Do you exercise to feel frumpy, worn in and comfy?

Probably not. We exercise for lots of reasons: to lower our cholesterol or our stroke risk, train for a race or drop a few pounds. That’s the mental opposite of frumpy, worn in and comfy.

Personally, I’d rather feel strong, streamlined and stylish when I work out. Often, workout clothing falls into the same category as loungewear – old T-shirts, frayed shorts, ratty sweatpants. “When you look good, you feel good” sounds like such a cliché, but you can use your clothing as another motivator to get you out onto the trail or into the gym.

Sound Body in Sound Clothing
Don’t neglect function in favor of form. Sport-specific clothing is incredibly important because it keeps you safe and makes you a better athlete. Although you should never skimp on important items like sport-specific athletic shoes, supportive sports bras and safety equipment, you can find chic and inexpensive workout gear while combing the sales and clearance racks at your local sporting goods store. It’s tempting to throw on an XXL tee and some shorts, but you also need to consider the type of activity you’re doing and the exercise setting. Short shorts in a class setting can give your neighbors an unwanted look at your underwear and wearing unlined mesh shorts on a run can cause uncomfortable chafing.

If you’re into cycling or spinning, leggings or fitted capris are your best bet to keep your pants hem from getting entangled in a bike chain. Yoga also requires tighter clothing for a different reason. Since yoga is all about posture and form, your instructor needs to make sure you are holding poses correctly and not causing an injury. Clingy – not skintight – clothes also stay out of your way. Runners need clothing that will prevent chafing and wick away sweat. Lined shorts and a lean tee or tank top will keep you cool and chafe-free. Synthetic fabrics aren’t a no-no either. Although it feels nice against the skin, cotton can quickly become soggy and sticky because it doesn’t wick moisture from the skin. Try a blend of synthetic and natural fibers that will keep you cool and comfortable, no matter the temperature outside.

Apples, Pears and Hourglasses
Make sure you take your shape into account when looking for workout gear. Boot-cut pants are, hands down, the most flattering cut for everyone. They are classically chic; visually lengthen legs and the boot-cut leg balances out the hip, butt and thigh area, most women’s least favorite part of their bodies. Shorts that fall at the thinnest part of the thigh (usually mid-thigh) are also flattering, creating a leaner leg line. If you have great arms, go for a fitted tank top. Try on workout tees to make sure the armhole is big enough to allow you to move comfortably and the underarm seam doesn’t cut into your skin, a common problem in cap-sleeved shirts.

So, now you’re ready to head to the store in search of new clothing, right? Yoga gear is the style of the moment because the clothes are comfortable and the fitted pants and cute jackets are wearable outside a yoga studio setting. Online retailers and sport-specific stores are terrific sources for all types of athletic clothing, allowing you to search based on activity type or by specific item. Even department stores and big box retailers realize the need for stylish and well-made workout clothing at all price levels, so that could be a good starting point for basics.

Now that you’re properly and stylishly dressed to work out, get out there and get moving!

– Kristine Ritter Wilhelm

Editor’s Note: If you’d like more information on working out in style, check out this article courtesy of Power To End Stroke: Exercise and Your Hair.


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