Athleisure: Let’s Talk About It

If there’s one thing you’ve probably learned by now, it’s that I’m not very big on trends. There’s a big difference between being on-trend/in-style and having style. A focus on trends as a form of personal style ensures that you’re always chasing the next thing and will undoubtedly amass a collection of clothes that, after one season, will sit in your closet in perpetuity and leave you to ponder, “What was I thinking?” when you do finally get around to cleaning out said closet.

Athleisure Kit and Ace - He Spoke Style

| WEARING | Al Bazar shirt, Oliver Peoples sunglasses, Miansai screw cuff, Moccasins c/o Tod’s | PHOTOGRAPHY | by Rob McIver Photo

Among the more egregious trends of late – and one that I’ve identified as one that needs to die – is the ridiculously named athleisure trend. It’s the one that has grown men actually thinking that dressy sweatpants are a good idea. The one that uses high-tech fabrics to create a hybrid athletic-leisure style and has actually spawned terms like aprés-sport and gym-to-office. Somewhere, someone is having a laugh. Maybe that’s you right now.

I would hope that now since athleisure is reaching something of a fever pitch as evidenced by it’s availability from mainstream retailers like J.Crew, that it will begin to fade into the annals of fashion misses and become one of those things we keep hidden better than our seventh grade yearbook photo. I hypothesized previously that the short suit was dead when it transitioned from a cool oddity worn by a few fashion forward sartorial boundary pushers into a mild form of bro-couture. Nothing kills cool like mainstream attention, after all. At least for hipsters-at-heart. And have you heard much about the short suit this season? Right.

Athleisure Kit and Ace - He Spoke Style

I’ve been thinking about athleisure a bit recently as we are fresh off styling a shoot for a very large online publication. I was excited by the idea to partner with the publisher because it was a way to 1) start a conversation, 2) stretch my styling creativity, and 3) see what all the fuss is about. Am I going to be an athleisure convert? No. Will I wear (and do I wear) these pieces around the apartment and running errands on the weekend? You bet. For the athleisure weary, I would say that there are options that work with personal styles that aren’t focused on being “on trend.”

Athleisure Kit and Ace - He Spoke Style

Athleisure Kit and Ace - He Spoke Style

Now it’s your turn: share your thoughts and opinions on athleisure in the comments.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Brian Sacawa
He Spoke Style


Chime In

  • A H

    I don’t entirely agree with your views about the “athleisure” phenomenon. There has to be a place for progression in clothing. We don’t just remain stagnant in “classic” clothing and stay there for our entire lives. The addition of some sneakers or knit workout pants, stylish but not sloppy, is sometimes needed. I like some of Lululemon’s items, even though I cannot really afford them. And here in Los Angeles there has been, and will always be, a predominance of work-out clothes.

    I do think the short suit, with its grabbing proportions and flood-water lengths, looks ridiculous on some people. But it ushered in a more form-fitting style that has definitely improved menswear.

    • Username 01

      I agree with your point but I don’t think Lululemon is an indicator of stylish workout clothing. I see Nike making strides in that department but definitely not Lululemon.

      • Brian Sacawa

        I’m not terribly familiar with Lululemon (it’s lu-lu-LEH-men for those unsure how to say it) other than knowing that they’re huge in the women’s yoga pant business and have recently been making a hard play for the men’s vertical. Again, let’s go back to PR and marketing. Why are we hearing about Lululemon? Are they filling an athleisure gap between more traditional workout clothing retailers like Nike and Under Armor?

        • Username 01

          I don’t think they’re so much filling a gap than the fact that they manage to develop a cult following. Lululemon clothes are, to be frank, nothing special. There’s was a scandal back in 2013 where Lululemon leggings were shown to be translucent. For $80 a pair, you would except these leggings to be opaque if nothing else. I look at Lululemon as the new Juicy Couture, popular but definitely NOT an indicator of stylish workout clothing. Take a look at these inventories below. Whereas Nike looks like Alexander Wang, Lululemon is underwhelmingly generic and…boring.

          • Brian Sacawa

            Hey, there’s something to be said about great marketing, isn’t there?

    • Brian Sacawa

      Thanks for the comment, A H. Progression is one thing, but I think my main concern is when a “phenomenon” is largely driven by PR. You can think back to the late-80s/early-90s and the Hammer pants and Skidz phase. Was this progress? I consider progress something that improves upon something and has staying power. Trends will always be “of the moment.” It works for some, but I for one, primarily like investing in things I could wear tomorrow or 10 years later,

  • Tom B


    “Dressy sweatpants” are an abomination in the eyes of god, man, and beast, which will soon go away (I hope). There! got that off my chest. Does men’s fashion evolve, should men’s fashion evolve? Sure! Every day, with every decision on how to get dressed, it evolves. Clothing, beyond the practical “Will this keep me warm? keep me cool? protect me from saber-toothed tiger attacks?” is about expressing who we are. Elegant fashion, even if “casually elegant”… let’s face it, we’re setting ourselves apart from the mainstream guy, at least in the US – very subtly we are saying “I’m better than you.” Hard to do that in sweatpants.

