What Is Athleisure Wear And When Did It Turn Preppy?
Product & Style

What Is Athleisure Wear And When Did It Turn Preppy?

clock-circular-outlinePosted 17 Oct 2023

Athleisure wear is the fashion trend that combines the words ‘athletic’ and ‘leisure’ in a portmanteau of comfort and wearability. Characterized by aesthetically pleasing pieces made for daily wear, lounging, or even playing sports, athleisure fashion fits are minimal, comfortable, and perfect for easy everyday fits’.

Chances are, you've been sporting a version of athleisurewear for years before it was the thing to do. The idea was straightforward: to wear your gym garms outside of the gym. But now, athleisurewear has evolved into an entire shopping category of its own; post-stamped by heavyweight hoodies, perfectly slouchy sweatpants, oversized tees, viral fitted zip jackets, and leggings you could practically live in.

If you've ever paired your trusted black workout leggings or joggers with an oversized hoodie, you're halfway there. The influence of athleisure wear is ever-growing, and as we settle into an era of styled comfort, it’s become easier than ever to find premium, luxury, and even preppy versions of the leisurely aesthetic.

So whether you’re looking for back-to-school outfits, casual athleisure outfits, elevated gym outfits or you’re simply seeking trendy yet comfy ‘fits to see you through the entire day, look to neutral tones, retro logos, and collared hems for the hottest movement in athleisure wear.

Let’s get into it.


What Is Athleisure?

Athleisure wear can be defined as casual, comfortable clothing suitably designed for both exercise and everyday wear. The trend sees athletic and leisure wear taking over our daily fits’ - whether it’s leggings to work, a pair of sports shorts dressed up on a Saturday night, or a full sweat suit for your Sunday rest day. It hit the headlines in the late 2010s as the popular trend solidified itself as a fashion movement that married comfort with style and fashion with functionality.

Since then, athleisure has been spearheaded by celebs and influencers alike, with the best athleisure wear fits captured by paps for our daily inspiration. The casual style has even become the face of the laid-back Coachella attendee, who opted for its comfort over the typical festival extravaganza.

More than just the sum of its parts, the trend has evolved beyond just wearing your Sunday comfies to brunch. Executed well, athleisure wear is defined by its baggy fits, elevated basics, and fitted silhouettes. The perfect heavyweight hoodie, sweat shorts, and a pair of black leggings are just a few of the athleisure wear must-haves, so let’s get into how you can master the trend.

How To Master The Trend

"For me, it's all about layering," our Head Of Design, Lois Woodcock tells us. "Layering up your separates and experimenting with different fabrics and textures is what elevates an otherwise basic look."

With innovations in garment construction and the evolution of sportswear in the last decade, styling opportunities are abundant. Like with many things in life, less is more. Minimalism, tailoring, and clean lines are important in giving your casual more structure without overdoing it.

To begin with, opt for pieces that fit well with your existing closet. You already own that crisp white tee, so pick out a smart zip hoodie with shape and durability to layer. Why not try experimenting with performance fabrics that are both breathable and add texture and dimension to your look? We love the mix of sporty and soft athleisure fabrics for an everyday fit.

Oversized silhouettes and slouchy cuts are also easily incorporated and whilst the big benefit of athleisure is comfort, it's important not to overlook shape to strike a balance between looking both laid back and put together.


12 Everyday Staples For Your Athleisure Outfits

You know what athleisure wear is and how to master the trend, now it’s time to tick off the checklist of essential athleisure wear pieces that can be styled every day. With these key items you can mix and match, and layer throughout the seasons for fashionable athleisure looks that never fail. Pair these pieces together or with smarter items in your wardrobe for a juxtaposed, elevated take on athleisure wear.

  1. Oversized Hoodie

  2. Black Leggings

  3. Crewneck Sweatshirt

  4. Baggy Joggers

  5. Oversized T-Shirt

  6. Ribbed Tank Top

  7. Baseball Cap

  8. Fitted Tee

  9. Fitted-Zip Jacket

  10. Jersey Sweat Shorts

  11. Crew Socks

  12. Everyday Tote


An Introduction To Preppy Athleisure Wear

One look at fashion over the past few years and you can't deny that the blending of sportswear with smarter pieces has become a norm for casual dressing. The college drop-out era may have put prep back on the radar, but the term preppy had slowly faded into obscurity with campaigns for preppy fashion failing to make the hot list. But like most fashion trends, we're seeing a shift...

From bloke-core to preppy fashion, we’re marrying sporty and smarter elements for a juxtaposed look that signals the fashion in the know. So it's no surprise that we're seeing sweatpants dressed up with loafers, or branded with clean collegiate designs, crisp polo pairings, and country club aesthetics gaining popularity.

When Did Athleisure Wear Turn Preppy?

The early 2020s was the turning point for athleisure wear, as comfy attire began circling towards sports that were considered more preppy; like golf, tennis, polo, horse-riding, and rowing.

Typically, athleisure wear had been influenced by styles and silhouettes taken from soccer, football, and athletics, especially for comfort, and this has been the trend up until recent years when the pickleball craze hit, and tenniscore led to a takeover of the preppy aesthetic in just about every fashion corner of the web.

