Before we rant and rave about how important it is to wear Dior to bench-press, you need to ask yourself a serious question… “Do I care about fashion in the gym?” If your answer is yes, continue reading immediately. Your answer is no? You’re terrible at lying. Personally I don’t like to go from dressed up to the nines in the street to collecting fashion police fines in the gym.
Are we talking about posing all over the gym at any opportunity and only sweating because someone squeezed their water bottle towards your vintage?
We are talking about bringing fashion into the gym to help you to stay confident and motivated. Perfect attributes when deciding to push yourself and raise the weight of your bench-press. Looking good = feeling good. The easiest equation in fashion. The amount of people that say they don’t feel confident in the gym is overwhelming. If this sounds familiar, we’re going to help you change your views. This article shows you how to mix fashion with practicality in sports. We’re going to show you how to achieve a fashion friendly sporty look, that can often be carried through to leisurewear if you decide to pop to Nando’s for some post workout chicken protein with friends.
We believe in basic style with functionality for the gym, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be individual with your fashion and carry off your own personal style. We will cover gym wear for the cardio fanatic, muscle Mary, and everyone in-between. Some of you may not believe in sweating in Marc Jacobs, so we’ve added some basic and cheaper high street offerings too. Sportswear isn’t new to the fashion market by any means, but it is often overlooked. Hopefully this article will make you think about the two combined.
So Where Do We Start?
If for you this is a prerequisite, apologies. If you go commando, this one’s for you. Without underwear when exercising, in particular running, you’re risking a hernia from lack of support. Serious runners wear no underwear but highly supportive Lycra running shorts, therefore underwear is not necessary. This, although practical, arguably looks awful in the fashion world. Whatever you choose, you need support. Wear your brand and style but make sure they’re helping you out. A supportive brief/boxer is ultimately better than a looser fit. You’ll also avoid the health and safety issue of others dropping weights in shock when you’re roaming package pops out to greet everyone savagely with its unwelcome presence. Cringe.
Calvin Klein offers some great supportive fits and is still the King of the underwear world. Below are a few to purchase online. TK Maxx offers heavily discounted designer underwear (Alexander McQueen, D&G, Calvin Klein to name a few) if you can get to a store. Personally, I like underwear to be discreet with both branding and colour wherever I am, letting other items in an outfit get more attention. Here’s a mix but notice they are all supportive, therefore practical for exercise:
If designer underwear isn’t important to you, you can pick up some great basics from the high street:
I got an A in science at school so I know that when you work out, you sweat. Sweat in your socks, not your shoes. Socks also help to minimise the risk of blisters, especially during cardio where your feet will be rubbing against your shoes a greater deal. Discreet trainer socks do the trick, but longer sports style socks can look good – especially with shorts. American Apparel does a great range using their signature organic cotton:
Do not underestimate. A decent set of footwear can help to minimise injury and allow you to excel in your chosen activity. If you’re involved with cardio, this is more important than if you’re lifting weights. In running, your feet make regular impact with the ground involving your entire body weight. Your shoe will help to minimise shock and can intervene with how your feet land.
If you’re serious about running, try specialist running shops that will video record you run and fit your feet accordingly. If you’re more amateur with cardio, a general running shoe will sort you out. Some brands offer unique styles if you’re not a fan of the conventional running shoe design (see PUMA Faas below). Nike also offers highly personalised trainers using Nike I.D with again slightly more fashionable running shoes.
If you’re primarily using the gym for weights, your footwear is less important and you can aim for a more leisure focused style as long as it fits in with the gym’s footwear policy, which sometimes can be strict. As a general rule, keep it sporty to fit with the gym theme. No one looks sane rocking up in brogues or flip flops to the weights room.
Nike, Adidas and PUMA do a great range of styles aimed at mixing sports with leisure, giving you a versatile shoe. Focused more towards leisure, brands like Vans and Onitsuka Tiger have great classic designs. If you want a more high fashion presence in the gym, go for collaborations by Alexander McQueen for PUMA and Y3-Adidas.
When you’re working out, keep it to one layer and keep it practical. When you sweat, your skins’ pores open up. Restricted air to and from these pores can lead to spots so give yourself room to breathe. Tighter clothing also contributes to excessive sweating. Looser fit t-shirts therefore work well. Polo shirts look great but are generally thicker and therefore warmer. Another popular gym choice is a vest. Covering less skin keeps you cooler, gives you more freedom to move and gives greater opportunity for your skin to breathe.
