Find Workout Clothes You Feel Good In

Don’t use an outdated, ill-fitting or makeshift fitness wardrobe as your excuse to avoid exercise. Get dressed and get moving!
Work out Gear

Modesty, insecurity, and weather conditions aside, sometimes it would be easier if we could exercise in the nude. Too-tight (or too-loose!) clothing can chafe; sweat can cause baggy T-shirts to bunch uncomfortably; drawstrings can get caught in weight machines at the gym.

"If you’re embarrassed by your clothes for any reason – if they’re dated, worn out, revealing as you exercise, frumpy or inappropriate – there’s a slim chance you’ll make it to the gym or any public place to exercise," says Adventure Boot Camp Master Trainer Kelli Calabrese.

Ultimately, says Calabrese, "you need clothing that will keep you comfortable, keep your body cool, fit properly and provide support." Easier said than done? Not if you follow our perfect-fit tips below. Whatever your clothing-related workout problem is, we've got the answer.

Problem: "Fitted gym clothes don’t look good on me."

Solution: Try on several brands and outfits until you find what looks best on you. When your clothes are too big, you're adding bulk – which can get in the way of your confidence and your range of motion. To look your best, make sure clothing is the right size (not gear from 20 lbs ago).

Stand in front of the mirror in gym clothes and perform a few bicep curls, leg lifts and standing abdominal crunches. Can you see the movements of your upper body, your abs and your quads? You should. If your gear is loose enough that you can't see your muscle movements, neither can your instructor or trainer, says A Big Attitude clothing designer Cynthia Tivers. An instructor needs to see how your body moves in order to help you improve your form for better results and reduced injury risk, explains Exercise TV Pilates Instructor Nicole Stewart. Wear camis or tank tops for maximum shoulder visibility. Fitted long and short leave t-shirts are the next best option. You may feel self-conscious ditching oversized clothing, but it’s important to remember that everyone's more focused on their own workout, says Calabrese.

If you’re self-conscious about a large bust, try A Big Attitude plus sized tank tops and cami bras. They come in a wide range of colors and sizes up to 7X. The Elomi Energise sports bra is available in sizes from 34GG to 46DD. It’s the perfect bra for large busted woman to wear underneath a tank top or cami. It provides underwire support while still having a neckline that looks enough like a tank top that it's okay if it peeps out the top of your tank.

Problem: "My sweats get caught in machines."

Surviving the Fitting Room

Pointing and clicking your way to a cute workout wardrobe may get you the best deals but not necessarily the best fit. Make sure that anything your order is fully returnable — even after you open the package and try on the garment. Even better: shop locally so you can bring a bunch of styles and sizes into a dressing room. You’ll be instantly rewarded with clothes that feel good. Just follow these simple guidelines:

Start Your Workout in the Dressing Room. It’s important to see how your clothing moves with your body, says Mt. Borah Bicycle apparel company owner Chris Jackson. So even if it feels silly, “pedal” for two minutes on the floor of the dressing room before you buy those cycling shorts. For aerobics, try running in place. You may find discover that a tank with a built-in support also requires a sports bra.

Make sure it fits without constricting. With a proper fit, the elastic leg bands on bike shorts shouldn’t feel noticeable. But they also shouldn’t gap away from your skin. Yoga and Pilates clothes should feel light but close to your body. If nothing seems to fit, don’t give up. Scour the internet and several sports apparel stores till you find a designer who makes clothes that fit your body. Then buy one in every color.

Solution: Steer clear of drawstrings, flare legs, and other excess fabric. Drawstrings can get caught in weight stacks, cables, or in the moving arms of machines. Or if you’re using a fit ball, medicine ball or even a foam roller, the strings can wrap around them and inhibit movement. Not to mention, if they happen to come untied, that’s another distraction you don’t need. Stewart tells her clients not wear boot cut pants on Pilates reformers. They often plunge below your bare feet and tend to get caught in the machines. This can also happen on exercise bikes and ellipticals. Instead, choose semi-fitted capris; Stewart recommend the Champion brand because they're affordable and well-made – and they come in sizes XS to 2XL.

Problem: "I don't like clothing sticking to my body during and after a workout."

Solution: Choose gear in breathable fabrics. Natural, breathable materials like cotton and bamboo – and some synthetic materials made specifically for exercising – wick sweat away from your skin so it can evaporate quickly. The lightweight breathability of the material also keeps you from overheating by allowing air to circulate. You can tell if you’re wearing a non-breathable fabric if the heat you're creating from your workout is staying within your clothing. Clothing features such as meshing can also help regulate your temperature during a workout.

Problem: "My inner thighs tend to chafe 10 to 15 minutes into workouts."

Solution: Choose tagless tops and bottoms with flat seams. The goal here is to minimize friction and potential irritation, so you should also watch for fabric pilling; clothing that’s old or worn-out can rub against slightly sweaty skin, causing an uncomfortable rash. The proper fit can also protect against chafing – too-loose clothing can rub against skin as you move.

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