It started with those awful people who like to go to the gym before work, and stumble into the office in a mismatched getup consisting part gym wear, part standard office attire. Someone realised that “Hey, that actually looks really cool” and so the look stuck. Easy as that.

Now, it doesn’t really matter if you play sports or not, if you’re fit as a fiddle or your hobbies involve sitting down for long periods of quasi-hibernation. In fact, the sports element is pretty much academic, but including it gives us the opportunity to make up completely new words – like ‘athleisure’ – that are really fun to say. Plus recent reports estimate that the athleisure market was worth around $35 billion last year and athletic apparel now makes up 17 per cent of the entire American clothing market. Not bad going.

As Hypebeast contributor Daniel Sandison puts it:

“Traditional ‘fashion people’ have long had a problem with sportswear and made sure it wasn’t taken seriously on a grand, global scale. In the past couple of decades however, what we wear – and ultimately what appears on catwalks – has started to be influenced more and more by pop and street culture, and less and less by elderly people behind big mahogany desks in Paris. Our heroes in music, sport and film all wear sportswear, so that’s how we want to look.”

Plus, you know, it’s dead comfy.

Still, it’s not all fun and games. It can be a minefield out there: one wrong choice can see your outfit laughed out of whatever trendy, forsaken saké bar you’ve found yourself in.

Here’s a breakdown of what you should and should not be doing when it comes to working casual sportswear into your wardrobe:

Sweatshirts

Far removed from the heavy jersey and towelling versions worn by your average Joe, we’re talking sweatshirts that were primarily made for hobby athletes. Lightweight fabric. Mesh panels. Breathable, everyday-wearable garment technologies that help world-class athletes shave milliseconds off their PB, help joggers regulate their body temperature, and can help you stay cool on a packed train to work.

Designed with moisture-wicking and ergonomics in mind, slim-cut sweatshirts in hi-tech materials can add an all-new dimension to an outfit. Fits tend to run extremely snug (you know, for the aerodynamics and stuff) but sporty sweatshirts will lend themselves well to being worn under a minimal overcoat in winter or even on its own once it eventually warms up again.

Something along the lines of Nike’s Dri-FIT crew neck fleece is perfect: cutting a slimming profile and offering an ice-cool aesthetic that will look perfect teamed with a sleek overcoat or nylon bomber jacket.

Men's Sweatshirts Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

forever 21 aw14mango man November 2014cos aw14zara october 2013zaraen noirh&m ss15club monaco aw14burton aw15allsaints autumn 2014river island aw15banana republic pre aw14

Key Pieces

  • Nike White Label Tf 1mm CrewNike White Label Tf 1mm Crew
  • T By Alexander Wang Classic Crew Neck SweatT By Alexander Wang Classic Crew Neck Sweat
  • Stone Island Garment Dyed Cotton Fleece Crew SweatStone Island Garment Dyed Cotton Fleece Crew Sweat
  • Lanvin Technical SweatshirtLanvin Technical Sweatshirt
  • Nike Tech Fleece CrewNike Tech Fleece Crew
  • Nike Dri-fit Touch Fleece Sweatshirt BlackNike Dri-fit Touch Fleece Sweatshirt Black
  • Theory Connor T Tech-jersey SweatshirtTheory Connor T Tech-jersey Sweatshirt
  • James Perse Loopback Supima Cotton-jersey SweatshirtJames Perse Loopback Supima Cotton-jersey Sweatshirt
  • Whistles Pocket SweatshirtWhistles Pocket Sweatshirt

Tailored Joggers

These tend to come in two iterations: the everyday tapered jogger and the ‘I am ready to run a goddamn marathon’ slimline jogger. The difference might not seem extremely obvious, but it’s all in the material.

While you don’t have to go the whole nine and plump for what are essentially running tights, you’re gonna have to go tight. If you’re not comfortable with tight then you should probably stop reading now because we’re using emphatic italics for a reason.

