Athleisure … now official!

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Image: FashionStock.com/ Shutterstock.com

Not so long ago Karl Lagerfeld declared the sweat pant “a sign of defeat”. And the last time wearing leggings in public was acceptable was 1985. Then Lululemon was born and the world was introduced to $100 yoga pants.  Now, everybody is at it: sporting goods giants like Nike and Adidas; runway designers; High Street Retailers like Woolworths and Cotton On; and a huge swathe of independents.

If you have not heard of Athleisure (a combination of athletic and leisure), don’t worry!  In 2016, Athleisure will be made official and added to Merriam-Webster’s dictionaries.  The official definition will be, “casual clothing designed to be worn both for exercising and for general use.” Simply put, gym clothes you can wear to your workout, to brunch and beyond!  Yoga pants and workout tights are the ‘new jeans’, making it acceptable to wear your gym tights to lunch with some trainers and a leather biker jacket.  And if you are a Glamazon, you wear your yoga harem pants with heels for a sundowner.

The rise and rise of athleisure has been put down to a few social factors:  we [women] are living healthier, more active lifestyles; busy schedules see us stay in our workout clothes throughout the day, with new hi-tech fabrics keeping workout clothes dry and odour free; it is more acceptable to look casual, even at work; and we like fashion!  Basically athleisure allows us to wear comfy, fun clothes in public without offending anyone.  And yes even Karl Lagerfeld is in the athleisure business now!

Not convinced?  3 reasons why you should embrace athleisure.

1. Motivation

Apart from making us look fashionable and sporty, fashion-forward sportswear motivates us to keep fit and healthy.  A bold claim!

According to Morgan Stanley research, Athleisure forms part of a positive feedback loop.  If you live an active, healthy lifestyle, wearing well-designed, fashionable sportswear may motivate you to choose exercise over watching TV.  Clearly wearing fashionable sportswear alone won’t make you go for a 10km run after 6 months of being a couch potato!  But if you already have a routine it may motivate you to stay fitter and healthier.  Although there is not much scientific data to support this, researchers at Northwestern University found that clothing impacts our psychological state and levels of performance (enclothed cognition).   They believe that items of clothing have symbolic meaning and can affect behaviour accordingly.  For example, wearing 4 inch heels may make you feel and act more confidently; or wearing a leather jacket may make you a little rebellious.  So it follows, wearing fashionable sportswear may make you feel more sporty, encouraging you to exercise.  At the very least you will look good when breaking a sweat!

2. Convenience

Sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day!  Between the school run, grocery shopping, running errands, catching up with friends and work, squeezing in a yoga or workout session can feel impossible.  But what if you didn’t have to build in the ‘changing’ time pre- or post-workout.  That can save you valuable time and probably encourages you NOT to drop your class if your schedule gets tight. No more excuses!

3. Fashion, Function & Design

All of the labels available to us in SA: Nike, Adidas (with and without Stella), Lorna Jane, Country Road, Liquido, Asics have invested in form, function and fashion.  Their clothes are designed to fit into your workout schedule and your life outside of the gym.  Fabrics are sweat-wicking, quick drying and odour-free.  Leggings and tights pull you in in all the right places and are designed to provide full coverage for your workout.  If you choose well, patterns and colours will give the illusion of length, slimming down thighs.  And if you are a keen follower of fashion, you can team your workout clothes with your wider wardrobe: extending their use beyond the gym. The versatility of these clothes mean that you can wear them more often because they are not confined to one activity: they work from street to studio and from one workout to another.

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