Today is the fourth post in a series I’m calling Spring Style Profiles, which talks through basic building blocks according to what style you’re going for. Like, what are building blocks for a casual on-the-go wardrobe? What about a dressed up but still casual style? Business casual? Through these, you should be able to add as many or as few of these types of pieces as you need, depending how often you dress in that style.
The first week we talked about a put-together comfy casual style, the second week we covered building blocks for a dressy casual style, and the third week we focused on business casual building blocks. Today is building blocks for spring athleisure outfits!
What is athleisure, anyway? Honestly, I’m not 100% sure what people think it is, and based on questions I get about athleisure, it doesn’t seem 100% clear for many others either. Like, is it an outfit that you can actually workout in? Or one made of workout clothes but mixed with some casual clothes that you wouldn’t work out in? I personally consider it the latter, because if it were the former then in my mind it’s just straight up athletic gear. Regardless of what it truly is, for the sake of today’s post I’m going with “athletic clothes mixed with casual clothes.” Sound good? Great!
Athleisure is the smallest part of my wardrobe since I tend to wear the put-together comfy casual style and dressy casual most often. I only wear atheisure about once a week–mayyyybe twice. In these Style Profiles I’ve been saying that if you only need to dress in a certain style a few times a week, make that section of your wardrobe smaller. If you dress in it more often, get more of each type of piece as well as move beyond the building blocks to add more variety. Having only a small section of athleisure has really highlighted for me which pieces are basic building blocks that will go the distance, and here they are!
SHOP THE ITEMS:
grey tee | twist tee | striped tee
denim jacket | utility jacket | blush cardigan | beige cardigan
leggings | joggers
cross-hem sweatshirt | funnel neck fleece | colorful hoodie | Nike hoodie
white slip-on sneakers | white sneakers | pink New Balance | black sneakers
To me, one of the biggest markers or foundations of athleisure is the bottoms. No jeans for me! If jeans were involved, I’d just consider it a put-together comfy casual look. While it’s possible to have a large variety of bottoms for athleisure, for building blocks I’m only going to talk about two:
Black leggings. These are the most basic, yet most used and most versatile bottoms for my athleisure style. I also think they are the simplest and most effortless to style. You can throw on any top, be it oversized or whatever, and still look great. Look for a really good pair that is comfortable, not see through, and doesn’t slide down. Having just one pair like that that might cost a little more is better than having 2-3 cheaper pairs that are just *alright.*
My absolute favorite pair are these Zella leggings. I only got them about 1.5 years ago, and they were pricier than I’d ever paid for leggings, but so, sooo worth it. They are actually made for working out, so they are thick and opaque and have some compression to hold things together and be flattering. But they are matte, so many people wear them as everyday leggings as well. I personally use them for both working out and for everyday casual looks. They have a high, wide waistband, which I thought I’d hate, but it’s actually way comfortable because the waistband lays flat against your stomach whereas thinner waistbands sometimes cut into my stomach. The high waistband also keeps your leggings up. I never pull these up to adjust them, whether running 3 miles in them or running errands! Find them HERE. I wear them in size M.
Joggers. These are another popular one for athleisure, but I seldom wear them out. I think it’s because I only own one pair, and they’re so comfy that I ended up using them as pajamas instead. I don’t want to wear them out of the house, get them dirty, and not be able to sleep in them. 😛 But, these are a really comfy option for athleisure bottoms!
If you’re building a bigger section of athleisure or want more variety, you could go for colored leggings or leggings with interesting designs. You could also add faux leather leggings for some edgier looks.
TIPS FOR STYLING LEGGINGS VS. JOGGERS
This is a bit off-tangent, so I’ll just bullet point them:
- Try mixing proportions or balancing out looser pieces with fitted pieces. Leggings are more fitted, so wearing a looser tops works well. Joggers tend to be looser, so wearing loose tops doesn’t look as great–aim for relaxed, yet fitted tops with joggers.
- Add a cropped completer pieces to joggers to provide more structure, such as a denim jacket. Some people wear moto jackets with joggers as well for athleisure. Since utility jackets and cardigans tend to be longer, I don’t pair them with joggers.
- Tie the denim jacket or a thinner long sleeve shirt around your waist–not just because you want to stop holding it, but as an actual style or accessory. One situation where this is important is if you are wearing joggers and threw on a denim jacket to provide structure. What if it gets hot and you need to take off that jacket? Often when I take it off and only my t-shirt remains, I look like I’m in my pajamas (because I am…😆), so throw that denim jacket around your waist to keep something on you that has a little harder texture. Or, if I’m wearing leggings and my tee isn’t a long enough tunic length, a denim jacket or something else tied around my waist does two things, 1) provides coverage around my rear if my tee it too short, and 2) adds a little more volume to the outfit if I want to balance out the fitted leggings or make the outfit more interesting overall.
SHOP LEGGINGS & JOGGERS
My basic tops for athleisure will always be t-shirts, mostly because they cross over from my put-together comfy casual pieces. I already had them in my closet and they create easy athleisure looks when paired with the rest of the athleisure building blocks below.
My go-to’s are my Madewell v-neck tees, striped tees, and twist front tees. As usual, if you want to move beyond basics and have more variety in your looks, add a few colorful tees or tees with graphic prints. But so far, just a few of these basic tees, in addition to some of the pullovers we’ll talk about further below, has been more than sufficient for only wearing athleisure 1-2 times per week.
