You can dress sporty and still be classic
How to dress sporty classic
You’ve seen this woman before. She has a casual style that still looks put together. She looks comfortable and chic, but she doesn’t look like she’s headed to the gym. She could wrangle kids or a volunteer committee. Her wardrobe is perfect for travel because it’s easy to wear, easy to move in, and still stylish. She’s usually busy, and her wardrobe can’t get in her way.
If you’ve been following along with the classic closet style series, first we covered how to dress classic without looking dated. Next we covered edgy classic, which is my style, then cute classic, soft classic, and this is the fifth installment.
I hope you read all of the versions because sometimes wearing the wrong details is as big as wearing the right details.
WHAT SPORTY SAYS ABOUT YOU
A sporty classic woman is on the go, and needs her clothes to fit into that. She has a lot to do, whether she is a stay-at-home mom, an empty-nester, works in a casual environment, or volunteers with an organization she is passionate about, she has a busy life. She wants to be ready for anything but still look great. The key is not to confuse this with athleisure, which is far more casual. You don’t want to look like you would actually drop and give me 20 right now, but your wardrobe hints that you dug into your weekend hobby/sport wardrobe. Your key words are practical and functional.
In the Stunning Style Wardrobe Guide, everything is strictly classic, but in the shopping links I provide as many style options as I can find. You’ll find edgy, cute, soft, and sporty options for many of the items so you can customize the wardrobe to your personal style, and 100 outfit options for inspiration!
SPORTY DETAILS IN YOUR CLOTHES
If you want your outfit to say sporty, it’s the details that will tell the story. Look for details that hint at athletics, outdoor activities, and a slightly casual aesthetic. Just because you weren’t on the high school volleyball team doesn’t mean you can’t rock this casual chic vibe. Sporty could hint at basketball, hunting, gardening, boating, tennis, skiing, biking, or golf. Everything suggests that you are active and don’t mind getting your hands dirty or working up a sweat when the time is right. That sounds like too much, doesn’t it? Keep reading. I’ll show you how to make it perfect for you.
Outerwear like utility jackets, utility vests, denim jackets, bomber jackets, leather jackets, denim vests, puffer jackets, and puffer vests are an easy layer to throw on over a t-shirt, sweater, sweatshirt, or flannel to add a sporty vibe. The key with puffer vests and jackets is to get the super slim ones. Like, paper thin. If it’s too puffy, you will feel suffocated. The key to keeping your layers chic and classic instead of frumpy is to make sure your layers are thin, have a tailored fit and some stretch when possible.
Hoodies don’t have to be frumpy and oversized. If you get them so they are fitted, they can be quite chic. And then you can even add a slim puffer vest or other layer on top without feeling smothered.
Hats like ball caps, trucker hats, baker boy caps, and beanies will save you on bad hair days or if you overslept. They will actually make you look more put together, which is the best kind of trick!
For pants your number one style will be jeans, but you might also like jogger style pants, cargo pants, leggings, and chinos.
Shirts can be t-shirts, golf shirts, button ups, sweatshirts, sweaters, pretty much anything as long as you get the details right.
Details on clothes like thumb holes on sweatshirts, pockets, anything that hints at a letterman jacket or athletic uniform like sleeve stripes, numbers, raglan sleeves, or other graphics. Also rolling your sleeves or pushing them up suggests you are ready to get to work.
Try patterns like plaid, stripes, graphic tees, and camo (if you can find it in bold colors).
The best fabrics will be chambray, denim, flannel, knit, t-shirt, cotton, and technical fabric. You want things that are comfortable, movable, breathable, and stretchy.
One of the key details to a sporty classic look is layers. Sporty people need to be able to shed layers because they get hot while doing their activity of choice. That can be achieved with outerwear, layering a flannel over a tee, or even a shirt tied around the waist or a sweater around the shoulders for an apres tennis look.
