Not because Merriam-Webster added it to their pages in 2016… (“Casual clothing designed to be worn both for exercising and for general use”)
Not because a stroll down Fifth Avenue in NYC will reveal sneaker styles as the main display in just about every store window…
Not because luxe brands like Coach and Louis Vuitton have announced they will continue to amplify their sport category…
Not because athletic brands like Nike and Adidas have added “contemporary street fashion” to their catalog of styles…
Not even because cosmetics giants are getting in on the action with waterproof makeup specifically to be worn during workouts…(when beauty brands jump on board it’s always a sign of a major shift to hang around).
No, athleisure is here to stay because we just want to be comfortable. And when we are comfortable we do more. Yield and turnout, from the workplace to mommy and me programs to the playground, is up. Times up for creepy dudes and stilettos alike. Women in the 60’s burned their bras, we’re burning tight wasitbands, unforgiving fabrics and constricting sleeves. Clothing is our friend when it helps us complete the day without torturing us. Shout out to Apple, Google, LogMe In company dresscodes…(you see where I’m going here).
The joke used to be that women bought yoga pants and never did yoga. SNL even did a “soft pant” parody wherein Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant boasted they were putting on their leggings to “set up shop on the couch”. But here’s the thing…when your clothing is comfy and your shoes are sporty, you may not go to the gym but you are more likely to take the stairs, use public transportation, or schlep the kids to the park after school.
The Goldberg’s patriarch, Murray, takes his pants off once he gets home and I GET THAT. When my former self crossed the threshold in skinny jeans and pointy 4 inch heels, I wanted to take my pants off too.
I was raised in an era where track pants (we called them sweat pants, ew) were “for quitters”. You dressed way up to go shopping downtown or take a trip on an airplane, and athletic shoes were strictly forbidden in the club’s dining room. Getting dressed was good manners but even the fashion industry has stopped with those nutty fantasies. The rules have had to be reshaped and more tardy female travellers are making their planes because they can actually sprint to the gate instead of teetering over the travertine.
It’s not all or nothing, but it is purpose driven dressing. Not convinced? Try adding a touch of athleticism to your usual clothing game and see how much more you can do. A sassy sneaker renders subway stairs doable. A bright colored micro belt bag creates free hands to carry groceries. Joggers need not be flannel – satin options are both flattering and dressy. And don’t even get me started on the merits of a sequinned hoodie.
I’m hoping we’ve all been around the track enough laps to comprehend that you don’t have to sacrifice style for simplicity. There’s always a place for heels and body-hugging gowns, or pencil skirts and pointy boots. Like a hot, fresh, donut, every once in a while they become a sweet indulgence.There also exist social directives that dictate dress codes (don’t do head to toe athleisure at a funeral or a wedding, please). But if there’s any hope for Gen Z, to get them up, outside and away from their ipads and laptops, to stop them from eating Tide Pods, to save them from their sedentary selves, we need to calm down and get comfy.