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7 Cool, Updated Ways to Up Your Athleisure Game

Sports shorts aren’t solely for sweating.
7 Cool, Updated Ways to Up Your Athleisure Game
IMAGE INSTAGRAM/kelseymerritt
Sports shorts aren’t solely for sweating.

You can’t talk about the work-as-pleasure credos of late 21st century capitalism without talking about Jia Tolentino and her takes on the increasing cyborg-ization of humanity. One of her more interesting remarks is those she makes on the burgeoning athleisure industry as a whole.

Whereas Jia singles out the trend as yet another key component in this mechanized, soul-stripped world, she also does acknowledge the weird, almost perverse benefits of the clothing niche, lauding it as “reliably comfortable and supportive in a world that is not.” 

And insofar as it is attractive and oddly reassuring, we figure that we’d chip in with respect to how best to embrace the athleisure boon. So without further ado, here are seven kickass ways to best style your athleisure pieces (and embrace the singularity). 

Cool Ways to Style Your Athleisure Pieces:

1. This isn’t completely athleisure in the spandex-Goretex and Nike Swoosh marked legging sense, but two things to mark here: 1) short running shorts, while, yes, short, are damn comfortable; and 2) Fed Pua really nails this look by hamming up the retro. What easily could have passed for a sleek, Terminator-esque running outfit is quickly softened by a pair of tinted shades and a vintage-print T-shirt. 

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2. Nothing too fancy, just thoughtful, monochromatic blue-gray pieces fitting well together and some nicely paired shades. Kelsey Merritt’s use of some sparse layering (i.e. the jacket) makes the outfit. Note again the contrast (sort of) between the sporty (sneakers! leggings!) and the slightly less sporty (that jacket) as it in many ways represents the dualities of transitional dressing: that of the idealized, dare-we-say “platonic” beauty and the always-on performer-”athlete.”

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Speaking of transitional wear as a concept: In case you were wondering about the root of it all, The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy has some pretty choice run-throughs on the topic of duality and dualism over here. Check out the write-ups on Plato’s notion of the perceived struggles between (physical) body and (intelligible) soul. Think of it as our bodies both embracing and straining against the forced constriction of a nice pair of yoga pants.

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3. When working with muted quasi-athleisure pieces (see: Sam Lee’s loose sleeveless top), the devil is often in keeping the details small. What takes this outfit to the next level are all the subtleties: the round, matchy tinted shades, an array of bangles and rings, the unadorned white high tops with the socks just barely peeking out. 

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4. Men’s athleisure courtesy of Erwan Heussaff, but make it not shorts (!). The trick here is in getting the color layers just right. Note the ever-present visibility of muted, pastel-y colors. The escalation from a pale blue-green gym shirt, to the lavender and ivory windbreaker, to the bright cobalt beanie, keeps the look both balanced and nuanced, while still looking active as hell. Bonus points if you’re able to snag yourself a nice blue pair of loose-fitting lounge pants. 

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5. Back to the establishment for a sec. While Liz Uy’s look admittedly doesn’t incorporate many, if any athleisure elements, we are choosing to include it here simply because there are many athleisure pieces that can be used to replicate the look—be it a dri-fit white mesh top, or some Goretex-esque track pants. Silhouettes are key here; note the jogger-like cut of her leather trousers and the makings of a heavy-lifting muscle tee up top. The beige slip-ons are absolutely not optional. 

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6. Now I’ll admit that I’m quite late to the Jonah Hill style hype train, but I think this look still remains on point. Nothing really screams “post post-optimization” quite like a giant brown wool overcoat over a bright red post-gym hoodie and some well-worn gym shorts. 

7. And that’s pretty much it in terms of dressing for singularities and post-optimized worlds. It’s why we saved Ida Paras’ look for last—because we feel it properly encapsulates all key dressing elements we wanted to highlight in covering transitional dressing: 1) deploying contrast (e.g. that of her bright neon top with her neutral leggings + sneakers); 2) minimization (i.e. no fancy layers sans her Fitbit + Apple Watch, and her shades); and 3) a bomb attitude. All packaged just well enough for (or to resist somewhat) our notorious faceless gods. 

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