athleisure style guide

Many men work out in whatever old, ratty clothes they no longer need in their wardrobes. Slogan tees from the late ‘00s, basketball shorts from their dorm days, side-cut tanks — these items might be attractive, but when the goal is to get good and sweaty, why does it matter what workout clothes look like?

Unfortunately, this tendency has caused much confusion as the trend for everyday athleisure has risen. Because athletic clothing can be casual, comfortable, and complimentary to all manner of body types, many men are beginning to wear athleisure pieces outside of the gym. However, to take advantage of this trend, you should not venture into the world in your shabby, sweat-stained shirts and shorts. You need a closet full of clean and flattering clothing that looks athletic in nature — and you need this guide to help you shop.

First: The What and When of Athleisure

Before we can advise you on the right athleisure pieces to buy, you likely need a clearer definition of the fashion called athleisure. Athleisure is not whatever clothing that you wear to your workouts; rather, athleisure is sportswear-inspired casual clothing. Athleisure draws upon the practicality, functionality, comfort, and style of the pieces once intended only for the gym, but athleisure pieces are meant to be worn at home and to casual events, like a boys’ night, a sports match, or a casual daytime date. Often, athleisure mimics the construction and materials of sportswear, and pieces are often mixed and matched with more typical weekend fashion essentials, like denim, T-shirts, and sportcoats.

Athleisure is undeniably on-trend, and it is only growing in popularity within men’s fashion circles. Still, you should be exceedingly careful with where and when you wear athleisure. If you have any inkling of an atmosphere beyond the most casual, you should skip your athleisure pieces and opt for an outfit that is better suited to the tone of the event. For example, business settings are always inappropriate for athleisure, as are formal events like weddings. If you are not certain whether athleisure is appropriate, you should err on the side of caution and save the athleisure elements of your outfit for another day.

Must-have Athleisure Pieces

There are a few foundational athleisure pieces you should always have in your closet to provide you with flexibility and comfort regardless of your outfit needs and wants. These must-have pieces include:

Bomber jackets. Bomber jackets are characterized by their gathered, ribbed waist and cuffs. When bomber jackets are made with sports materials like neoprene and bonded jersey, they look casual, feel comfortable and provide straightforward style to any outfit.

Joggers. Joggers are tapered pants with elastic at the waist and ankles. You can find cargo joggers with extra pockets to help you manage your everyday carry, or you can invest in joggers with a more streamlined silhouette to show off your gains in the gym.

Crew-neck sweaters. The simplest neckline, the crew neck was developed to provide greater comfort to athletes under padding and jerseys. Today, crew-neck sweaters are among the simplest and most chic pieces of athleisure, and you should consider collecting several in different colors and patterns.

Raglan tees. “Raglan” is a style of the shirt where the sleeves attach to the garment in a diagonal line from the armpit to the collar, which eliminates the need for a scratchy seam across the shoulder. Some raglan tees are color-blocked, which offers you a way to stylishly add pops of color to your athleisure wardrobe.

Tips for Effective Athleisure Outfits

Athleisure is not rocket science; any man can successfully integrate athleisure pieces into his everyday wardrobe with ease. Still, if you need a few quick tips for achieving effective athleisure looks, here are the athleisure rules you should follow:

  • Do: Mix athletic-looking pieces in with your regular wardrobe to achieve a balance between sporty and casual.
  • Don’t: Throw on clothing you would and do wear to the gym. Athleisure should always be clean and in good condition.
  • Do: Layer creatively to use different colors and textures.
  • Don’t: Overlook accessories, like athleisure bags and footwear.

Perhaps the most important rule — not just for athleisure but for fashion in general — is to stay true to yourself and have fun finding your own, personal style.

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