What Is Athleisure?

Chris Ondatje August 18, 2021
Woman stretching on her terrace dressed in athletic wear

By: Heather Bien

Long gone are the days of rushing home after a workout to change out of your oversized, stained T-shirt and ratty leggings before heading into the office. Today, athletic wear is better looking, better fitting, and better designed than ever before. Think: bamboo joggers for women. Some people even like to wear their gym clothes all day, whether they hit the treadmill or not. 

This comfortable athletic gear is called athleisure apparel

Ever since Lululemon capitalized on the versatility of yoga pants in the 2010s, clothing companies have been vying for a top spot among athleisure brands as they realize this style appeals to, well, just about everyone.1

In this guide, we’ll define what is athleisure wear, how the athleisure fashion term and sustainable athleisure trend came to be, and how you can successfully pull off this look. Check it out. 

Young woman smiling sitting on a high chair dressed in athletic wear

Defining Athleisure

There’s something about comfortable, stylish athleisure clothes that everyone from gym rats to fashion gurus can’t get enough of—experts have said that athleisure is a $300 billion dollar international industry.2f realize this style appeals to, well, just about  

Forbes has even gone so far as to declare that athleisure is the “defining fashion trend of the 21st century.”3

Even celebrities and top fashion designers are cashing in on the athleisure industry: Stella McCartney has a line with Adidas, Tory Burch has Tory Sport, Kate Hudson has Fabletics, and Beyonce has Ivy Park.2

It’s important to note: While athleisure can be just about any hybrid of stylish, comfortable, athletic clothing, it is not always the kind of gear you want to actually work out in. Some items in the athleisure market are meant purely for show, not for wicking sweat or staying dry during an hour-long HIIT class. It’s also important to note that there is a difference between loungewear and athleisure; to learn more, we’ve written in detail about what is loungewear for your convenience. 

Athleisure is sportswear meets business casual wear, and can include the omnipresent yoga pants, as well as sneakers, hoodies, jackets, and even dresses.4 

The best athleisure is a balance of fashion and function—yes, you want your matching yoga set to look cute, but you also want comfortable clothing that stays in place and supports you during your hot vinyasa class. 

Young woman in athletic wear standing on a street

A Short History of Athleisure

So what does athleisure mean and where did this term originate? 

The term athleisure—athletic and leisure—first appeared in an issue of Nation’s Business in 1979, used to, “describe garments and shoes designed for those who want to appear athletic.”2 

Emphasis, here, on “appear.” 

In 1997, Women’s Wear Daily used “athleisure footwear” to describe “non-performance styles such as canvas and suede.” 

Again “non-performance” or “athletic for appearances sake” continued to be the defining factor of athleisure until 2016, when the term made its way in Merriam-Webster.

Athleisure has evolved from traditional sportswear to the everyday wear aesthetic we know today due in large part to advances in technology. Today, designers can use breathable, sweat-wicking fabric to create coveted athleisure staples that seamlessly transition from the street to the office to brunch to, yes, an actual gym.2

Young woman in jeans and athletic shirt standing next to a wall

womens bamboo clothing

How to Rock an Athleisure Aesthetic 

Creating your own athleisure wardrobe is pretty straightforward. 

Simply choose athletic (or athletic-looking) items you know you’ll be able to wear for multiple situations. The most versatile athleisure is typically slim-fitting and neutral, making it just as easy to accessorize with tennis shoes as it is with stilettos. 

Some athleisure outfit aficionados have never run a mile in their lives, some people slip into athleisure as one of their ways to relax before bed, while other folks who gravitate toward this look actually plan to sweat a little in their outfits, or plan to pull on their athleisure immediately post-sweat.  

If you fall into the latter category, you’ll want to invest in soft, breathable clothing made out of textiles like bamboo clothing viscose and organic cotton. 

Boody Eco Wear has sleek, neutral bamboo joggers and pullovers that are sure to complete your dream athleisure look.5 Wondering how to style joggersYou can pair these soft staples with Boody Eco Wear activewear: try wearing the racerback sports bra with joggers or the active high-waisted short leggings with that uber soft pullover. 

