Activewear vs. Athleisure? Everything You Need To Know

Activewear and athleisure are two words that get used a lot these days. But what do they really mean? What's the difference between them? In this blog post, we will break it down so it's easy to understand.

Activewear is clothing designed for working out and playing sports. Athleisure is clothing that looks like activewear but isn't necessarily meant for exercise. Now let's get started.

What is Activewear?

Activewear is made specifically for physical activities like running, going to the gym, playing sports, etc. The fabrics and designs allow you to move freely and stay comfortable while sweating.

Key features of activewear:

  • Fabrics that wick moisture will keep you dry.
  • Stretchy, flexible materials allow freedom of movement.
  • Flatlock seams to prevent friction.
  • Built-in support and compression where needed.

Some brands are known for their high-quality activewear lines. Their clothing is intended to enhance performance during workouts.

What is Athleisure?

Athleisure takes inspiration from activewear designs and fabrics, but the clothing is made more for casual, everyday wear than intense exercise. Think of it as streetwear that's cozy and sporty looking.

The rise of athleisure allowed people to dress in comfortable, stretchy clothing while running errands, relaxing at home, or heading to brunch with friends.

Key features of athleisure wear:

  • Casual, relaxed silhouettes
  • Soft, stretchy knit fabrics
  • Athletic designs like hoodies, joggers, and leggings.
  • Often prioritizes style over pure performance.

Athleisure vs Activewear Differences


Activewear is designed to enhance performance via technical fabrics and construction meant for sweating. Athleisure prioritizes casual style over pure athletic performance. 


You can work out intensely in activewear. Athleisure is better suited for light activities like walking or yoga than high-intensity training.


Activewear from major athletic brands is usually more expensive than athleisure options, due to the technical fabrications involved.


Activewear is made specifically for working out. Athleisure is for everyday casual, lounge, and streetwear.

When to Wear Activewear and Athleisure

Gym/Exercise Class

Opt for moisture-wicking activewear designed for the specific workout.

Running Errands

Athleisure's casual, comfortable styling is perfect for errand runs or relaxing at home.


Most workplaces and schools have dress codes, so athleisure is usually acceptable, but avoid wearing activewear made for the gym.


Stick with durable, high-performance activewear for outdoor adventures or playing sports competitively.

The Main Takeaway

Activewear is performance-focused clothing made for exercise. Athleisure takes design cues from activewear but prioritizes style and casual, everyday comfort over pure athletic capabilities.

Both allow you to feel comfortable and look good. But for intense physical activities, stick with high-quality activewear from athletic brands. For casual daily wear, athleisure provides that sporty, lounge vibe.


Now you know the key differences between activewear and athleisure. Use this guide to decide which type of clothing is right for your specific needs, whether you're going to the gym hard or just running a casual task. Both allow you to move comfortably and stylishly.

Choose clothing you feel confident in based on the activity. Take chances and mix athleticwear with everyday casual pieces to create a unique athleisure look that works for you.