In partnership with Free People

The Transformative Power of Good Activewear

Model Alisha Bansal wears Free People Activewear

In partnership with Free People.

Though the term “play clothes” is typically relegated to outfits worn by humans aged 2-12 during various activities (playdates, visits to the park, finger-painting), I would like to lodge an official petition for it to be attached to applicable adult ensembles. There’s no better description for clothes that both enable frolicking and enhance the enjoyment of it. I’ve frequently found that spending a day in my favorite workout apparel not only makes me feel great, but also changes how I make decisions throughout the day because I’m simply more inclined to play.

In partnership with Free People Movement, I chronicled a day in my play clothes to showcase the transformative power of good activewear. I also styled MR pal Alisha Bansal in Free People Movement’s newest collection to provide the visual cheese to my verbal macaroni. Enjoy both below.

9:30 a.m.

9:45 a.m.

I take off my nightgown and put on gym shorts. I then climb back in bed, wearing just a sports bra and spandex shorts. The resulting outfit looks a lot like what I subsequently dress Alisha in to jump rope (i.e. Free People Movement’s Selene Shorts and cropped Happiness Runs Tank), except instead of jumping rope I proceed to do an hour of work. I clear out my inbox. I do a first-round edit on a story I’m writing about women proposing. I start market research for the April edition of Should I Buy This? I’m on a roll. Turns out a sports bra and gym shorts is the perfect outfit for both comfort and productivity.

10:45 a.m.

I swap out the gym shorts for a pair of joggers (I’m newly into joggers, so imagine my delight when I discovered Free People Movement included a pair in their new collection — don’t they look cool with espadrilles?) plus a T-shirt and sneakers. I put on some jewelry, too, and fun socks, because accessorizing athletic clothes with completely extraneous doodads is one of life’s simplest pleasures. I text my mom to see if she wants to go to a Pilates class with me and she says yes. Yippee!

11 a.m.

I leave my apartment and start walking toward the 6 train subway stop on Spring Street, but it’s so nice out I skip right past it and keep walking. The sun is a puppeteer and I am its marionette. I toddle up Lafayette Street and pause briefly to pull out my headphones and listen to a podcast. I start to get a little sweaty but I’m wearing head-to-toe athletic clothes and four swipes of deodorant, so I’m not worried.

11:30 a.m.

I take a slight (okay, somewhat substantial) detour to get a smoothie because I’m suddenly craving one. I order said smoothie and promptly spill a large green glop of it on my shirt as I attempt my first sip. I ask for a cup of water to splash on myself. Fortunately my shirt is black and made of that special moisture-wicking material stuff, so just a few spring breezes later, it’s pretty much dry again.

11:45 a.m.

I realize I’m going to be late to Pilates and I sprint/jog to the nearest 6 train stop, silently thanking my sneakers for the ability to move at the speed of a fatigued cheetah.

12:05 p.m.

I arrive at Pilates only five minutes late. Praise be. My mom laughs at my accessories and I laugh at her for bringing a sundress to change into after class in case we go somewhere nice-ish for lunch, only because the events of my day thus far have made me quite loyal to lycra.

1 p.m.

My mom ends up simply putting her sundress on over her tank top and leggings and sneakers. We proceed to lunch looking very comfortable albeit perhaps slightly confused. I eat until I am very, very full (free hummus will do that to you), but my expanded tummy basks in the comfort of my elastic waistband and I actually consider keeping a pair of stretchy pants on hand at all times to change into whenever I happen to consume a meal or large snack.

2:30 p.m.

My mom and I decide to walk through Central Park because, as I’ve mentioned, IT’S SO FREAKING NICE OUTSIDE. I think at this point my extended winter blues are so potent I’m starting to feel like a feral animal. Exposure to blue skies and sunshine make me the good kind of nuts. Apparently it makes my sinuses the bad kind of nuts, though. When we enter the park I start tearing up and my nose is no longer emitting air, so I run back to the restaurant where we ate lunch (again, thank you joggers and sneakers for transporting me with ease and speed and utmost poise) and grab some tissues from the bathroom.

5:30 p.m.

6 p.m.

I was planning to completely change my outfit before meeting some friends for dinner, but the short commute from subway stop to my front door convinces me I need to spend as much time outside as possible, which leads to the conclusion that I should walk to the restaurant even though it was a good 20 blocks away. Ergo, I need to wear comfortable, relatively sweat-proof clothes and shoes. Ergo, maybe I should just change into cute sneakers and a slightly more formal but equally comfortable top? The joggers could stay. So could the accessories.

8:30 p.m.

I leave my apartment looking like the incarnation of athleisure: ath on the bottom (joggers, socks, sneakers) and leisure on top (striped button-down, tweed jacket, statement earrings, red lipstick). The only interloper is a freshly laundered sports bra. I’ve never felt more comfortable and more like myself at the same time. I can’t wait to sit down with the ath part of my outfit under the table and the leisure part up top and hold court as the savviest dinner guest in all the land.

11 p.m.

My friends and I decide to go dancing. Or rather, my sneakers decide for us.

All of Alisha’s looks can be shopped on the Free People site here

Photographed by Edith Young at Harvey at the Williamsburg Hotel. Styled by Harling Ross. Modeled by Alisha Bansal. Makeup by Teddy Wilson

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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