What's the Current Buzzword for Athleisure?

The term might evoke memories of 2015, but the athleisure trend is still going strong.

Imagine yourself back in 2015, gearing up to meet your friends. Instead of opting for your usual skinny jeans, you confidently choose the leggings you typically reserve for the gym, deeming them perfectly suitable for bottomless brunch. It's not about laziness; it's embracing athleisure. At the time, it was a bold fashion statement—one you were still adjusting to, given that anything resembling sweatpants used to be a major fashion faux pas.

Fast forward to today, and this ensemble has become routine. Yet, wearing workout attire for casual outings was just the beginning, prompting us to ponder: With so much of today's wardrobe falling under the "athleisure" umbrella, does the trend still retain its essence? What exactly does that term signify in today's fashion landscape? Well it kind of depends on who you ask.

When COVID emerged in early 2020 and CDC guidelines mandated staying at home, priorities shifted regarding attire. Making a fashion statement took a backseat, with comfort becoming paramount. Stiff, uncomfortable clothing was quickly abandoned. High-heel sales plummeted by 71%, replaced by more relaxed options like Crocs, UGGs, and sneakers. Even house slippers became a staple. Matching sweatsuits or tracksuits became a symbol of being well-put-together for the day. Not even the most stylish individuals, including editors and influencers, hesitated to swap blouses and "real" pants for graphic tees and leggings. Office attire vanished, replaced by athleisure—a transition not surprising to Megan Roup, celebrity trainer and founder of The Sculpt Society.

The surge in athleisure's popularity is especially relevant today, given the widespread shift to remote work and the heightened demand for comfortable yet stylish attire. Athleisure has become a common sight not only during errands or casual outings but even during virtual meetings via platforms like Zoom. However, it's important to recognize that the modern iteration of "athleisure" differs from its earlier counterpart. Initially, athleisure encompassed more than just wearing workout clothes outside the gym—it represented a lifestyle. This translated into combinations like pairing joggers with heels, sneakers with dresses, or designer leggings with a leather jacket or under a dress. The aim was to achieve a comfortable, slightly sporty look while still meeting societal expectations of dressing well. Models particularly embraced these active essentials, aligning with the trend of "off-duty style," which has since evolved in meaning.Top of Form

These days, the focus has shifted towards dressing for maximum comfort, with athleisure evolving beyond a passing trend into a lifestyle choice. It's now an integral part of our everyday attire, offering a sense of ease and adaptability in the face of current circumstances. Gone are the days of striving for runway-ready perfection, like struggling with intricate sports bras or donning impractical footwear. Wearing leggings as pants or opting for athleisure-inspired outfits no longer raises eyebrows—it's become the norm.


According to Lindsay Flores, fashion stylist and style director of Respin by Halle Berry, athleisure has transcended its origins as mere workout gear for fitness enthusiasts. It's now a broad fashion category spanning from high-end to fast fashion, embodying functionality, comfort, and style.

So, what does athleisure look like in today's context? It's about pairing yoga pants with an oversized sweatshirt, topping off the look with platform sneakers and layered jewelry. It's about mixing your exercise dress with chunky socks and loafers for a chic yet relaxed vibe. Your wardrobe likely boasts numerous oversized matching sets that effortlessly transition from loungewear to work attire or even a jog outside. Today's athleisure is all about comfort with a touch of refinement—sporty yet not overtly gym-bound. Much like its predecessor, this approach to dressing exudes intentionality and sophistication, while at the same time, still feels effortless.

In a relatively short span of time, athleisure has evolved from an often improvised look that involved mixing and matching pieces into a specific aesthetic that designers continue to reinterpret, and even incorporate into a single garment," says Freeman, whose star-studded clientele includes Keke Palmer, Lea Robinson, and Shannon Thornton. It can be achieved in more than one way, such as wearing a spliced coat, where the top half is a hoodie and the bottom half is a cotton gabardine trench. Athleisure can also look like a velour sweatsuit with a luxe handbag and intricately strapped sandals.

In essence, the world has embraced "athliesure"—an everyday aesthetic that prioritizes comfort and practicality while maintaining a sense of coolness and enjoyment. It's not just a passing trend but rather an element that has permeated various aspects of our lives, ensuring we're prepared for whatever challenges come our way while staying relaxed and poised.

Yet, as fashion is ever-evolving, so too is athleisure. What this fitness-inspired aesthetic will morph into next remains to be seen. For now, though, we'll continue to embrace our coordinated sets and yoga pants ( flared leggings for you Gen Z readers) and style them to suit our needs.

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