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The Fall’s Hottest Activewear Trends Unveiled: A Look at the Top 6.

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  • Post last modified:September 26, 2023

Activewear has been on an upward trajectory since the introduction of athleisure in the 2010s. Almost overnight, worn-in band tees and cotton shorts with stretchy waistbands were out, and things like yoga leggings, form-fitting tank tops, and functional-yet-stylish sports bras were in. Exercising wasn’t just physical activity anymore; it was an occasion to dress up for, and the clothes were fashionable enough to wear outside the gym too. But like any fashion trend, athleisure would, inevitably, evolve.

If we break down the term, “athletic” means “active,” and “leisure” means “free time to relax.” The athleisure category aimed to bridge the gap between the two (By the way, couldn’t we all use some more ‘active free time to relax’?). It was sportswear, but it was ready-to-wear; it supported your athleticism and simplified dressing for social events like unlimited brunch and grabbing coffee with friends.

Then the global pandemic hit; working from home became the new normal, and athleisure became synonymous with “loungewear.” The clothes were cozy and, more importantly, comforting in a time of great distress. They served their purpose, but activewear shoppers are longing for something different now; something less casual and more proactive, which is why activewear for fall 2023 is expected to imitate our everyday staples.

There’s a reason activewear is typically organized separately or stored in a different drawer altogether than your everyday clothing: because it generally isn’t your everyday clothing. The athleticwear trends of fall 2023 will change that through design.

Left: Girlfriend Collective dress. Staud sweater and sneakers. Lottie necklaces and tennis bracelet. Right: Staud dress and sneakers. Lottie tennis necklace. Mejuri pearl necklace.

According to personal stylist Christia Stein, activewear for the upcoming season meets the criteria of a capsule wardrobe or collection of quality basics that, season after season, remain fashionable. “The trending concept of stealth wealth is that we invest in items that can easily coincide with what we already own, so we can wear and reuse without giving up anything,” explains Stein. To achieve that, Stein continues, designers are focusing on details like earthy monochromatic palettes, black and white, and retro (meaning classic) cuts that come back again and again, demonstrating the durability and versatility of the piece.

During and post-pandemic, athleisure embraced the dopamine dressing trend, with mismatched sweatpants, tie-dye, and neon spanning the category. “The bolder and more expressive, the better,” Stein says of that time. Consumers still desire color, but in moderation, as pops of color. Vibrant colors and statement prints have their place, but neutrals are neutral for a reason — they withstand the test of time and are suitable for any season. Investing in pieces that meet these criteria will result in “less fashion waste” and “more usage from our wardrobes,” says Stein. “With neutral colors and classic cuts, we can play with the contrast of a bodysuit and blazer with our favorite heels for work and effortlessly transition the same look into the weekend with a sleek pair of sneakers.”

Convenience also plays a role in the evolution of activewear. We want more value for our money and less clutter in our wardrobe, and according to world-renowned fitness artist, coach, and dancer Nicole Winhoffer, activewear for fall 2023 meets these demands.

Women are attracted to these garments because we lack the time to cleanse ourselves, soak in baths, use blow dryers on our hair, apply make-up, cool down, and prepare ourselves again after exercising,” clarifies Winhoffer. “These attire items save us time. It enhances our fitness routines since having fewer options results in more time.

Left: Girlfriend Collective gown. Staud jumper and sneakers. Lottie necklaces and tennis bracelet. Right: Staud gown and sneakers. Lottie tennis necklace. Mejuri pearl necklace.

Vigorous Dresses and Skirts

With tennis and other court sports like pickleball having experienced a surge in popularity over the previous few years, the demand for dynamic dresses and skirts has also soared. The mini skirts and skorts of the early 2000s are likewise observing a revival, thanks to designers like Miu Miu, Fendi, and Versace, so it’s not at all unexpected that there will be an overlap of these traditional garments and their energetic equivalents in the approaching autumn season.

Of course, active skirts and dresses have been appearing and disappearing from the fashion scene for decades. They had their moment in the ’80s up until the early aughts, but in 2018, the athletic clothing brand Outdoor Voices introduced its exercise dress to the market and it quickly became a viral sensation, pioneering the category. There are, and will continue to be, many variations of the dress, but according to the brand’s design director, Zehra Naqvi, the versatility of active dresses and skirts for off-court wear lies in layering, which will be prominent in the upcoming season.

“Throw on a blazer and wear it to work; layer a more supportive bra underneath and take it on a run; put on some boots and go on a hike. The possibilities for styling are limitless,” says Naqvi. “The dress itself is an all-in-one, so curating your layers for specific activities and events is key.”

As for the features to look for in an activewear dress to ensure it seamlessly integrates into your active and everyday wardrobe, Naqvi identifies short liners and built-in bras as her top two preferences, while emphasizing that a classic silhouette will also ensure a longer lifespan (quite literally).

Left: Alo top and trousers. Vintage earrings. Right: Alo shrug and pants. Girlfriend collective sports bra. Mejuri ring. Lottie earrings.

Vigorous Trousers

There will always be room for traditional leggings and yoga pants in our activewear collection, but fitness bottoms have been reimagined to accompany the consumer from the studio to the street. Comfort remains crucial, but according to Andrea Jagaric, the chief design officer for Aerie’s activewear brands OFFLINE and Unsubscribed, activewear is now being designed to cater to your needs “no matter where the day takes you.” To achieve this, designers focus on intricate design details, comfortable fabrics, and precise fit as their guiding principles.

