The rise of ‘athleisure’
Have you ever had a day when you were really feeling yourself, until you put on a pair of jeans that just didn’t have any stretch to them? Not only can that situation be very uncomfortable, but it can also put quite the damper on your self-esteem. Luckily, that stiff denim isn’t the go-to fashion staple anymore. Stretch fabric is back and it’s here to stay!
There are two types of stretch fabric: 2-way and 4-way. These synthetic fabrics, like spandex or elastane, stretch – you guessed it – either in one direction or two. Previously worn solely to the gym, these fabrics are becoming more popular in mainstream street fashion.
According to Bloomberg, “athleisure” staples like leggings and yoga pants have begun outselling denim for women in recent years. Denim powerhouse Levi’s has been feeling this burn. Sales have dropped from over $7 billion annually to $4.8 billion. Athletic brands are beginning to expand their inventory to market comfortable workout-friendly and versatile clothing to women – whether they have plans to hit the gym or not.
Hitting the streets in clothes fit for the treadmill – what used to be a fashion faux pas – is becoming socially acceptable and even encouraged. Fashionistas like Kendall Jenner, Victoria Beckham and Rihanna have been spotted on the streets rocking outfits fit for Pilates class, according to Vogue UK. This aesthetic has been sampled on the runway by high fashion labels like Louis Vuitton and Chanel. Pop sensation Beyonce has even made her mark in the athleisure world, recently launching her own brand, Ivy Park. According to the New York Times, this market is bringing in a whopping $97 billion dollars every year.
Leggings as pants
One of the hottest fashion debates in recent years is: Can you wear leggings as pants? There are plenty of ways to do so. Buzzfeed has even covered ways to sneak your favorite pair of leggings into every outfit – from date night to the office to weekend errands. Investing in a few tunics for leggings is a great way to get your use out of the comfy style. The tight leggings show off your figure, but the tunic covers your backside so you won’t feel too exposed. Leggings are also a great option for that mini dress you’re afraid shows too much leg. Dress the look up with a pair of pointy toe flats or strappy heels for the spring.
Of course, you can also rock a pair of yoga pants or leggings as they were meant to be worn – with some sporty flair. Mixed with a stylish sweatshirt and a pair of colorful sneakers, people won’t know if you’re running errands or hitting the gym. It can be your little secret.
“Neoprene is being used in skirts, dresses and even boots.”
Stretch fabric in all forms
While athleisure wear is certainly stylish at the moment, it’s not for everyone. Some people feel underdressed in a pair of leggings instead of jeans or dress pants, and that’s OK. That doesn’t mean they have to go without comfort! Plenty of brands are working the stretchy fabrics that make yoga pants so comfy into their seasonal lineup. Neoprene – the fabric used in lot of SCUBA gear – is especially fashionable since it’s so versatile. This rubbery fabric is being used in skirts, dresses and even boots. It’s typically thicker than spandex, giving your silhouette a nice, smooth appearance. If you were ever intimidated by the idea of wearing bodycon, neoprene is a great alternative.
Keeping your stretchy fabric in good shape
One of the drawbacks of stretchy fabric is that it doesn’t seem to have the lifespan that denim does. Even denim with Lycra tends to lose shape after a while. In order to prolong the life of your athleisure wear and other stretchy wardrobe staples, minimize the amount of heat, since since it can break down elastic fibers. If you need to wash your clothes after every wear, consider using in cold water and air drying them instead of throwing them in the dryer.