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Fashion: Track record!

Byline: Cathy Mayer

NO longer just confined to the gym, sportswear has crossed over from the running track to the catwalk to become one of this season's trends.

Worn casually with trainers or glammed up for the evening with a pair of killer heels, the tracksuit is back on the high street in a range of sumptuous fabrics.

With slim-fit, flattering jogging pants and funky, retro zip-up tops, sportswear has taken a sexy twist. And high street store Warehouse has brought out a spring range called Retro Sport, which includes everything from t-shirts to trackpants.

Zoe Aird, deputy fashion editor at Company magazine, says the trend was started by J-Lo - who made leisurewear glamorous.

However, she says not all celebrities have got the look right: "Madonna's got it really wrong, wearing it with trainers and a cap. It's got to be quite sexy."

To carry off the glammed-up style, Aird advises mixing and matching sportswear with other items of clothing. "You could wear matching top and bottoms if you were going for the more casual look. But if you're going for more dressy, you don't want to be head to toe in it."

And to ensure that you don't look like you're about to go to the gym, she suggests teaming your jogging pants with some killer heels.

Jane Gill, fashion and style director at Sugar magazine, says: "There is lots of sexy, glam sportswear. You can have it for the daytime and wear it with trainers, but to be really cool you should wear it with heels."

Aird agrees. "Wear a pair of glam high heels, low slung and with a sexy vest. You've got to go full on with it.

"But you've also got to be careful what shoes to wear with them so you don't end up looking trashy. Court shoes would be bad. And towelling socks."

But towelling and Velour are the must-have materials for the sportswear itself.

"Towelling is very fashionable for next summer. It's a great fabric. Towelling and Velour are really comfy, really cosy. In this style towelling can be sexy, but it does have a bit of an image problem because it's always been seen as kind of naff," says Aird.

Try Next's pale blue towelling top at pounds 14.99 and navy towelling joggers at pounds 19.99, River Island's Velour track pants at pounds 24.99 and Velour piped zipthru at pounds 24.99 or Oasis' acid wash Velour funnel jacket at pounds 35 and Velour trackpant at pounds 30.

Another fabric which will be big news for the summer is the Aertex-style material. Aird says: "There's a lot of Aertex around. The utility trend is Aertex, net and cotton, but that's all mixed with the khaki. It's a major trend. This is a more modern take on the sportswear for next spring or summer."

Topshop has a range of Aertex clothing to choose from or go to Next for the zip neck mesh hooded top at pounds 14.99 or mesh top at pounds 7.99.

However, one material to be avoided at all costs is the shiny shellsuit fabric of the 80s. Aird says: "The trick is not to go too sporty. Wear it like you're going to a bar rather than the gym."

Another sportswear item not to be missed this season is the polo shirt. "Tight polo shirts are making a comeback," says Aird. "They should be worn maybe with jeans or a nice skirt so as not to look too sporty."

Colour-wise, we should look to J-Lo and our American counterparts for guidance. Aird says: "Cream, gold - different levels of gold, more the lovely copper colour than shiny gold - and mix it with neutrals. For towelling there are a lot of baby blues and pastels around. But keep it one colour, don't go for prints."

Next's velour range includes a baby blue funnel neck jacket at pounds 24.99 and joggers at pounds 21.99 and a short sleeved hooded top at pounds 19.99 and joggers at pounds 21.99 which are both available in neutral, grey, pink and navy.

Although the must-have accessory to the sporty look is a pair of sexy heels, Aird also suggests teaming your gear with some extra items to really stand out from the crowd: "Wear a low slung belt with it - gold is key. And maybe a cap or sunglasses. It is quite a summery look in a way."

And while a little vest will make your look sporty and cool - go to George at Asda for the Supplex stripe vest at pounds 10 - you can also go glam in satin.

Aird says: "There are a lot of sexy drapey satin tops around. Keeps it sort of quite streety but dressed up."

Unfortunately, Aird says this look isn't for everyone: "It's not the most forgiving of styles," she says. "But one of the great things about the tracksuits is that they also make fantastic pyjamas."

Pale blue towelling top, pounds 14.99, navy towelling joggers, pounds 19.99, and white contemporary trainers, pounds 34.99, available from Next.

Supplex stripe vest with hidden support, pounds 10, and Supplex yoga pants, pounds 14, both from George at Asda.

Velor short sleeved hooded top, pounds 19.99, velor joggers, pounds 21.99, and white contemporary trainers, pounds 34.99, available from Next.

Freestyle T, pounds 20, and freestyle training pant, pounds 27, both available from Marks and Spencer.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 12, 2003
Words:909
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