Women’s athletic, or performance, outerwear is a top or jacket, designed to be worn over another layer as protection or insulation from the elements. This garment may be front zip, or pullover style, and feature a hood and pockets, as well as design embellishment. Typically, this kind of outerwear is worn before and after yoga or the gym, or for outdoor workouts of any kind.
The origins of women’s athletic wear are not very glamorous. Really, we have to look to men’s warm-ups, which were basic sweatshirts, to see where the style came from. In time, manufacturers started making performance and athletic outerwear in cuts and sizes that were appropriate for women, and colors and prints that had some feminine appeal. But it was not until recently that a workout jacket was stylish enough to go from the gym to coffee. Today, we have the ‘athleisure’ trend to thank for performance clothing that is cute enough to do double duty as workout and casual wear.
Women’s athletic and performance outerwear is available in a variety of styles. Most jackets are full zip, and may have a hood or pockets. Usually they feature some stylish design elements, such as ruching, asymmetrical or moto zippers, reflective stitching or tape, and on-trend colors or prints. Performance outerwear is named as such for the job that it does, which is perform in adverse conditions—like bad weather and sweaty workouts. Synthetic fabrics like poly, nylon and spandex—of which much athleisure wear is constructed—allow for wicking (e.g. keeping you dry), breathability, and stretch.
Fortunately, it is possible to style women’s athletic and performance outerwear. This wasn’t the case in recent memory, when most women’s outdoor and workout apparel was poorly designed and pink. Now we have the luxury of athletic jackets that meet at the intersection of fashion and function, and can be mixed and matched with different workout pieces, so that you look good even while running in rain, sweating through a yoga class, or going between the gym and the office. For the ultimate athleisure look, layer your workout jacket with a cute tank, and pair with leggings and sneakers.