Long gone are the days when wearing sweats and plain tees was the casual wear du jour. Those off-duty garments were replaced many moons ago by the advent of athleisure — loosely defined as women’s fitness wear that’s cool enough to wear while working out as while running errands or hanging out doing nothing.
But the fashion world’s taste for fitness wear has swung the other way recently. The cool girl’s off-duty uniform is no longer well-fitting joggers and workout tops with sleek cutouts. Nope, those pieces are taking a backseat to sweatpants, bike shorts (yes, seriously), and chunky dad sneakers.
Can you actually wear these basic fitness pieces and look stylish? In a word: yep! Here’s how.
Women’s Fitness Wear: Back to Basics
While the ever-comfortable sweatpant never completely fell out of style, it did lose status as the most comfortable casual bottom when we found yoga pants and leggings. But iteration on old styles is a big part of what makes fashion so fun, right?
The new breed of sweatpants simply did itself one better by addressing its inherent lack of style. The result: surprisingly chic sweats that are unusually versatile and — strangely — go with more than you might expect.
These Lovers + Friends Saturn Sweatpants, for example, look suitably low-key, but aren’t just for wearing around the house. The step hem updates the the elastic at the ankle, and also sets the stage for you to wear a nicer pair of shoes. While the leg is slim, the fabric is on the thicker side — so match these up with a form-fitting tank for balance.
Bike shorts had their moment the first time, about 30 years ago. Think back to the days when you were popping an MC Hammer cassette into the tape deck. Now consider the outfit you’re wearing as you hear the opening beat of U Can’t Touch This. Perhaps an oversized t-shirt and skintight shorts?
Today we have various celebrity trendsetters to thank for the resurgence of the bike short. Kim Kardashian wears them everywhere and with everything from studded leather jackets to billowy sweatshirts. Bella Hadid wore her memorably metallic pair on a night out. There’s a little bit of moxie required to wear them that way, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t wear them at all.
One suggestion? Make it fun instead of serious. Bike shorts don’t look quite at home with, say, tailored blazers, but do make suitable partners for a relaxed top.
@ohsoglamblog shows a fun way to rock a pair of hot pink bike shorts with a juicy peach top.
So-called “dad” sneakers have a certain endearing quality. They’re the kind of footwear you could imagine the likes of your favorite TV dads of the ‘80s and ‘90s wearing.
But really, what’s the style potential of the dad sneaker? It’s all in the quirk factor, and these thick-soled shoes look super chic despite their robust, heavy appearance. By contrast, they’re pretty lightweight, and are versatile enough to wear with anything from cropped denim to dresses to leggings.
Here’s @jessicaluxe rocking a similar pair with high-waisted jeans and a cropped T-shirt for an effortless look.
Tanya is a seasoned journalist based in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Specializing in fashion, beauty, and travel, she loves to explore new places, read as much as possible, and scour the web for fabulous finds — all in the name of research, of course.
Thanks for stopping by! I'm Catherine, your Budget Fashionista style editor. I'm a bargain shopper at heart, as I love nice things but hate paying for them! I'm also a personal finance writer who's been featured on USA Today and MSN Money.