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The best summer athleisure outfits for 2021

The best summer athleisure in 2021

If you’re looking for something to wear besides denim shorts and flip-flops this summer, consider summer athleisure styles. 

Summer athleisure offers the best of both worlds: comfort and function. These pieces, which range from lightweight joggers to cropped muscle tanks, are ideal for stretching, lounging and everything in between. No matter where you find yourself this summer, whether it’s on the couch or hanging out poolside, athleisure is a smart choice.

Find the summer’s best athleisure pieces with this buying guide, which includes top picks from many favorite athleisure brands.

What to know about summer athleisure wear

What is athleisure?

As its name implies, athleisure is designed for both athletic and leisure wear. It’s comfortable and flexible so wearers can enjoy free, uninhibited range of motion. Besides light exercise, many people wear athleisure for travel, loungewear or sleep. Some wearers dress up athleisure, pairing pieces with statement jewelry or fashion-forward footwear.

Athleisure vs. performance athletic apparel

If you’re wondering how athleisure is different from traditional athletic apparel — especially when many pieces look the same — it boils down to design differences.

For one, performance athletic apparel has unique features to support athletes’ movement and activity. This often includes moisture-wicking material, a compressive fit or sewn-in briefs. The main focus of athleisure pieces, on the other hand, is usually comfort.

Another key difference between athleisure and other athletic apparel is overall construction. While most pieces are generally well-made, it’s common for athleisure to be lightweight. These pieces lack the durability of performance apparel and may not hold up well to frequent washing or wear and tear. 

Summer vs. winter athleisure

Summer athleisure typically includes lightweight, breathable pieces. As far as tops go, this includes short-sleeve and sleeveless styles, as well as cropped tees and long-line sports bras. For bottoms, there’s a wide variety of shorts, capris, joggers and leggings. 

Winter athleisure includes thicker, heavier pieces. Many of these are thermal or fleece-lined, such as sweatpants, for additional warmth. Winter athleisure includes base pieces, like long-sleeve shirts and leggings, as well as layering pieces such as hoodies and sweatshirts.

Best summer athleisure

Best summer athleisure for men

Polo Ralph Lauren Men’s Performance Jersey T-Shirt

Breathable and wick-away, this soft jersey tee is great for all-day cool comfort. It’s available in eight colors and comes in sizes XS to 2XL. 

Sold by Macy's

Champion Men’s Jersey Jogger

This slim-fit jogger is made with a soft cotton blend that gets progressively softer when washed. The style features spacious side pockets and an adjustable waist. 

Sold by Amazon and Macy’s

Nike Men’s Woven 11-Inch Utility Short

With strategic ventilation panels and Nike’s signature wick-away material, this short is suitable for warm-weather wear. It has a relaxed, comfortable fit for lounging or sleeping.

Sold by Macy’s

Under Armour Men’s Tech Tank 2.0

Sleek and sporty, this lightweight tech tank can be worn on its own or as a base layer in cooler weather. It’s made with Under Armour’s patented anti-odor, wick-away material. 

Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Adidas Classic Tee

The Classic Adidas tee is as versatile as it gets when it comes to summer T-shirts. It has a soft, lay-flat crewneck and a longer hemline. It earns bonus points for being made with sustainable cotton.

Sold by Kohl’s 

Polo Ralph Lauren Men’s Big & Tall Soft Cotton Active Jogger

This premium jogger is made with a smooth, interlocking cotton weave appreciated for its luxurious feel. The style has an elastic drawstring waist and a contemporary colorblock design. 

Sold by Macy’s

Columbia Men’s Summertide Stretch Short

Made with Omni-Shade material, this Columbia short blocks out UVA and UVB rays to protect against sunburn. It remains a customer favorite for its durable construction that holds up to considerable wear and tear.

Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Levi’s Men’s Print Tank

From board shorts to laid-back joggers, it’s easy to elevate athleisure style with this cotton Levi’s tank. It’s available in six beach-inspired patterns featuring bright colors. 

Sold by Kohl’s

Best summer athleisure for women

Calvin Klein Performance High-Waist 7/8 Legging

It’s hard to beat Calvin Klein’s colorful leggings, which are available in 10 vibrant prints. The leggings have a wide, high-rise waistband that stays put whether you’re cycling, lounging or stretching. 

Sold by Macy’s

Boao Basic Crop Top Set

Affordable and versatile, this crop top set of four is considered a summer athleisure essential. They have a modern, flattering U-neckline and racerback style. The crop tops are made with a premium stretch spandex blend.

Sold by Amazon

Gaiam Women’s Harmony Graphic Yoga Tank

Made by a much-loved yoga brand, this relaxed-fit tank easily becomes a favorite piece. It has a high-low hem and a tag-free design. The tank is available in three prints, and each one echoes positive vibes.

Sold by Kohl’s

CRZ YOGA Women’s Lightweight Joggers

CRZ YOGA’s bestselling jogger has a roomy design with a pajama-like fit. The joggers are made with a featherlight polyester and spandex blend and they’re cool to the touch. Choose from over 24 unique colors, including misty merlot and mauve.

Sold by Amazon

Tommy Hilfiger French Terry Hoodie

On cooler summer nights, cozy up with Tommy Hifilger’s terry hoodie. It has a long hemline and is lined with soft, lightweight fleece. Wearers love the low-profile logo detail at the zipper pull. 

Sold by Macy’s

Adidas Originals Women’s Trefoil Full-Length Legging

A perennial favorite, these Adidas leggings are popular for everyday wear and travel. They create a flattering silhouette on wearers with a smooth, flexible waistline. 

Sold by Macy’s

Columbia Anytime Casual Skort

This one-of-a-kind design by Columbia has it all: pockets, an adjustable hemline and a comfortable fit. It’s made with wick-away material that also happens to be water- and stain-resistant. 

Sold by Macy’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods

DKNY Sport Mesh Funnel-Neck Top

Appreciated for its edgy look, this fishnet-inspired top is plenty breathable. Pair it with a long-line sports bra, tank top or swimsuit for a quick and comfortable outfit.

Sold by Macy’s and Amazon


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Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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