Complete Your Athleisure Look With Boody Eco Wear 

The near universal appeal of athleisure stems from our natural desire to want to be comfortable as often as possible, for as long as possible. While leaving the house in sweats is still a bit taboo, leaving the house in a sleek athleisure getup is perfectly acceptable, even encouraged. 

The definition of athleisure has evolved over time, and the companies that specialize in this style continue to expand, from traditional sportswear brands to designers that are best known for sandals and handbags. 

When putting together your best athleisure look, remember to strike that happy balance between function and fashion. With Boody Eco Wear, you can rest assured knowing you’ll receive compliments on the street in your Weekend joggers or sustainable leggings—even if you’re still rocking that post-yoga glow. 


About the Author:

Heather Bien is a copywriter and writer based in Washington, DC. She works with retail, ecommerce, and creative brands on their website copy and digital presence, and her freelance writing has appeared on MyDomaine, Apartment Therapy, The Everygirl, and more. When she's not with laptop and coffee in hand, you'll find her planning her next weekend getaway, working on her budding green thumb, or scouting for her next great vintage find.


  1. Investopedia. Athleisure Definition. 
  2. Fashionista. Fashion History Lesson: The Origins, And Explosive Growth, of Athleisure. 
  3. Forbes. Why The Word "Athleisure" Is Completely Misunderstood. 
  4. Business Insider. Athleisure is not just a trend — it's a fundamental shift in how Americans dress. 
  5. Boody Eco Wear. Bamboo Athleisure & Sweats. 
  6. Elle. 26 Best Athleisure Brands To Get You Through 2021 

You may also like

The Best Father's Day 2023 Gifts...according to Boody


The Best Father's Day 2023 Gifts...according to Boody

Father’s Day takes place on the third Sunday in June; this year it’s June 18th, 2023. For many of us, buying both a thoughtful and useful gift for our father’s and fatherly figures can typically prove to be a dilemma.

What to Look for When Buying Activewear


What to Look for When Buying Activewear

When it comes to what you workout in, it's important to consider how they make you feel and look—but also their impact on the environment. That's where sustainable activewear by Boody comes in.

What is Organic Cotton?


What is Organic Cotton?

