FASHION OR FITNESS?
Sitting here contemplating what to write about this week, I realise that if you saw me now, you’d think I had no authority to write about fashion and style. However, to some, my current outfit has become the 'must own' 2018 uniform. For me, it always has been a big no, no, but alas, here I sit breaking all my own fashion rules and I’m happy about it. I’m sure you can guess what my outfit is? Yes, you got it…activewear!
In a previous time in my life, being a head buyer at one of Australia’s largest retailers, a key part of my job was researching new global trends. So every quarter I’d travel overseas (yes I know, dream job!) to basically people watch, shop and view fashion collections. Then I’d come back and work with my team to present in our stores the very best edit of new season trends. Back then, the cycle of 'fast' fashion got a little out of control and it became more like weekly trends. However, something I have noticed more recently is that the 'trend' cycle has slowed down a lot. If you think about it, denim trends would change every few months, but nowdays we’re still wearing the same jeans we have worn for the past few years. Basics and core items are now a key part of our dressing and the only buzz I get from fashion changing is from footwear and handbags. And mostly the new fads become fashion faux pas months later.
As we are all aware, 'wellness' has become a big trend. But have we become healthier because 'wellness' is fashionable or are we just enjoying the comfort of very stretchy clothes and tricking ourselves into thinking look good on us and make us feel healthy?
Personally I have been focusing on my health as a way of rebuilding my body after childbirth and as a way of working on my mental health. In the past, I didn't allow any time to focus on myself and how I was feeling. There was always work or someone else to focus on. After accidentally discovering this, mainly as I hit a wall, it was time to take charge and help myself. So, with my 'active wear' on, I privately took control and got healthy. I say privately, because I didn't feel the need to share my daily fitness regime on social media - I wasn't doing it for anybody else other than for me. My plan was to use fitness and eating right to clear my mind. But in doing so, I went from a size 30 denim jeans to size 26 in about 4 months. And 'yeah' to loosing some weight, but I am more focussed on how much better I feel mentally. And I, like so many others, found a way...and a justified excuse to remain stylish and in my exercise gear.....all day long!
In the past I had a rule that leggings were not classified as pants, and I blame Los Angeles for this! I recall about 5 years ago being in the Lululemon store in Santa Monica. I saw many girls in the store buying their leggings as 'pants' not tights for 'working out' in, but tights for work. I remember watching them bemused as they were styling their tights back with high heels a white business shirt and blazer, and heading to the office. What mainly disturbed me was I couldn't imagine being in the work place with my crutch and butt on display with only a thin layer of lycra covering my body in front of my colleagues. In that moment, I had made a personal rule for myself, no matter what the trend, I was never going to style my favourite Lululemon tights with a pair of Louboutins. I would never wear my tights unless I was exercising or would never wear them for long periods of time. Fast forward 5 years and now 'streetwear' and 'activewear' are blurred into 'workwear' and what's known as athleisure has become not only the biggest fashion trend, but versions are now available from $8 in Target to $800 in Gucci. In fact, CEO of Nike, Mark Parker actually proclaimed, 'Leggings are the new denim.’ And Alexander Wang saying 'I live in gym clothes. When you go out on the street, it’s the uniform now, however I am not an athlete’.
So, to admit I am enjoying building sportswear into my daily wardrobe. It's not about just being comfortable, but I think dressing this way can be realistic when you are busy and need to get stuff done! I love being able to wear sneakers rather than heels....even with a suit! And fortunately the latest active wear brands are making it very easy for us to 'shop' the blurred lines between the locker room and our everyday wardrobe. But there are some rules I think we all need to follow as I do witness outfits that do push the 'what’s acceptable' boundary.
1. "Bend and snap". I have witnessed many times, women confidently walking along not realising their leggings are completely see through. Although most brands work hard refining their designs to make sure they flatten those bits of the thighs that women hate, and lift and sculpt your bum. But they forget about 'stretch when wear'. So whenever I am trying on new leggings to buy, in the change room ensure you do your own 'bend test' - check in the mirror for any sheerness or ask a partner or friend to tell you honestly if your leggings are not stretching correctly. I have to say even the most expensive or coolest brands do not meet the bend test...so make sure you check!
2. Take a break. I have a personal active wear rule - remember you have other clothes in your wardrobe. Don't become one of those women that morph into an activewear addict. Even if you are hooked, give your body a break from spandex and wear regular clothing at least once a day. Also, don't use active wear to show off your body 24/7. You can still highlight your hard work without having to walk around half nude.
3. Activewear is meant for activeness - I bumped into a friend the other day at the supermarket. I asked her “have you just come from the gym'? She confidently said 'no, no I never exercise, I just wear this because everyone else is.' If you put the effort in to buy the gear, you really should be using it for the intended purpose. Mainly for you, being fit and healthy should be a priority over being fashionable.
4. Leggings actually are not pants - I still stand by my rule, and really don't think leggings should be worn in certain environments such as most working environments. Unless they are leather leggings, there are other ways to wear the sporty vibe without wearing tights. Try tailored pants with side stripes or dressy sweat pants instead. And I have to say, I am not a fan of a multi coloured or overly printed leggings - sorry if I am the only person that thinks this...but they are very unflattering!
5. Yes you are strong! - Most brands now are offering an element of activewear in their range. And as there is now so much choice, there is also so much really bad choice available. Wearing tank tops and tees with slogans that scream "I have a bad ass", "my everything is sore', 'bombshell in process', 'shut up and squad' etc, etc, is a no, no. If you have worked hard to get the body you have always wanted, you don't need a tacky t-shirt to tell people. Treat your active outfits the same way you dress. Be humble, yet be stylish. And remember black active wear is always more flattering than hot pink.
I really hope as this trend dominates what we are wearing these days doesn't steer towards being a major fashion faux pas. If anything, being active doesn't mean you can't be stylish, cool and the best part, comfortable. And the biggest benefit of this trend being so popular is that hopefully we are all becoming healthier by embracing it.
Don't forget to make a comment below....I love reading your thoughts.
This article is copyright and may not be used without the express written permission of Where Did Your Style Go.