The latest fashion trend for women of all ages and shapes is body-hugging leggings and sporty jackets.
By Stacia Friedman
On the runway for Spring 2017: Leonard bomber jacket, Tommy Hilfiger jacket, and Max Mara jumpsuit. Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid in leggings. Below right: Jill Stuart leggings.
The fashion industry calls it “Athleisure”—activewear that moves effortlessly from yoga class to lunch with friends to evening events. It started when women discovered that Lululemon leggings made their butts look better than any pants they had ever owned. Why wear jeans or slacks when you can pop a cashmere cardigan or leather jacket over leggings. Add snazzy accessories and you’re good to go!
It didn’t take long for body-contouring leggings, tops and jackets to relocate as mainstream fashion on designer runways. Embraced initially by the under-30 set, there is no age limit to this super comfy, breezy look. The idea is to mix and match. Pair leggings with a silky top and chunky boots. Or a jogging jacket with jeans. Can you wear heels with leggings? Absolutely!
Avoid the logo trap. While it’s fine to have one Adidas logo on your T-shirt, jersey or shoes, you don’t want to look like a walking ad for any brand. The best part? You don’t have to be a gym rat, jogger or yoga fan to latch onto the look. You can be a couch potato (like me) and look as chic and stylish as gals who dash from Pilates to Bergdorf’s.
It started with Lulu
Lululemon wasn’t the first brand of body-contouring leggings. But Lulu was the first to be passionately embraced by the yoga, Pilates and spinning crowd who, overnight, gave the brand cult status, championing its ability to shrink-wrap your tuchis. At $98 a pair Lulu’s leggings are not cheap, but woman clearly don’t mind paying more for a shapely derriere.
Lululemon Wunder Under Pant, Wunder Under Shibori, Fast & Free 7/8, and Wunder Under Pant from The Casual Classic by Dana Pauly.
The Vancouver-based brand has ten stores in Manhattan. Their motto is “Yoga is at the heart of everything we do.” Judging from the exercise-adverse women I know who are addicted to Lululemon, they might want to change this motto to, “Comfort is at the heart of everything we do.”
Lulu’s best seller, Wunder Under Pant, comes in black, white, navy, heather and slate. Designed to fit like a second skin, it has a high waistband designed to lie flat, which conceals a tiny pocket for keys or credit card. Mix it with Eileen Fisher separates. The sweat-wicking, breath-taking four-way stretch Luon® fabric is cottony soft and offers excellent stretch and recovery. $98 at Lululemon shops or online.
Every department store and designer brand is aboard the athletic leisure train, offering a huge array of styles (and prices) from Michael Kors to DKNY, from Macy’s to Saks. Even Versace.
Nordstrom features Zella Live-In Leggings in green balsam or black, with hidden waistband pockets and moisture wicking fabric for only $54. (Yes, ladies, same look as Lululemon at half the price!) Perfect for spring and summer. Just add a hip-skimming top, straw hat and canvas sliders.
Prefer a looser fit? Slip into Zella’s Run-the-Track Pants, a relaxed, easy fit, ankle length pant you’ll wear everywhere. If there’s one pair of athletic leisure pants you need—this is it! Comfy drawstring waist, side seam pockets and stretchy, moisture-wicking fabric. In black, $79 at Nordstrom. (Psst! You’ll find the same pants by Macy’s private label brand Karen Scott at $17.98).
Speaking of Karen Scott, her French Terry Capri Pants(not shown) are great for getting around town and country. Pull-on, draw-string pants in cotton/spandex are super comfy and have patch pockets. Black, navy, white and chambray. On sale $20 at Macy’s.
Soft bomber jacket by Uniqlo, mesh bomber jacket by Zella, Alo Yoga’s quilted bomber jacket, and Emanuelle Alt wearing a bomber jacket and leather pencil skirt from That’s Not My Age.
Pair any of these pants with Zella’s black or white To the Max Mesh Bomber with zipper closures and zip pockets. Perfect for daily dashing about town or Sunday Brunch. Pair with a cotton baseball cap and jeans. $119 at Nordstrom.
This Soft Bomber Jacket pairs well with leggings, jeans or pop it over a dress for a casual look. In pink, black or light grey. Polyester with cotton ribbing. Just $40 at Uniqlo.
Or light up the night with Alo Yoga’s Quilted Bomber Jacket in metallic silver foil with zip-front and ribbed collar, cuffs and hem. Pair this sexy bomber with black leggings or denim jeans and booties. If flash isn’t your style, the jacket also comes in Olive or Navy. $168. Don’t let your daughter or niece see it. They’ll quickly snatch it!
Not a pants person? Make a statement with the Adidas 3-Stripes Dress. This soft, stretchy, cotton, crew neck T-shirt, midi-dress with three-quarter sleeves will give you lots of street credit with its white striped sleeves, discreet logo and body-slimming fit. In black with white stripes, 93% cotton, 7% Elastane. $79 at Nordstrom. Pair with hip-skimming white cardigan and platform, slide-in sneakers.
Get Wet, Stay Dry
For spring and summer, you’ll want a sporty, stylish, lightweight, waterproof jacket that doesn’t call to mind camping trips or mail order catalogues. The most refreshing splash-proof jackets we’ve seen come from Helly Hansen, a Norwegian brand that blends technology with fashion. We love Helly Hansen’s Waterproof Coat in marine blue with black dots. This waterproof, windproof and breathable Helly Tech® jacket is cut for a flattering fit with an attached hood, zippered pockets, adjustable cuffs and a cinch-cord hem. $135 at Nordstrom.
For more coverage, try Helly Hansens’ Belfast Water Resistant Jacket with zip pockets, adjustable hood, in shell pink. Two-way front-zip closure opens from the top and bottom for a more comfortable fit. Quick-dry mesh liner keeps you cool and comfortable. What do we like most? Its slim fit, uncluttered styling and delicious color. Pair with jeans or leggings. $160 at Nordstrom.
Under it all
Your bra should be as comfy and supportive as your clothes. Check out Wacoal’s Underwire Sports Bra in nude, black or royal blue. This soft and supportive sports bra is fashioned with wide shoulder straps and a powerful exterior underwire for an exceptionally secure and comfortable fit. Moisture-wicking fabric keeps your skin cool and dry. Convertible straps can also be worn crossed in back. $65 at Nordstrom.
Don’t want underwiring? Try DKNY’s Low Impact Energy Bralette in heather, blue, black, grey, lilac and white. Soft and seamless with adjustable straps, it comes with removable molded foam cups and wide elastic band with DKNY logo and back closure; $28 at Macy’s. Matching bikini panty $12.
Never fear! Almost every brand and retailer carries plus-size activewear. We especially like Marika Curves Elizabeth Slimming Tee in bolt blue or black. The shirred sides enhance the slenderizing look with a V-neckline and slim contoured seams. $36 at Nordstrom.
Yes, you can wear lace-up running shoes, but that’s sooo last year. This year the happiest feet in town will be scooting around in Steve Madden’s Eccentric-Q Platform Sneakers. The key word is “platform.” These round-toed, quilted platform sneakers with padded insoles put two inches of rubber between you and the pavement. That means less stress on your feet and add inches to your height. What’s not to like? In blush, black and grey. $59.98 at Macy’s.
Stacia Friedman is an award-winning Philadelphia-based journalist who writes on health and lifestyle for regional and national magazines. She also contributes humorous essays to NewsWorks.org and PurpleClover.com.