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Not Into Athleisure? LeSet’s Ultra-Soft Matching Sets Are the Elegant (and Affordable) Alternative

Not Into Athleisure? LeSet’s Ultra-Soft Matching Sets Are the Elegant (and Affordable) Alternative

Much ink has been spilled about the pursuit of comfortable yet stylish travel clothes. If you aren’t an “athleisure person,” what do you wear on a 12-hour flight? Even if you’re just running errands on the weekend, where’s the elegant alternative to leggings and sneakers? With LeSet, a new label of basics, Lili Chemla set out to provide us all with a few answers.

Conceived as a line of matching sets, Chemla’s V-neck sweaters, scoop-neck tees, shrunken cardigans, and wide-leg pants hit a sweet spot that didn’t really exist. They’re comfortable, not dowdy; the materials are ultra-soft but retain shape; and the silhouettes are easy without being “sporty” or oversized. Sweatpant doesn’t feel like quite the right word for her high-rise, wide-leg trousers, perhaps because they don’t demand to be worn with sneakers; it’s the rare kind of “leisure pant” you can wear with ballet flats or even boots.

The idea for LeSet sparked from Chemla’s own needs: “I’ve always hated that feeling of being out to dinner or at the office and being like, ‘I can’t wait to get home and change,’” she says. (Who among us hasn’t felt the same way after a long day in a pantsuit or non-stretch jeans?) “I’ve always wanted to find clothes that feel really good but look more elevated than actual sweatpants or athleisure—that’s really what drove the whole concept.”

Launching today exclusively on LeSet’s website and Net-a-Porter, the first collection is a mix of neutral shades of gray and black with hits of novelty, like a cherry red set, a bright tangerine one, and a shrunken python cardigan with matching pants. If that sounds bold, the head-to-toe snake print looks subtle and a little gamine as it’s styled here with Superga sneakers. Then there’s Paloma Elsesser’s black jogger pants and long-sleeve tee. Accessorized with flats, hoop earrings, red lipstick, and a slick bun, the look is easy and elegant, apropos for the grocery store or a dinner party.

Part of the reason it all looks chic, not sloppy, is Chemla’s choice of fabrics. She says the super-soft knit is repeatedly mistaken for cashmere, but is actually a lofty viscose-spandex blend. “Every person who’s felt it has said, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m not going to be able to afford that!’ and I have to tell them it isn’t cashmere,” Chemla says. For those of us who’ve dreamt of wearing head-to-toe cashmere on an overnight flight, it’s good news: The viscose trousers are $180, and a matching V-neck or turtleneck is $140. (In fact, there’s only one item that’s more than $200, and it’s the oversized cardigan you’d want to layer on top, ringing in at $275.) The whole set would likely cost less than a single cashmere sweater or pant from a high-end label.

“What I always say is that you could wear them on a plane knowing you have to go straight from the airport to an event or a meeting,” Chemla says. “The buyers I met at Net-a-Porter told me that makes it sort of a new category—there’s so much loungewear out there, but not a lot that feels nice enough to wear out of the house.” It’s easy to picture a downtown New Yorker wearing the color-block turtleneck and trousers all winter long with heavy boots, or mixing up the different colors and patterns to make her own “set.” Put yours together at and