Activewear: How Sports Changed The Way Americans Dress

Activewear: How Sports Changed The Way Americans Dress

When you see people in the store, at school, or running errands, it’s not unusual to spot a few casual outfits. Leggings, sweatpants, sweatshirts, gym shorts, biker shorts, and sneakers are some of the most common outfits to see in the 21st century. It doesn’t come as a surprise that sports and athletics were the biggest influences on this trend.

Casual and comfortable weren’t always the fashion statements society cherished. So, where did the shift in fashion happen, and what’s responsible? Look no further than America's favorite Sunday afternoon activity: sports. In the past year, athletic wear and exercise clothing sales increased as much as 12%, and all because of sports and an emphasis on the active lifestyle. 

Sports changed the way Americans dressed and influenced fashion retailers to produce a category of apparel called athleisure. Let’s take a closer look at how this movement started and why athleisure is such a popular trend. Then, read about how you can put a few trendy athleisure outfits together to dress for your workout, the office, and all your activities in between.

Sports and Athleisure

Athleisure is heavily influenced by the durability of sportswear and the professional quality of the business-casual workplace. If you go to the gym or play sports regularly, it can be difficult to bring a change of clothes with you each time you play. It follows that wearing garments that let you work out, play sports, and do the rest of your daily activities, all while keeping your wardrobe simple. 

With pieces that double as classic, everyday wear, and tactical performance, you can wear athleisure clothing to a business meeting or while kayaking on the West Coast. Sportswear and business casual come together in this comfortable, casual, thoughtful fashion trend.

Athleisure 101

Athleisure is any type of clothing you can wear as workout gear when breaking a sweat or meeting your coworkers at brunch. It’s clothing that’s casual and comfortable. Business and tactical performance. Thoughtful and versatile.  Joggers, athletic shorts, high-quality sweatpants, biker shorts, casual sneakers, and casual tees all fall under the realm of athleisure.

Comfortable clothes have always been around, as have stretchy fabrics. So, what influenced the spark of the athleisure market? Some think the development of spandex and stretchy fabrics that can withstand constant rigorous use was responsible for the athleisure trend. 

Other market research can trace the growth of the movement to public outings to the gym and group fitness where looking good is a priority. Still, others claim athleisure took off because of its practical versatility. Casual outfits haven’t always been accepted in all circles of American society. It wasn’t until recently that casual clothing could be considered high quality or high class. 


When you style athleisure, you explore different ways to express yourself. It’s a great way to achieve a high-class look for reasonable prices. One of the biggest influences in how sportswear evolved to everyday life wear is versatility. Minimalism is an approach to clothing and lifestyle practice. A packed closet can make your home feel overloaded and make it difficult to know what to wear. 

Athleisure can be worn anywhere and everywhere. If you’re looking for ways to declutter your life and make your life better than it was yesterday, it might be time to scale things down. The do-it-all attitude of athleisure makes it a great tool to help minimize your closet and simplify your life. When you style athleisure, you can dress for anything life throws at you. 


As decades passed, the focus of fashion shifted from appearance to comfort. When you’re comfortable, you’re better prepared to be the best you can be. When you’re comfortable, you’re also confident. Athleisure provides a sophisticated style to boost your comfort and confidence. 

Tactical Performance

If you’re not comfortable with what you’re wearing or not able to move freely in your clothes, you won’t be able to do what you need to do. At Olivers, performance is first, and finding the right athleisure basics can take you there. 

3 Steps To Putting Together an Athleisure Outfit

Athleisure is a great way to dress for everyone’s style. Plus, they’re easy to put together and even easier to wear. You can wear the same pair of pants to the local basketball courts, to the grocery store, and then to the office if you know how to style them correctly.

Here are a few basic principles to follow when putting together an athleisure outfit. 

1. Choose Your Basics

Every wardrobe needs basic pieces, and it's no different with athleisure. From basic tees, shorts, pants, and sweatshirts to basic shoes, you’ll need to build up these parts of your athleisure collection first.

Here are a few basics to take a look at. 

The Bradbury Jogger is available in black, carbon, army green, and cobalt and is a great basic piece to have in your closet. It doesn’t have any visible pockets or drawstrings, so it offers a tapered pant look. It’s water-repellent and offers four-way stretch, so your pants will move with you no matter what you’re doing. Whether you’re on a run, at the office, or anywhere in between, these pants are a go-to.

The Traverse Pant is available in khaki, petrol, and military olive and offers the feel and material of joggers with the look of casual day wear pants. These are comfortable enough to wear at the office, and they’re a basic clothing piece because they’re also great for adventures in all sorts of weather conditions and even during your HIIT workout.

Having a basic button-up can also help dress up your athleisure look, so consider something like the City Oxford Short or Long Sleeve shirt. In light blue, dark gray, and silver, there are tons of ways to style these shirts. It’s lightweight, breathable, and is able to stretch, and moisture-wicking properties make it ideal for work, adventuring, or even playing sports. 

2. Know How to Dress Up Your Athleisure

Here are a few ways to dress up your athleisure clothes for a business casual, professional look. 

Wear a nicer watch. This accessory is easy to take on and off if you’re heading to the office from the park. It is a great way to give the appearance of a business professional without changing your outfit completely. 

Wear more formal shoes. If you need to attend a meeting in your all-black joggers but don’t want to look too casual, throw on some work shoes. You can look for loafers, boots, or regular work shoes as opposed to any sneakers or workout shoes. This will help you look professional while staying in comfy exercise dress.

Wear a suit jacket with a plain T-shirt underneath. The suit jacket is a great way to turn your plain T-shirt into a professional look. 

3. Know How To Dress Down Your Athleisure

If you’re looking to dress down your athleisure and look more fun casual than business casual, here are some things to try.

Wear sneakers or tennis shoes and a casual hoodie to downplay your outfit. This will help make your athleisure more casual. Throw on a baseball cap and merino crew socks for a more relaxed but equally fashionable look. 

For more casual athleisure, opt for sweatpants or track pants instead of joggers. These are still a fashion statement you can feel comfortable in and go to the gym without the same business casual versatility.

Look Good, Feel Good

Athleisure is a great way to look good in what you wear and feel good, too. It’s comfortable, versatile, and can make you confident and stylish no matter where you go. From the gym to the street and everywhere in between, let Olivers activewear take you there.


 How athleisure overtook fashion to become the dominant way that Americans dress | Business Insider 

Why Americans dress so casually | Washington Post  

For The Modern Man, The Sweatpant Moves Out Of The Gym | NPR 

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