The main ones I wear for athleisure overlap with my put-together comfy casual completer piece basics: denim jacket, oversized cardigans, and utility jacket. In colder months I also wear puffer vests, but since this is a spring style profile, I’m leaving those out.
Denim Jacket. It’s a very durable completer piece, but more importantly, it provides structure. With so many soft, relaxed, and lounge/pajama-esque pieces in athleisure, having structure is helpful like I mentioned with joggers.
Utility Jacket. This is another durable piece that can provide some structure. But, whereas denim jackets are usually shorter, utility jackets are longer and harder to pair with joggers. Utility jackets work better with leggings, IMO. I love that utility jackets have huge pockets which are very helpful when you’re on the go!
Oversized Cardigans. I stress the “oversized” part, meaning longer cardigans, because athleisure involves relaxed looks. Also, with legging involved, it’s nice to have that extra coverage! Cardigans are perfect for when you want something flexible and really easy to move around in. I only showed 2 neutral colored cardigans, but if you dress in this style most days of the week I’d recommend stocking up on cardigans in many colors.
You can throw any of these over the tops mentioned in the first section.
SHOP COMPLETER PIECES
CUTE SWEATSHIRTS AND FLEECE PULLOVERS
Alternatives to the t-shirt + completer piece combo are one of the types of pullovers listed below.
Cute Sweatshirts. You can wear athletic hoodies by Nike or Adidas, etc. hoodies with stripes or florals! Both work. When paired with leggings, I’d go for a bit more oversized rather than tightly fitted sweatshirts. If you want sweatshirts without designs, find some with a special detail. For example, I’ve been wearing and posting these thin cross-hem tunic sweatshirts (HERE) on Facebook and Instagram, and they’re basically a plain sweatshirt except have that cute cross-hem detail to make it a bit more distinct.
Fleece Pullovers. These come in a variety of cuts and styles, with some more sporty than others. I’ve also worn a very thin fuzzy tunic length sweater with leggings and sneakers.
Either of these types of pullovers are easy to wear with leggings for sporty, yet cute and relaxed outfits. Featured above from left to right are:
- Cross-Hem Thin Tunic Sweatshirt – Comes in 6 colors. I wear size S even while pregnant (it’s not maternity though). This goes on big time sale a lot, and this past weekend it was on sale for $15.99, so keep an eye on it. Follow my Instastories and Facebook Page for those in-the-moment sale alerts!
- Gibson Cozy Fleece Tunic – Comes in 9 colors. I wear size S.
- Old Navy Funnel Neck – This is super old and I don’t even know if it counts as athleisure or an athletic gear outfit because I’ve definitely run a few miles in this entire thing. Haha, oh well! Old Navy has a similar version of this on and off, but the closest one I can currently find is HERE.
SHOP CUTE SWEATSHIRTS
SHOP FLEECE & OTHER PULLOVERS
Lastly, SHOES! Sneakers are a must, but what kind of sneakers help you pull off a chic athleisure look? I wear both slip-on sneakers like THESE or sportier sneakers like my Nike Tanjuns, Nike Flexes, New Balances, or Sauconys. A lot of people also wear Adidas Superstars. Regardless of whether you go for slip-ons or traditional sneakers, I prefer ones with a sleek and streamline look with soles that aren’t too bulky.
As basic building blocks, I go for black or white. Then, if you want to spice up your athleisure, get a pair of colored sneakers that will go with most of the other colors in your athleisure wardrobe. My go-to neutral sneakers are below.
SIZING: I’m usually 8.5 to 9 in shoes, usually 8.5 in sneakers.
- Nike Tanjuns in black – size 9. THE comfiest sneakers I own because they have a memory foam footbed! I most often walk in these doing errands, but I also ran 2-3 miles several times a week in them for a few months and haven’t had to replace them yet. I wear size 9. They seemed a little short on me and I was worried with the thinner mesh type of upper that my toe might poke a hole in the 8.5s.
- Nike Flexes in white/gold – size 8.5. These are my newest addition, and so far I’m pretty obsessed with them. They lighten up every outfit for spring!
- Slip-on sneakers in white – size 8.5. If you’ve been reading PMT for any length of time, you’ve definitely seen these. I tend to wear them more in put-together comfy casual outfits, but *sometimes* I’ll wear them for athleisure outfits. I have these in black as well, but I usually wear my Nike Tanjuns instead. (See the black HERE.) I wear size 8.5. My exact pair is almost sold out, but there is a similar pair that is very inexpensive HERE. I have no idea about comfort or quality for those though.
I also own these Sauconys, which are a great cheaper option that come in tons of colors. However, I seldom wear them because I bought them before I had any concept of how to build a solid athleisure wardrobe and the two Nikes listed above usually work better in my outfits.
BUY MORE OR LESS OF EACH
Those are my general building blocks for athleisure. If you’ll wear this style most days of the week, I’d get more of each category, but if you’ll only need this style a couple days a week, buy less of each category to keep that section of your wardrobe smaller.
Also, I want to remind you that registration for the PMT Spring 2018 Challenge opened last Thursday, and it’s not too late to join! The challenge begins April 2nd, which is not until another 3 weeks from now, so you still have plenty of time to put together your capsule wardrobe for the challenge. The private Facebook group for the challenge is alive and kicking, so JOIN THE FUN NOW! 😀