The Secrets Of 'Après-Sport' Style, The Newest Trend In Off-Duty Dressing
Just when you thought you had every casual dressing category covered, there’s a new kind of post-active wear to tap into this January, says Bethan Holt
You will be familiar with the concepts of après-ski, athleisure, loungewear, pyjamas, sportswear and, well, normal life clothes. And you could therefore be forgiven for thinking that every possible relaxed-wear opportunity is adequately covered.
Reader, you are mistaken.
For I have recently learnt of another niche yet, on reflection, potentially vital wardrobe genre that we could all do with nailing: après-sport.This is not athleisure because doing exercise is essential at some point in the process.
It’s not gymwear because one does not wear workout clothing “après” the workout. And it’s not loungewear because one only wears those pieces inside. I know, I know.
Perhaps the best explanation for après-sport is that these are the items in fabrics that are loose and soft and may once have been used for actual sportswear prior to the invention of Lycra. You should never have to struggle into something après-sport so leggings are in a soft, fine knit rather than Spanx-like.
It is Net-a-Porter that has coined the “après-sport” term and it’s clearly resonated with its shoppers. Sales in the category, which includes cashmere hoodies, snug sweatshirts, tracksuit bottoms and slouchy tops, have risen by 265 per cent in the past year.
“We’ve always identified a need for sportswear that isn’t solely for performance and practicality, but also for luxe comfort and for those well-deserved dress-down days,” explains Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director. “From cover-up sweaters by Vaara, to tracksuits by P.E Nation, our après-sport offering is about relaxed, off-duty dressing that’s of course still chic and feminine.“
Our customer tends to be well presented, even when she’s on her way to working out in the gym or running to the shops, these are the times when she wears après,” she adds by way of explanation of après-sport’s exact function.
When I interviewed Tory Burch, the American designer who caters to aspiring modern ladies who lunch (though nowadays, they spin and juice), last year, she described après-sport in a different way. “We don’t call it athleisure, we call it coming and going because that’s how we see it — it’s really women, how they dress to the gym, after the gym, on the weekends.”
Her Tory Sport offering is replete with ideal après-sport offerings, including retro tracksuits (The Royal Tenenbaums is a favourite reference) and pretty ruffled sweaters in a mix of cashmere and Coolmax (a polyester created to be breathable and have wicking factors) fibres.
For luxury British activewear label Silou, “comfortable and loose-fitting” options “perfect for post-yoga brunching, weekend walks and relaxing” are as integral as highly technical bodysuits and leggings, according to CEO Phoebe Greenacre.
And at London-based brand Sweaty Betty, “sports luxe” has its very own category alongside ski, yoga, tennis and swim. “I think one of the main drivers behind the studio-to-street look is how busy everyone is; women are looking for one wardrobe that works for every occasion. We are always trekking somewhere and stay in our activewear for longer, so we need layers and transitional pieces,” observes founder Tamara Hill-Norton.
“A few years ago, people used to separate it out and say, ‘That’s my gym time and when I’m going to wear my gym clothes.’ Now, I think people are wearing their activewear all day, adapting it a little bit.”
Hill-Norton explains that layering is a key to the après-sport look; after all we’re probably most susceptible to catching a chill when our hair is still a bit damp from the post-sport shower.
“When styling it up, it’s all about the effortless cool look that comes with layering. When I’m not working out, I always think layers are key when styling leggings. I like to throw them on with a longer-line top, like a big, patterned knit or — for a smarter look — pairing leggings with a tailored jacket and platform trainers.”
January seems like a particularly apt moment to discover après-sport dressing. If you find it tricky to get excited about a sports bra (understandable) then the prospect of slipping into a retro-style tracksuit or soft cashmere sweater, once you’ve hit your Fitbit target, might just do the trick.
— The Daily Telegraph