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How to Wear Athleisure

April 08, 2020

You don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style — That's the message of athleisure. While slouching around in baggy and comfortable clothing has always been easy, the growth of sporty fashion-forward men’s clothiers like Willy California has injected a sophisticated and fashionable vibe into men’s weekend and apres-work wardrobes. No doubt about it, the athleisure trend is growing into a dominant force in the world of fashion. After all, who can argue with looking good and feeling good?

Athleisure is Nothing New

You may not realize that athleisure has been around for a long time in the fashion industry. It’s human nature to take something built for one purpose and use it for something else - and that’s where the roots of activewear originate. Rubber-soled shoes for tennis became comfortable shoes for walking and lounging. Short-sleeved collared shirts built for polo players became the uniform for suburban dads at 1950s back-yard barbecues. Sweatshirts built for hard workouts in the gym became comfortable tops for strolling around campus. All of these examples have led to today’s explosion of athleisure clothing.

Athleisure is Trending

We’ve come a long way from the utilitarian designs and fabrics our dads wore. Athleisure means much more now than just soaking up sweat when you’re at the gym or on the court. Modern fabrics and sports-inspired designs have led to new fashion staples that combine the best of sportswear and fashion trends. Athleisure today is clothing that’s practical, functional and stylish.  

The Right Time for Athleisure

Athleisure outfits aren't for everywhere. Many offices still have formal dress codes, and social occasions like a wedding still call for a well-tailored suit. But on weekends and when the workday is done it’s time to slip into something more casual, comfortable and versatile. Going on a date, stepping out with boys, going to a game, or even just running your weekend errands — these are the times when athleisure is in its element.  

Building Your Athleisure Wardrobe

Athleisure pieces are versatile and work great in combination with other athleisure wear articles, or in combination with conventional everyday wear clothing. To give yourself the most options, build a staple wardrobe of quality athleisure wear items you can pull out of your closet.  

Bottoms

Start at the bottom with a selection of versatile pants and shorts. Athleisure bottoms fill the niche between jeans and more formal khakis and suit pants. 

  • Sweatpants, leggings and joggers. Sweats aren’t sloppy anymore! You can rock today’s slim-cut sweatpants without looking like you live in your mom’s basement. Look for sweats with a couple of convenient pockets made from soft poly fleece fabrics. If you want a slimmer look, pick up some flattering track pants, perfect for your morning run or morning walk with your four-legged buddy. 
  • Stretch pants. Think classic chinos but with a touch of spandex for extra comfort. They’re at home almost anywhere, from a casual office to a kid’s soccer game.
  • Shorts. Banish the baggy cargo shorts to Goodwill and opt for lightweight and well-fitting sports shorts. You’ll find styles that run the gamut of activities, from the gym to the golf course. Poly and spandex blends are cool and supple. Be sure to look for pockets if you’re planning on wearing them out and about. 

Match your pants with smart-looking athletic shoes like running shoes or light hikers. Pick a pair that match the occasion and activity. Well-cut sweatpants or track pants are a great choice when you’re running errands on a weekend morning or heading to the gym. Slip into some comfortable stretchy chinos when you’re looking to cut a more fashionable figure at the club or pub. 

Tops

Tops are one of the building blocks of your athleisure wardrobe. They’re versatile and they mix and match well.  

  • Technical tees. Short sleeve or long sleeve crew neck, today’s athleisure tees boast comfortable fabrics that wick sweat away and move with your body. Choose cotton/poly blends for a versatile shirt that will be just as home with a pair of jeans as it is with shorts at the gym.  
  • Polo shirts. The polo shirt, developed in the 1930s, was one of the original pieces of athleisure. Improve your wardrobe by investing in high-quality, slim-cut cotton polos like the Willy California Athletic Polos. Pair them with some casual wear stretch pants and you’ll look good both out to brunch, out at night, and at the 19th hole. 

Wear technical tees as a base layer underneath a flannel shirt or a soft V-neck sweater on a cool day. Or combine them with a quarter-zip athleisure top when you’re heading out for a hike in the woods or a hike to the local coffee shop. And of course, you can wear a short or long sleeve tee with your favorite jeans, chinos or sweatpants. 

Outerwear

It’s not always warm and sunny outside. Sometimes you need an extra layer on top. 

  • Zip-up hoodies. Invest in a quality zip-up and you’ll find yourself wearing it everywhere, from trips to the mailbox to a long-haul flight. Look for comfortable natural and synthetic blends and choose a neutral color that mixes and matches with the rest of your wardrobe.  
  • Quarter-zip pullovers. Zippers have been on sweaters for some time, but the development of warm and light-weight synthetic fabrics has given us the modern quarter-zip. They’re ideal for the morning group run or a run to the market. Layer them over cotton or technical tees for a look that’s flattering and comfortable. 

Pick the Right Fabrics

One of the things separating quality athleisure workout clothes from inferior goods are the fabrics employed. Athleisure of lower quality will often rely on staple synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester. There’s nothing wrong with these pioneering fabrics, but companies like Willy California that produce high-quality athleisure gym clothes take a lot of care in their fabric selections and choose from the best in natural and synthetic fabrics.  

Here are a few fabrics and fabric combinations to keep an eye out for: 

  • Cotton/poly blends. Blending cotton with polyester creates a fabric that combines the best of both worlds. This blend is popular for t-shirts — the cotton provides a soft feel, while the polyester wicks away moisture. Look for cotton/poly blends that are roughly two to one cotton to poly. Blends that mix in a little spandex add some stretchability for extra comfort.
  • Polyester and spandex. This blend is a go-to for casual athleisure pants. Look for a high percentage of polyester with just a touch of spandex — somewhere around 85% polyester to 15% spandex. The result is a sharp-looking fabric with plenty of freedom of movement.   
  • Tencel blends. Also known as Lyocell, Tencel is an earth-friendly fabric made from sustainably harvested wood pulp. Blended with other fabrics, like the 80% polyester fleece/20% Tencel blend used in the Willy California 501 Zip-Up Hoodie, it creates a wrinkle-resistant and silky fabric. 
  • Bamboo blends. You’ll find an increasing number of fabric blends that incorporate bamboo. Bamboo is highly sustainable, odor-resistant and sweat absorbent. Look for bamboo blended with combinations of nylon, spandex and other synthetics. 
  • Wool. Wool isn’t as old-fashioned as you think. High-quality merino wool is soft, light-weight and odor-resistant. Consider wool when you’re buying athletic socks, baselayers and more. 

Choose Athleisure for Clothes That Match Your Lifestyle 

With the variety of athleisure offerings available to you, looking good and staying comfortable has never been easier. Take stock of your wardrobe and then start adding in some basic pieces to expand your look. Incorporate these new additions into your daily routine and pretty soon you’ll step out the door with a new look and a new attitude.