Active wear has shifted from the gym and fitness studios to high street fashion. More fashion brands have embraced “sports luxe” looks and more active wear brands have embraced including fashion trends into their clothing.
In the past few years, we’ve seen that an entirely new category of clothing called athleisure has taken over the clothing world. Athleisure is part active wear part casual wear and is ruled by comfort and functional fashion. It features hi-tech fabrics, machine-washable specs, and sweat-friendly properties.
According to Emma McClendon, an assistant curator at the Museum at FIT and author of Denim: Fashion’s Frontier, athleisure is “representative of this notion of comfort being the driving force in what consumers want and how they’re picking their clothing,”
Activewear as everyday wear is no longer a passing trend, but rather reflects a shift in our lifestyle. Wellness is no longer that hour you dedicate to do a workout, it’s become holistic, and it’s how you live. It reflects in what you do, what you eat and what you wear.
As the choices in active wear and athleisure increase this year, these are 6 activewear trends that will dominate; plus our favorite picks in each category to make shopping easier!
We started to see cut outs last year as brands started experimented with new techniques and strategically placed slits in leggings and tops. This year the focus is on the back, with cut-outs creating eye-catching rear views.
What to get….
Post workout long sleeve top in Grey Maarl, R999 at Lorna Jane
This light and soft grey long sleeve Lorna Jane top has an open back and is made for layering over a tank or crop after a workout or wearing plain for a casual look. It’s made from a breathable fabric, with a 4-way stretch and is super light. It has a thin strap along the top of the back which prevents it from falling off your shoulders. We love the light grey color, the loose fit and the simple cut with the cut out back.
How we’re wearing it: as a post-yoga class cover-up or over a dainty bralette with black leather leggings and flatforms
MOVEPRETTY Elastic Tank in white and black, R360 at MOVEPRETTY
This MOVEPRETTY Tank is incredibly light and breezy and is a great top to wear to show off a pretty brightly coloured crop top. It’s made from a technical poly spandex, is breathable and moisture wicking. It comes in 3 colours, but we love the classic black and white combinations and the looser fit. The arm holes are also cut very low, making it a really nice option for anyone who struggles with chafing there.
How we’re wearing it: over a bright sports bra and leggings to gym and tight shorts for long runs during the summer.
Shop it here
Body Twirl Tank in Orchid Haze, R299 at Cotton On
This Body twirl tank has mesh detail on the back and a really cool cut out design. It’s really soft and would work for a light yoga class or a casual top you can pair with black leggings or jeans. We love that it has a higher neckline which compliments the cut out back.
How we’re wearing it: with a black bralette and black leggings to yoga and with jeans and white sneakers.
Active wear has been full of colour for some time, but the print you’re about to see everywhere is tropical themed – think flowers, leaves, palm trees and bright colour blocking. If you’re hesitant to wear prints, start small with a tropical printed sports bra or shorts.
What to get…
Maaji Rooted Connection Leggings, R1750 at Colourbox
No one does mixed bright prints like Maaji does. These leggings have a wide soft waistband making them super comfortable around your midsection and hit just above the ankles. They’ve also got reflective detailing on the ankle and a zip up back pocket. We love the striking print and the gorgeous blue hues, and the way they feel supportive yet not restrictive when you put them on.
How we’re wearing it: with the matching crop top and sneakers for light workouts and with a long-sleeve top and takkies for early morning runs.
Shop it here
Lorna Jane Botanica Sports Bra, R999 at Lorna Jane
This floral printed bra is not your average bulky sports bra. It’s petite and has removable padding which would turn it into a bralette. It provides good support, is incredibly comfortable and kept everything in place during a range of movements including jumping, light jogging and yoga poses. It’s made from a moisture wicking fabric, is shrink and fade resistant and quick dry. We love the detailed cut out back and the moody print. It’s a great way to introduce prints into your workout wardrobe if you usually shy away from them.
How we’re wearing it: with black leggings for yoga and gym, and underneath oversized sweatshirts with skinnies and sneakers for a lazy weekend look.
Shop it here
Coar Racerback Crop and Run Shorts in Flower flame, R299 each at Cotton On
These Coar run shorts are an incredibly soft and breezy run short. The waistband hits you just below your navel and the hemline just below your butt. They have no pocket making them a better choice for short runs. The fabric is light and can pass for a casual short you can incorporate into your summer wardrobe. The Coar sports bra is a classic cut sports bra with removable padding. It fits great, supported everything during sprinting and jumping. We love the pink prints, the cut of the shorts and the mesh detail on the back of the sports bra.
How we’re wearing it: together with black running takkies for speed runs and with a breezy oversized black blouse and heels.
Conga Botanica Leggings, R799 at MOVEPRETTY
These MOVEPRETTYLeggings combine geometric prints with a bold green tropical print. The wide waistband makes them incredibly comfortable around the midsection and the black inserts on the side create a really nice silhouette. They’re made from an athletic material and are breathable, moisture wicking with a 4-way stretch. There is an open pocket along the inner back waistband for storage. Depending on your height they’ll either be a ¾ legging or as seen on Feige (she’s 1.53m) a longer legging hitting just above the ankle. We love the fabric, the side panels and the eye-catching mix of black, white and green.
How we’re wearing it: with the Black MOVEPRETTY elastic tank and pink sneakers for the gym and with an oversized black jersey and slides for a casual weekend look.
