April 08, 2020

What Does Athleisure Mean?


You’ve seen athleisure. It’s moms wearing yoga pants, leggings, and a sports bra to the grocery store; your IT guy in his sweatshirt and joggers; maybe even your buddies sliding onto a stool at the brewpub while wearing slim-cut sweatpants. Maybe you’re wearing athleisure too. Have you layered a technical quarter-zip over a t-shirt when you head out to the dog park? You’re rocking the athleisure vibe. 

We’ve laid out some concrete examples for you, but now let’s do a deeper dive. How can you tell what’s really athleisure and what’s not? Is the gal or guy wearing a velour tracksuit and sequined sneakers really wearing athleisure? Are your workout clothes athleisure? What exactly does athleisure mean?

Three Key Elements

The common definition is that athleisure equals “athletic” plus “leisure.” Sounds simple, right? But there’s more to it than that simple equation. To really appreciate sportswear, you need to be able to identify what is true athleisure and what is just a parody. For truly functional athleisure gear, it’s important that you identify and appreciate three key elements, the elements of comfort, style and function.


Who doesn’t like comfort? But let’s understand what comfort means in the context of athleisure clothing. First-rate athleisure wear will be comfortable because it is designed to manage the circumstances you find yourself in. Working out? Athleisure should move sweat away from your body so you stay dry and comfortable. Taking a ride? Athleisure should ride comfortably next to your skin and move with you when you are that biker going between the high rises in New York. Athleisure is trending because it is everyday wear. No longer is there a need for uncomfortable denim and a blazer to look put together. 

Consider these three important qualities when you’re considering a piece of athleisure gear:

  • Fit. Athleisure clothing should fit well, flatter your figure and move with you. Well-designed pieces of athleisure are cut slim so they conform to you without constriction, utilizing multipanel designs for optimal range of motion. 
  • Fabric. Activewear fabrics should feel comfortable against your body. Look for fabric blends that have a soft feel, like cotton and polyester and offer excellent moisture management, like polyester blends. If you’re on the move, opt for fabrics with a touch of spandex, like The 4-Pocket Pants from Willy California. 
  • Pockets and fastenings. You won’t be comfortable if you have to cram your wallet, car keys and phone into one small pocket. Choose gear that will accommodate your necessities when you’re on the go. 


Comfort isn’t all that an athleisure outfit should provide. After all, you could wear your pajamas all day and be comfortable, but that wouldn’t make them athleisure. You want the athleisure gear that you own to look good whenever you wear it and wherever you go. How does quality athleisure clothing project a sense of style that will make you stand out from the crowd?

  • Tailored fit. You wear athleisure as part of your active lifestyle. It should be tailored with a clean-cut sensibility that affirms your outlook and style. 
  • Tasteful color palettes. With athleisure, garnish is out and tasteful is in. Athleisure should offer colors that work well when you’re mixing and matching outfits and looks. Steer clear of colors and design elements that scream “cheap luxury.” 
  • Timeless, practical designs. A well-cut piece of athleisure wear should look just as stylish, practical and comfortable next season as it does this season. Fit, function, and timeless design never go out of style and you should demand the same of your clothing. 


Comfort and style are important. But without performance, you don’t have true athleisure clothing. Think about those silk tracksuits splashed with oversized logos — they are all show and no go. Real athleisure isn’t a show dog — it needs to work. When you’re shopping for athleisure gear, consider these important characteristics:

  • Freedom of movement. It’s not enough to look “sporty.” Real athleisure is designed for movement, by using performance fabrics and true sports-friendly tailoring.  
  • Sporty-specific design. Design that emphasizes functional movement and lightweight breathable fabrics is a hallmark of athleisure. 
  • Performance fabrics. Athleisure gear will use fabrics that work when you’re working, with smart blends of synthetics and natural fibers. 

Selecting Athleisure That Works for You

If you’re ready to go all-in on the athleisure trend, or you’re looking to expand your wardrobe, you may not be sure where to start. The key to success is to first decide what you want your athleisure gear to do for you.

Do you want clothes that can take you to the gym and back again? Check out performance shorts, sweats or track pants, and add in some performance tees that wick moisture. 

Do you want a stylish look that can take you through a weekend, from a light morning hike to brunch and then to the kid’s soccer game? Look for chinos or active pants with some stretchy spandex fabric woven in and enough pockets to hold your essentials. Then, add a quarter-zip or zip-up hoodie. 

Or maybe you’re looking for some versatile items for casual wear Friday at the office. Pick up some Athletic Polos from Willy California and pair them with your favorite khakis or jeans. 

Remember, choose based on comfort, style and performance and you’ll make a smart choice. 

Comfort, Style, and Performance

Remember that these three qualities are your touchstone for real athleisure wear. If you’re looking for new directions for your wardrobe and your look, keep these three things in mind as you do your shopping. And if you’re already an athleisure fan but looking for new items to stock your closet, remember these and you’ll shop smarter. 

True athleisure is a timeless look that reflects your active lifestyle and desire for real quality. It’s much more than a simple fashion trend that will be shoved to the back of the closet and quickly forgotten about. Invest in high-quality athleisure products and you’ll always be ready to step out the door in comfortable and stylish clothes that are up to the task at hand.