For every fabric, we actively search for the ideal elasticity, gentleness, transparency, and technical features such as moisture-wicking, based on our vision for the design,” remarks Jagaric. She adds that in terms of the fit, the objective is to find that balance between not being too tight or too loose, allowing the wearer to move comfortably. Meticulous attention to details such as the waistband, zippers, texture (e.g., ribbed fabric versus a smooth, velvety finish), and style all contribute to the final product.

Andrea Jagaric, chief design officer for Aerie, OFFLINE, and Unsubscribed

Athletic clothing is being created so that individuals can comfortably wear it “wherever their day takes them.”

— Andrea Jagaric, chief design officer for Aerie, OFFLINE, and Unsubscribed

Left: Issey Miyake jumpsuit. Alo socks. Lottie necklace. Vintage earrings. Right: Girlfriend Collective unitard. Alo shrug and leg warmers. Lottie earrings.


Balletcore has been a recurring trend since 2022 but is now making a strong comeback as an activewear trend for fall 2023, with unitards leading the way. While most commonly associated with dance, unitards are versatile and suitable for various athletes, from high-intensity trainers to mindful movers. This sleek one-piece also serves as an elegant foundation, perfect for layering. May Saelee, the COO of Girlfriend Collective, predicts that more designers will transition to thinner straps for a less sporty look that better aligns with everyday fashion. Saelee also anticipates the inclusion of “more ballet-inspired elements like boatnecks, shirring, or wrap tops inspired by dancers” in the upcoming fall designs, ensuring that the garment looks complete on its own. Rest assured, the renowned comfort factor will continue to prevail. According to Saelee, the key is to invest in soft, stretchy fabrics that are not excessively restrictive, with features like 4-way stretch and moisture-wicking, guaranteeing that the piece becomes a go-to item when getting dressed.

Left: Issey Miyake jumpsuit. Alo socks. Lottie necklace. Vintage earrings. Right: Girlfriend Collective unitard. Alo shrug and leg warmers. Lottie earrings.

Retro-Inspired Designs

Every aspect of fashion follows a cyclical pattern, including activewear. For fall 2023, active designers are drawing inspiration from various eras, particularly the minimalism of the ’90s characterized by clean lines and earthy tones. However, Lorna Jane Clarkson, the co-founder of athletic apparel brand Lorna Jane, emphasizes that ’70s retro style is also making a strong comeback and heavily influencing the athleisure category with the inclusion of “polo shirts, tennis skirts, and dresses that embody heritage sport styling.” Nevertheless, the most significant influence the ’70s era has on activewear in 2023 is the resurgence of flare bottoms.

Left: Percival peak and shorts. Converse trainers. Mejuri earrings and band. Right: Percival sweater vest. Girlfriend Collective skort. Staud trainers. Mejuri earrings.

“Boot-cut flares are a trend that is here to persist and is the impeccable upgrade to her leggings this season,” declares Clarkson. “We’re observing our patrons wearing them to Pilates and yoga paired with their preferred sports bra and truncated tank. On the weekend she’s wearing them to brunch and coffee meet-ups with a truncated tee or tucked shirt – the perfect piece to wear from exercise to everyday.”

Left: Alo set. Cozy tank top. Mejuri earrings. Right: PLEATS PLEASE ISSEY MIYAKE pants and overshirt. Girlfriend Collective sports bra. Mejuri earrings and band.

Serene Opulence

Serene opulence is not a novel notion but is back in fashion, thanks to celebrities like Sophia Richie Grainge, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and Jennifer Aniston. Essentially, serene opulence is the antithesis of dopamine dressing. It’s earth tones and tailored pieces in place of ostentatious prints and logos. It’s graceful and sophisticated, converting to activewear for fall 2023. But how?

Julie DeAnda, principal designer of TAVI Active and ToeSox, emphasizes that serene opulence is not solely determined by a particular color palette. Stylistic elements like subtle prints, textures, and flattering cuts also play a role. Having said that, DeAnda predicts shades like mesa, Sahara, quartz, sky, and denim — “all beautiful earth tones that radiate serene opulence” — will be prevalent in active collections this season, including those of TAVI. “When you don attire in a color that is of a lavish tone, it enables you to feel posh and deluxe,” states DeAnda. “[For autumn 2023, we’ll witness] more vivid neutrals than ‘vibrant hues.'”

Environmentally-friendly Materials

Sustainability will persist as a top priority throughout the fashion industry for fall 2023, particularly in activewear. However, that doesn’t entail that brands are compromising style for eco-friendly principles. On the contrary, co-founders of luxury swim and activewear brand 437, Hyla Nayeri and Adrien Bettio, assert that the two go hand in hand.

[Eco-friendly textiles] are increasingly becoming a consumer anticipation rather than a requirement for product qualifications given the availability of reused materials,” elucidates Nayeri. This is particularly accurate considering that the scarcities of primary resources that the industry endured throughout the pandemic are diminishing, prolongs Nayeri. They’re accessible, thus customers anticipate brands to incorporate them.

A Closing Reflection

There are no regulations in the world of fashion, and this applies to the realm of activewear as well. These are the anticipated activewear fads for autumn 2023, but if what ignites your motivation to exercise isn’t included in this inventory, fret not. The paramount aspect is to procure articles that bestow a sense of well-being upon you and instill a desire to engage in physical activity.