En español | For years there was a solid line between work, weekend, sports and hanging-out-at-home clothes. That line got a lot blurrier when jeans and a blazer became a mainstream work uniform and leggings jumped on the jeans rack. Things got even fuzzier this year when joggers, tracksuits and hoodies became the new normal and our usual clothes began to feel kind of stuffy and retro. Confused about what to wear and how? Relax. Here are eight ways to make the athleisure trend work for your real life.
- 1 of
PHOTO BY: Old Navy (2); Kohl's
1. Swap black tailored pants for black joggers and cargos
You'll get the same goes-with-anything practicality, a body-friendly elastic waistband and a little fashion bump to your style. Don't let the names throw you — sometimes they're called joggers, cargos, utility or some hybrid label. Just choose styles — like the Old Navy Mid-Rise Tapered-Leg Jogger Pants for Women in BlackJack ($22, oldnavy.gap.com), Old Navy High-Waisted StretchTech Utility Plus-Size Ankle Pants in BlackJack ($43, oldnavy.gap.com) or Sonoma Goods For Life Travel Jogger Pants ($40, kohls.com) — with tapered legs, slimming diagonal on-seam pockets and a neat, flat fit at the belly and derriere. Wear them with polished toppings like a tailored blazer or a V-neck sweater and laid-back footwear like loafers or sneakers.
- 2 of
PHOTO BY: Athleta; Kohl's; Old Navy
2. Trade leggings for flared yoga pants
They offer the same comfort and light compression but don't look like you're wearing tights. Styles such as the Athleta Studio Flare Pant ($89, athleta.gap.com), Gaiam Zen Bootcut Yoga Pants ($50, kohls.com) or Old Navy High-Waisted Slim Boot-Cut Yoga Pants for Women ($25, oldnavy.gap.com) fit smooth and firm across the belly and thighs before gracefully flaring to a bootcut bottom. The flare makes tucking booties or high-top sneakers beneath the hem easy (and you know we can't do that with leggings!). For the most flattering look, pair body-hugging stretch pants with longer tops that have a slouchy or relaxed shape.
- 3 of
PHOTO BY: Target; H&M; Gap
3. Choose sweatshirts that look like sweaters
We love 24/7 coziness, but no need to ditch the fleece for work or evenings out. While classic crews and hoodies are great (see tip No. 4), sweatshirts with a fashion twist — like the GapFit Mockneck Jacquard Pullover Sweatshirt in Marled Black ($80, gap.com), Stars Above Women's Tortoise Print Beautifully Soft Fleece Lounge Tunic Sweatshirt ($25, target.com) or H&M Collared Sweatshirt ($30, hm.com/en_us) — offer dressier options. Details like scallop trim and ruffles, animal prints, longer tunic lengths, standout collars and mock or funnel necks turn sporty fabric dressier. Simply add one of these to any tailored pant or skirt for instant attitude.
- 4 of
PHOTO BY: Gap; Target (2); Walmart
4. Wear a hoodie with regular clothes
The sporty hooded sweatshirt has become a fashion item that's equally attractive over a dress, jeans or pajama bottoms. But choosing the right fabric, fit and proportion is the secret to pulling it off. Fitted zip-front hoodies in thinner fabrics — like the Universal Thread Women's Lightweight Zip-Up Hoodie ($15, target.com) or Athletic Works Women's Dri More Core Active Full Zip Hoodie ($15, walmart.com) — layer more easily under any blazer or leather moto jacket; the visible hood is what makes style points. A fitted hoodie is also a good partner for bottoms with volume, such as pleated or A-line midi skirts or wide-leg pants. Roomier pullover hoodies — like the Ava & Viv Women's Plus Size Leisure Hooded Sweatshirt ($28, target.com) or Gap Tweed Pullover Hoodie in Heather Grey ($60, gap.com) — work better with narrow tailored ankle pants or fitted jeans.
- 5 of
PHOTO BY: Gap; Uniqlo; Zappos
5. Sport an athleisure dress
Yes, these do exist! Not everyone's a pant person (or at least not all the time). Some of us are looking for a comfy solution that pairs with opaque tights and booties for work or Uggs at home. Sweatshirt dresses — like the Burton Oak Hoodie Dress ($90, zappos.com), Uniqlo Women Sweat Hoodie Long-Sleeve Dress ($30, uniqlo.com) or Gap Fleece Crewneck T-Shirt Dress ($60, gap.com) — are an alternative to sweatpants. You can even wear them over your old black cotton leggings or skinny jeans for extra warmth.
- 6 of
PHOTO BY: Old Navy; Target
6. Try long-sleeve workout tops
Nothing wrong with classic cotton ones, but tops designed for yoga, Pilates, barre, dance and running — like the Old Navy Breathe ON Long-Sleeve Performance Top for Women ($25, oldnavy.gap.com) or the All in Motion Women's Long Sleeve Essential T-Shirt ($14, target.com) and All In Motion Women's Plus-Size Long Sleeve Essential T-Shirt ($14, target.com) — make smart updates. The stretchy fabrics, longer hems and refined body-skimming fit are flattering to mature bodies (just add a sports bra beneath for extra lift). The thumbholes you may see in some tops gives arms an elegant, extended line. And as a bonus: count on the high-tech moisture-wicking fabrics to come in handy when winter indoor heating kicks in.
- 7 of
PHOTO BY: Target (2); H&M
7. Opt for sneakers with souped-up soles
Sneakers really kicked off the whole athleisure trend. We love the way they coddle our feet (and bunions) and make us feel energetic and cool. Whether you opt for lightweight mesh with chunky soles like the H&M Fully-Fashioned Sneakers ($30, hm.com/en_us), faux leather croc like the A New Day Women's Bibi Sneakers ($30, target.com) or a sculpted slip-on like the S Sport by Skechers Kendal Slip-On Performance Athletic Shoes ($40, target.com), you can't go wrong with a pair in black since they're as versatile as any basic black flat, heel or bootie. If sneakers are a daily “do,” have multiple pairs for different occasions. You can't wear the same sneakers for a weekend hike and expect them to look great with a dress or pantsuit.
- 8 of
PHOTO BY: LWA/Stone/Getty Images
8. Mix don't match
Remember those matching Juicy Couture sweatsuits that once were the rage? This is not the same thing. The only way to make activewear really work (outside the gym) if you're 50-plus is to pair selective sporty pieces in sophisticated neutral colors (not neons or pastels) with your regular clothes. Any silk blouse, blazer, leather jacket or sweater gets a boost from cargos, yoga pants or joggers. Any dress, pant or skirt gets a refresh from a hoodie or sweatshirt. A sweatshirt dress can reboot your boots and booties, as well as hobo and cross body bags. Or just add sneakers and a performance tee to a pantsuit.
Last word: Know that athleisure is not going to work for every situation. For a dressy dinner out, festive occasion, conducting serious business or any time you want to look really polished and pulled together, forget about it. But you knew that, right?