It was during one of my first yoga classes, while in table top preparing to extend my right leg straight out and directly behind me, that I realized it DID matter what you wear to exercise class.  Even though I had been talking about fashion for a several years and have done multiple features on athletic styles, I truly believed it would be okay to skip buying yoga shorts and just wear my casual unlined shorts.  I’ll save you any more of that visual, but suffice it to say, as I carefully lifted my leg behind me, I knew it did matter!

Regardless of the type of activity you’re doing, you will find, and should find, the perfect athletic apparel to keep you moving, playing and working out in the most practical and fashionable way.  If you need to stay dry, keep warm, need to stretch and want to look good doing it, it’s out there!

The marriage between practical and fashionable athletic clothes, so called athleisure, has been enormously successful. According to research, in 2014 U.S. consumers spent $14 billion on apparel, footwear, and accessories.  That’s a whole lot of money dished out on sweatpants, t-shirts, yoga shorts, sneakers, and accessories and all of them are designed to make us all look good while we feel good working out.  Much of this rise can be attributed to those super moms who seem to do it all…raise kids, keep a house, work a full time job outside the house, and still find time for some exercise. Who can deny, or would want to deny, a comfy pair of sweats or leggings, a tank top or even sneakers as part of your hectic day.

The line between gym clothes and street clothes has been blurry for years.  You had to know that when sweat pants are paired with a suit jacket on the fashion runways, gym fashion had come a long way.  The biggest reason for the big shift in mainstream fashion was that companies figured out they could design and deliver quality and functional clothing that looked really good! Fashion and sweats together…who would have thought it?  A lot of the credit for the change came because women especially, wanted workout clothes that were more than just work out clothes.  They wanted stylish to go with comfort!

Comfort in athletic fashion ultimately begins with the type of fabric you choose.  If you look at the label on most athletic styles, you will find a blend that has been designed to do it all.  Technology and advancements on fabrics have taken the idea of practical to a new high.  Compression fabrics have been adapted to enhance workouts with increased blood flow for ‘good muscle-oxygenation.  I’m not going to pretend that I understand all of that but I can tell you they sure look good on a well trained body.

Basically deciding what fabric or blend is best for you and your workout will boil down to two principles.  Natural fibres such as cotton tend to love water. It absorbs moisture. Synthetic fibres, like polyester, do their best to avoid or repel water.

When you do want to get moving, style and design are the next consideration.  You will want the best possible fabric and style for every possible situation and you’ll want it in that one piece. There is a reason running shorts are a certain length or why a golf jacket is designed for a full range of motion.  And as I found out, there is a reason men’s yoga pants have an insert in the shorts.  You will find in addition to good looks, the new styles for specific sports are designed to enhance your activity, while making the necessary movement as unrestricted as possible.  Advancements in garment construction ensure movement and safety are the primary concern.  Changes like flat-seam stitching for chafe- free comfort ensure your workout clothes feel good, protect your body, wear well and enhance the total exercise experience.

Long ago, designers recognized practical could still be fashionable. Consumers have embraced each new season of style and have adapted those looks to fit within their everyday casual lifestyle.  Gone are the days when you packed your gym bag full of your workout clothes. Today’s men and women wear their workout clothes to the gym and then simply add a few fresh layers, such as a stylish top or jacket, and head out for a drink with friends after.

Have a look in your closet. It might be time to update every part of your workout style.  Check out all the new blends of natural and synthetic fabrics.  Update your workout clothes with practical and fashionable pieces designed for your specific exercise program.  Baggy cotton and worn t-shirts should be replaced with new colorful t-shirts that are both moisture wicking and structured.  Especially hot for ladies this season are “strappy” bra type tops.  Those thread bear stretched out leggings should be replaced with the new sleek, boldly printed or leather-like, capri length leggings. Let’s not forget about those worn out sneakers! It might be time to check out a new pair of colourful, impossibly light, high tech performance runners.  Every part of your entire workout wardrobe might be ready for an update with any of this season bright and bold new and advanced styles.

I have always talked about how important comfort is when choosing your fashion wardrobe and athletic clothes are the perfect example of this belief.  Do I still believe that you can go too far when you cross over from athletic styles to mainstream fashion?  You bet I do!  The newest styles and trends are making the crossover line blurrier than I’ve ever seen. The line between practical and fashionable is clearly the same.  Don’t let that discourage or confuse you.  Regardless of whatever you finally choose, working out in the proper clothes will ensure you feel better. And feeling better leads to you confidence and looking better!  As far as I am concerned…that’s all any of us can strive to achieve.


Written by John Chwyl –  the ‘Fashion Guy’