefani. “A pair of mirrored sunglasses, a structured leather jacket, a shirt tied around the waist . . . the key is that the piece has a sleek, sporty feel itself. Don’t add a vintage fringed jacket to your Lululemon Wunder Unders or cat-eye sunnies to your zip-up Nike jacket.”
4. Dress for the occasion.
“We would never turn away anyone unless they were wearing something completely inappropriate like just a sports bra and shorts,” says Josh Kougl, general manager of power lunch spot Culina located within the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. Derek Lam 10c + Athleta’s Leather Lane Tank and Uptown satin duster coat thrown on over leggings would pass muster.
5. When in doubt, stick to neutrals.
“I think if you’re in your 50s and 60s, it’s a bit of a risk to put yourself out there and wear something very vibrant that makes a statement,” says Onzie designer Kimberly Swarth. “You can start with a geometric print or stick to black, white, and gray and then move into brighter colors as you get more comfortable with it.” The high-rise Coccodrillo legging is understated yet eye-catching.