Rethinking Athleisure: This R29 Editor’s Wellness Journey Revamped Her Personal Style

·8 min read

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Our lives have been in a state of flux — and so has our sense of style. In partnership with Macy’s, we’ve tapped R29 editors to shed light on how their personal styles have evolved in the last year, aligning them with their own specific fashion identity that offers a glimpse into who they are and a reflection of the times we’re living in. Read more about the partnership and the other fashion identities here.

There’s this assumption that if you’re into wellness, then you’re like, into wellness — in the green juice-drinking, breathwork-practicing, crystal-collecting sense. But there’s no one-size-fits-all “look” for prioritizing your physical and mental well-being. You can live an active lifestyle without living in activewear. Case in point: The Active Aesthete, who proves practicing wellness can look like wearing spandex and wanting to dress up; it can look like whatever you want. It’s a reality that Carly Danner, R29’s associate social editor, discovered during lockdown as she reconciled her pre-pandemic style that “did the most” with her newfound desire to wear comfortable, practical outfits. Keep reading to find out how she’s redefining wellness on her own terms, and how she learned to merge her love of dressing up with her incredibly active lifestyle.

My pre-pandemic style could be described as… “All over the place. I used to buy random items on a whim, and they would go out of style a few months later, not fit my body right, or sit in my closet (with the tags still on) collecting dust. I also wore very impractical pieces — especially for living in New York City — like ridiculously high heels or too-short dresses.”

But when the pandemic hit… “My style became way more relaxed. Before COVID, I was that friend who did the most with her outfits, always had her hair done, and was never not in heels. Now, I find myself still putting in effort but with a chiller vibe. This time at home has also given me newfound appreciation for my body. In the past, I used to hide it (and thus, my insecurities) by wearing baggy shirts whenever I worked out, but I’ve begun to invest more time and energy into my physical and mental health journey. And it shows in the things I buy, too — instead of purchasing dresses I’d only wear once, I’m spending my money on skin care, mental health, workout classes, and outfits that I feel confident in.”

My personal style evolved… “When I would go on one of my many walks (all around the city and in Central Park) during the pandemic. These were my only ‘going out’ moments, so I dressed up for them, experimenting with colors, wearing something other than leggings, and reaching for tops I normally would have been too self-conscious to wear. At home, I’ll wear matching sweats or a workout set, and elevate the look with small gold hoops. I love how athleisure makes me feel, and so I try to incorporate those pieces outside of my workout whenever I can.”

What I learned: “I can have the best of both worlds: style and comfort. I still love flirty dresses and cute wrap tops, but I also lead a very active lifestyle (taking one to two workout classes every day, going on long walks, moving my body whenever I can). I don’t have to sacrifice one for the other.”

I’m The Active Aesthete because…“I value balance in every aspect of my life (physical and mental health, time spent by myself and with people, social media). I’m focused on overall wellness, and it’s reflected in how I present myself to the world: a style that I think of as a more enhanced version of athleisure. There’s purpose behind the pieces I wear — they’re comfortable, they make me feel confident, and they can get me through my days.”

My essentials include: “Sporty sandals for the summer and white sneakers with chunky white socks for the rest of the year. I also love a good baseball cap or bucket hat; I’ll find a way to incorporate it into a lot of my outfits.”

The most surprising thing I discovered: “I actually prefer a simpler style. I used to spend so much money on ‘trendy’ items, but now, I try to buy things that I know I will still reach for six months later.”

My favorite pandemic purchase was… “This one-shoulder sports bra that I saw on TikTok, and it’s become my go-to for pilates, walks, or for dining out. I wore it so much that I bought it in three more colors.”

My 2021 personal style will… “Continue to evolve into looks that are stylish but can still keep up with my busy lifestyle. I have cities to explore and adventures with friends lined up to make up for lost time. For the summer, I can’t wait to pair my stretchy cropped sports bra halters with jeans and sneakers. And for the fall, I have my uniform planned already: oversized sweatshirts, bike shorts, and, of course, sneakers.”

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