Activewear is Not the Answer to Dressing Comfortably

July 19, 2016

Ginger BurrThe meteoric rise of the athleisure trend is evidence that women have given up on figuring out what to wear.

I’m serious!

After 30 years being an image consultant, a recent article on CBS news made me question whether I am in the right business anymore. I help women dress to feel beautiful (even in their casual clothes) and to express who they are. But, over the past few years, the emerging trends have undermined their efforts and desires!

In the article, “Dressing Down: The Rise of Athleisure”, the topic is how “Americans (American women especially) have made “athleisure” the hottest thing in the apparel industry.”

To me, the rise of the ‘athleisure’ trend means the death of self-expression. I see this trend taking hold and everywhere I look everyone looks like everyone else!

Where is the beauty in that?

The clothing you choose to wear is a form of personal self-expression. That’s true whether you love fashion or hate it. Even if what you wear makes no difference to you, you are still making a statement by what you put on each morning.

How you dress allows you to give people a sneak peek as to who you are. It allows you to look in the mirror and see a true expression of you shining back! And, yes, I know that choosing to wear workout wear daily is one form of self-expression. But it actually says nothing about you other than that you might go to the gym sometime today.

I have a theory about this.

I talk to women every single day about their clothing habits. Almost to a person they tell me they resort to workout wear because they feel frustrated in their efforts to find a wardrobe that is comfortable and makes them love how they look. They are very clear that they are not making a choice to wear their activewear regularly because they feel that it is the best expression of who they are. They are wearing these clothes because they have given up.

That’s the real story!

Sure, the athleisure trend makes it easy to get dressed and be done. You can blend in and while you might not feel special in your clothes you do feel comfortable and acceptable.

But, these women call me because acceptable is no longer good enough! It doesn’t cut it anymore. They want more.

In the article referenced above, Robbie Meyers, editor-in-chief of Elle Magazine, says, “The idea that Americans want to be comfortable no matter what they do certainly, you know, has permeated the culture.” And, Shaun Kearney, head of design at Fabletics, says that wearing athleisure wear constantly is “a complete, complete lifestyle shift.”

If this is where the world is headed I refuse to go!

While I totally subscribe to the desire to be comfortable in your clothes—I wouldn’t have it any other way—wearing my workout clothes 24/7 is not the best, and certainly not the only, answer.

If you are on board with boycotting the athleisure trend, let’s look at some alternatives that offer the same comfort level but with much more room for personal expression:


Yes, yoga pants are insanely comfy. And, if that’s your chosen bottom, you can dress them up with a pretty top and shoes.

These days many (but not all) yoga pants are leggings. The leggings below are one of my favorites. They are made of cotton and spandex and are comfortable and breathable. Not only that, but they come in a variety of great neutral colors.

If you are not a fan of leggings or you want another option in your closet, a slim straight leg or yoga pants with a slight flair also work.

And, for those of you who want the comfort of a yoga pant but the styling appropriate to the office, I just found these a ‘dress’ yoga pant with front and back pockets. They also come in a variety of neutral tones and several styles. Here is the bootcut (please note the model is wearing hers a bit too short):

And, my all-time favorite fabric is ponte knit. It is generally heavier than your typical legging and is so comfortable. Because of the weight of the fabric you do not feel as exposed wearing it with a shorter (but still butt-covering) top. You can find pants of all leg widths made in ponte knit. Here is my favorite ponte legging that also comes in three great neutral colors.


It is the stretch and softness of fabric that people are drawn to in their workout clothes. Guess what! Many clothes also have that same softness and stretch.

Here is a simple top in a gorgeous color:

Or, if you prefer something with sleeves, how about this (which also comes in many colors):

Add a simple T-shirt with an interesting texture like this:

Or rather than a solid color, how about a pretty print:

These are just a few of the tops I suggest in this special catalogue HERE. You will want to see the tops I found with interesting side or back detail that add that little extra pizzazz while still staying casual.

As one client said to me, “It takes no more time to dress in something I like than in something I don’t.” The key, of course, is having things you like in your closet. These ideas here are to inspire you and get you started!

Complete the Outfit

Even when you are dressing casually completing the outfit makes you feel great wearing it. That means having shoes you can step into that blend with the outfit. Believe me, I work with a lot of women who have issues with their feet and the shoes they can wear. For every one of them we have found shoes that work with all of their clothes. Yes, it might take a bit more searching and trying new things, but the choices are out there.

Another way of completing the outfit or taking it from the realm of workout wear to something a step above, is to accessorize. I know part of the idea of wearing something casual is to keep it easy so you can get dressed without expending too much mental energy. That’s why having a couple pairs of fun, casual earrings, for instance, or a couple of scarves that will go with a lot of things will make all the difference in the world.

For example, let’s say you want to wear this very basic top from Covered Perfectly in a popular cotton/poly blend.

Everyone has a different idea of what a casual earring looks like. I am sharing a few ideas below and many more (at a variety of price points) HERE. For now, let me share these three:

Or perhaps you want something with color like these sea glass earrings:

Or something more artsy and funky like this…

Scarves work nicely, too. This one has a lovely dragonfly motif and will go with periwinkle, teal, navy, off-white or even black:

Or keep it simple and very versatile with an off-white linen scarf that you can toss on over anything.

And, of course, I have many more gorgeous ideas to show you HERE.

Avoid Extra Fuss

Since getting dressed quickly and easily is important, being sure you don’t have to fuss or primp is key. Not only that but you want to choose items that are flattering and won’t make you look like you just rolled out of bed. That’s why I have a segment on the catalogue page that shows you some items to avoid with explanations about why I do not recommend them. You will find them HERE (scroll down to the bottom).

If you have two or three beautiful, versatile, casual outfits you can wear regularly you won’t ever feel deprived. Not only that, but it will not take you long to get dressed. Grab your favorite comfy pants, one of your tops and a pair of your favorite casual earrings or a scarf and you are done.

Do you have a favorite comfy, casual top? Share it in the comments below.

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If trying to figure this out on your own feels overwhelming, don’t worry. You can lean on me this season and I will help you find ease in the clothes that are right for you making all the variables come together beautifully.

While gym clothes are comfy they do nothing to make you feel special or to reflect your personality. If you have been struggling with how to move beyond yoga pants and workout tops, perhaps these suggestions will help and if you need more personalized help, check out the ‘Styled by Ginger’ program. As Jen from Switzerland says, “I’m starting to feel like you’re my personal stylist.”

One of the nice things about the ‘Styled by Ginger’ program is that it’s a monthly program so there is no long commitment required. Check it out for a month and see if you like it! If you don’t, you can cancel your subscription. It’s that easy!

If you prefer one-on-one support with your wardrobe, feel free to schedule an exploration call with me here: This is an opportunity to explore the possibilities without pressure and no obligation. Let’s see how to make this all easier and more efficient for you so you can feel wonderful in everything you wear!

Or find out more about my Styled by Ginger program.

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A Note About the Clothes: All of the garments pictured here (and in the catalogue) are vegan (made from fabrics that did not harm any animals). Please note that I am passionate about ending animal suffering and choosing cruelty-free clothing is just one aspect of a vegan lifestyle. If you have any questions about being vegan or what fabrics are vegan please let me know. I am happy to help and will answer any questions with kindness and compassion.

Some of the affiliate links may generate commissions for Total Image Consultants. This helps support the time spent creating these very specific recommendations.

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