It blights our streets and ruins our public spaces. It turns up at dinner parties, on airplanes, in office meetings; it slinks about, the threat of contagion ever present. We’re talking about athleisure.
A portmanteau that includes monochrome tracksuits, logo tees, spandex leggings and yoga pants, athleisure is everywhere—Americans dropped nearly $22 billion on it in 2017—and it’s become a scourge upon our wardrobes. Also known as “après sport,” this high-tech apparel offers a seamless transition from workout to workplace; functional yet stylish, athleisure, athleisure ditches elegance in favor of something cozy and convenient, but also fitness-conscious!
That’s the problem. Athleisure is the sartorial version of a selfie: fashion that respects no boundary. Just as technology has brought about the disintegration of our social fabric, this trend threatens to destroy our sense of decorum. Once recognizable (and observed) dress codes like black-tie, semi-formal, and business-casual have suddenly blended into a single stretchy-pant uniform. Dressing for the opera is now no different than going to Soul Cycle.
By all means, don’t stop climbing your mountains and running your marathons in tight-fitting gym wear. But afterward, consider getting dressed. Bring back corduroy, denim, and herringbone; pull out your tea dresses and tuxedos, your cashmere sweaters and cotton shirts and silk tights. Shop vintage, if possible, and look for sustainably sourced materials and natural fibers. After all, clothing is an expression of our identity and our aspirations—so dress the part.