(Photo: Giphy)

Once upon a time in the early 2000s, designer denim was the status symbol to rule them all. If you’d told me then, when Seven for all Mankind jeans seemed life-changingly important to me, that one day consumers would come regard athletic gear with such importance, I don’t know what I would have told you—I wasn’t a very athletic kid.

Flash-forward more than 10 years and, when telling a friend about writing this piece, she casually mentioned that her office has a dedicated day of the week for wearing athleisure. The trend, nay, lifestyle, is inescapable. Even better—“athleisure”—the word will be added to the next edition of the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

And while, 5 pairs of leggings (who among us works out 7 days a week?!) would be more than enough, fitness fashion is so cutting-edge now it’s tempting to amass a bonafide wardrobe. Let’s explore the burgeoning options.

(Related: Tory Burch’s New Activewear Line Is Too Chic to Just Wear to the Gym)

1. Athleisure: 24/7

First and foremost—let’s establish the basics of the concept: “The athleisure lifestyle is no longer limited to the gym. As athleisure trends continue to be a strong force in the marketplace and on the runway, I am seeing more transitional, functional and fashionable key items taking activewear to a whole new level. This approach to dressing has become a new way of life and less of a trend. Who has time for a wardrobe that keeps forcing you to change?” notes Shaun Kearney, Fabletics Chief Creative Officer. Jamie Balder, founder of athleisure-mecca Bandier, echoed that athleisure beyond the gym sentiment: “Next season it’s all about the standout legging that you can take from the gym to street, detailed crops and new and improved fabrics to ensure premium quality in and out of the gym!”


2. Chic, On-The-Go Outerwear

athleisure outerwear

Fashion-forward athleisure line, Alala, is making gym-to-street as seamless a transition as can be thanks to items like Bomber Jackets and Capes. “Alala’s Signature Bomber Jacket’s takes inspiration from the streets but reimagines itself in technical fabrics for activewear. Our bomber is made of neoprene for a sporty look,” notes Denise Lee, founder and CEO at Alala. And, honestly, this bomber is as chic, if not more so, than many I’ve seen made for ‘normal’ wear. Another outerwear/layering option? Capes. “It’s such an easy layering piece to pull on after a workout,” Lee notes, “The shape is super interesting and fresh. I also love how the openness of the shape allows for the body to breathe and cool down after a workout.” Outerwear in technical fabrics is sensible if you think about athleisure as a lifestyle—afterall, who wants to layer their nice wool coat over sweaty spandex?

Get the look: 


3. Subtle Prints

subtly patterned leggings

“Prints have been popular for a while,” Lee notes (and it’s something any spin/yoga/barre/whatever-class-aficionado will have noticed), “but we’re seeing a shift away from multicolored crazy prints to a more sophisticated tonal palate—These styles are also much more flattering and easy to wear for multiple body types.” Instead of bright florals reminiscent of spring dresses, we’ve got darker, moodier, and painterly patterns—especially appropriate for the colder months. For Vie Active’s latest collection, Noa Reis went with “prints that read as solid yet on closer inspection are actually an artwork design—They elongate the leg and also help to conceal sweat patches.”

Get the look:


4. Back details, Cutouts, & Mesh

cutouts mesh etc

“It’s all about showing off your back—“the back side is the right side,” Lee says. After all, what better way to showcase the fruits of your labor? And with mesh cutouts on leggings, confusing-but-sexy contraption-like sports bras, and more, your back isn’t the only thing the latest athleisure items make it easy to flaunt.

Get the look:


5. Metallics

athleisure metallics

Just in time for the holidays, workout gear is getting an infusion of festivity! Silver leggings, for example, like the above from Fabletics, will offer just a hint of standout sheen in a dark spin class.

Get the look: