Fashion Meets Fitness: Four Reasons to Sweat in Style

Wow! Look at those...well-fitting workout clothes.
Wow! Look at those...well-fitting workout clothes.

Perhaps you are asking yourself whether fashion should ever meet fitness. After all, who cares what you wear when you're hot, sweaty and stinky? There was a time when we would have agreed -- our grossest pair of shorts and oldest, rattiest T-shirt would do just fine for a run or a weight-lifting session. As time wore on and we became more serious about our gym time, and more varied in our workout interests, the connection between what we wear and our workouts became clearer.

There are a lot of great reasons why you should care what you wear when you hit the gym. Some are practical while others are straight-up vain. So, let's talk workout gear.

4. Well-fitting workout clothes are more comfortable: You don't need to go to REI and spend a million dollars on Northface, ExOfficio and other high-end, name-brand active wear, but a trip to Target for properly fitting gear can't hurt. (Or go to REI if you love it -- we're just saying you don't have to get all high-priced, high-tech stuff to huff and puff on a treadmill five days a week.) If your workout clothes are too small, you are spending a lot of time hiking up pants and yanking down tops, when you could be concentrating on the calorie burn; having to constantly adjust your clothes is uncomfortable and makes for a distracted, less effective workout.

3. Sometimes you do have to spend more, so spend wisely: In a stunning twist, we do advocate spending more when it matters. Cotton tees, shorts and socks for running on the treadmill don't necessarily require the best moisture-wicking capabilities, but if you're going to be competing in an endurance race, you will probably find the added expense worth it. The same goes for footwear, especially for runners -- spend more on the right shoes up front and they will likely last longer and be more comfortable than a pair of cheap knockoffs. If you do a lot of outdoor workouts, it may be worth investing in clothes with built-in SPF; if you are going to be on or around water, built-in bug repellent is a nice feature worth spending a little more on. This ExOfficio BugsAway Bandana ($15) is worth every penny when it's athlete vs. insects. Ever try to paddle a canoe on a moving river while swatting mosquitoes? Well -- don't.


2. Well-fitting workout clothes are safer: Ill-fitting clothes can -- and will -- get caught on equipment. Several years ago there was an unfortunate incident with an oversized T-shirt and a rowing machine, but we don't want to talk about that. Suffice it to say, clothes that are too big will get caught on machines, weights, benches, and your own digits and limbs, so ditch the oversized gear and invest in pieces that are comfortable to wear and that you feel comfortable in. This means trying on clothes -- yes, even T-shirts and sweatpants. If you are buying online, refer to the measurement charts and size guides to make sure pants fit the inseam and through the waist and hips, and shirts/bras fit through the chest or bust. Not only does this attention to fit benefit your clothing choices, it helps you keep track of your body's changes as you become more fit. We love the fit sizing and measurement charts over at Shabby Apple. Not only are their yoga clothes adorable, their charts are super-accurate, reducing the need for returns and exchanges.

If you are trying to hit your goal weight before buying new clothes, reconsider. As Tim Gunn says, "Dress for the body you have." You will look thinner in clothes that fit! Which leads us to number one...

1. Cute workout clothes are great workout motivation: As soon as you buy a new pair of yoga pants or a well-cut shirt, you will be more motivated than ever to hit the gym. When you look good you feel good, and confidence is a huge motivator. Confidence also makes you more approachable, and the gym is a social space. You never know who you might meet, but making personal and professional connections at the gym happens all the time. Dress for success, even when you're drenched in sweat.

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