Fashion notes: The new trending terms is ‘athleisure’

There’s no need to overthink athleisure – black leggings, a tank or a baggy sweater and trainers will do just fine.

The socialite Olivia Palermo was one of many wearing athleisure looks at this year’s fashion weeks. Timur Emek/Getty Images)
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Long-limbed women sporting sleek leggings and casual zip-up hoodies or jackets, perhaps tied around their hourglass waists, are growing in number by the day. Their lean figures briskly pass by in the shopping malls, or stand in line at the cash registers of supermarkets, almost taunting you to do whatever they're doing to get fitter. Is it working? Yes, it is.

Take it from someone who, aside from playing volleyball in high school and sporadically at university, has never really worked out. Put me in a gym, and I won’t know what buttons to press on a treadmill, let alone the uses of any of the other towering, intimidating machines. But as a response to the growing fitness fad, I have joined GuavaPass – the membership service that gives you a big selection of classes around Dubai every week – and have attempted barre, spin, twerk, aerial swing and yoga classes during the past couple of months.

Naturally, I have noticed a change in my shopping habits, too. While I will still do the rounds at Zara and Topshop, my eyes have started lingering longer than usual in the store displays of Adidas and Go Sport. Now, I would much rather splurge on a few pieces from the new floral collection by ­Stella McCartney for Adidas than on a grey wrap-front jumpsuit from Zara. I say splurge, because athletic wear doesn’t come cheap, especially from big-name sport retailers. But it’s a necessity, I tell myself, because looking good while working out is essential to feeling good during (and leading up to) a class.

Parading your gym garb in public was not always an admirable fashion act. But with the increasing inclination towards healthy living, eating, dieting and exercising, it’s a mode of dressing that’s currently in vogue. And I really hope it stays – it’s a refreshing, and ­somewhat liberating, shift in terms of style standards. Casual trainers replace heels and sandals; blazers are switched in for jersey zip-ups. “Athleisure” is a word I recently came across online, and it’s the perfect way to describe this new trend, which isn’t really sports luxe or purely athletic. It’s a marriage of the two – a way to wear gym attire in places other than the gym and get away with it, with the addition (or not) of one or two accessories.

Where once a Juicy ­Couture sweatsuit was the “it” way to publicly proclaim that you worked out, or at least had some sort of exercise regime going on at home, the current craze is more subtle, and thankfully lacks brightly coloured, crystal-­emblazoned velour. There’s no need to overthink athleisure – black leggings, a tank or a baggy sweater and trainers will do just fine. Conveniently, it’s a style that’s being frequently spotted outside fashion weeks, too – and that’s because it just happens to be the typical uniform of a model. After walking the runways, models love nothing else than to get back into their comfy street clothing, which usually consists of a pair of leggings, trainers and a jacket, traditionally in all-black.

Fashion-week guests, too, are clearly inspired by athleisure, often adding just one or two non-gym-related additions to an outfit to give it more character. Olivia Palermo, for example, strutted around London fashion week in a particularly enviable ensemble, which with the exception of her strappy red heels, screamed “sporty”. The lesson to be learnt? Workout attire is perfectly suitable in street style, and if you want to make a more flashy statement, keep a spare pair of heels if you must. And whatever you do, don’t think that the socks-and-heels fashion rule can be applied to rubber Nike slides – keep that look solely for the studio.