Goodbye, skin-tight Spandex. Today’s trendy workout clothes are roomy, breathable, and look great on bodies of all shapes and sizes. (Eduard Bonnin/Stocksy)
Some trends aren’t for everyone (see: crop tops). But this is one we think most people can get behind: Tight and unforgiving workout wear is giving way to fitness apparel that’s loose, breezy, and more flattering for a wider variety of figures.
“The trend toward greater comfort is cropping up in every realm of fashion, and workout clothing is no exception,” says Jen Sinkler, personal trainer at The Movement Minneapolis and creator of the Lift Weights Faster training program. “The goal — and one I’m not knocking — seems to be to get everything to feel like pajamas, from evening wear to yoga wear.”
The latest fabric technology also has contributed to the craze. New materials allow for fewer wrinkles and are less likely to cling to your body, says Marc Santa Maria, national director of group fitness for Crunch gyms. The fabrics typically include some form of cotton, giving a soft feel on the skin, and are more elastic and breathable, making them appropriate for hot, sweaty workouts.
This is all great news for those of us who may not feel comfortable with clothes that hug every inch. It also offers more options for bigger bodies. “Before, larger people were relegated to buying the XXL T-shirt for something they could wear to the gym,” Santa Maria tells Yahoo Health. “But now, retailers and designers are creating more accessible looks for the super-tiny to the very large, because everyone wants to look good.”
And when you look good during your workout, it can improve your results, experts say. Your outfit can put you in the right frame of mind and make you want to work harder, Santa Maria explains. That may mean leggings with a loud and aggressive print for high-intensity interval training, or a soft and billowing top for a restorative yoga class.
Loose workout clothes, however, can have a few drawbacks, such as catching on workout equipment or chafing sensitive skin. To choose apparel that looks and functions well, experts offer these tips:
- Be sure the clothing doesn’t interfere with movement. Dance around and do a few squats in the changing room, Sinkler suggests.
- To avoid skin chafing, choose items made with thin, soft, lightweight material, Sinkler adds.
- Look for pieces with cutouts — another huge trend in fitness apparel, Santa Maria says — or mesh panels. They’ll allow for ventilation and encourage air to move across your skin, which will help sweat evaporate and keep you cool.
“If you’re working out regularly, you owe it to yourself to invest in a fitness wardrobe that you truly look forward to wearing,” Sinkler concludes. “If you don’t care what you wear, more power to you — but if you look forward to putting on your workout clothes, that’s one step closer to actually working out.”
Take a look at our editors’ favorite picks for women and men below.
C9 by Champion Sleeveless Keyhole Tank ($11.98)
A feminine cut creates curves, and breathable mesh on the back helps manage sweat.
Vimmia Tranquility Pullover ($96)
Cutouts are of-the-moment and allow for ventilation as you move.
Athleta Aspire Ankle Pant ($79)
Super-smooth, lightweight fabric prevents chafing, even while running or using the elliptical machine.
Lorna Jane Mobilize 3/4 Active Pant ($85.99)
Strategically placed mesh panels behind the knees encourage airflow, keeping you cool.
James Perse Tri-Blend Jersey Pant ($225)
A blend of cotton and synthetic fabrics make these pants ridiculously soft and stretchy, so you can move freely and without skin irritation.
Adidas Premium Essentials Sweat Pants ($51.99)
Just like your favorite Sunday sweats only better, thanks to a modern cut and an upgraded, more breathable fabric.
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