How To Rock The Athleisure Trend in 2021

Staying stylish and staying comfortable - how to elevate your active wear

It only seems right to start this post by making clear that athleisure in fact is not a trend – it’s a style mainstay that has been around for decades, and that has accelerated in new ways in recent years.

And of course in addition to this Covid-19 lockdowns spent in loungewear has made us all collectively wonder how we could ever go back to the confinement of our jeans. 

Athleisure is truly here to stay – and it brings me unspeakable joy that it’s become full mainstream. I wore yoga pants everywhere long before it was acceptable, so I’m relieved that we’re all on the same yoga-pant-loving train now!

How To Rock The Athleisure Trend in 2021

What Does Athleisure Mean?

The concept of athleisure as we know it today is impossible to separate from the yoga brand Lululemon, which also kick-started my own yoga-pant habit in 2010. I had just arrived in the US for what I thought would be a year abroad (which turned out to be 10 years abroad and still counting), and immediately fell in love with Lululemon. 

A year in Honolulu and another 10 months in Canada really solidified my love for activewear. 

Athleisure is a casual dress style that combines activewear and your normal clothes, and is typically worn for relaxed, everyday activities and events. Walks with friends, informal get-togethers, errand-running and coffee-dates are all great occasions for athleisure wear.

Gym Clothes That Can Be Worn As Street Wear

While blazers and loafers certainly contrast to activewear, a slightly more conservative athleisure style is super easy to achieve.

Avoiding branded gym tops (think huge Nike swooshes and other typical prints) in favor of plain cotton t-shirts is an easy way of creating a more dressed up look for your active wear.

Adding a few pieces of minimal jewelry also quickly brings your look together. 

This is by far my favorite way of dressing up my active wear.

branded gym tops
blazers & loafers contrast to activewear

Is Athleisure Still A Trend In 2021?

Athleisure is still a big trend in 2021, and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. But really, fashion has always taken major inspiration from sports wear. The technological development of fabrics used has influenced the current athleisure trend a lot as well, as synthetic fibers have become more wearable, durable and washable. 

Equally important is our cultural obsession with health which has no sign of slowing down post-covid. Signaling good health and an active lifestyle is connected with social status, values and beliefs. And honestly speaking… just wearing my gym outfits instantly makes me feel like I’m in better shape than I may actually be. 

The last driver of the athleisure trend is one that has subtly been influencing not just our clothes but our culture as well for decades: the decline of formality. 

athleisure trend influencer

So… Can I Wear Yoga Pants Outside The Gym?

High quality yoga pants are essentials for the athleisure style, and yes –  when dressed up they can be worn to any relaxed, daily life activity where you would normally dress casually. 

A black pair will match anything and is a basic staple that you need in your life, but introducing a cute animal print to match with neutrals is a great way of adding a real statement to your outfit.

Adding a denim jacket, a shacket or a coat to your yoga pants is the perfect way to get to stay comfortable for your daily activities.

Wear Yoga Pants Outside The Gym

What Shoes Do I Wear With Athleisure?

While the first thought is to wear sneakers, shoes are a great way of elevating your athletic wear into an actual outfit. Try pairing your over-the-knee boots, loafers or ankle boots for a more put-together look.

That being said, tennis-shoes and sneakers have obviously been fashion staples for decades, and they are a sure bet when it comes to adding a sporty vibe to your regular street clothes. The dad shoe trend has already been around for a few years by now, and a chunky sneaker is with us for the foreseeable future, not to mention… oh so comfy.

My top tip for sneakers is to keep them clean by occasionally throwing them in the washer with a few towels and a mild detergent. I usually do a short cycle to minimize the exposure to water as it can loosen up any glued parts. Naturally I only do this with fabric sneakers!

Wear With Athleisure Shoes
Mix Workout Wear & Normal Clothes

How To Mix Workout Wear & Normal Clothes?

The easiest way of mixing your workout wear and normal clothes for a put-together athleisure look is by picking only high quality athletic wear, and preferable one piece with some design detail or statement. 

Athleisure is not a faux-pas for wearing your old company-slogan’ed t-shirt to your besties birthday brunch. (Unless it’s literally so old it’s cool again – ugh, fashion got confusing). 

For an elevated and stylish athleisure look, avoid the type of strictly functional athletic wear that is plain but in some highly technical material (ie white, sweat-wicking t-shirt) – pick at least one piece that clearly signals design- and fashion consciousness. Examples would be a printed pair of leggings, a cropped hoodie or cute sneakers.

How Can I Look Put Together Wearing Athletic Wear?

A fresh, clean look is key for making your athleisure style work, so make sure you do your makeup, hair and add jewelry and other accents as you normally would so the style doesn’t accidentally appear to be an excuse to be lazy. That being said, a minimal look goes very well with the athleisure style.

Adding one piece that is clearly in contrast to the activewear, like a blazer or an over-the-knee boot, works really well too when you want to elevate your look significantly

. Making sure you hit a good balance between fitted items and oversized fits also is useful if most of your active wear tends to be very fitted.

Put Together Wearing Athletic Wear
good balance between fitted items and oversized fits

What Are Some Cute Athleisure Brands?

The list of places to buy cute athletic wear that can be paired for put-together athleisure looks is growing constantly. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Onzie makes incredible printed leggings in a very comfortable fit like the ones in leopard I wear in these pictures. I wear size S-M.  
  • Body On Cotton is one of my go-tos for basic workout wear.
  • Lululemon is the classic that transformed yoga leggings.
  • Fabletics has a huge range of affordable basics.
  • Girlfriend Collective makes ethically produced activewear and I love their neutral colors.
buy cute athletic wear

5 Favorite Instagram Account For Neutral Style Athletic Wear Inspo

I’ll list a few of my favorites below – give me a shout if you have more great accounts to add!

  • @BiancaMayCheah has endless, blissfully bright content focused around yoga and motherhood.
  • @Elyse.Knowles is basically just fabulous. Earthy, beachy, natural beauty and while she may not feature so much activewear per se… she definitely inspires me to get my workout in. 
  • @BaseBodyBabes are two sisters who document their lifestyle around their workouts (mainly weightlifting which I LOVE) – and they’re gorgeous.
  • @Sivanayla has her own activewear line and endless amounts of sunshine, tan and healthy, everyday meal inspirations as well on her stories.
  • @LinnLowes is my mainstay gym girl on IG and I’ve followed her for years, resulting in multiple spending sprees inspired by her incredible gym wear wardrobe. Love!

xxx Annie

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Colette Zaharko
7 months ago

I love this post so much! I am a mom of 4 girls, and nowadays, I’m always in my loungewear, lol! I want to wear athleisure clothes, but somehow I always look so messy in them. I love what you said about doing your hair and wearing minimal makeup, so you don’t appear lazy 😂. That’s totally me!
Thanks for putting together a great article! I really needed it!

7 months ago

Very informative and I couldn’t agree more. Who doesn’t like to rock some athleisure?