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What Is Athleisure?

Athleisure wear is the fashion evolution of athletic wear and a modern remote working lifestyle, a combination of comfort, versatility, and professional look. How do you know the difference between athleisure wear, activewear and sportswear? It's all in the purpose and the versatility.

When shopping for clothes, we are also planning our lifestyle. The style and versatility of every outfit determine what you can do and how often you'll need to change clothes in a busy schedule. This forms the roots of the athleisure fashion trend. People today need clothing that can meet all your daily goals without a wardrobe change. Whether you're working from home, running errands, or fitting a few minutes of exercise between work calls, you need clothes that are stylish, business-casual, flexible, and reasonably breezy.

Athleisure clothing provides that stylish versatility for a modern lifestyle without daily wardrobe changes.

What Defines the Athleisure Style?

Athleisure apparel is best defined as workout-friendly clothes with a refined business-casual look. Athleisure clothing is the style of a remote executive lifestyle, someone who can exercise for ten minutes between meetings and appear sharp on their next webcam conference. Athleisure is designer tracksuits meets the Matrix of workout gear. You can leave the house in Athleisure or attend a meeting without looking like you dressed for a jog, and most athleisure items of clothing mix fashionably with either sportswear or business casual wardrobes.

Athleisure has become popular because the style is designed to fit the needs of the modern remote/hybrid professional.

The colors of athleisure apparel tend toward a darker palette with vivid splashes of color, similar to business casual ensembles. Athleisure favors a tight or tailored fit. The athleisure trend features flowing jackets and shirts to provide a breathable yet modest transition from exercising to indoor or meeting environments.

Executive Lifestyle Goes Remote with Athleisure Style

Before the pandemic, someone living the Executive Lifestyle could fit a quick workout and meditation session into their lunch break, hit the gym after work with their gym clothes, and organize their calendar before bed. Take that to the new remote professional landscape and the Executive Lifestyle is someone who can fit workouts, chores, family interactions, and personal relaxation into an at-home work week. This may involve conferences and meetings with phone calls and web cam appearances throughout a multi-goal day.

To avoid constantly changing clothes as you navigate your schedule, you need an outfit that is flatteringly professional—and can do everything else. You need an outfit you can catch a few jumping jacks or weight lifts in, cook a meal, appear sharp in video conferences, and run errands in. As travel and spaces reopen, the athleisure look has come with us as a practical and flattering alternative to more restrictive (and less breathable) clothing.

The Evolution of Athleisure: What is the Difference Between Athleisure and Activewear?

When you are shopping for practical, workout-friendly clothing, you'll see listings for both athleisure and activewear. What's the difference?

Sportswear is for Sports

These two styles are not the same in the fashion industry, but they do come from similar roots. It starts with the split between business clothes and sportswear. Sportswear is clothing designed to be worn outdoors with hard play and rough use. It is often made of mesh artificial fabrics that wick away moisture and dry quickly. Sportswear includes basketball shorts, muscle shirts and tank tops, and most types of yoga pants. Business clothes tend to be made of more delicate and pressed materials tailored to specific shapes and restrictive qualities.

Activewear: Loungewear + Sportswear = Comfy Sportswear

Activewear is defined as casual-wear, to be worn around the house, but is specifically workout friendly. Activewear is designed for sports and exercise, but combines casual loungewear features. The spectrum from pajamas to jogger sets lies in the range of activewear. Consider activewear to be sportswear that is comfortable to hang out or sleep in.

Activewear is the most popular clothing worn to the gym or - more often - changed into and out of at the gym. Activewear can be comfy indoors but is usually not considered appropriate to wear to work or restaurants that don't serve pancakes.

Athleisure: Business Casual + Sportswear = Flexible Businessware

Athleisure takes the idea of comfortable indoor sportswear to a new level by combining it with business-casual styles. Business casual favors darker colors and flattering modest cuts. There are certain lines and styles that look best at work and can be recreated using breathable, wrinkle-free synthetic materials. The continued development of high-quality athletic fabrics has made it possible to create seamless stretch pants that look like business-casual trousers and airy, breathable shirts that look sharp under a quickly donned blazer

Athleisure takes those sharp, clean lines and serious color palettes from business casual and makes them out of modern sportswear materials. Two layers of fabric can provide the structure and shape of traditional business clothes while also being flexible and breathable enough for a quick workout and other physical tasks. Athleisure pieces also tend to be stain resistant, dry quickly after a spill, and survive in the washing machine. You get the best of both worlds; business-casual and sportswear design.

