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Style SOS: How can I dress better at the gym?

Style SOS: How can I dress better at the gym?

"I've resolved to hit the gym more this year, but I always feel like such a slob. Any recommendations for how to build a workout wardrobe that I feel good in?" - Mike via email 

We get it, Mike. Hitting the gym is hard enough without feeling like a slob while doing so. It’s nice to feel good about yourself when you embark on making positive changes, so if you’re looking to spruce up your activewear, we’re all for it. Your favourite baggy tee and shorts will get the job done, but won’t make you feel as cool and ‘can-do’ as you could feel. While it may not do all the heavy lifting at your return to the gym, trading in those well-loved pieces for some new gear will definitely provide the pick-me-up you’re looking for. We asked our stylists to muscle in on this topic, and they’ve got a number of tips and tricks up their sleeve to keep you from looking drab when you’re feeling the burn – because working out what you’re going to wear to the gym really shouldn’t feel like a workout in itself. 

Luckily, there’s been an influx of athletic clothing in the past decade, so there’s plenty of pieces to choose from that won’t make you want to cover your face with a baseball cap when sneaking off for a session. Buy things you don’t mind people seeing you wearing in public – so if you wouldn’t usually wear neon green, there’s no obligation to wear it at the gym either. 

To begin your foundation of gym clothing, Thread stylist Artemis Crowley advises investing in two key pieces. “A pair of minimal grey sweatpants and a breathable zip-up jacket,” she says. “The former is great for when you’re just going in to do some weights and can look great with a rollneck knit afterwards, and the latter can easily be thrown over a t-shirt or vest for a stylish transition from gym clothing to athleisure.” 

By keeping your colours fairly neutral, with accents that bolster your look and give it life, you can mix and match your gym clothing with ease and everything will still look considered. “boohooMAN has a wide selection of tracksuits in versatile shades that are really wearable, both in and out of the gym,” says Thread stylist Toby Standing. “Not only are they affordable so you can stock up on a few, they also come in really relaxed fits.” You definitely don’t want to be going too tight or baggy at the gym, my friend. The trick is opting for a happy medium that allows for movement and comfort. 

Beyond your clothing there’s so much more to play with. Your trainers, for instance, can be as jazzed up as you like – so long as they’re built for the exercise you’ll be doing. Keep that in check, and you can go all out on colour and pattern. We’re always a big fan of Nike’s high-performance options. Investing in a cool sports bag, too, will have you looking like a total gym pro in no time. 

At the end of the day, your main priorities are comfort and performance, so it’s important to make sure your gym wear has hardworking technical features that will support your workout. With all of the athletic wear available, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your personal style when building your gym wardrobe. Give yourself a pat on the back for getting yourself back in the gym this year, Mike, and we hope we’ve helped you feel a little cooler when you’re getting your sweat on. 


Words: Ashiana Pradhan
Illustration: Ryan Gillett