Workout-Wear Anxiety: Have We Reached Peak Athleisure Fever?

Athleisure: it’s a word that didn’t exist five years ago, and now we can’t get dressed without it. The athleisure market is clocking in at around $270 billion and is estimated to grow an astounding 30% by 2020.

At first I loved this trend—I can wear yoga pants to work? (well, maybe I can?!)—but now, the available choices are endless. And the cost of yoga/workout gear has escalated to the point of insanity. Nevermind the pressure to “look cool” in my workout clothes is getting stressful. The amount of places we have to shop is astounding:  LuluLemon, Athleta, Outdoor Voices, Gapfit, Bandier, Carbon 38, Net-A-Sporter, Sweaty Betty, Tory Sport… even Dick’s Sporting Goods has opened an athleisure store.

And the celebrities who have their own workout lines? Blink and another one appears: Kate Hudson, Jessica Simpson, Hillary Swank, Brooke Charvet, Carrie Underwood, Shay Mitchell and Beyoncé all have their own lines, and you can bet I’ve missed a million others (collaborations are too many to even begin listing—if you want a nearly comprehensive best-of list, Racked did a great job outlining the top 25 out there.)

But here’s the deal:

While I love the explosion of athleisure, I’m also experiencing a brand-new form of workout anxiety. I used to be afraid to go to workout classes because of my horrible coordination, or because I wouldn’t be fit enough to make it through the class, or because of a host of other things.

But I was never worried that my workout outfit wouldn’t be cool enough. Do these sneakers match my sports bra? Should they? Or am I supposed to wear a different color bra to coordinate with my tank but contrast my sneakers?

Should I even be wearing these pants in the first place?! They cost me $150 on Net-A-Sporter: Note to self – when did buying $150 workout pants become ok? Should I be having lunch and shopping in these instead of sweating it out? Should I be buying workout gear for working out and then separate workout gear to wear for when I am not actually working out but want to look sporty? And if so, which of the cheaper brands should I actually be wearing to workout classes? But if I wear the cheaper one, will people notice?

Before all this athleisure anxiety, the gym or a workout class was a place where I could just go to get a good sweat: I didn’t feel like I had to think about my look. But now if I show up in my b-class t-shirts (you know the ones—they got demoted from everyday to workout or sleeping shirts) I feel terribly self-conscious. These days, when I go to class everyone looks like a mannequin from Bandier on 5th Avenue and I’m feeling completely inadequate.

It’s funny to think we used to complain about spending $90 on Lululemons: these days, Lululemon is basically Old Navy, and what you must have are those $530 Fendi Leggings that are supposedly designed for “high intensity workouts” or $175 Bodyisms. I mean, they even sell $1,000 trackpants and $1,300 sweatpants described as “youthful trackwear” that represent “street style.” My old backpack used to be good enough for a gym bag, but it looks slightly tired next to a $430 Deluxe Gym Bag by Golden Goose. What’s next: a Céline pilates duffel? This is peak athleisure-fever! I quit!

I quit the yoga-pant rat-race, but don’t worry, I’m not quitting class: I might be wearing the b-team, but I’ll be sweating my a-game. See you at the gym, ladies.

Do you have a point of view you want to share with Charlotte’s Book readers? Email us: we just might publish it.

Image via Simon Upton Elle India

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