“The Business Fashionista” is AZ Big Media’s fashion blog for the business-minded. It examines the dos, don’ts and musts of the modern fashionista who wants to stay in step with the latest trends in the workplace.

Leave it to the fashion industry to invent yet another broad, confusing term… “athleisure.” If you’re confused and pondering if that is even a word, don’t worry, most people, including myself, are.

Lou & Grey Utilitarian Jumpsuit
Lou & Grey Utilitarian Jumpsuit

Earlier this year, I spotted the trendy term in my monthly subscriptions of InStyle, Vogue and Glamour. Athleisure, by definition, is a combination of athletic and leisure apparel. At first, I thought it was just an excuse for girls to wear workout clothes to various places other than the gym (If we’re being honest, most of these women never end up going to the gym in these clothes).

However, I was shocked to find that athleisure wear was being experimented in the office. What immediately came to mind was a girl in skin revealing leggings, sports bra, crop top and Nikes… Now in what type of work environment, besides a gym, would this outfit be acceptable?

It became clear to me that I had a totally different idea of athleisure wear than what the fashion industry has in store. Upon reading further, I saw pictures and descriptions of the altheisure wear outfits that an editor tested at the office. Athleisure doesn’t consist mainly of leggings, but rather dressy sweat pants, track pants, blazers, printed designer sweaters, sweatshirts, jackets and chic sneakers. It’s meant to look effortlessly chic while still comfortable. It’s like you partly dressed down and partly dressed up.

This week, I figured it was necessary to discuss athleisure wear since business fashionistas may have already or will in the future ask the question: Can I wear what I wore to the gym to the office? The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. There are a lot of factors to consider, including what you wear to workout and what type of job you have.

Adidas by Stella McCartney Barricade Dress New York
Adidas by Stella McCartney Barricade Dress New York

Of course it makes sense why athleisure clothing lines are raking in lots of money and devoted customers. If you had me pick between jeans and yoga pants, I would pick yoga pants. If you had me pick between five-inch heels and a pair of Nike tennis shoes, I wouldn’t even think twice before lacing up my Nikes. Athleisure is the perfect solution for the desire to be comfortable and save the time it takes to change into gym clothes for that post-work run.

The trend of athleisure has become a phenomenon for people who spend significant spare time before heading into the office in line at Starbucks, waiting for a pumpkin spice latte. This is much bigger than the work-to-night outfit, where you just tweaked a couple of things, like removing the blazer and showing some skin. Athleisure provides the possibility to work out at the gym, then go to the office, then rendezvous with a guy you met on Tinder all while wearing the same outfit and not changing anything.

Fashion retailers and designers already took the lead in athleisure by creating separate clothing lines. GapFit, adidas by Stella McCartney, the Loft’s Lou & Grey and Urban Outfitters Without Walls are just a few of the countless athleisure lines.

So where does the work outfit “don’t” arise for the business fashionista? When you wear Victoria’s Secret crop leggings and flannel. Despite what you think, that is not athleisure wear. If you work out in skimpy outfits or unfashionable T-shirts and Nike shorts like me, don’t take the definition of athleisure literally.

Lou & Grey Twill Stripe Leggings
Lou & Grey Twill Stripe Leggings

In my opinion, some athleisure lines looks less realistic to work out in as it does to wear to the office. Just keep in mind that you don’t want to look out of place in the office. If you feel adventurous and want to try athleisure wear to the office, here are some dos and don’ts.

  • DO start with athleisure collection like the Loft’s Lou & Grey. They nail that perfect balance between office attire, leisure attire and gym attire.
  • DO pair a blazer with dressy or track pants.
  • DO try out fashion designers take on sneakers
  • DON’T wear those barley there lululemon leggings…please avoid that tragedy for you and your co-workers’ sake.