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Is Athleisure an Acceptable Fashion Choice?

Photo by Stanislav Kondratiev via Unsplash

We all love wearing sweatpants. More generally, we love wearing comfortable, freeing clothes that move with us. Beyond the couch or the gym or the park, though, how far can we really take this type of clothing?

At first glance, athleisure is pretty much the best of both worlds. The style is by no means a new one, with roots all the way back in the late 1800s with the advent of the rubber sole and the tennis shoe. Today, athleisure is a bit of a catch-all term for clothing that is comfortable and sporty but still presentable. Its hallmarks include biker shorts, joggers, and leggings, although there’s no shortage of other pieces that fall under this category. The heart of athleisure lies in flexibility and convenience, promoting the idea that different aspects of life need not be entirely separate.

This style is notably pervasive in our current fashion ecosystem. Several celebrities have made athleisure looks part of their signature styles, while others have even created or co-created their own lines (cue Kate Hudson’s Fabletics or Beyoncé’s Ivy Park).

Active clothing brand lululemon athletica has seen formidable expansion since its launch in 1998, likely attributable in large part to the growing number of athleisure devotees. Even though many of the company’s leggings are priced in the $70-$130 range, lululemon products have become essential fixtures for many teenagers and yoga moms alike. 

Not everyone is crazy about athleisure’s growing presence, however. A move away from the formality of precisely tailored pants or crisp button-downs hints at a rather uncertain future for business clothing and workwear. Some athleisure advocates say that stretchy pants or sneakers might be fine for the office, but staunch supporters of more traditional fashion tend to balk at these suggestions. 

Athleisure might also be controversial for another reason that has nothing to do with fashion. Research from the University of Florida has shown that many clothes designed to minimize moisture cast off tiny plastic microfibers when they are washed, which ultimately end up in the ocean and contribute to marine pollution. 

What do you think? Is athleisure the best thing to happen to fashion, or does it undermine the purpose of fashion in itself?

Photo by Stanislav Kondratiev via Unsplash

  • Is athleisure an acceptable fashion choice?

    • never
    • maybe in some situations
    • it’s all I wear

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Written by Megan Pontin

Enthusiastic word-collector, avid pancake-consumer, and experienced hammock-lounger. Student at Cornell University.

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