Workout Clothing: What to Wear (or Not)

Neon memories When I first dated Rob in 2003, one of his favorite things to ridicule was my running tights. I had two pair that were somewhat dated – neon blue and purple. I bought them in the early to mid 80s and still wore them when we met.


I actually thought I looked cool, when in fact, I probably looked like a dork. Just imagine how great I might have looked if I’d worn them beneath a a sexy black dress.


But I digress.

Clothing Guidelines: With a picture of neon tights in mind, you have surmised that I am not setting fashion trends on the trails, treadmills, and tennis courts. My workout clothes are, at a minimum, Contemporary, Clean and Comfortable. After all, fashion can be taken too far. The 3 Cs, however, are mandatory. To better meet these mandatories, read on.

#1 Steer clear of running tights that are too tight. Wearing tights can be especially beneficial if you are trying to avoid chafing or attempting to stay warm in cold weather. But unwanted bulges are particularly conspicuous in a pair of tight-fitting tights, so alternatives should be considered. I am partial to the flared leg version because for some reason, I feel the bulges are less obvious:

Skorts are another great anti-chafing, bulge-avoiding alternative to tights (as long as the weather is warm enough):

If you are wondering what you should wear beneath skorts and shorts with built-in underwear, don’t sweat it. It’s all about personal preference.

And for the record, I’m not a big fan of men in tights, unless they wear ’em right.

#2 Beware of Lycra bike shorts, especially ones that match shirts and helmets.

And as much as I dislike tight, lycra bike shorts (not just for the same reasons as above, but also because they make my stomach ache), the chamois padding is a necessity in key areas, especially if you plan to ride any distance. The version pictured below can be more figure flattering (and socially acceptable, as some of my younger employees informed me last year), but still dramatically restrict one’s stomach motion.

Also, as a fair warning, I have a strong reaction to bike outfits that are too branded, unless you are an elite cyclist earning a living from said sponsorships. Matching shorts and topics with a flood of logos does not a good cyclist make. My husband is the perfect example of someone who hits the trails with soccer shorts and torn t-shirts, yet still kicks butt up a mountain faster than most.

#3 Bulk up on the ski fields. When I learned to snow ski in my early thirties, I had a pair of ski pants that looked like this:

My then-boyfriend agreed to teach me how to ski, but he refused to do so until I bought some pants with more breathing room, such as:

The demand for loose-fitting ski pants was not the culprit of our relationship demise; he was simply too embarrassed to be seen with a girl in ski pants that looked like tights. This sentiment has since been shared by numerous acquaintances, especially since snow boarding has taken off. (However, I still have trouble getting the entire ski outfit just right, with the hood placed perfectly and the coat zipped properly, but after years of freezing my tail off, I’ve improved.)

#4 Keep it simple at the gym. In keeping with advice from JoAnna at Fitness and Spice, I recommend adequate coverage.


And the right fabric. Though long pants work fine from the treadmill to the basketball courts, avoid blue jeans at all costs. Take it from the prez (while in excellent company, I might add).

#5 Don’t skimp in the pool. Does anyone else like the new swimming technology better than the old? Even looking at super-fit Olympic champions, I have my preference in attire.



Even if you are Michael Phelps, do you want you want your legacy remembered in bikini fashion?

#6 Splurge when necessary.

I was reminded, when I shared with my husband my lust for stylish tennis clothes, that a nice tennis outfit like the one I highly desire (pictured below) costs nearly as much a moisture proof ski jacket that lasts for years. (I spotted several players wearing this outfit in the French Open, so others are drawn to this Adidas ensemble as well).

And if you’ve got it, flaunt it. Right Venus?


Melinda Hinson