Written by Amy Scalia
Athleisure, a marriage of athletic and leisure apparel, has been enjoying the style spotlight for several years. And like many relationships, they’ve gotten even more comfortable together with age.
Some fashion buzz in Forbes, Medium and MarketWatch is proving the athleisure fashion trend has morphed into more of a mainstream movement around comfort and versatility. In fact, they say “sport leisure” footwear is set to surpass dressier fashion shoes as the largest U.S. footwear category next year.
In a world that now favors sneakers over stilettos, cultivating comfort is more important than ever. “‘How can I make this softer?’ 'Could this be cozier?’ ‘Can this be more functional to make life easier?’ Questions like this constantly course through my mind,” says Kelsey Vitullo, a functional fashion fanatic, pioneer, researcher and the UpWest Head Designer. “But that’s what keeps the ideas flowing.”
Vitullo says the secret to comfort is the choice of fabric. “I’ve always loved working with performance fabrics,” she adds. “They’re wicking, antimicrobial, durable and water resistant. They keep you cool while being active or sleeping, and transformative features that offer versatility and convenience.”
The Legging, for example, is made with the perfect blend of materials to be flexible and breathable enough for a yoga session, in a range of fun and fashionable clothing to wear out and about, with an adjustable hem that extends over the foot like a sock to get extra cozy on the couch.
“People quickly realized all the perks of performance fabrics and that’s what really caused the transformation,” says personal stylist, Carrie Hagee. “It’s now less of a fashion trend and more of an expectation to look and feel both cute and comfortable in a variety of settings.”
While Athleisure began as a merge of sports and urban fashion that made workout gear stylish enough to wear outside the gym, it’s now all about being comfortable. "There's been a big shift in fashion. The worlds of style and comfort collided, and I think they're both forever changed,” says Hagee. “I am even seeing some older styles making a comeback but in a more stylish and sophisticated way, such as bomber jackets, sneakers, and joggers. Athleisure today combines activewear with ready-to-wear fashion so that you can be comfortable yet stylish.”
Vitullo says she loves the swing style of the Packable Swing Parka. This parka is perfect for adventure or any trip you are going on without taking up too much room. It is water resistant, has a hood and roomy pockets making it perfect for outdoor activities.
Hagee offers some tips for styling these pieces. “Sneakers -- not the big gym shoes, but the low-cut sneakers -- go with almost anything these days, and bomber jackets can replace a blazer,” she explains. “The key is to mix and match athleisure with fashion pieces for the perfect outfit.”
Her other ideas for styling these pieces include:
· Wear a ponte pant with a bomber jacket and sneakers
· Mix a graphic tee with a midi skirt and sandals or sneakers
· Wear athleisure leggings with a sweater tunic
· Mix joggers with a button-down and sneakers or booties
When dressing for more casual occasions, Hagee says athleticwear can easily incorporate into your outfit. “Layer on accessories to upscale your look,” she adds. “Sunglasses, hat, scarf, as well as jewelry are all appropriate. Don’t overdo it here, just go with what feels comfortable. Because that’s what it’s all about now: absolute comfort.”