In the fashion world, the word "sporty" doesn't necessarily have the most stylish connotation. It summons up visions of baggy athletic shorts, shelf-bra tanks, and sweatproof sunblock, and usually can be applied to the sort of girl whose Facebook albums are grouped by beer pong tournaments. But thanks to DKNY and Alexander Wang's Spring 09 collections, sporty is playing in a whole new court. No longer referring to the Jane-Fonda-legwarmers-scrunchie gear of decades past, this season the trend got a city-girl twist. Thanks to subtle infusions of color and surprising pairing of unlikely materials, the results are a ramped-up, stylish look.
As we set out to pick the perfect pieces for this story, we looked, of course, to our aforementioned VIP-players for coaching. DKNY showed a perfect blend of sporty and sophisticated by pairing high-heeled sneakers with tailored dresses and skirts. The collection is perfect for the girl-on-the-go who still craves the panache of uptown polish. Another good example is the DKNY Silk Tank Romper ($325, 800.231.0884), which was styled for the runway with a rosy pink tank and a standout pair of Runway Emily Sneaker Pumps ($180). (These shoes are flying off shelves, but a few pairs can be found at both the DKNY store on West Broadway in New York City (646.613.1100) and Bloomingdales in SoHo (212.729.5900), so try your luck there!) By creating this utilitarian piece in a luxurious fabric, the slouchy silhouette receives a dose of refinement.
Alexander Wang, on the other hand, updated gym-class standards (read: sweats) and mixed them with unexpected materials and accessories. In one look, Wang juxtaposed a workout-inspired hoodie-specifically, the Oversized Sweatshirt Dress ($335) in baby blue French terrycloth-with a black leather skirt and sky-high platforms. Admittedly, it's an outfit that's better suited for major runways than marathon runs, but it's perfect for Wang's trendsetting customers. After all, the designer's muse for the spring show was the sort of sexy, devil-may-care girl who would play basketball in a dress!
As these collections demonstrate, it's easy to subtly incorporate this trend into your wardrobe. You can start out slowly, with accessories like a diving watch or bowling-bag style handbag, or plunge into athletic cuts and materials, like a racerback top or cropped sweat-shorts. Simply try blending sporty accents into your already refined wardrobe and you're sure to discover an appropriate sartorial balance. Just do it-yes, we went there-and you'll see how easy it is to score major style points!
1. Marc By Marc Jacobs Resin Aviator Sunglasses ($98) in Black Crystal
Sunglasses are crucial for any sort of street style, so we chose this pair from Marc by Marc Jacobs, as they offer a fashionable take on the naturally sporty aviator shape. The sturdy black frames are classically chic and enhance this tried-and-true style, making them equally appropriate for sailing down the Italian Riviera or just running to the gym.
2. H&M Bralet ($30)
Stomach-baring tops might be the quintessential sporty look, in that they require a few trips to the gym to pull off. The shirt-style was all over the spring runways, but we like how H&M 's version feminizes the ab-class gear with a fun floral print.
3. Sauce Panda Pullover Sweatshirt ($92)
A staple of a sporty-inspired wardrobe, this sweatshirt is a slam-dunk, thanks to its shrunken silhouette. Pair it with leather pants, light-wash denim, or even a pair of short shorts for a coolly casual outfit that screams: Model Off Duty!
4.Topshop Wetlook Cropped Jogger Pants ($40)
Alexander Wang's spring collection involved cropped sweats galore (paired with exciting pops of neon, of course!), so these drawstring sweatpants are perfect for nailing this trend. The slight harem shape makes them more stylish than your average slouchy pair; just wear them with platform ankle booties to get a runway-inspired look.
5. Diesel Gum Bag
A nod to Chanel's always-covetable bowling bags, this structured Diesel tote offers a smart take on the sporty trend. The buckle details are chic while the double zippers are both fashionable and functional.
6. Alternative Apparel The Topanga Heather Burnout Crew ($35)
A burnout t-shirt is both sporty and sexy, but this version from Alternative Apparel is particularly perfect. It's super soft, so it feels like your favorite worn-in tee, but the semi-sheer material keeps it current. Pair it with the purple aviators for an unfussy approach to daytime wear.
7. Office Little Stretchy Platforms ($91)
These shoes are a perfect example of a new mix! The black elastic straps are a nod to athletic bandages, while the crisscross pattern plays off the recent trend for fetish footwear. We're not sure you could play basketball in these, but you could definitely walk a stylish mile.
8. Splendid Cotton Racer-back Tank
In the same color palette as DKNY, this coral tank adds a fresh pop of color to any ensemble. The racerback style is a staple in the T by Alexander Wang collection (just check out the Classic Mini Pocket Tank ($73) for reference), so we know it's definitely a summer must-have! Layer it under a neutral jumpsuit, like the aforementioned DKNY version, to add a little flair.
9. Hope Marian by Lizzie Fortunato Jewels for Urban Outfitters Necklace ($48, 800.959.8794)
If sporty style just isn't your thing, we'd like to suggest this simple necklace, as it's a very quiet ode to all things athletic. Pink-and-gold sweatshirt material is braided with gold and silver chains, resulting in a high-low fusion that's sure to win you over (armchair jockeys, we're talking to you). Added bonus: the necklace offers the perfect blend of Wang-and-Karan's spring palettes, so it will work with a wide range of looks!
10. Forever 21 Rotating Bezel Watch ($19)
While we'd never knock Cartier, sometimes taking off the traditional tank watch is a trendsetting choice. Replace that classic piece with something a little more functional, like this dive-watch style from Forever 21. The silicone band looks authoritative, while the glow-in-the-dark hands add some festive flair.-Liza Kaplan