Is It Acceptable to Wear Workout Clothes Outside the Gym?

As workout wear becomes more and more stylish, it’s more than okay to wear it anywhere and always.

In certain circles, athleisure can be a dirty word. It conjures up images of the schlumpy and the slovenly, of men or women who have given up, choosing comfort over style, or, contrary to the active lifestyle it implies, spend most of the day on the couch, bingewatching shows on Netflix.

But naysayers should consider how athleisure, a category of clothing that can be worn for both athletic and leisurely pursuits, is evolving, becoming more stylish and less like the slightly dressed-up version of what you’d wear to the gym. “I definitely love athleisure,” says Julia Morales, founder of the Sweat Pants Project. “And contrary to what some people may think, athleisure goes beyond comfort. The current pieces are so sleek and fashionable.”

Salmon-colored sweatpants from the Sweat Pants Project and pieces from LCP

Sweat Pants Project focuses on performance wear with a graphic punch. A few of their prints are made exclusively for the label. You might have already seen their most popular style, a pair of booty-lifting and tummy-flattening leggings in ombré pink, at your spinning class. The bright hue was an unlikely color treatment for workout bottoms, and something that even Morales wasn’t sure that Filipinas would embrace. “But we were surprised that our clients really appreciated the unique design,” says Morales, who notes that repeat orders are coming in from women keen on collecting the style in all colors (more variations have come out in late 2016).

The online shopping hub Love, Candypie or LCP also offers an array of fashionable sportswear from Mara Hoffman, Michi, Vie Active, and its newest addition, Koral Activewear, to complement its collection of cocktail dresses and daywear. “I’m a woman on the go, and I also want my activewear to be my casualwear. That’s why we chose these brands because they all have pieces you can easily use for absolutely any occasion—running errands, going out for lunch, and working out, all while still looking chic,” says owner Pie Alvarez, whose exercise regimen includes cardio five times a week plus running, spinning, and Pilates. Her favorites from Koral include the high-rise Mystic leggings and the leather-embellished Void sports bra, both of which are soft and breathable.


"Personally, I like it when activewear is worn with jackets or long-sleeved coverups,” says Morales. “Also, pairing them with a leather bag and pearl earrings makes the entire outfit look more polished.” You can also wear the multi-strap Michi Phoenix bra from LCP with a bomber jacket and biker boots around the city and then remove the jacket and switch into trainers when you finally land at the gym—where you can take advantage of the made-for-sports aspects of these clothes: they offer maximum compression, are comfortable, and quick-drying.

As the culture of looking fit and being healthy grows in Manila, many women are finding themselves in some sort of physical activity at least three times a week. It’s only natural for workout wear to become everyday wear. Julia observes clients sporting her clothes on morning appointments all the way to happy hour with girlfriends. “But the most pleasant surprise is getting clients from the weight-lifting circuit, those who actually compete and lift heavy weights,” she says.

Alvarez likewise sees her LCP women wearing activewear on hikes as well as at cocktails, sometimes dressed up with a crisp blazer. “I wear it to work,” she adds. And it’s more than okay to do it. You put on a cashmere crewneck sweater and wear it with a pair of skinny joggers and leather sneakers. You don’t think it’s athleisure. You just think it’s a great outfit—and then you go. Sweat Pants Project, 0995.250.0958; Love, Candypie, shop.lcp.com.

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Clifford Olanday
Senior Fashion Editor, Esquire Philippines
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