By: Heather Bien We’re all trying to be better stewards of Mother Earth. From recycling to upcycling and eating conscientiously to dressing mindfully, our choices affect the planet. So choosing organic cotton clothing seems like an easy decision, right? Not so fast! As with all sustainable choices, it’s important to take a moment to learn a bit more about why organic cotton might win over conventional cotton—and what makes these two materials different in the first place. Read on if you’re interested in learning about organic cotton and whether it’s the best choice for you and the environment. Conventional cotton Before we get into debating modern cotton farming techniques, let’s get familiar with the plant we’re talking about: cotton. It’s soft, durable, and probably on your body right now. But what else do you really know about cotton? Here are the basics: Cotton comes from the cotton plant – The cotton plant is a warm-season woody perennial shrub from the genus Gossypium and the family Malvaceae. Cotton fabric is made from the plant’s fibrous seed-hair (which is also called a cotton boll). Cotton is one of the top agricultural crops – Traditional cotton is the most widespread and profitable non-food crop in the world. Although the plant is capable of growing in any warm-weather climate, India and China are now the top producers of cotton globally. Cotton is thirsty – A normal cotton plant requires 10 gallons of water to reach peak potential. That doesn’t sound so bad, but multiplying it outward, that means it takes about 5,000 gallons of water to produce just 2.2 pounds of cotton fabric. Pests think it’s delicious – Not only is cotton thirsty, but it’s prone to pest infestations from bollworms, weevils, aphids, stink bugs, thrips, and spider mites. In order to combat these common pests, conventional cotton is routinely sprayed with a veritable salad-dressing of pesticides, many of which can remain in the soil and water supply for years afterward. Cotton harvesting requires defoliation – In order to quickly and efficiently harvest cotton, many commercial growers use chemical defoliants to strip the leaves from the cotton plant prior to harvesting the bolls. Like pesticides, these chemicals remain in the environment and on the cotton itself. Is organic cotton better? All of those cotton factoids point pretty compellingly to buying and wearing organic cotton fabric. But first, it’s important to understand what sets this organic alternative apart. Why exactly is “organic” cotton anyway? You might associate the word organic with your healthy fruits and veggies, but it’s not always clear what this term means when it comes to cotton. For many years, there was not a standard definition, but today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) require that any cotton product labeled “organic” meet the following criteria: Made with fibers from USDA-certified organic crops Third-party certified (ie., through the Global Organic Textile Standard) under the National Organic Program standards Has a specific percentage of organic material (depending on the crop) But this definition is a little circular, so we need also to define USDA-certified organic crops. According to the USDA, organic crop standards are defined as follows: Land must have had no prohibited substances applied to it for at least three years before the harvest of an organic crop. Soil fertility and crop nutrients will be managed through tillage and cultivation practices, crop rotations, and cover crops. These can be supplemented with animal and crop waste materials and allowed synthetic materials. Crop pests, weeds, and diseases will be controlled primarily through management practices, including physical, mechanical, and biological controls. When these practices are not sufficient, a biological, botanical, or synthetic substance approved for use on the National List may be used. Operations must use organic seeds and other planting stock when available. The use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, and sewage sludge is prohibited. What is organic cotton? In short, it’s cotton that is farmed according to these practices and certified organic by the USDA. Why should you choose organic cotton? With fewer pesticides, fewer synthetic chemicals, and more thoughtful cultivation practices, organic cotton can certainly offer a more environmentally friendly choice when compared to regular cotton. Is organic cotton sustainable?  Here are a few other reasons why organic cotton can be a better alternative for you and the earth: It’s better for our water resources – According to an analysis by the Textile Exchange, producing an organic cotton T-shirt requires 1,982 fewer gallons of water compared to a regular cotton T-shirt. Because organic cotton uses less chemicals, its production also releases fewer toxins into our aquatic ecosystems. It’s good for the soil (and our carbon footprint) – According to the Soil Association, the more natural cultivation practices and fewer pesticides used by organic cotton farmers can support healthier soil. That soil, in turn, can absorb more carbon from our atmosphere and help keep the planet healthy. It encourages biodiversity – Multiple studies have shown that organic farming practices can encourage more diversity among the animal species of our planet. Sustainability is sometimes in the eye of the beholder. But when it comes to plant-derived textiles, the ones which help us create a healthier world are always a better alternative.  Explore the benefits of bamboo with Boody Whether you choose to purchase conventional or organic cotton clothing, the fact that you are shopping mindfully for yourself is a win for the environment. At Boody, we believe in bringing you quality, comfy, sustainable clothing basics that keep you feeling good about yourself and your personal impact on Mother Earth. From our sleepwear to our loungewear, women’s bamboo shirts to our underwear, sustainable and ethical are our touchstones. Our clothing is made of bamboo viscose, requiring less water than cotton while putting precious oxygen back into the environment. That just feels good, doesn’t it? Explore the bamboo benefits today, with Boody. Sources:  Britannica. Cotton. Cotton. The Story of Cotton - Where Cotton Grows. World Wildlife Federation. Cotton. Textile Exchange. Quick Guide to Organic Cotton. Soil Association. What is organic cotton?  USDA. Conservation and Biological Diversity in Organic Production. About the Author: Heather Bien is a copywriter and writer based in Washington, DC. She works with retail, ecommerce, and creative brands on their website copy and digital presence, and her freelance writing has appeared on MyDomaine, Apartment Therapy, The Everygirl, and more. When she's not with laptop and coffee in hand, you'll find her planning her next weekend getaway, working on her budding green thumb, or scouting for her next great vintage find.