Whether it’s a terrible case of the Mondays or a day when you don’t even have time for a quick change after the gym, athleisure is a 21st-century girl’s best friend. The concept – which was largely popularized by Lululemon’s concept that gym clothes and around-town clothes don’t necessarily have to be two separate entities – has gone on to not only be an idea, but a whole new division of fashion. But don’t write athleisure off as fancified gym clothes — some of these pieces are totally office-appropriate, and some you might not even wear to the gym. The main idea behind anything “athleisure” is that it must be functional. These pieces are made to move and be comfortable without leaving you looking like you’re wearing a potato sack. If you’re looking to add a little more athleisure to your life, here are six of our favorite places to shop for the style.
1. Outdoor Voices: This brand is the first activewear label to be sold at J.Crew, and it’s easy to see why. The looks are clean, simple and totally appropriate for so many places beyond the gym. While the pieces definitely give off a minimalist vibe, they’re anything but boring. Leggings don’t come in black, but rather a perfectly heathered grey or weathered black. The crop tops would look just as good paired with a skirt as they do with sweatpants. These are the kind of basics you’ll have to stop yourself from wearing every day. Or not ;)
2. Kit and Ace: These pieces aren’t exactly what you’d wear to a yoga class, but if you’re in need of some quality pieces that’ll keep up with you all day long, this line should be your go-to. The brand is built around the use of a new fabric they call Qemir. Pronounced like “come here,” the innovative material feels almost identical to cashmere, but doesn’t pill and doesn’t need require hand washing (because, c’mon, who really has time for that?). Qemir isn’t simply goat hair, but rather a woven combination of cashmere and fabrics like elastic and viscose. In typical athleisure style, it’s meant to act more like performance wear than a luxury garment.
3. Oysho: Whether you want to sport Oysho’s pieces on a casual brunch date or at yoga class, the choice is yours. While these pieces look like they would be close to the Lululemon price point, they are actually surprisingly affordable. What’s the catch? This European label doesn’t currently ship to the US. However, if you have a friend living abroad it just might be worth getting them to send you a few of these pieces – they’re that good.
4. Lou and Grey: Teetering more toward the dressy side, this line (which falls under Ann Taylor Loft) isn’t necessarily gym-appropriate – at least not all the pieces. However, if you’re looking for some super comfy #girlboss clothes that’ll keep you comfortable all day long, there is an endless amount of stuff to choose from.
5. Beyond Yoga: On the opposite side of the spectrum, Beyond Yoga falls heavily on the athletic side. These pieces are perfect for a day that starts at the gym with no time to go home and change afterward. Stock up on quality leggings and tops that range from super sporty to “you wore that to the gym?” For a legging with a little something extra, check out the brand’s Crystal Mesh Long Leggings ($99), which have a sexy, mesh side panel.
6. Betabrand: Built around a unique concept, Betabrand isn’t one company creating seasonal designs but rather a community of customers and fans who co-design pieces and crowdfund them into existence in a matter of weeks. You’ll find a range of products offered here, but most of them are focused around functionality because (obvs) that’s what the people want! Our favorite pick from this site is the Bike to Work Skinny Jeans ($118), which are water repellent, reflective at the bottom inseam and outseam when you roll up your cuff and even have a special belt loop in the waistband that’s made to fit a U-lock.
Did we leave out your favorite athleisure brand? Share a link in the comments below.