It’s a sentence we’re heard thousands of times – fashion isn’t about comfort, it’s about looking good. We see it on the runways, we’ve seen it countless times while re-watching The Devil Wears Prada and Ugly Betty – if that was your guilty pleasure TV show. And even though we’ve come a long way in our efforts to make the world of comfort meet fashion at least halfway, there are still certain items that don’t meet the requirements – like the plastic shoes one Vogue writer is particularly outraged with. Yes, certain fashion items can be highly uncomfortable, not to mention even harmful to our posture, like these ridiculous shoes, but there is an overall sense of hope that we can truly have it all – impeccable style and comfort at the same time. Let’s explore, shall we?
We’ve come a long way
Dressing for comfort, which mainly includes rocking sweats, used to be something associated with tragic moments our favorite movie heroes and heroines go through at one point in their life – case in point, Tom from 500 Days of Summer, Bridget Jones and countless others. Now, sweats aren’t only NOT a sign that you a) have given up or b) are on your way to the gym – they’ve become a fashion statement. The runways say so; FentyxPuma says so; Bella Hadid and numerous other models say so, and even Beyoncé while performing at Coachella in a hoodie and cutoff shorts says so, so it’s safe to say that we too can slay in comfortable clothing, whether they’re sweats, or simple boyfriend jeans and a tee – Kendall Jenner-style. Even puffy jackets that look like duvet covers are having a moment, so we can say with certainty – anything short of a potato sack is a go.
The pursuit of wellness
It’s safe to say that the entire concept of comfort meets fashion began when people started being more conscientious about their well-being. We live in a hectic world in which we have tons of errands to do in a single day, and possibly cram in a bit of social life while we’re at it. No one has the time to go home and change three times a day, so people were in desperate need of clothing that would be comfy and practical, without looking like they’re going through an existential crisis. As a study on the importance of clothing comfort states: “Consumers prefer garments that not only look good, but also feel good, especially during the last years because of their increased consciousness about a better life.”
How does one achieve the perfect balance?
The first thing you need to do when attempting to create a wardrobe that is the perfect amalgamation of these two worlds is to have a defined sense of style and follow your own vision of what constitutes a beautiful garment. Why? Because as much as comfort has to do with the type of fabric that touches your skin or the kind of shoes that give you optimal comfort, it also has to do with your attitude; you won’t feel comfortable if you’re outside your comfort zone. Some people simply feel good in a power suit, and that is completely fine. As long as a garment or an outfit gives you confidence and breathability, it can be anything from a tight little black dress to leggings, mom jeans and a pair of trendy women’s Birkenstock. The best thing is, the fashion industry has become so diverse, that each and every one of these items is hot, so you no longer have to make compromises and sacrifices because, in today’s world of fashion, the mantra says – anything goes. If Crocks can be worn with a tulle skirt and a sweatshirt on a runway during Fashion Week, it’s safe to say that what is considered allowed and what not has definitely been loosened.
So what changed the fashion game?
As the quote cited from the study states – we want to feel good while looking good, and there used to be a huge gap – BA – before athleisure. This, now, bona fide lifestyle that is not just a trend or a fad anymore has taken over global fashion and everyone wants a piece of the cake. Renowned sportswear and streetwear companies are upping their game in the ‘beauty’ department, creating sneakers and clothing garments that are no longer just comfortable but presentable as well, and even high-end brands have come up with their own version, either by creating luxury athleisure lines or teaming up with sportswear brands to create collaborative lines.
The best part
Since athleisure is a mixture of athletic and leisure, it has plenty of room to expand its meaning, and that’s exactly what it’s doing. It’s not just about wearing sweatpants to brunch, it’s about mixing more traditional chic garments with athletic ones so the whole comfort thing can look even office appropriate. For instance – it is now acceptable, if not a total fashion yes, to wear a dress with sleek tennis shoes to work. It’s also acceptable to rock this kind of look on a date. You can wear a chic pair of culottes or wide-leg trousers, put on a regular sweatshirt and an oversized blazer on top – and you’re office gold.
We have a sneaking suspicion that the athleisure phenomenon will just keep on expanding, simply because people have finally cracked the code and made these two worlds meet, and that’s not something we’ll be willing to let go anytime soon. Athleisure will live on, come up with new combinations and even innovative garments – who knows what the future holds? Well, we do know one thing.
Fashion and comfort already do and will continue to coexist, and even fabrics will become softer, less processed and more sustainable – at least according to the pledges made at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, so hopefully, whatever garment you choose to wear, it will feel like a cozy blanket.
Who is the writer?
Claire Hastings is a design student and a psychology freshmen from Australia. She been writing for as long as she can remember, and tries to make a symbiosis of all her interests through her writing pieces.