The Difference Between Sweats and Leggings

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It’s not secret that I’m not a big fan of the athleisure wear trend. There’s something disconcerting about women consecrating sweat pants as the new “pants pants.” (Remember, there’s a reason that Juicy Couture has slid into the mass market.)

But now that I’m bouncing in and out of more than 15 gym classes per month, I’ve been forced to publicly embrace the athleisure trend. I’m most forgiving when it comes to leggings. They’re more polished and snazzy than sweats — and in some instances, athletic leggings have as many sophisticated and flattering details as regular pants.

Here are some of the ways I’ve been wearing my workout gear:

Leggings: American Eagle | Shirt: Flea Market Find | Slides: Adidas | Headband: scünci | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban
Leggings: American Eagle | Shirt: Flea Market Find | Slides: Adidas | Headband: scünci | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating wearing your workout gear all day long. I really can only accept that particular practice in the evenings after work. Gym gear at weekend brunch is acceptable ONLY if a class immediately preceded the meal. Even so, it looks rather ridiculous.

But the American Eagle pants above — roughly $10 during the retailer’s Labor Day sale — include flattering ruching and a forgiving high waist. I wore the leggings with a faux-Chanel tank, a flea market find from Camden Market in London. This humorous and sorta-sophisticated look was perfect for a long walk around Thompson Park over the weekend.

Blue Tank: American Eagle | Purple Sports Bra: Adidas | Leggings: Adidas | Shoes: Nike | Headband: scünci | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban
Blue Tank: American Eagle | Purple Sports Bra: Adidas | Leggings: Adidas | Shoes: Nike | Headband: scünci | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban

These navy Adidas leggings would be difficult to masquerade as regular pants. (Not that it matters much when the leggings in questions only cost $15 at the outlet mall, as these did.)

In order to keep it a little more fun, I cranked up the volume and matched the sports bra with the shoes in a vibrant violet. The American Eagle tank top isn’t meant to be workout gear at all, but its roomy silhouette is fabulous for spin, yoga and power-walking.

Periodically, I’ll share some other pieces from my small-but-growing workout gear collection. My shopping strategy has consisted of focusing on core colors — black, navy and gray — with a sprinkling of blues and greens and purples. (Any non-core colors HAVE to match the purple shoes, since those are the only running shoes I actually own.)

How do you dress for your workouts? Do you have any favorite brands? I’d love to hear about them!

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