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What goes with what

What is athleisure?

What is athleisure?

In a nutshell

A ridiculous word for something surprisingly simple; sportswear that you can wear all the time, not just to the gym.

The backstory

Fashion journalists love a portmanteau (remember the ‘metrosexual’, to mean a man who used hair wax?) which is why they created a particularly ludicrous one to describe a new breed of hoodies, joggers and trainers that aren’t for exercise – athletic + leisure = athleisure. The original idea was that, since people had turned their workouts into Instagram-fodder, they needed clothes that looked good on camera. Brands provided, and they were so nice that everyone started wearing them to-and-from the gym, then to coffee with friends, and finally, well, everywhere.

How to wear it well


Athleisure outfit

Photographed: Fred Perry bomber jacket (£140); Paul Smith sweatshirt (£80); Hamilton & Hare joggers (£110); Clarks trainers (£109)

At heart, athleisure is easy. “It’s just wearing things that you probably already own, like sweatshirts and joggers,” says Thread stylist Millie Rich. But the difference between your DIY clothes and a trend comes down to fabric and fit. “It’s a casual look, but to make it feel a bit smarter – the kind of thing you can wear to the pub or a coffee shop – you need slim fits and slightly elevated styles.”

The best athleisure outfits are ones that at first don’t appear to be sportswear. “Avoid grey – it always looks like gym kit,” says Millie. “Instead go for darker trousers and brighter colours higher up. That way, you add a bit of refinement and make the outfit more vibrant.” The trainers are equally important. “These shouldn’t be trainers that you’d actually wear to the gym. A pair that would work with jeans or chinos will add a bit of polish.”