A Guide to Men's Loungewear and AthleisureWritten by Tigre Haller
Nowadays when working from home, and walking about the neighborhood, what you wear is as much about functionality as it is being fashionable - perhaps more so than any time in recent history.
But how do you live in total comfort without just hanging around in your underwear, a ratty pair of shorts or nothing at all?
The answer could lie in what has become known as “men’s loungewear” or “athleisure.”
What is Loungewear and Athleisure?
Let’s clear the air about what qualifies as loungewear and athleisure. Some people might think the terms are synonymous, and in some ways they are. But there are differences which you need to be aware of.
It’s actually pretty easy to distinguish between the two, since the “lounge” in loungewear automatically indicates that you will be wearing these clothes to sit or lay around in. Not necessarily trade your pyjamas for, but they are comfortable enough to take a power nap in. And these pieces are stylish enough to wear outside.
Athlesiure, on the other hand, is more suited to activity and these pieces generally are made from performance fabrics since they are essentially workout clothes. Think about your exercise routine as opposed to working from home. When you have athleisure on, you're more likely to be moving around than laying on the couch. Generally speaking that is.
Pre-pandemic, I wasn’t really a fan of either, but ever since I started working remotely I’ve gotten pretty darn cozy in my nice and comfy relaxed pants, pullovers and slippers. And, I’ve been known to throw on a pair of sweats to do some quick errands.
Essential Loungewear Pieces for Men
Even though there is some crossover, there are also specific fabrics for loungewear, and materials for athleisure.
For example, the kings of the loungewear kit are cotton, silk and cashmere. During the cooler months you will also want to slip on some thermal and flannel.
Activewear requires materials which will keep you insulated while wicking away sweat. That most commonly means lycra and spandex. Ultra light fleece and jersey are great for layering. Cotton, although it does absorb sweat and moisture, it also retains it. However, cotton also absorbs odors relatively well.
Shirts and Tops
Comfort meets style with loungewear tops and you will want to stock up on nice T-shirts, open collar long sleeve shirts, crewneck pullovers and at least one hoodie or sweatshirt for layering.
Activewear tops are most typically T-shirts and tank tops specifically made for working out. You can also add a sweatshirt or hoodie for layering and extra insulation.
Pants and Bottoms
Typically loungewear will include pants with an elastic waistband, drawstrings and single-button fly (or no fly at all). Don’t confuse loungewear bottoms with pyjama bottoms (even though you can absolutely lounge around in your PJs). For loungewear think of pants, actual pants, that you can wear out into the world. The fabric tends to be lighter and more fluid than typical trousers, and sometimes the hems will be cuffed or tapered around the ankle with elastic.
Activewear pants are most typically sweatpants, track pants or joggers. But they can also be higher performing spandex. It’s pretty straightforward if you think about it.
Robes (or men’s dressing gowns) might not seem like something you must have, and in reality it’s not. However, once you find one that is right for you, you might wonder how you ever lived without it. This particular garment comes in all kinds of fabrics, from plushy cotton, to linen, to silk, satin or fleece.
They are convenient to throw on when you need a quick covering, or fresh out of the shower. A nice robe can also make your lounging even more comfortable by adding an extra layer of warmth.
Heck, you might even want to have a variety of robes to reach for depending on the circumstances.
Pairing Shoes with Athleisure and Loungewear
Convenient, comfortable and made expressly to be worn indoors, slippers are the go-to shoe for lounging. I’m not talking about those oversized monstrosities shaped like animal feet, or with stuffed animals popping out at the front. While those can be fun, you would be better served choosing slippers that are subtle, stylish and made from excellent materials like full-grain leather or thick cotton uppers.
If slippers don’t do it for you, a nice pair of loafers might fit your personal at home style. Although they are primarily an outdoor shoe, loafers can just as easily be worn indoors. They are easy to slip on and off and always look good. A word of advice: if you plan on wearing loafers in place of slippers, be sure to reserve them strictly for indoor use. This will avoid potential contamination from the outside world.
Now, when it comes to athleisure, there is nothing like a cool pair of sneakers. You can choose from sleek, minimalist designs like our Reids to trainers with cool accents like our Morgens, inspired by the original German Army Trainers. The rubber soles provide traction, shock absorption and will support you over long periods of wear.
A Note About Socks
You might prefer not to have any kind of shoe on when relaxing at home. That’s when a nice, clean, plush pair of socks comes into play.
Merino wool socks are perhaps the most comfortable and practical socks you can ever own. The material breathes easily, regulates the temperature of your feet and is extremely comfortable.
You can also go for a pair of white athletic socks which will keep you warm and always look good.
When putting together your loungewear and activewear wardrobes keep in mind that these looks are all about comfort and ease. Try to avoid garish, flashy prints or overly-bright colors which might overstimulate. Sticking to the subtle and subdued is key.
Try to also avoid baggy or extra loose garments. Yes, this is about comfort, but not looking sloppy. Opt instead for “tailored” pieces which complement your body’s form - without revealing too much.
Keeping in mind the ethos “less is more” is a good way to stay on track. This is a great opportunity to experiment with minimalism and really source your items from ethical manufacturers.
Let me know about your favorite loungewear and athleisure looks by leaving a comment below.
Photos courtesy of Val Lin @theaestheticminimalist