Probably one stop removed from performance tights, the extreme tailored jogger is a key athleisure staple and – no lie – are extremely comfy. Sitting around in the office in them is like wearing, to quote Ned Flanders, “nothing at all”. For those brave souls with complete control over their boners, go-to sportswear brands like adidas (and its skinny jogger) can’t be overlooked and usually offer a great range of styles at very reasonable price points.

If you’d rather play it (reasonably) safe with some tapered joggers, try higher-end brands like Ronnie Fieg’s Kith NYC and the mesh joggers from French streetwear label Pigalle.

Oh, and they should always be dressed up, not down: try teaming a pair with a longline button-down shirt and loopback cotton sweatshirt or something similarly formal up top, not a football jersey – this ain’t PE, fellas.

Men's Slimline and Tapered Jogging Bottoms/Sweatpants Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

h&m aw14asos aw15j.crew aw14zara September 2014cos aw14vince aw14j.crew october 2014banana republic pre aw14j.crew September 2014new look aw14calliope aw14boss orange aw15

Key Pieces

  • Pigalle Grosgrain-trim Mesh Jogging BottomsPigalle Grosgrain-trim Mesh Jogging Bottoms
  • Asos Skinny Fit Smart Joggers With Rib CuffAsos Skinny Fit Smart Joggers With Rib Cuff
  • Topman Grey Marl Skinny JoggersTopman Grey Marl Skinny Joggers
  • Kith X John Elliott + Co Escobar Sweatpant Speckled NavyKith X John Elliott + Co Escobar Sweatpant Speckled Navy
  • Nike Tech Fleece Pant 2.0Nike Tech Fleece Pant 2.0
  • Puma X Stampd Sweat PantPuma X Stampd Sweat Pant
  • River Island Black Ankle Cuff JoggersRiver Island Black Ankle Cuff Joggers
  • Topman Coordinates Black Slub Smart JoggerTopman Coordinates Black Slub Smart Jogger
  • Reiss Blinder Drawstring Joggers GreyReiss Blinder Drawstring Joggers Grey

Running Trainers

Forget the visions of fluro-glo detailed monstrosities in various bland shades of off-white and off-grey, brands have cottoned on to the fact that not only do people want a trainer they can run in, they also want to be able to wear it every day too.

Again, adidas and Nike have the game on lockdown, combining their decades of success in producing fit-for-purpose athleticwear with up-to-the-minute aesthetics. The brands’ trainers offer supreme comfort and performance, yet are cool enough to wear with a pair of slim, dark wool trousers without looking like you’ve lost your mind. What a time to be alive, eh?

If you wanted to go full hipster, you could opt for adidas’ collaboration with Rick Owens – staples for people who describe their look as ‘dark matter meets neo-futurism’ or whatever – but we’d suggest you keep it simple. The German sports giant’s Boost range is stunning all-round (even if most of the fanfare has been saved for Kanye’s own Boost shoe) and their Kanadia range is also well worth a look.

Men's Running Trainer Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

tom ford aw15banana republic aw15penfield aw13pull & bear black label 2015j.crew aw15balenciaga ss15american eagle ss15j.crew august 2015Beyenearticle number ss15ami aw13zara spring 2014

Key Pieces

  • Reebok Furylite Black TrainersReebok Furylite Black Trainers
  • Adidas Ultra Boost Silver TrainersAdidas Ultra Boost Silver Trainers
  • Saucony Turquoise Suede Dxn Trainer SneakersSaucony Turquoise Suede Dxn Trainer Sneakers
  • Athletic Propulsion Labs Techloom Pro Running SneakersAthletic Propulsion Labs Techloom Pro Running Sneakers
  • Greats The Pronto Suede And Mesh SneakersGreats The Pronto Suede And Mesh Sneakers
  • Nike Running Free 5.0 Mesh SneakersNike Running Free 5.0 Mesh Sneakers
  • Asics Gel Saga Winter TrailAsics Gel Saga Winter Trail
  • Adidas X Rick Owens RunnerAdidas X Rick Owens Runner
  • Nike Free Hypervenom 2Nike Free Hypervenom 2

Track Jackets

Perfect for layering and athletic usage, turns out that track jackets are both extremely cool and really useful wardrobe items – who knew? (Besides anyone who’s ever run track or did sports more than twice a year.)