Vests can also assist in your work out if you’re exercising specific muscles. You can see what muscles are contracting, giving you the confidence that your workout is targeting the right areas. Racer back vests have minimal fabric on the back area, so are great if you are working out your back muscles. If you suffer from upper body acne, go for 100% cotton fabrics rather than synthetic materials and always shower immediately after exercising. Ending your shower with cool water will close your skins’ pores reducing the risk of acne.
Aim for very dark colours or whites when making choices with the upper body. This is generally where sweat shows the most. Very dark colours and whites will help to disguise sweat. Light to mid colours will show off sweat more. Greys looks great for lower body and a second layer, but will show up sweat easily on a tee or vest. Blacks can complement a larger figure so aim for this if you’re self-conscious about your weight.
If you’re going to and from the gym in your workout gear, you don’t want to get too cold or cool down too quickly after exercise. A sweater jumper or hoody should be an essential part of your gym wardrobe. These can be versatile and are offered from a greater variety of brands not necessarily aimed towards sports. You shouldn’t be working out in these items, so you can be more flexible with colour choices; they aren’t going to show your sweat.
Baseball jackets look great for the sport/leisure look. You can get some cut price retro offerings if you pop down to your local charity or vintage shop. Here are some modern alternatives:
Joggers are extremely popular and are versatile for when you’re outside of the gym. Topman to Dior, you can find a pair to suit your style and budget. The trends that fit in with jeans and trousers also follow through to joggers with some brands. Carrot fit with Topman, for example.
If you’re going to be sweating from heavy exercise, look into a decent pair of shorts. Like the upper body, you’ll stay cooler, have greater freedom to move your legs and if you’re working out specific leg muscles you can see which areas are being targeted with your exercise. There’s opportunity to make the gym fit with your style here too.
Wearing shorter shorts can be a very specific look, and arguably daring, especially if you match with a pair of high length American Apparel socks. L.A bohemian roller skater look at its finest. If that’s not your thing, Jersey shorts are loose and longer, but are still practical and can look great. Sports brands like Adidas and Nike offer a range of products aimed at exercise practicality first and foremost.
You’re looking great from your newly discovered gym style but then drag your gym bits along with you in an Aldi bag for life. Social suicide kicks in. You crumble. Before you can cancel your gym membership, you’re banned. You’re health plummets and your weight ROCKETS.
Or, you could re-assess and invest in a decent gym bag. I normally use the ones I get free from designers… Do I get them sent to me for being a highly influential community member of the fashion world? No. I’m talking about the bags you can get free when you purchase a bottle of aftershave from the high street (Debenhams, Boots). Some aren’t great and can look tacky, but some scream ‘USE ME AT THE GYM’ and do look decent with an element of practicality. To name the popular examples: Marc Jacobs; Hugo Boss; Diesel; Polo Ralph Lauren; 212 by Carolina Herrera. Check out the example below from Ralph Lauren, as well as some hard wearing and stylish gym bags you can purchase alone.
Think about why you’re in the gym. It should be to work out. The practicality of what you wear should therefore be of paramount importance. This is no excuse to look like a mess, however. On the other hand, looking like you’ve made too much effort to go to the gym can look a bit embarrassing and too ‘try hard’. People are always on about why some women decide to wear a full face of make up to the gym. This is similar! Keep it basic but let your style and individual fashion come into what you wear.
We recommend doing this with a signature pair of trainers or stand out t-shirt or vest. If you look like you’ve just come off a Galliano catwalk, not only will this potentially restrict your exercise movements, you may also be asked to leave because you’re not adhering to the gym’s clothing policy. Awkward. These days, you can purchase some great fashion friendly gym wear which accommodates all budgets.
If you look good we believe you feel good. Aren’t looking good and feeling good big players for why we’re at the gym in the first place? Here’s some complete gym friendly looks we love ranging from daring to classic. The majority of these looks show versatility between sports and leisure:
Enjoy being yourself in the gym with your style; if you feel great and work out hard, you’ll soon see results. Post pictures/links on my Twitter if you need help/advice on a particular item or outfit with regards to this article.
‘Success is hidden within positive thinking’