We may never be able to definitively pinpoint what gave rise to athleisure, but my suspicions are that it’s closely related to the boutique studio boom, mainstream-ification of wellness, and the melding of comfort and style. As athleisure moves from the realm of novel trend to aesthetic du jour, it’s begun to go through a transformation resulting in an evolution that’s given rise to things like leisurée, workleisure, and now, bathleisure.
As the name implies, the trend is made up of clothing derived from materials and styles you likely associate with your self-care or wind down routines—the moments of the day when you’re at your most relaxed and comfortable. Think pajamas you can wear out of the house, robes as dresses, slippers as shoes (á la Justin Bieber).
This current incarnation of sport-tinged streetwear seems to be answering a new set of questions brought on by changing career lifestyles and shopping habits.
This current incarnation of sport-tinged streetwear seems to be answering a new set of questions brought on by changing career lifestyles and shopping habits. “Everyone is constantly on the run and it’s important to be in an outfit that you know can work for any occasion,” says Lili Chemla of Liana (a casual clothing brand that fully embraces the bathleisure trend). Why? “People are tired of sacrificing their comfort for style,” she believes. It’s true, we’re all doing more, traveling more, and generally in need of clothing that’s going to act as a comfort blanket (both literally and symbolically) in our pursuits of happiness and living our best lives.
Taken to its absolute extreme, bathleisure is literally wearing your bathrobe with your hair wrapped in a towel out in public, a look British singer Rita Ora recently rocked on a red carpet. At its most accessible and realistic, the trend means wearing clothing that feel like pajamas that are more tailored and finessed. “Wrapping the body in soft textured fabrics that are understated and easy to style is the essence of this trend,” says Jac Cameron, co-founder and creative director of the seasonless fashion line AYR.
In looking for clothing that you could sleep in but won’t, it’s essentially a balancing act of features that make clothing cozy (elastic waistbands) and materials (terrycloth, silk, charmeuse) or silhouettes (robe coats, matching sets). They’re items you could feasibly slip into out of the tub, which have been re-worked for real-world settings like the office or running errands.
But since you’re wearing clothes that you can (and might) actually sleep in, you’ll need to take extra measure to ensure that you don’t look like you rolled off the couch after a 9 hour Netflix binge session. Cameron says it’s about adding styling details that aren’t synonymous with your bedtime look such as adding a cinched waist or a rolled sleeve. You can also keep your bathleisure from looking too frumpy by adding some statement earrings and a pair of platform sneakers.
Ultimately bathleisure is about clothing that makes you feel comfortable and confident, which is really the most you can ask for from your wardrobe.
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