Sports Luxe

Marios Antoniou @ Birmingham GFW 2009 Photo:

How exactly does fashion work?? The sports luxe trend is such a perfect example. First, designers send their creations striding down the catwalk. (Theoretically speaking, this itself represents a culmination of many months, even years, of inspiration, sourcing, cutting, sewing, stapling, etc., etc., but for arguments sake, let’s say life begins when the model’s foot first hits the runway). This, of course, is presented 6 months before the season its aimed at really starts; fashion editors, along with buyers, photographers and critics view the collection. The pieces are shown over the following months in top magazines; buyers ensure the collections are snapped up and brought to the best boutiques for the richest in the land to grab first dibs. The high street stores must dodge intellectual property law (that prohibits drect copying) to produce similar styles without infringing on the big boys turf. And since most of these labels great and small, are owned by the same super-groups, it certainly would not do to copy too closely.

Alexander Wang Leather Insert Cotton Sweatshirt Dress £633.48. Photo:

Haing watched Sports Luxe tramp the runways and seen nothing on the high street that vaguely resembles it for season upon season, I’d given up hope, but can finally, with great relish, say it’s here. Sports Luxe is not a trend that can be copied down yer local charity shop for a less than a tenner – read up on the likes of grunge florals if you want to be doing that. It’s all in the “luxe”, really. This look is minimalistic but distinct; sportwear is reworked to a disinctly elegant and fashion-forward level. Tones are kept to absolute minimum – plain colours, primarily greys, neutrals and the odd dash of acid bright, but barely no prints or patterns are present at all, please. Variety comes in mixing soft jerseys, satins and other luxe, utility fabrics, and in the tensions between sportswear and tailoring with the mix of structured and destructured pieces, harem pants and boyfriend jackets, bodycon with shoulders and hips. But the real killer is the futuristic twist in the high-octane accessories that turn it into a statement of style. Jewellery, handbags, heels, think angular, acidic and plastic. This is the the fabulous reclaiming sportswear from the Juicy Couture tracksuit, the WAGS, or rather, their legions of wannabes and making it distinctly urban and professional. It’s not an easy look to pull off, that is, unless you follow a few simple rules…

Photo: Zara

New Look Waterfall Jersey Jacket £15. Photo:

1. Invest in a good jacket. A sharply tailored jacket in just the right neutral colour can be thrown over bodycon or draping, day or night, and bring your sportswear into the urban-cool-osphere instantly. Whether slightly oversized and mannish as in Zara’s at the top, to tailored and feminine,  to cascading material, as in this New Look number,the choice is yours. Choose your favourite shade of grey for versatility or nude/cream if your dry cleaning bills can live up to it. Aim for strong shoulders that are padded rather than puffed.

Kiki de Montparnasse Amour Lounge Silk-Satin Camisole £155. Photo:


Topshop Swing Crop Vest £10Warehouse Vest Playsuit £50


2. Drape, drape, drape. Forget puffball skirts or big flarey things, the urban cool of draping plays with the contours of your frame in a refined yet no less inventive way and will complement perfectly your tailored jacket. Soft harem pant leggings can be found almost everywhere these days; look out too for these fabulous drapy hemlines that swing from an ultra-sporty vest-top. But mind you don’t go Grecian – stick to the utlitiy draping at best.

Topshop Caged Corset Top £32

Topshop Woven Panel Bodycon Tunic £30

3. Reinvent bodycon. So you’ve got the dress; but have you got a super-sporty bra-top? Sporty undies are one of the few statement pieces in this look and scream function meets fashion. A long, long way from it’s coquettish cousin the corset top, last seen on Miss Victoria Beckham circa 2006 and in every crap club queue across Britain since (though with higher fat content), the sports-bra top is not for the faint hearted. Wear over a white or nude tank top to lessen the blow, or hunt for its incorporation into more kindly clothes, such as this Topshop frock. Or pull out all the stops and wear alone with high-waisted skirt that’s a sporty kind (think jersey at American Apparel).

Topshop Suspender Bodycon Skirt £28

Warehouse Curved Yoke Peg Leg Trouser £35

DRKSHDW by Rick Owens Fleece Wrap Cardigan £342.28

4. Stick to a strict colour palette. Neutral is best, accented here and there for maximum effect. Nudes, grey and even pastels or monochrome works best, but minimalism on a minimalist budget is made hella simple with choosing your fave and sticking to it. Once you’ve got some staples under your belt, you can funk it up with some subtle twists. Mixing sheer and opaque fabricsis elemental, but adding dashes of acid bright or animal print offsets you neutral backdrop to interesting effect.   

Lanvin Short Hoop Necklace £550


Miss Selfridge Statement Link Necklace £12

River Island Zebra Print Foldover Clutch £29.99

Miss Sixty Embossed Logo Bag £85 @ Asos

 5. Go glamazon with the accessories. Oversize clutch bags and huge sportif heels are the best port of call, so obviously luxe and fashion, and the more futuristic the better. Ironically, or perhaps not, the look is confused if you stick trainers in, unless they are offset by plenty of structured tailoring, heaps of jewellery or have a 3-inch heel; this is not, remember, no sports day. Avoid anything frilly like waving, lacework, tassles, etc. and stick to straps, zips, mesh and stilettoes.  

ASOS Hodge Colour Block Sandal £45

River Island Peep Toe Shoe with Straps £64.99

Ash Spaced 2 Heeled Trainer £135

New Look Punched Ankle Cuff Shoe £30


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