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Men’s athleisure: When boosting your style means dressing down

If you’re going shopping for casuals soon, do yourself a favor: stay away from plaid shirts.

The lumberjack look beloved of hipsters is now on its way out. The current darling, on the other hand, draws inspiration less from Paul Bunyan and more from your fitness trainer. It favors cotton and spandex and a somber monochromatic palette. The creative people at the fashion magazines and brands’ marketing departments have christened it “athleisure” as it resembles what real athletes wear in their trainings but made for leisurely activities instead, like work and clubbing.

Although much-decried during its early days by critics who thought it a faux pas to wear gym clothes in places other than the gym, there’s no stopping athleisure. From Alexander Wang to Ermenegildo Zegna, every major fashion brand now has its own athleisure line. Blame it on Mark Zuckerberg who appears before the public in hoodies instead of a three-piece suit, looking more like a college kid just come from gym class than a tech mogul.

Fashion observers say more than a fad, the rise of athleisure is a sign of a far-reaching cultural shift: a preference for comfort to aesthetics, a less hierarchical workplace, and a blurring of the lines that separate work, home, and other areas of our lives. In 2016, the term “athleisure” even made it to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. It’s here to stay, so you might as well learn how to work it. Find inspiration in these items we’ve collected from the June 2017 issues of GQ UK and Triathlete:

Sweatshirts flatter the figure. Athleisure is often represented by the sweatshirt-and-sweatpants ensemble. The trend these days for sweatshirts is crewneck with cuffed sleeves with a dark colorblock design, like this pullover from Next. Men’s lifestyle blog The Art of Manliness says beyond keeping you warm, the sweatshirt also makes for a flattering garment: it gives a skinny guy heft and streamlines a larger dude’s frame.

Next-Khaki Chevron Sweatshirt
Next | Khaki Chevron Sweatshirt – $63
International shipping weight – 0.5 kg
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Layers add depth. While athleisure emphasizes comfort, layering is not lost on this style. The vest, like this one from Swrve, is your best bet for a layering item especially during colder months. Like the sweatshirt, it can be flattering when worn right, adding volume to your body if you’re on the slim side. Wear one over a shirt like this cyclist’s shirt from Giro to give your outfit depth.

Swrve-KEIU waterproof VEST
Swrve |KEIU Waterproof Vest – $150
International shipping weight – 0.5kg
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Giro-CA Ride Crew Pocket Shirt
Giro | CA Ride Crew Pocket Shirt – $75.97
International shipping weight – 0.5 kg
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Cuffed hems draw attention to sneakers. The sweatpants that define athleisure are a far cry from the sweatpants of old in terms of style. They lack the baggy legs that were the 90s rap scene’s signature look and have instead those that taper towards the feet, giving it a neat, streamlined look. Perhaps their most recognizable detail, athleisure pants, like athleisure sweatshirts, have cuffed hems. The cinched hems, men’s lifestyle blog Kinowear says, are meant to draw attention to your shoes, so choose dark-colored sweatshirts that will not compete for attention with your pretty sneakers, like this pair from Paul Smith. If your sneakers bear the haute couture label Valentino, by all means, let the world know.

Paul Smith-Black Loopback-Cotton Sweatpants
Paul Smith | Black Loopback-Cotton Sweatpants – $180.00
International shipping weight – 0.5 kg
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Valentino-Rockrunner Sneaker
Valentino | Rockrunner Sneaker – $595.00
International shipping weight – 3.5 kg
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Anything you’re comfortable in can be athleisure While the cuffed sweatshirt-sweatpants tandem is the most popular, athleisure looks go beyond it. At its heart is comfort, so practically whatever you’re comfortable wearing can be an athleisure piece. If it’s comfort you’re seeking, turn to Lacoste for this pair of sky-blue chinos. It’s made of 100% cotton and has hems that can be rolled for a cuffed style. Combine this with the Republic LX cyclist shoes from Giro, which best exemplify beauty and brawn: although designed for professional cyclists, it has a leather upper material fashioned like Italian dress shoes.

Lacoste-Regular Fit Cotton Twill Chino Pants
Lacoste | Regular Fit Cotton Twill Chino Pants – $48.99
International shipping weight – 1 kg
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GIro-Republic LX Shoes
GIro | Republic LX Shoes – $189.95
International shipping weight – 3.5 kg
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Accessorize subtly. How do you pick the right accessories for a style that’s all about dressing down? Should you be accessorizing at all?  When it comes to accessorizing athleisure, the keyword is “understatement”. Luxury brands like Massimo Dutti and Louis Vuitton have joined the athleisure bandwagon and are extending the elegance they’re known for in their own athleisure items. Add a touch of class to your athleisure outfit with Massimo Dutti’s Soft Technical backpack or Louis Vuitton’s Keepall 55 Bandouliere.

For your tech bling, we recommend a trusted name in timepieces, Tag Heuer. Its Connected Modular 45 is an electronic jewelry with titanium casing and buckle and vulcanized rubber for strap.

Massimo Dutti-Soft Technical Backpack
Massimo Dutti | Soft Technical Backpack – $120.00
International shipping weight – 5.5 kg
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Louis Vuitton-Keepall 55 Bandoulière
Louis Vuitton | Keepall 55 Bandoulière – $2,220.00
International shipping weight – 7.0 kg
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Louis Vuitton-Keepall 55 Bandoulière
Tag Heuer | Connected Modular 45 – $1,700
International shipping weight – 2 kg
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