Thus, athleisure wear turned preppy - and maybe it’s because we didn’t want to say goodbye to our loungewear, but still wanted to look presentable that the preppy style (both classic and familiar) began gaining more traction.

This was also the era we honed in on our love of collegiate styling, which, we'll be honest, has always had its place in our loungewear drawers (thank you GAP).

With classic cuts, approachable designs, and interchangeable styles, you’ll have endless styling options with a preppy athleisure wardrobe… and you’ll always look put together.


How To Style Preppy Fashion With Athleisure Wear

Here are some styling tips for you to consider when creating preppy athleisure wear outfits that will make it easy for you to nail the style like a pro.

1. Base Layers

Leggings may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you imagine preppy athleisure styles, but vintage J.Crew catalogs would tell a different story. Layered with collared shirts and slouchy oversized socks in crisp fall editorials, it’s an outfit that can be easily recreated for the modern wearer. To create a preppy outfit, use leggings as a base layer to build up from.

2. Layering

When it comes to layering, we all know baggy hoodies and oversized sweatshirts are fundamental to the athleisure wear wardrobe, but to get your scholarly style on, why not swap a plain hoodie for a collegiate hoodie with wordmark graphics? The preppy style is big on layering, so have peeks of your shirts showing under your sweaters and hoodies for that country club member look. Throw your oversized sweatshirts over your shoulder or wrap your check shirts around your waist as seen in preppy styling, but also for added dimension to your outfit.

For more layering and transitional styling tips, head over to our guide to layering clothes so you can get more from your favorite pieces.

3. Colors

Now for colors, preppy fashion leans towards the more neutral side of the color palette, favoring soft whites, buttery creams, nautical blues, and bold blacks, but there might be a pop of bright color here and there. Color bursts often include rich and deep tones like forest greens, and oxblood reds, whilst baby blues and khaki greens are also popular. Preppy designs often bring all these colors together in check, plaid, or houndstooth prints.


Our Top Preppy Athleisure Wear Picks

Here's our roundup of our favorite athleisure wear pieces that give that preppy style without compromising on comfort.

Rest Day Street Polo Pullover

We've hit the mallet to the ball with this one, our piped collar Rest Day Street Polo Pullover is a timeless take on the classic polo shirt. Swap a pair of chinos for some matching sweat shorts or straight-leg joggers, and boat shoes for a fresh white pair of sneakers for the outfit to take on a more sporty feel.

Sport Dress

Did you really think we would talk about preppy fashion without mentioning our tennis-inspired Sport Dress? With inspo taken straight from the courts, this fitted number is both sophisticated, stylish, and versatile. The dress can be made to look like a tennis skirt when peeping out below an oversized sweatshirt layered on top. Throw the same sweatshirt over your shoulders for a classic preppy look.

Collegiate T-Shirt

Taking influence from the uniform of college sports teams, the Collegiate Oversized T-Shirt stamps its preppy mark on a simple everyday piece with a collegiate Gymshark logo. Where old-school prep can be associated with fitted clothing and slim silhouettes, oversized cuts are the moment right now, so know you’ll be bang on trend and in ultimate comfort in this tee.

Collegiate Hoodie

Collegiate, the green-clad stomping grounds for all things preppy. Featuring a dark green, collegiate-style logo, this hoodie has a preppy stamp all over it. Leaning into the more casual side of the studious style, with a baggy fit and premium fabric, this hoodie will be your go-to for when you want to prep up your athleisure wear. You don't need to have even gone to college to represent this team.

College 1/4 Zip Up

Taking a modern approach to preppy fashion with a cropped silhouette, the Collegiate 1/4 Zip Up sports an original collegiate-inspired conditioning logo and washed vintage design. The cropped shape makes for the perfect pump cover to pair with your high-waisted leggings, or for a more casual look, pair with the matching joggers.

Training Oversized Fleece Hoodie

Incorporating the preppy aesthetic in your athleisure wear can come in the form of the chosen color palettes. Right off the bat, forest green is a hue closely associated with sports club-inspired athleisure wear, a rich shade that pairs superbly with crisp whites for an iconic tennis core look. This fleece hoodie is the coziest hoodie you can wear as part of a matching set, or with a tennis skirt for a full-prep look.

Legacy Oversized Sweatshirt

Just like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger are the heritage brands of America, the Legacy range is our heritage line. Created with old-school bodybuilding aesthetic in mind, the pieces in this collection wear our OG Legacy logo like a college badge of pride to remind us of our lifting roots. Pair this sweatshirt with matching Legacy cycling shorts, slouchy socks, and dad trainers to nod to the retro athleisure aesthetic.

Phys Ed Graphic 1/4 Zip

Take yourself right back into the classroom with this little number. Our college-inspired Phys-Ed graphic takes over the back of this 1/4 zip sweatshirt, while at the front we've got even more action with a collared design. Available in two colors central to this aesthetic; light grey marl, and a country khaki, this sweatshirt screams preppy, without even trying.

Check Shirt

Symbolising the clean-cut uniforms of the elite schools, checks, and plaids are a classic component of preppy fashion. But far from classic from Gymshark, the flannel shirt is a first for us as we tap into the casual, laid-back way you like to sport athleisure wear outside the gym. Perfectly prepped, our Check Shirt looks the part paired with clean white tees, tennis shoes, and retro logo-printed pants.


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