This is a sporty classic look I wore this spring when it SNOWED in late April. I tend to gravitate toward this look on my busiest days, when I have a lot to get done. I’m wearing a fitted hoodie, and the contrasting cuffs and waistband add a faux layered look. I kept it classic with my dark wash jeans, patent finish on my shoes, and bold color palette, and finished the sporty look with minimal jewelry and slip on sneakers. I was so comfortable this day, but felt very chic and put together.
Simple accessories like studs or small hoops and delicate chains that won’t get in the way. Silicone watch bands or rings that you can wear while doing sports. Waterproof (looking) athletic watches, fitness watches and step counters in fashion colors are functional and fashionable. Aviator sunglasses are perfectly sporty, chic and classic. Your purse is functional as a crossbody, backpack, or tote, but still stylish and chic in material and color.
Your shoes should be able to take you on an adventure at a moment’s notice. They can be anything from boots to flats, but they have a substantial sole and non-slip tread. Nothing that requires a careful step or makes you walk like a baby gazelle, and they are probably very comfortable. Footwear like sneakers, boots, boat shoes, and moccasins are perfect. Sneakers can be cute and chic like slip ons, Converse, or stylish running shoes. Fashion sneakers are a thing right now and come in all the colors. Boots of every variety work, but especially duck boots, hiking boots, leather booties, and rain boots. Even flats can be sporty if they have a sneaker sole.
Makeup is another way to keep it sporty. You probably prefer not to wear a lot of makeup because if you get active it could end up a melty mess on your face. To bring some definition to your face without feeling too made up, consider adopting the French makeup aesthetic: Brows, lashes, and a bold lip. Brows and lips frame the face and give just enough definition for a classic without being too much for your I-don’t-mind-getting-messy side. If you have light brows and lashes, and don’t want to risk raccoon eyes, try waterproof makeup like mascara, eyeliner and brow gel, or try dying or tinting them for a more natural look that still gives you the face-framing to enhance your features. If you want to wear a subtle smokey eye, then go for a light lip color. You might like this neutral eye makeup look I shared last week as a quick and easy, everyday look.
Hair styles need to be out of your face, and even if they are high maintenance, they look effortless. Buns, ponytails, top knots, braids or pixies are all great options and suggest you just rolled out of bed and threw your hair up.
There are some brands that were made for you. Any of the athletic brands will be great for shoes like Adidas, Nike, Puma, and New Balance. Eddie Bauer, Columbia, Burberry, Lululemon, Athleta, Abercrombie, Converse, Sperry, G.H. Bass, American Eagle Outfitters, Born, Land’s End, Birkenstock, Tory (Burch) Sport, Chaps, Levi’s, Ralph Lauren, Polo, DKNY, Fossil, Patagonia, Frye, Lacoste, Hunter, L.L. Bean, Minnetonka, Ugg, Barbour, Under Armour, and Skechers. My favorite jeans are from Express because they are stretchy but hold their shape, flattering, and so comfortable. See my favorite ones here.
WAIT A SECOND, WHERE IS THE CLASSIC?
The classic is in the style and fit of the clothes. Classic includes button ups, dark wash tailored jeans (look for 2% spandex so they stretch for comfort, but hold their shape), stripes, chino shorts, flats, loafers, trench coats, and a very tailored fit. The overall look of the clothing is classic, and you sprinkle in some sporty details to add a hint of your active side. Your favorite striped Breton tee might be worn under a utility jacket. Your flats could have an athletic tread. You could wear a trench coat with jogger pants. You might enjoy more denim besides your pants. Make sure your flannels have a nice, tailored shape instead of sloppy oversized cuts (if it says boyfriend fit, it’s probably a no). Add some subtle accessories that suggest what you do to stay active. Have fun with layering, but don’t let it smother you.
IT'S ALL ABOUT BALANCE
I just listed a whole lot of options for adding sporty details to your outfits, but don’t wear all of them at the same time. The trick is to pick and choose one or two sporty details. If you feel like you’re ready for the gym, you’ve gone too far with the sporty and you need more classic structure. You might be happiest getting your sporty details in your layers and accessories.
