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What goes with what

What to wear for exercise

What to wear for exercise

The gym can be a cruel place. It’s where we go to improve the way we look, and yet we’re expected to wear clothes that reveal all the areas we’re least happy with. That can make it tough to summon the courage in the first place – no wonder two-thirds of us quit our New Year’s resolutions within a month.

“Putting your gym kit on is the first step in actually exercising,” says Thread stylist Brooke Philips. “If you’ve got barriers – perhaps it doesn’t fit, or you don’t like it, or it shows up sweat – then that can be an excuse not to bother at all. But if you like your training kit, you’ll actually want to wear it.” Which makes it that much easier to do the hard part.

The first step is investing in clothes that are designed for movement. “Cotton absorbs sweat and will start to smell almost immediately,” says Brooke. Instead look for fabrics with ‘y’ in the name – things like nylon or polyamide – which are breathable and often antimicrobial, so they last longer and are more comfortable to wear. “They’ll also look better when you’re moving around, so you’ll feel more confident.”

Below, Brooke breaks down the perfect pieces for three very different styles of exercise. So you’re covered, however you like to break a sweat.


What to wear for yoga

Photographed: MVP hoodie (£30); National Athletic Goods t-shirt (£85); Asics joggers (£99); Nike trainers (£129)

“For yoga, you need clothes with stretch,” says Brooke. “They should be at least as flexible as you, otherwise you’ll get stuck halfway through your pigeon pose. Even in beginner classes, you’ll be contorted into some unexpected positions, so go for trousers rather than shorts. You don't want the people behind you to see something they shouldn’t.

“You’ll be exercising without shoes on, and probably without socks, so make sure your feet are in decent condition. That’s partly for other people, but also for you; if your nails are too long, they could tear. It’s also worth investing in your own yoga mat. The communal ones have had a lot of bare feet on them. It’s not the nicest place to put your face.”


What to wear for running

Photographed: Nike windbreaker (£89); Nike t-shirt (£49); Nike shorts (£65); Asics trainers (£115)

“The weather is the biggest obstacle to actually getting out and putting the miles in,” says Brooke. “So look for lightweight layers that will keep you warm and dry, but which you can take off when you warm up. You’ll also appreciate sweat-wicking fabrics, as they’ll absorb moisture but won’t stick to your skin.

“It’s also important to get trainers that work for you and to replace them often. The cushioning in the soles fades over time, which can lead to injuries, so look to replace them after around 500 miles. If you’re doing a five-miler three times a week, then that’s every seven months.”


What to wear to the gym

Photographed: Derek Rose green t-shirt (£75); MVP white t-shirt (£12); Paul Smith joggers (£85); Derek Rose shirts (£75); adidas trainers (£70); Red Herring holdall (£35)

“The clothes are the most important thing, but it’s worth getting a decent gym bag,” says Brooke. “Then you can have everything packed and in one place, and it will still look good when you’re carrying it in your normal clothes. With your kit, think about fit. Going baggy will make you look bigger, rather than hiding anything; if you go too tight, it could restrict your movements and make things like squats more difficult.

“Stick to neutral colours, because that way everything goes together. You won’t be able to make not having the right colours clean an excuse to not go to the gym. That said, it’s nice to have little accents, like green, as they add some personality.”