The idea of having dedicated wardrobes — one for work, one for play, one for fitness, one for whatever else — has all but eroded. Nowadays, every time we hang a garment in our closets, it’s with the intention to wear it for various parts of our lives. Brands have noticed this shift, and have begun designing with malleability in mind — hence why we see labels like ADAY designing workwear-inspired staples out of performance fabrics, or, more noticeably, why athleisure’s the trend we just can’t quit, even a few years deep in spandex-clad limbs.
No one is arguably as well-equipped to speak to the trend as Monica Rose is, the stylist who until very recently worked with pioneers of athletic-gear-as-day-wear such as Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, and Khloe Kardashian. We caught up with her, quite appropriately, at Reebok Classics’ Coachella event, which was intended to bring together and highlight the sports brand’s tenants in style and fitness — i.e. the intersectional powers that brought athleisure to the very top of the fashion industry. (Seriously: When else have you seen editors and designers embrace leggings so openly for non-gym-related activities?)
Because so many of her current and former clients are often the subjects of athleisure outfit-inspiration slideshows, we wanted to know if Rose thought there was indeed a secret sauce to nailing the sporty look. (Reports of the stylist splitting from Kardashian, Jenner, and Hadid surfaced after the interview took place.) First, though, she clarified one thing: “I had never really styled a client in leggings — that’s them.” So, while you can easily find many leggings outfits on Instagram that are #styledbymonicarose, she explained that the impetus came from her clients first; it’s been Rose's job to help them balance it out. “These girls have such cool style already, that it’s [a matter of] putting that denim jacket on or throwing that leather jacket on — wearing the leggings with one cool statement piece,” the stylist told Refinery29. “Cool sneakers are a must, or even wearing a baseball cap,” she added — a tip we already recognize from her work.
Part of the appeal of athleisure, Rose said, is the fact that it gives permission to “be comfortable, look cool, and not have to be dressed to the nines all the time,” in a way we haven’t seen in the fashion sphere for quite some time. It’s no longer unfathomable to wear leggings out of the house — or to think that they can be dressed up, even. “It’s all about those little details of how you style your leggings around: the sneakers, the layered pieces, the cool pair of sunglasses.” For Rose, the key lies in asking questions at every step of the outfit-picking process: “If I’m going to wear leggings, I’m going to wear a flannel around my waist — and then, what sneaker? Do I want to wear a leather or a tracksuit or a denim jacket? All three will work with it, but which one will wear with your full look? What am I trying to achieve here?”
Of course, we’re at the point where “athleisure” goes well beyond incorporating leggings into our everyday dress. And Rose has noticed a shift in terms of the types of pieces she and her clients are attracted to. First, of course, there are sneakers: Hadid turned Rose on to Reebok’s Classic Leather when the model started working with the brand, and now the stylist recommends it for its comfort and clean silhouette. Then, there are the other comeback pieces on her radar. “I was just styling a client, and I put [her in] a pair of track pants with heels,” she noted with some surprise. “It’s that mix-and-match. It’s not thought-out for me: If I find something cool, I’m going to work around it.” While our instinct may be to pick up some chunky white kicks to pair with track pants, the stylist went down the more unexpected route — and the resulting look was even better than the ‘90s outfit conventions that inspired it. “All these designers are catching on to that [mix and match],” Rose observed. “Vetements just did the collaboration with Reebok, and it’s amazing: the fit, the quality, the detail.” These two don’t have to exist in totally different categories — if anything, they’re stronger together.
Ahead, see how Rose’s “mix-and-match” translates into IRL athleisure outfits, as seen on some of her very famous current and former clients. If these looks don’t make you want to wear track pants, leggings, and/or sneakers 24/7… well, we don’t know what will.
Disclosure: Travel and expenses for the author were provided by Reebok for the purpose of writing this story.