Only you will know the perfect balance. Do you feel too dressed up in your clothes? Do you feel sloppy or underdressed? Is there too much athleisure in your outfit and you don’t feel like you got dressed for the day? Start with one sporty detail in your outfit and see if you want more. Some women feel better in more, and some can only take so much. It’s very personal. Also, don’t forget the bold hues and tailored fit. Those say you mean business.
Here is another sporty classic outfit I wore one wintry day last year. The sweater and jacket are reminiscent of skiwear, the aviator glasses are a favorite style among athletes, and the denim and boots complete the look. The tailored fit, the bold color palette, and the bold red lip are all classic.
LET'S SEE IT ALL IN ACTION
I do sometimes get a little sporty classic in my wardrobe, as you saw above, so I love this particular style. I couldn’t find one specific blogger or celebrity who consistently sticks to this style and gets the colors right, but some you can check out who wear it are Merrick (though her color palette is very warm and brown-based. She also likes edgy details as well) and Kelly in the City (she also does a lot of cute classic). I searched the interwebs to find a collection of outfits from various bloggers.
Outfit #1: The only thing I would change about her outfit to make it truly sporty classic is her shoes. Some sporty flats, slip on sneakers or booties would make this outfit perfect. That utility jacket has a nice, sleek fit, but is also functional. Also, I love that she’s not a 20-something could-be supermodel. She’s a stunning woman over 40 who looks perfectly at home in her style. This style isn’t reserved for college students. Her utilitarian bucket bag is structured and unfussy. Photo credit here.
Outfit #2: This outfit is heavy on the sporty with the vest, leggings, socks and rain boots, but with the stripes, chic black and white color combo, the very tailored fit, shiny hardware, and perfect manicure, it’s got plenty of classic. Photo credit here.
Outfit #3: I love that she stuck to a crisp black and white color palette with her raglan baseball tee, jeans and sneakers, and added a bold red lip to it. Photo credit here.
Outfit #4: Even dresses can be sporty classic. The denim shirt dress with the sneakers is a dressed up version of this style. The cut of her cardigan lends toward soft classic if you want to add that undertone as well. Photo credit here.
Outfit #5: A nautical vibe is an easy way to get some sporty classic. The striped sweater and boat shoes mixed with the denim and a baseball cap show she is ready for a crisp fall day on the lake. The red jacket will keep out the wind and damp while adding a fall-appropriate dose of color. Photo credit here.
Outfit #6: The bomber jacket, baseball cap, jeans and sneakers are all sporty, but the black color scheme, structured bag, shiny accessories and fit is all classic. Photo credit here.
Outfit #7: The plaid on gingham, structured button up and bag are pure classic, but the layered puffer vest, denim and booties add a sporty vibe that says she could explore that trail over there. Photo credit here.
Outfit #8: This is how you take sporty classic to the office for casual Friday. A black blazer and trousers, a white tee paired with white athletic shoes and a chic, structured leather backpack take business casual to the next level. I would add a red lip. Photo credit here.
Outfit #9: Layer a sweater over a plaid flannel, add some sneakers, jeans and a tote, and this is perfect sporty classic. I would make the jeans dark wash and the tote navy to keep to my color palette. Photo credit here.
WHAT'S NOT SPORTY?
As important as it is to add the sporty elements you want, it’s equally important to avoid certain elements if you want that sporty, active vibe. I’ve showcased edgy classic, then cute classic, soft classic, and next is quirky classic. Learning about all of them will help you avoid the details that will take away from your sporty classic look.
In the Stunning Style Wardrobe Guide, everything is strictly classic, but in the shopping links I provide as many style options as I can find. You’ll find edgy, cute, sporty and soft options for many of the items so you can customize the wardrobe to your personal style, and 100 outfit options for inspiration!!
Are you serious with a sporty side? How do you show that in your classic outfits?
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