Last year, I argued in the pages of IMAGE Magazine that gym wear as ready-to-wear had no fashion credence whatsoever … and I believed it. What was it I described the cultural shift towards casual dressing as? Oh yes, “a sartorial dumbing down … “. But 12 months on, the style tsunami of chic trainers, silk jog pants, fitted tracksuit tops and cashmere hoodies sweeping the high street has more than whetted my appetite for a trend that looks more likely to dominate than disappear in the coming years.
It began with an innocent pair of white trainers – a nod to athleisure perhaps, but certainly not an endorsement of it. I tested the water with an inexpensive pair from H&M. They felt good. They looked fresh. But I made sure to pair them with smart tailoring − a blazer, cropped pants, a boyish shirt; nothing too sporty you see.
Next came the navy silk-mix jog pants from Zara. They had a drawstring-tie waist (athleisure alert!), but they felt so soft, looked so sophisticated worn with open-toe shoe boots that I ran right to the cash desk. From there it was a slippery slope. The oversized woollen hoodie came next, and before I knew it, my failsafe look was white trainers, elevated jog pants, a striped T-shirt (a desperate attempt to incorporate some nautical style and avoid athleisure overkill) and some sort of hooded cardigan. Now I can’t remember how I dressed (particularly at weekends) before I embraced athleisure. Even Victoria Beckham, the queen of the high heel, has recently been seen sporting Adidas Originals Superstar sneakers (next on my shopping list). And these days, if Beckham is wearing it, soon you will be too. I’m just glad (and a little smug) that I got in ahead of her …
Marks & Spencer is the latest brand to jump on the athleisure bandwagon, having just launched its new Fashion Street collection (pictured below). A mesh lace body, high-neck bra, cropped pants and bandeau tops are just some of the pieces featured in the range. I’ve got my eye on the graphic striped drawstring pants. They’ll look great with my new Adidas Originals …
Maxi dress, €30, and bandeau top, €11
Wrap cropped top, €17, cycling shorts, €11
Mesh bra top, €30, high-leg knickers, €11
Bralet, €16, knickers, €11
Holding shot: mesh body, Fashion Street, €24 at Marks & Spencer