Shop it here
Vivolicious Rain Forest Tech Tights, R799 at Vivolicious
These dark green Vivolicious leggings are made from a moisture-wicking fabric that has a UPF30 and is CANSA approved. They are a fuss-free legging that while light is not flimsy and fit like a second skin. They have the signature Vivolicious open pocket on the right thigh, big enough to hold a phone. We love the wide waistband which hits just above the navel for a higher wasted legging and the fact that they make our legs look extra-long.
How we’re wearing it: with a black tee-shirt and takkies for running and a black crop top and loose tank for workouts.
Shop it here
The 90’s crop top trend is back – refined, modernised and sportier than ever. Sport bras are being switched out for crop tops with higher necklines and slightly longer lengths. They’re being paired with high wasted leggings for a sporty, sassy and stylish look.
Coar Zip black Crop – R299 at Cotton On
The Coar black crop is a simple crop with a striking cut. It has a zip at the back, making it easier to get on and off and is not padded. Despite not being padded it supports well and fits nice and snug. We love the cut of this crop, as well as the fact that it’s not padded, yet doesn’t seem flimsy.
How we’re wearing it: With black and grey striped high waisted leggings for high-intensity workouts and with a bright pink high waisted long skirt and heels.
Maaji Spring Sprout Crop, R1 150 at Colorbox
This Maaji Spring Sprout Crop is in the same contrasting bright blue print as the Maaji Rooted Connection leggings. It has a slight V-kneck and is a bit longer in length than a regular sports bra. It’s also not padded but is made from Maaji’s trademark material which is a little bit thicker and incredibly supportive and shaping. It’s the type of crop top that’s going to keep you properly supported weather you’re at yoga, doing burpees or sprinting. We love the way the clashing prints somehow work, that it’s not padded yet fits and feels supportive.
How we’re wearing it: with the matching Maaji leggings for workouts and black shorts for speed runs.
Shop it here
Body Lunge Crop in floral, R299 at Cotton On
This Cotton On Body crop has a high neckline with thin straps. It’s padded but not bulky yet supportive. It’s made from a moisture wicking fabric, has a 4-way stretch and is made for lower impact workouts. We love the coverage it provides, the thin straps at the back and the print.
How we’re wearing it: with blue leggings for light workouts and high waisted denim shorts, a white blouse and flatforms in summer.
The bodysuit is the ultimate studio-to-street look and can be worn in so many ways. Bodysuits are chic, easy to layer and create a simple streamlined look. They’re also great for activities where you don’t want your top to move.
What to get…
Maaji Fascinating Odyssey Body Suit, R2650 at Colour Box
This Maaji Body suit is actually reversible so you get 2 different prints and looks from one item. When it comes to bodysuits, quality makes a huge difference as it can be an unforgiving item – much like with a bathing suit. There’s something about the material and the cut of this Maaji Bodysuit that makes it incredibly flattering. It shapes you like shapewear, yet is not restrictive and allows for easy movement. The grey side has side panels in the fabric, situated in a way that enhances your waist. It has a tie up back and a lower cut thigh which gives you nice coverage. We love the cut and feel of the fabric, as well as the fact that we can reverse it so we get two different looks from one item.
How we’re wearing it: on the floral printed side with light cotton pants as a summer wardrobe staple and on the grey side with black leggings or a grey skort for workout classes.
Shop it here
Things that pair well with leggings? Parkas, bombers and puffers. The new look jackets have a lightweight feel, better fit and are made from technical fabrics allowing you to sport them on a run or just running errands.
What to get…
Black slim puffer Jacket, R599 at Cotton On
This Cotton On slim puffer jacket has jersey side panels, a tunnel neck with a hood and thumb holes in the cuff for added warmth. There are also two zip pockets for storage. It is light enough that you can run in it on colder days but warm enough that you can layer it over your workout clothing or wear it as a casual puffer. We love the softness of the fabric, the slim fit and the price tag – great value for money
How we’re wearing it: Over a running top and leggings for running when the temps dip low and as a puffer anytime we wear leggings.
Windbreaker in Ditsy Floral Frock, R799 at Cotton On
This Coar Windbreaker is lightweight with two zip pockets and a hood you can zip away when you don’t want to use it. The top half is a velvet like printed fabric which makes for a not so basic windbreaker. Despite it being so light, it’s very warm and is a great running or hiking jacket, or layering piece over gym clothing. We love the color and the velvet printed fabric.
How we’re wearing it: With matching leggings for cold runs paired with black leggings and black sneakers for a sporty casual look.
Oversized is in when it comes to sweatshirts and knits. Fashion brands have adopted the large sweat shirt look and Athletic wear companies have updated the OG sweat shirt with oversized boxy fits, new fabrics, and details.
What to get…
The Serengeti Giraffe, R550 at MOVEPRETTY
Made from cashmere-like fabric this Serengeti Giraffe top from MOVEPRETTY has a deliciously lush and soft feel. It features an extra long neck that can either be worn down as a turtleneck or a hoody if need be, there are also thumb holes in the sleeves for added warmth. It’s a lightweight knit that would be a great traveling item. We love the fabric which is warm, soft and cozy and the long neck which acts like a scarf.
What we’re wearing it with: Black leggings and sparkly flatform sneakers and as an easy carry on travel top that can be thrown on when it gets chilly.
Shop it here
Coar Performance Crop Hoody in Cherry Blossom, R549 at Cotton On
This pastel pink performance crop hoody has an oversized boxy fit and a hood. It’s soft, roomy and a great layering piece. We love the color and cut.
How we’re wearing it: paired with jeans and leggings on cold days and over a loose shirtdress for those in-between season days.