Coming in more cuts, styles and colours than you’ll know what to do with, your choices run the gamut from technical apparel fit for trekking a mountain in, to featherweight options typically reserved for warm-ups and light training.

The lighter stuff is our preference as it’ll probably get more wear – an ultra-thin nylon jacket used as a mid-layer is a look that’s on-point; try one over a polo shirt and under a parka.

Think Nike’s (who are getting a lot of props today) Windrunner series, legendary British label Fred Perry, throwback nineties brands like Ellesse and Fila, or high-end performance wear specialists such as Stone Island or Arc’teryx Veilance.

Men's Track Jackets Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

asos 2015asos 2015asos 2015Mango Man AW15urban outfitters 2015urban outfitters 2015Zara AW15several 2014Zara AW15mango man aw15Mauro Grifoni aw13mango man 2015

Key Pieces

  • Adidas Brion Track Top In BlackAdidas Brion Track Top In Black
  • Ellesse Re-issue Track JacketEllesse Re-issue Track Jacket
  • Nike Windrunner JacketNike Windrunner Jacket
  • Fred Perry Colour Block Track JacketFred Perry Colour Block Track Jacket
  • Adidas Nite Jogger Og Track TopAdidas Nite Jogger Og Track Top
  • Fila Venice 2 Track TopFila Venice 2 Track Top
  • Topman Navy And Grey Cut And Sew Track TopTopman Navy And Grey Cut And Sew Track Top
  • Acne Studios Flaus Brushed-fleece JacketAcne Studios Flaus Brushed-fleece Jacket
  • Arcteryx Veilance Align Hooded Gore-tex Shell JacketArcteryx Veilance Align Hooded Gore-tex Shell Jacket

Hoodies

Ah, yes. That old shopping centre scourge. Lightning rod for middle-class “chav” haters. Those tables have gone and done a huge 180.

That extra hood on your jacket can be vital for avoiding elemental intrusion (rain can really put you off your stride) and for making you feel like a boxer-in-training, but it’s also a great way to structure your layering, with a thin tech-material hoody nicely dovetailing with a hoodless jacket worn over the top.

Try something by New York sportswear brand John Elliott or Acne Studios, both have outstanding jersey offerings, while STAMPD has your back on the technical nylon hooded jacket front.

Men's Hoody Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

burton aw14topman aw14banana republic pre aw14Zara AW15en noirvince aw14burberry black label aw14el burgues aw15Filling Pieces AW15

Key Pieces

  • Nike Tech Aw77 Grey FleeceNike Tech Aw77 Grey Fleece
  • Fred Perry Hoodie In Graphic BlueFred Perry Hoodie In Graphic Blue
  • Puma Evolution Mesh HoodiePuma Evolution Mesh Hoodie
  • Nike Tech Fleece WindrunnerNike Tech Fleece Windrunner
  • Acne Studios Johna HoodyAcne Studios Johna Hoody
  • Stone Island Garment Dyed Zipped Cotton Fleece Hooded SweatStone Island Garment Dyed Zipped Cotton Fleece Hooded Sweat
  • Reiss 1971 Copperfield Marl Hoodie GreyReiss 1971 Copperfield Marl Hoodie Grey
  • River Island Navy Merino Zip-up HoodieRiver Island Navy Merino Zip-up Hoodie
  • John Elliott + Co Villain White Hooded Cotton SweatshirtJohn Elliott + Co Villain White Hooded Cotton Sweatshirt

Final Word

With more and more of us being guilted into the gym, it makes sound economic sense that we’d start introducing more workout garb into our everyday attire. Luckily – when styled correctly – it also looks sharp.

Are you on board with athleisure? Or should performance sportswear be kept within the confines of the court?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.