    That being written, as you know, most of Western men’s fashion comes from hunting and riding gear (leisure activity of the British upper classes, for centuries till the 50’s) and, by extension, military dress. So, can today’s joggers eventually turn into boardroom alpha-male-wear? Yeah, maybe, but give it 200 years and then come back and talk to me….

    In the meantime, your outfit looks great, as always. Funny thing is that you would not look out of place swatting a tennis ball at Roland-Garros – in 1920, that is! Right down to the shoes…

    Which brings us to timelessness – an essential element of men’s style, at least in my own opinion. It’s not about wearing your grandfather’s clothing, but about not feeling completely out of place if you sat down to a glass of whiskey with him 50 years ago (imaginary time machine). The details all change, but there is a continuity.

    Just my $0.02,


    • Brian Sacawa

      Thanks for the always enlightening and thoughtful comments, Tom. Maybe I’ll/we’ll be proven wrong, but only time will tell.

  • Alain T.

    I believe that there is a time and place for athleisure outfits (off-duty errand running, vacation, etc). In the workplace, it’s hard to be taken seriously if one is wearing sweatpants (unless the dress code is ultra casual). Trends are well…trendy. I for one, lean toward the 80/20 rule of essentials/trendy&fashion pieces.

    • Brian Sacawa

      Thanks for the comment, Alain. I’ve never heard of the 80/20 rule but I certainly adhere to that most of the time — staying classic with a hint of modern.

  • The Kentucky Gent

    Definitely think athleisure can be sloppy, but it can also look very put together. Like most things in fashion/life in general, it depends on the person who’s calling the shots.

    Josh – The Kentucky Gent

    • Brian Sacawa

      Very true. Thanks, as always, for chiming in, Josh!

  • Adem Bilir

    This Oufit looks very simple but very STYLISH… I like your blog very much… :D

    Adem from

    • Brian Sacawa

      Cheers, Adem.

  • A H

    This is a photo from the Lululemon page. This is a “Synth Pant”. I suppose it falls under the category of athleisure. I think it looks neat and well constructed. It is a hybrid of athletic wear and something you would wear outside of the gym. Maybe it’s not everyone’s style. But I find no fault with it. It looks flattering, well fitted. Opinions?

    • Username 01

      I don’t feel that these pair of pants are that special. Lululemon is not particularly innovative but is able to charge the prices they do because of their popularity. Perhaps that’s a oversimplification but that’s how I see it. I would not shop at Lululemon because for the prices they charge, I accept a certain caliber of quality which I honestly don’t see in their clothes. More established athletic retailers like Adidas or Nike I trust more.

      • Brian Sacawa

        Thanks for the comment!

  • John-Pierre Maeli

    I’m against trends as much as you, but when I enjoy a certain style (such as jogger pants) that I know I’ll wear beyond “the trend” I know I like it for it’s style, not it’s trendiness.

    Some trends I really like, not because they’re hip, but because they fit into my style.

    • Brian Sacawa

      If you love it, wear it. Thanks for the comment, John-Pierre.

  • Matthew Pike

    I’d usually want to say “let’s leave the sweatpants for at home”, but sometimes nippin to the shops is so much easier in them than sticking on some jeans. Anything that makes that trip a little smarter (but still comfy) is a good thing. But if it feels slobby, then it would be a no. I like the idea, especially seeing as I work from home.

    Buckets & Spades

    • Brian Sacawa

      I like your rule of if it looks sloppy, then it’s a no-go. Thanks, as always, Matthew.

  • DJ Hargrave

    What’s your opinion on sneakers with a suit/suit with athletic wear layered under it (hoodies, etc.)?


  • Kelvin

    Couldn’t have said it more perfectly Brian! Love the post brother!

    Kelvin | Notoriously Dapper

  • Susan Oliveri

    Dear god thank you! I am so sick of this “trend”. It’s disgusting and, in my opinion, an excuse for people to no longer care what they look like. Or hey simply have no style to begin with. Women who shop exclusively at Talbots have more style than these ridiculously underexercised soccer moms who wear workout clothing EVERYWHERE. please someone somewhere come up with a new stupid style for these sheep to Solow because I’m over it.

  • Noel

    Cool one.
    Visit our Men’s Fashion site

  • Ivar

    Fab collections.
    Visit our Men’s Fashion site

  • Daniel

    I know this is a very old article but I just the other day I saw a really nice athleisure outfit on a co-worker and wan’t the see what the expert opinion was on the matter. I personally don’t think it’s proper to wear athletic clothing in public but as I see more and more stylish athletic wear I’m starting to question that idea more. I think for now, I’d relegate it to a fun weekend hobby of “playing dress up” as a trendy person, lol.

  • Preeti gupta

    Thanks for sharing the post . I like the collection . Keep up the good work.