It’s that time of year again – dreaded January. The highs of Christmas and New Year are over, as well as the weeks of gorging mountains of food and alcohol. With January inevitably comes New Year’s resolutions, and for many of us these will follow a familiar pattern; the same old promises being made to ourselves year after year.
Drink less, be smarter with money and try harder at work are all common goals, however, the old favourite has to be: “to work out more”. If you’re anything like me, the idea of going to the gym will not fill you with much excitement, and often the next best thing is starting running. It’s free, it’s relatively easy and best of all, you can kid yourself into believing you have had a productive evening (of course that 15 minute run will help burn off the curry you had last night).
There are obviously downsides. At the top of my (vain) list is the aesthetic issue – we don’t exactly look our best when we’re running, what with all the red-faced sweatiness and all. But fear not, there are ways to combat this, and the answer is a sartorial one: by wearing decent gear that still performs, you can go some way towards looking good whilst running, thereby turning a negative into a positive. Everybody wins.
Over the past couple of years, as a huge interest in men’s fashion has become apparent, brands are starting to realise that many men are crying out for, nay demanding, technical sportswear that looks just as good as the rest of their wardrobe.
The idea that you keep your tired, worn out clothes for the gym is no longer relevant to the majority, who have begun to curate a stylish lifestyle that incorporates everything from how their home is presented to how they carry themselves. Our obsession has gone beyond just dressing well for an occasion.
Castor has already touched upon the importance of performance wear and whether it is the future of the industry, and traditional sports brands continue to lead the revolution, with the likes of Nike, Puma and Adidas collaborating with fashion labels in order to finally provide us with clothes that are both practical and stylish.
Of course, not everyone feels the need to look impeccable whilst running (you are supposed to be working hard after all) so your first consideration should be style vs. function, and how you want to balance this.
The obvious foundation for your outfit will be your trainers, which should be designed for running. Fortunately, these styles have become very popular in mainstream fashion due to the increased influence of sports luxe; and brands such as Adidas, New Balance and Saucony have created new styles that are both fully functional and aesthetically pleasing.
For those of you who prefer road running, you should be aware that these trainers are going to take a battering the first time you step out of your house. Mud, rain, snow and the like will help ruin a great pair of suede running shoes in an instant, so always consider your materials and how much you are willing to spend on trainers that may not last longer than a year.
For those that like to stick to the confines of a gym, you have the potential of utilising your running trainers as a daytime option – if you look after them properly – although I like to keep a spare pair specifically for working out.
In terms of clothing, there is now a large choice of technical garments that are designed with sport and fitness in mind, such as running gear that is both light and insulating for cold weather work outs, and water-resistant outerwear that is thin and light enough to be suitable for a run. Luckily, many brands have embraced this concept and designed pieces that are also great looking – Christopher Raeburn is one such designer, who has become renowned for his boundary-pushing outerwear.
Of course, technical fabrics are not a necessary requirement for working out, especially if you are more of a casual runner. A sweater and hoody can be just as effective, depending on the air temperature and your personal preferences. That being said, there are still fashionable options to choose from to ensure you steer clear of the ‘yob chic’ look that the youth of today seem so keen on. Topman and ASOS have affordable yet stylish options, whilst Mr Porter’s range really does put the ‘luxe’ in ‘sports luxe’.
As for bottoms, you obviously have the choice between shorts or trousers, dependent on preference, weather and location. We touched upon the resurgence of men’s sweatpants last week on site, and the comfort and freedom they provide is perfect for working out. Not only that, they are now a legitimate wardrobe consideration for modern males, who are choosing to integrate them into casual daytime outfits which play with shape, silhouette and formality.
Of course, there are also technical options for those that are serious about pushing themselves and achieving personal bests. Running tights and lightweight trousers are available, with Nike currently producing some of the best performing versions on the market.
Finally, for those looking to put a fashion slant on their workout clothing, try these previously published FashionBeans articles:
Below are a collection of images that have been taken from a variety of brand campaigns and lookbooks over recent seasons. All are more focused on a sports inspired aesthetic, proving the range of options that are available to you when dressing for a run or workout:
Other important options to consider when choosing running gear are accessories and technology. From heart rate monitors to pedometers and fuel bands, gadgets can not only enhance your running experience but also improve your results by allowing you to more accurately monitor your performance and stamina etc.
Nike are again proving why they have such a huge market share, with items such as their popular Nike+ Fuel Band allowing users to track their burned calories and steps taken, as well as set fitness goals with the help of their iPhone app. The Fuel Band also doubles up as a digital watch for everyday use, and looks great.
A decent pair of headphones is a necessity, as we have all experienced the motivational aspect of music (Rocky theme anyone?). The tech market is another that has been heavily influenced by an increasing interest in menswear, with brands like Beats By Dre, Urban Ears and Grado managing to find the perfect balance between performance and looks.
As consumers, we now have every style, type and colour of headphone imaginable available to us – whether you choose an earplug or headset is up to you.
So there you have it, for those looking to make a fresh start this year, or simply lead a more stylish total lifestyle, you can now look the part whilst still performing to your maximum potential.
Now we want to hear your views:
Let us know in the comments section…