Clothes for athletes that can be worn at your leisure

They’re no longer just for the gym: stretchy clothes are the new skinny jeans

From left, icebreaker, €100 from thegreatoutdoors.ie; tank top from Harvey Nichols, €71; and a top from Bershka, €14.99

From left, icebreaker, €100 from thegreatoutdoors.ie; tank top from Harvey Nichols, €71; and a top from Bershka, €14.99

 

At last year’s Women’s Innovation Summit, the chief executive of Nike made an announcement. He said, “Leggings are the new denim.”

Well he would, wouldn’t he? But we’re beginning to think he might be on to something. Just take a look outside. Lycra is not just in the gym; it’s everywhere. On the weekends in the leafy suburbs of Dublin, thousands of toned men and women move in herds from yoga to brunch without considering a costume change. It used to be embarrassing to be caught in your trackies; now stretchy pants are the new skinny jeans. It has never been cooler to look like you have just been working out.

So is everyone living in the gym? In reality many of the leggings wearers have no intention of working up a sweat. They’ll hop out of bed and into their sports-performance tights without a notion of a treadmill in their head.

I have one friend who regularly turns up to gatherings in full workout gear, despite not having seen the inside of a gym that day. Her reasoning? She likes the feel of her gym clothes. And who am I to question her?

‘Athleisure’ 

The truth is that workout gear is very enjoyable to wear. Some of it can be flattering, and it is made to be comfortable against the body. It’s no harm if it helps you feel closer to the possibility of exercising. Compare a stiff, tight pair of jeans for Sunday brunch to soft, pliable leggings and I know which I would choose.

A term has even been coined for this type of dressing: “athleisure”. Yes, we know the words “athletic” and “leisure” are in opposition, but if it makes fashion comfortable, I’m sold. And if you need more proof, Beyoncé is in on it, with her own athleisure line due out in Topshop in April.

So this month, whether you want to move those Christmas pudding pounds or not, athleisure is something you can enjoy. Start by investing in leggings. A word of warning: there are two types of leggings, those made for working out and those made to be worn under other clothes. There is a big difference. One means I will see your knickers; the other doesn’t. Trust me, there is nothing worse than sitting behind someone in a pilates class who has made this mistake.

Swap your cotton pair for something like these Stella Sport leggings from BT2 and thank me later. They cost more, but will do wonderful things to the shape of your bum, and no one will go home knowing the colour of your lingerie.

H&M does a nice range for men, but be careful to go with a thicker material for that extra bit of support where you need it. If full leggings feel a bit full-on, you can always wear shorts over the top, for example these Surge shorts from lululemon.com.

pants

The next most important element of athleisure wear is what to put on your feet. The range of runners available is phenomenal in terms of colour, price and design. I love this purple mesh pair from Penneys, and the ranges Lidl currently stocks are also really varied.

If you want to spend a little more (which I would recommend if you are actually going to run anywhere), this pair from Adidas are gorgeous.

Runners

This is Ireland, so you are going to need some cover. This Icebreaker from thegreatoutdoors.ie will do the trick for men and women come rain or shine.

As for what goes underneath, relax a bit and enjoy colours and prints. This blue tank from Harvey Nichols is beautifully bright and eye-catching, and this top from Bershka will flatter most skin tones.

tops

Women, if you are looking for something pretty to peep out from under your tank, New Look has a crop top for only €14.99, or the Panache Sports bra from Arnotts will give proper support if you should choose to actually engage in any exercise.

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