Athleta For The Non-athletic


Some things just naturally go together, like peanut butter and jelly, Justin and Selena, and Trump’s thumbs and Twitter. Me and sports? It’s a car crash. I still remember in 7th grade they had us play a coed football game with the 8th graders. Everyone knew how to play and I was clueless. When the ball went into play I made sure I ran to the corner of the field, as far away from everyone as I could get. Of course now I know this made me a wide open receiver and suddenly the ball was thrown my way. By some miracle I actually caught the ball, not with my face as per usual, but with my actual hands. I was so excited! I looked for another teammate and launched my best throw, thrilled to be a part of the game. And that kids, is the part in the movie where the record skips and the music stops and everyone stares. In this case it was a look of confusion and annoyance with shouts of “What are you doing?” and “This isn’t rugby!” , which only confused me further since I only associated rugby with J.Crew shirts. You would think that this type of humiliation would have sealed the deal for me to abstain from sports but I went on to try out for, and get rejected at cheerleading, lacrosse and tennis. Only then did I realize that I couldn’t take not seeing my name on those lists any longer. Sports and I broke up, even through we were never really together beyond my mind.

Flash forward to becoming an adult and a mom. After becoming a mom you pretty much don’t get embarrassed by anything. Nurses who are strangers have seen you naked and helped you use the bathroom, you’ve been in a store when one or more of your children has broken something and/or had a very audible tantrum, and you’ve also walked around with what feels like an oversized pumpkin strapped to your torso while fearing you have some kind of fluid break out of you at any moment. In other words, it takes a lot to intimidate me. But I distinctly remember the first time I walked into Athleta. The store feels like a rustic meets chic NYC loft. I immediately wanted my name to be something cool like Skye. I’d meet my  tan and toned friends Nadia and Sage every Saturday for 7 am paddle boarding, driving off in my vintage Land Rover when we done to go get a chai tea and granola. At lunch I’d rendezvous with Autumn and Lia and we’d do yoga in the middle of a gorgeous garden, never breaking a sweat but merely glowing with good vibes.  For dinner I’d wear a comfy dress with the built-in bra that hugged every perfectly toned curve. I’d meet my surfer husband on the beach where our tow haired surfer babies would dance around a bonfire with other cool families.  We’d go home to an eco-friendly but large home that has koi in the water feature out back.



Snap back to reality. I am about 15 lbs heavier than I want to be. My name is Suzie which really sounds like I should seduce you to death with my cuteness. My abs are long gone, replaced with something that looks like those paper fortune-teller things the kids make  and use their fingers to move it back and forth, except I have a belly button in my center.


The fantasy of being sporty and cool crashes into reality and I am convinced one of the employees will offer me a power bar to leave before I scare off the other customers. But here’s the catch. The women that work there are nice, really, really nice. They are all different ages and all different sizes, and not everyone looks like they are about to head off to a spin class. Most of them are leading busy lives, just like the rest of us. My day may not be filled with yoga and paddle boarding, but it is filled with what sometimes feels like a day long marathon. Women crave comfort. This is why we whip off our bras as soon as we get home and throw on the hoodie and sweatpants. Nobody wakes up excited to wear pants with zippers and buttons, at least not when we have stuff that spills over after we zipper and button. Our bodies have changed, and even if we are at a number size we are happy with we still have to contend to that softening of our skin that makes things feel loose and malleable. During any given day we are climbing in and out of cars and SUVs. We are breaking a sweat while we race through the grocery store to grab pretzels for our child’s post game snack that they only told us about this morning. We are dashing into freezing air conditioning and then hiking through parking lots and fields to sit outside and sweat at a soccer game. We then have about 5 minutes of turnaround time to want to look and feel pulled together for back to school night and possible one quick cocktail with our girlfriends. All of this dashing, running, sweating and freezing means our heart is racing and our muscles are moving. We are squatting and lifting all sorts of stuff throughout the day. And no one wants to be flashing other moms with backside crack or wondering if they can unbutton the top button of their jeans without anyone else noticing. We want comfort AND performance. We are athletes of a different nature, working women who need layers that flatter and don’t require thousands of dollars of dry cleaning bills. We need athleisure clothes even though I haven’t figured out when the hell we get to leisure in them.

When Athleta asked me to do a styling session with their clothes and their sister stores, Gap and Banana Republic, along with a local neighbor boutique, Scout and Molly, for accessories, I was so flattered. In my mind I finally saw my name on the list for making the team. Last Saturday I went in to do a little research on the clothes and get familiar with some of the fits and to find my favorites. I was so thrilled at how practical and pretty the clothes were. Their leggings are known for their comfort and their support, and their higher rise option made me feel like I was all pulled in without feeling like they were going to give me indigestion from pressure. Their next brilliant idea is this longer tops, which they call CYA – for Cover Your Assets. Considering I don’t consider my ass to be an asset right now I am all about making sure it is covered.


The sweaters are thick enough that they don’t cling, warm but not suffocating, and while roomy they are still cut to layer and to flatter.


You can’t see the detail in this picture above, but I have on the leggings that look and feel like velvet cords. I could put on a stiletto and fun earring and go to a holiday party, or Ugg boots and a parka and go to my son’s ice hockey game. And see those buttons on the side of the sweater? They are actually snaps so you can layer, unsnapping it to highlight where you want to create focus. So if your waist is more narrow than your hips you can wear a white CYA type top and unbutton the snaps to highlight the side of the waist. If you want to take attention away from your belly and towards your narrow hips than keep the hemline focused at hip length.

You can see what I mean about hemlines when you see these 2 different CYA shirts. The one with the curved hem breaks up the hips where the white meets the black. The one with the straight hem lengthens the torso by bringing the eye down to the straight across hem.  Both looks can work for different reasons, it really depends what you like. In my case I would probably like a jacket or cardigan that hits at the waist to bring a curve back to the straight look of just the tank and the leggings. This is my favorite part of personal styling because really it’s all an optical illusion and we have the control to gain or lose 5 lbs just by what clothing combinations we wear.

So it’s official. I am going to wear workout clothes, aka streetwear, aka athleisure wear to all of my holiday events so that I can eat, bend down to pick up my kids’ stuff of the floor, and take layers off to avoid feeling like a roasted chestnut by someone’s fire. Want to join me in finding clothes that fit, flatter AND feel good?

*Insider Tip – Plays well with others.

Just because I have become friends with some athletic clothes does not mean that I am about to abandon my love for all things sequined and faux fur. Versatility is a requirement for every item I bring into my wardrobe. I want to make sure I can dress it up or dress it down, which means it has to work with other items in my closet. Gap has long been a supplier of classic denim pieces and Banana has always been great for items that go from work to weekend. So how does one pair a top from Banana with a bottom from Athleta? If you are local come see me at the Glen Mills location of Athleta in the Glen Eagle square tomorrow from 10-1. I’ll have pieces in the store from Gap and from Banana Republic that we can mix and match back to Athleta. To finish it off they will be jewelry and accessories from Scout and Molly’s to pull it all together so you can rest easy knowing your outfits for all of your holiday events will be styled and pull together. Then you can look great while screaming at kids in Target and downing Starbucks for caffeine to tackle the mile long shopping list. Eggnog anybody?

Can’t make it in but want to shop my picks? Follow this link and see the items I loved under the Finds section. Find out how to wear them in the Looks section.



Thanks for reading!



Published by suziegaffney

owner at Suzie Gaffney Styling

2 thoughts on “Athleta For The Non-athletic

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: