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Athleisure: The fashion trend that lets you party in your sweatshirt

It’s now officially okay to mix gym attire with everyday wear. But athleisure has its rules

HT48HRS_Special Updated: Apr 21, 2016 19:39 IST
Manali Shah

Monisha Jaising’s ready-to-wear collection Life’s Not a Breeze, features statement sweatshirts and hand-crafted jogger pants

It’s now officially okay to mix gym attire with everyday wear. But athleisure has its rules.

How many times have you longed to step out in your sweatshirts and track pants, but refrained only because it’s hardly acceptable? Well, as the Bob Dylan song goes, the times they are a-changin’. One the biggest fashion trends to have emerged recently is athleisure — where fashion meets functionality. A portmanteau of athletic and leisure, athleisure involves teaming active wear with well, regular clothes. Last month, Beyoncé launched her own athleisure line Ivy Park, joining the list of celebrities like Rihanna and Carrie Underwood.

Closer home, Monisha Jaising’s ready-to-wear collection last year, Life’s Not a Breeze, featured statement sweatshirts and hand-crafted jogger pants. Designer Kanika Goyal’s showcase at the recently concluded Lakmé Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2016, saw slogan T-shirts, shorts and shirt dresses designed in boxy style. Goyal describes her line as street chic and, although her target audience is the youth, she says her pieces have been picked up by 40-year-old ladies too. It’s not hard to see why. Athleisure does not demand much of you — you can add a singular piece already in your wardrobe to turn your workout gear around; it doesn’t call for cuts so tight you can barely breathe.

A look from Kanika Goyal’s showcase at Lakmé Fashion Week (Photo: Lakmé Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2016)

Athleisure is also about incorporating fabrics that imitate the qualities of gym wear. Designer Dhruv Kapoor has used scuba fabric in a collection, while Anand Bhushan’s Deuce collection at Amazon India Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2016 made use of neoprene (synthetic rubber). “The focus today is on ergonomically designed clothes. People have active lifestyles and want clothes that are easy to slip on,” Bhushan says. Anamika Khanna, who showcased at Amazon India Fashion Week too, had an interesting take on athleisure. She adapted the trend to ethnic wear.

Co-founder of, a personal styling platform, Archana Walavalkar says, “Personally, I am a big fan of the trend. It’s high on comfort. The idea is not to wear a whole tracksuit outside the gym, but to mix and match. It’s a great way to re-use active wear pieces — in which people invest a lot today. You can wear it to a date, when you’re travelling, and even to work.”

Dos and don’ts for women:

>> Use trendy add-ons with your sporty chic look. A well-crafted pair of tortoise-framed sunnies or a silk bomber will add a luxe edge.

>> Balance out sporty separates. If your style is more feminine, pair a well-fitted tennis skirt with a ruffled blouse. If you’re more glam, combine well-tailored track pants with pointy pumps and a white shirt.

Also read: Why are women wearing shirts the wrong way round?

>> Focus on tailoring. Fluid shapes and soft silhouettes ensure comfort.

>> Look for high performance fabrics like neoprene and spandex which are not only durable and comfortable but also have sweat-absorbing qualities.

>> Don’t overdo it. Keep the sporty element to just one key piece.

>> Don’t mistake athleisure for messy. Dirty, torn sneakers don’t look good even when you are working out alone.

>> Don’t take risks if you aren’t sure. Stick to basic staples like tees and sneakers and a neutral palette of whites, blacks, navy and greys.

Dos and don’ts for men:

A look from Kanika Goyal’s showcase at Lakmé Fashion Week (Photo: Lakmé Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2016)

>> Go for relaxed silhouettes and fluid tailoring like joggers or track pants.

>> Experiment with grey and greige tones. From charcoal to pewter and ash, all work well.

>> Ditch the stiff collared look and go for sporty crew necks that accentuate your neck, arms and shoulders.

>> Sneakers work for every occasion. Mix and match with everything from tailored trousers to boxy shirts and ripped jeans.

>> If you’re afraid to come off too casual, you can work the athleisure look with the help of accessories like caps,

snapbacks and backpacks.

>> Don’t go head-to-toe active wear or track suits. One separate is more than enough.

— Archana Walavalkar, co-founder,

Be occasion-ready

Anand Bhushan uses neoprene fabric in his pieces (Photo courtesy: FDCI)

Brunch: Summer is here and so are the breezy summer dresses. Pair a shift or a maxi dress with sneakers/moccasins. To beat the heat, and to add to the look, a baseball/ trucker Snapback cap will do the trick.

To the movies: Movies are all about relaxing. Since athleisure focuses on comfort fashion, pick an oversized shirt dress and pair it with strapped sandals.

Casual outings: Ankle-length skinny jeans with a statement top and sneakers is effortlessly chic. On the other hand, culottes with a crop top and statement sneakers will work too.

Also read: Hottest trends in swimwear and what you should get, according to body type

Party: A metallic off-shoulder top, shorts and stilettos is a good idea. Or, team up a short dress with a sleeveless long vest. Brogues/moccasins will complete the look. If you like playing with solid colours, opt for a minimal piece of jewellery.

Office: It’s chic to wear monotone colour blocks to work. Add a hint of pop colour to make it fun. Minimal geometric print on print suits make a statement. White sneakers with deeper coloured ensembles will change the whole vibe.

- Kanika Goyal, fashion designer