Apparently, “athleisure” is a fraught and loaded concept. To some it signifies people who don’t actually work out, they just want to look like they do. To some it signifies wealth and privilege—after all, a lot of athleisure costs $100 and up per item. I only recently learned this, reading a profile on Outdoor Voices in the New Yorker recently.
To me athleisure is pretty simple: It’s efficient. And as a working mom, I’m always looking for efficiency. I’m not instagramming it or hashtagging it, and apparently I don’t buy status labels, because I’ve never been in a Lululemon store and I didn’t know what Outdoor Voices was. That same New Yorker article says that athleisure is a quarter of all U.S. apparel sales. Lately, for me it’s more than 50% of my clothing spend. Why? Because I wear athleisure way more than 50% of my time.
Like a lot of folks, I used to think workout wear was far too expensive and would throw on sweat pants and an old t-shirt to go workout. Until I realized how much I wear it. I easily spend 70% of my time in workout clothes. What feels extravagant to me now is spending $300 on a dress I’ll only wear on TV or on stage.
I tend to start my morning in workout clothes, knowing that at some point, I’m gonna find a half-hour window to go on a run or 45 minutes to grab a SoulCycle class. Sometimes that’s a sports bra and bike shorts with a dress or tunic thrown over it, so it doesn’t look like workout clothes. Sometimes it’s full-on workout clothes. Sometimes I’m planning ahead with workouts, sometimes it’s aspirational athleisure. Frequently I do an Orangetheory Fitness over lunch, and I stack up meetings on either side of it. Not factoring in time to change on either side saves me about an hour. Do you know how much I can get done in an hour?
That tends to be the tax on working out, isn’t it? It’s less the 30 minutes to an hour of working out, and the time getting there and back and changing and getting presentable again. I cut all that out and do the important part.
If you’ve had a meeting with me in the last few months, I have likely been dressed in athleisure. As a result, I’ve tried to slightly up my athleisure game, since it’s what I’m wearing most of the time. But I’m also fine looking like a modern-day version of a soccer mom most days. To me, it’s not about making some statement with my athleisure, it’s the opposite: I am wearing something functional and opting out of the usual BS around how female CEOs have to “look.”
In a world where thought pieces are written about what power jackets women are wearing these days, I didn’t really think about what kind of single my athleisure was sending other than: I want to make sure I get a work out because that’s how I handle stress, and I’m busy. But I was told the other day that showing up to a meeting in athleisure was a “baller move.” For me, it’s really just a convenient one.
Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:
- Suggestions for keeping sane & healthy during convalescence
- Advice on starting consulting in your 40s
- Did I just start menopause at 43?
- Do you spring clean? How, even?