Benefits of Athleisure

  • Versatile and stylish
  • No clothing changes during a diverse schedule
  • Resistant to stains and dry quickly
  • Soft and Comfortable
  • Form-fitting for efficient workouts
  • Favored by stars and executives
  • In your favorite work outfit colors
  • Blends and mixes with your existing work/workout wardrobes

Athleisure was designed with the needs of modern professionals in mind. Its benefits, therefore, reflect many pain-points we've had with traditional business casual and sportswear clothing in the past. Business clothing tends to be restrictive, stains are a disaster, and machine washing is not guaranteed. Sportswear tends to be too casual - or too revealing - to wear to work. Athleisure combines the best of both worlds.

Athleisure is stylish and cut to be flattering in the gym or office. The modern synthetic fabrics resist stains and are durably machine-washable. The outfits look like businesswear but are comfortable to sit, stand, and move in. The materials feel flexible and breathable, but wouldn't look out of place in an office, store, or restaurant. In fact, most athleisure styles are designed to add a modern flair to your wardrobe enhancing your look with sleek cuts and wrinkle-free fabrics.

Building a Wardrobe of Athleisure

When you're building a wardrobe with athleisure, the best thing is that it adds style while combining perfectly with your existing wardrobe. Whether you're dressing for work or the gym (or both), you can build an all-day outfit from athleisure items or combine athleisure with other pieces for a comfortable combination outfit.

Unlike activewear, athleisure looks good at the store, at the gym, or in a business meeting. Athleisure is made from performance fabric in modern styles. The smooth lines and sharp designs are intended to make you look and feel your best at every time of day.

Athleisure Shirts

  • Breathable
  • Flexible
  • Skin-Tight
  • Dark and formal colors

Athleisure Pants

  • Business-casual cut
  • Slim straight
  • Tapered
  • Jogger
  • Athletic, breathable material
  • 100% opaque
  • Smooth, matte texture

Athleisure Jackets

  • Breathable Engineered blazer

Athleisure Shoes

  • Understated black mesh
  • Loafer-sneakers
  • Dark canvas shoes
  • Flexible half-boots
  • Athletic fashion sandals
  • Designer sneakers

Can You Lounge in Athleisure?

Athleisure is designed to be comfortable at home. Unlike the business-casual clothing it appears to be, an athleisure outfit is flexible and breathable. You could kick back and take a nap in athleisure, but it's not quite as relaxed as activewear or loungewear which tend toward looser and less smooth-textured styles.

If you want to spend all day in bubble baths and pillow forts (a great weekend for anyone), then pull out your favorite sweatshirt or men's pajamas or women’s pajamas. But if you want an outfit you can exercise, video-chat with a client, and then catch a nap without a change of clothes, then athleisure is the perfect ensemble.

How Good is Athleisure for Workouts?

True to the name, athleisure is primarily designed for athletic activity - but with style and versatility in mind. An athleisure outfit is made from breathable, synthetic materials that form to the body and usually resist falling off in strenuous activity. Athleisure tends toward modest designs ranging from fully-covered to open and breathable.

Athleisure pants provide structure and shape, but move with you and don't go restrictive or transparent when you're trying a new yoga pose. Athleisure shirts are designed to look good while also helping you wick away moisture and heat - and to be relatively comfortable in air conditioning once you've cooled off. The right athleisure outfit can be worn to the gym and complete a workout without adjustment, then still look sharp on a video call 15 minutes later.

Athleisure for Video Conferences and Virtual Meetings

Video meetings have played a major role in the rise of athleisure as a widespread trend. Transitioning to remote work and web-cam based meetings meant suddenly everyone was thinking about how sharp they looked on camera. Juggling a busy at-home working life and looking good on camera is surprisingly hard to do, so you need a wardrobe that works with you.

Athleisure's popularity grew from its practical and stylish solution to the conferencing-from-home wardrobe challenge. How can you remain comfortable, presentable, and switch between tasks all day? The answer is modern athletic fabrics combined with colors and cuts from business casual design. Athleisure pants are comfortable to sit in and look stylish when you move around your office on camera. Athleisure tops stay in place and provide a crisp color on the webcam - even if you were exercising or cooking only a few moments previous.

Find Your Athleisure Style at Tommy John

Everyone has their own personal business casual style. Rebuild your wardrobe with women's loungewear or men's loungewear and athleisure pieces from Tommy John to rediscover comfort and versatility in the modern environment.  If you’re also wondering “what is the purpose of loungewear?”, we’ve got you covered! You'll be comfortable and in style with our essential loungewear for self care days or active days no matter what your hectic daily schedule may hold.