Sportswear: the fashion that manages to be ‘both comfortable and chic’

I’ve never really considered myself to be “sporty.” The last time I was on a field, I was five and far more interested in blowing on dandelions than protecting my team’s goal from the endless onslaught of soccer balls.

My “mild aversion” toward sports gently matured over the years to become more of a perplexed animosity amassed in the frenzied years of middle and high school. Every gym class I was enrolled in experienced a dangerously disinterested version of me as I fumbled across fields with various sports equipment being haphazardly flung in my direction.

Now, nearly half a decade later, I write this column clad in a plain white jersey from Urban Outfitters, Nikes and a fabulous pair of American Apparel biker shorts. This surprising turn of events is an obvious product of the ever-shifting aesthetic of the fashion industry. Like many style icons before me, I have grown to adore the recently coined term “elevated sportswear” that popped up on the esteemed runways of Chanel and Dior in February (and consequently about a billion more this September during each of the important fashion weeks).

Although it may seem to go against nearly every value I learned in high school gym, I’ve come to accept the fact that there’s something rather invigorating about dressing in mesh, rubber and nylon while eschewing any indication of the possibility that I could have participated in physical activity that day. I’ve embraced the stylistic symbols of my sworn enemy from years past, and something about that feels liberating, like befriending the school bully or eating broccoli in adulthood only to find that you’ve liked it all along.

Taking clothes that aren’t meant to be pretty or fashionable and repurposing them to mirror your otherwise impeccable sense of style is an impressive and enticing ability for fashion-minded people. Why else would we spend hours at secondhand stores or rummaging through our parents’ closets? For those who seriously consider themselves to be stylish, lacing up a pair of New Balance sneakers with J Brand jeans and an oversized sweater all while still looking put together and fashion-forward is worthy of immediate recognition and applause.

When worn correctly, the style can look scrumptiously effortless. Elevated sportswear is light, flowy and outrageously flexible, proving its value to be multifaceted by remaining alarmingly comfortable on top of its aesthetic verve. Some of my most blissful moments have occurred while wearing various forms of running shoes because I didn’t have to worry about the discomfort associated with wearing dress shoes. In a modern world where we are expected to constantly migrate from place to place and simultaneously look our absolute sharpest, elevated sportswear is an answer to millions of prayers — it is both comfortable and chic. Really, who could ask for anything more?

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