Archive for Sunday, July 1, 2001

Trendy fashion styles marry athletic gear

July 1, 2001


— You'd think the active lifestyle that so many of us live would require several wardrobe changes a day.

First, there is the morning "power walk." Whether it's taken with the dog or it's the way you get to work, you need comfortable clothes that wick away moisture and comfortable shoes that won't leave you crippled for the rest of the day.

A lunchtime workout at the gym likely requires an entirely different outfit but you'll probably have to make do with the same makeup and hair before and after.

Is there a late afternoon golf game or tennis match on the calendar? Add a "bring polo shirt" reminder next to it.

And after this full day, there is still dinner at a restaurant (because everyone is too tired to cook) that requires a pulled-together outfit.

Can you go through such a busy schedule without lugging the gym bag to every stop? Yes, according to some top sportswear companies.

Thanks to the "marriage" of high-performance fabrics, classic styles and modern colors, active people typically can go through their entire day in one set of clothes, says David Stensland, merchandising manager for Nicklaus sportswear, the golf-inspired apparel line named for Jack Nicklaus.

Golf clothes are making the transition from being either the too-tailored, slightly uncomfortable outfits favored by older golfers, or the too-casual look made up of denim shorts worn by younger enthusiasts, he says.

For men, a middle-of-the-road outfit of a polo shirt in a color that appeals to the 60-year-old who will wear it with pleated microfiber pants and the 25-year-old who will pair it with flat-front khaki shorts is an appropriate look for almost anywhere especially in this era of the business casual workplace.

For the ladies

Stensland says women clamor for any style in a stretch fabric, which works for home, work and sport.

"You don't want to have to go home. We're busy and we end up stringing along all our activities from one to another," he says.

Years ago, women wore sweatsuits or those shiny workout outfits everywhere they could get away with it, observes Colleen Sullivan, the beauty and fashion editor at Health magazine. But Lycra, which is easy to maintain, stylish and easy to move in, and flattering yoga clothes have steered fashion toward comfort styles.

"We're looking for triple-function clothes. Clothes that give use sun and bug protection, clothes that are comfortable and clothes that make us look beautiful."

Performance and fashion can be one and the same, says Cindy Gibson of L.L. Bean's women's active apparel division. And blending the two will become even more popular, she predicts.

Just this year, L.L. Bean has seen a 30 percent increase in sales of its women's active apparel.

Capri pants, already a favorite of the fashionista, is ideal for summer outdoor activities, Gibson explains, because they provide the needed barrier from insects and branches but they are much cooler than full-length pants. And, she adds, if you're hiking, you're already wearing heavy socks and boots, so the around-the-ankle pants are adding an unnecessary layer.

Make those capris in a nylon or polyester fabric and they're appropriate to wear for almost any occasion.

"You don't have to look like you stepped right out of the woods," says Gibson.

Streamlined and comfortable

Designer Johan Lindeberg, whose J. Lindeberg line includes the "On Course" collection, says technological advances in fabric have made all the difference in blending the fashion and athletic functions.

Cotton has been replaced by moisture-controlling, UV-protecting fabrics that also give clothes a slimmer fit.

Goretex shirts, for example, allow for more movement than any oversized cotton shirt and there is no extra fabric to get it the way, he says.

Sport-specific details or accessories also are disappearing.

For golfers, special pockets for balls or tees are not particularly helpful and they make the clothes less multipurpose, Lindeberg says. Female golfers, however, are finally getting their own gender-specific clothes instead of being forced to wear things that look like small-size menswear, he adds.

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