Over the last decade, when fitnesswear somehow became a style and the era of Uggs began, "fashion" became synonymous with discomfort.
A trip out into the world (I would get more specific, but you really can't avoid it, no matter where you go) showcases an alarming ratio of women wearing outfits that entirely disregard personal style or personal expression. These outfits, usually comprised of spandex, are being worn exclusively for comfort.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying comfort is bad - I love being comfortable in my clothes as much as the next girl! But who says you can't be comfortable and stylish at the same time? Besides the obvious items of shift dresses and maxi dresses (where you're basically just wearing a bag on your body, but a very chic bag), it IS possible to put together an outfit that looks like you still care about your appearance - even though you're snug as a bug in a rug. And these outfits don't include spandex of any kind. So please, leave the fitnesswear at the gym, and utilize these tips instead.
1. Find that Perfect Pair of Jeans - and make sure they're stretchy.
You don't need to automatically resort to leggings or sweatpants when you're looking for comfort (but if you do, remember this article about the right way to wear leggings). It is actually possible to find a pair of jeans that is as comfortable as either of those (much less stylish) options. Trust me, because I found them - they were $5 from a crappy cheap mall store, but they are the most comfortable pair of pants I own.
The trick is to find a pair of jeans that are already broken in and have some stretch to them. Avoid the stiff jeans that you dread putting on, and are unforgiving if you've put on a few pounds - spend quality time finding the jeans with just enough spandex that you're happy to replace your sweats.
You will be amazed at how easy it is to look stylish in a loose-fit shirt or sweater as soon as you add in a big, chunky necklace. "I'm hung over and even getting dressed was a struggle" turns into "I am very casually stylish, thank you very much, and I feel just fine".
The trick to wearing loose-fitting items is knowing your limit with how big you can go. Ideally, a "loose" shirt should fit about 1-2 sizes bigger than what you would normally wear. But there is no limit to how chunky that necklace can be - the bigger the better!
I swear by my white low-top Chuck Taylors. I pretty much wear them every waking moment that I'm not required to wear something more formal (AKA at work). If you're looking for everyday comfort, it's important to find a pair of cute (and comfortable!) go-to sneakers.
Besides the comfort factor, the truth is that you can do almost everything in sneakers. Going out for brunch with your friends? Kicking around a soccer ball? Going for a long walk? Running errands? These kicks can do it all.
4. Invest in a bra that doesn't make you regret being born a woman.
We all have that bra that looks great, but makes us feel like we are being slowly tortured.
One absolutely crucial step to being comfortable and stylish is investing in a good bra (or bralette) that you barely notice you're wearing. Go to the nearest undergarment shop and try on a thousand bras until you find one that almost lives up to the comfort of a sports bra, but doesn't stoop to that level of laziness - they do exist! And they don't have to be ugly, either.
5. Add pattern, and layer like a pro.
Incorporating different layers and patterns into your outfit is an easy way to up your fashion factor (while still remaining cozy and comfy). Try adding a longer, patterned tank under your loose fit t-shirt and throwing a cardigan, jacket, and scarf over top.
One easy rule for mixing patterns is to select prints that have similar shapes and colours, but are different sizes. For instance, small polka dots mixed with a large, rounded floral, or a small stripe paired with a large windowpane or plaid. Alternately, you can try selecting two completely different patterns (polka dots and stripes, for example) that have the same dominant colour.