Fitness Articles

6 Things to Look for When Buying Exercise Apparel

How to Shop for Workout Clothes

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A cool wind whipped around me as I crested the final hill along my running route. "Ah, relief!" I thought, pulling my dripping T-shirt away from my skin. This will cool me off. But instead of making me feel refreshed, the wind chilled me to the bone. "So much for a great workout," I mumbled as I shivered the rest of the way home. I thought I had dressed properly for my run, but apparently I had missed something before heading out the door that morning.

Wearing the right clothing can make the difference between an enjoyable workout and an hour of misery. And investing in some stylish yet comfortable workout clothing is the perfect motivation to get you moving, whether you’re hitting the gym, heading for the hills or exercising in the comfort of your own home. I already had enough excuses not to exercise—my workout clothing didn’t need to be one more of them.

The big mistake I had made was wearing a cotton T-shirt for my workout. Instead, I should have worn a shirt designed to draw sweat away from the body and move it to the outer surface. These "wicking" clothes (also called technical or performance fabrics) are usually made of polyester and/or Lycra blends. They may cost more than your average cotton T-shirt, but they'll also last longer and keep you comfortable.

Cotton is comfortable, but the more you sweat during exercise, the more perspiration it traps, weighing down your garment and clinging to your skin. In summer, that can prevent your body from cooling properly. In winter, wearing those damp clothes for a workout keeps you cold. Add a cold wind to the equation, and you'll be chilled to the bone, just as I was.

Proper workout attire doesn't stop with your shirt. Cotton socks can also trap moisture and cause blisters, while a polyester-blend sock may help prevent them. Shorts, gloves, hats, running tights, sports bras, workout pants—even underwear—are also available in performance fabrics.

I was ready to cross "discomfort due to clothing" off my exercise excuse list, so I went shopping. Here is what I looked for when purchasing my new exercise clothing.

Avoid any rough fabrics that could chafe or irritate your skin during repetitive movement. Choose materials that let you move and don’t constrict you. Pay closer attention to fit than size, as some workout clothes tend to be smaller and more form fitting than regular clothes. Look for items that have a small percentage of spandex listed on the label. This allows for a greater range of motion during exercise and can provide a very comfortable fit without being skin-tight.
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About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.

Member Comments

    I've decided that it's time for me to finally buckle down and start working out. The only problem is I don't have all the necessary clothes to do it! I didn't realize that the clothes really make a difference. I'll make sure I find something! Thanks for sharing! http://www.liftco - 5/9/2016 12:23:57 PM
  • I look for price first. Will not spend an arm and a leg on workout clothing. A pair of capris, a t-shirt, compression hose (unfortunately) and a good pair of walking shoes. I'm working out, not putting on a fashion show. - 1/8/2016 11:41:18 AM
    I kind of use the same carrot so to speak as alicia lynn, in that I use fitness clothing to keep me motivated. If i hit my goals i go purchase my reward from www.airabellaacti I know that doesn't work for everyone, but I love new clothes! - 12/22/2015 2:59:37 PM
    Variety of sports workout apparel available in market, but finding the quality product is very difficult. Time has changed,,, nobody want to go garment shop to purchase clothes according to choice, Because of many online companies offering latest design track suit, fitness clothing for gym, Thus people search online and purchase online.

    I would recommend This is best website,,, giving sales, service hurried and provide quality product. I have bought so many dresses from it. If you have any query you may ask from our website. - 11/7/2015 4:51:05 AM
    Hi, it is wonderful post because you shared really great things about buying exercise clothes. Keep it up to share such information with us.

    - 10/8/2015 8:48:49 AM
  • I love that they even make workout clothes! We used to just have t-shirts and shorts, or a sweatsuit to wear. Now there are all these choices, and some of them are more flattering. Whatever you wear though, I think it should look nice on you. Otherwise, you won't want to put it on. - 2/16/2015 9:54:59 AM
  • I wear the same old holey stuff I wear when I mow the lawn. Does it look good? Certainly not. But when I am at the gym dripping sweat and making heavy-metal workout faces, does it really matter?? Not one whit. - 3/17/2014 11:22:49 AM
  • Cotton all the way! It doesn't leave me as hot and sweaty as the synthetics do. Ever since spending a late spring / early summer in the south, I've gotten away from man made fabrics and have much less problems with the natural fibers. - 3/17/2014 12:48:56 AM
  • I use new workout clothes as a reward on a regular basis. Meet my mileage goal for the year? Reward is a nice technical top and bottoms. Pricey, but worth it to keep me motivated to wake up at 5 AM to work out! - 11/5/2013 8:33:05 AM
  • Being a bigger girl, I find that new material totally uncomfortable and really hot---makes me feel worse---I don't understand why anyone would wear it---unless you are super thin and have no bulges, those clothes look terrible on me and bind me and restrict my movement. - 11/5/2013 6:57:07 AM
  • At this stage in the game, I refuse to workout without my compression shorts and sports bra. Once I've got these on, I don't care which shirt or pants I'm wearing to get my move on. - 8/13/2013 10:47:53 PM
    Is this just an ad to buy workout clothing? - 6/11/2013 9:51:17 PM
  • Most of the time im not too picky about what im wearing to work out as long as it is comfortable! I can tell you the one thing I can't go without is a comfortable sports bra!!! A bad one can ruin a whole workout! - 6/11/2013 6:08:06 PM
  • i would exercise in AN IRON SUIT if it worked for me - i have had all the fancy apparel, expensive label - the bargain basement stuff - and the old cut offs and t's.
    it makes no difference as long as you move your body - but as far as weight loss it has not worked very well at all for me.
    i was doing wt lifting classes - had a personal trainer - BIG BUCKS - line dancing, zumba - you get the picture - as well as using the gym equipment and circuit training
    i have a tread mill at home and walk on it even in my bathrobe -
    i am still the same weight -
    clothing options - bottom of the important list - 6/11/2013 10:15:39 AM
    totally disagree on cotton. i'm finding i hate having anything other than natural fibers against my skin. I'm not a long-distance runner though, so chafing might be an issue if I did that... but I've tried the poly performance stuff and it always ends up STINKY after one wearing. with BO that won't come out in the wash no matter what I try. Cotton doesn't absorb the BO as much, and it clears right out when I wash it. Plus it does soak up my sweat. Plus it leaves ME less-stinky afterwards because it can breathe in a way the so-called 'performance' stuff doesn't. I notice a huge difference in the stink when I pull off my nylon/spandex bike shorts as compared to my cotton/spandex workout capris. If performance specialty gear works for you, great. for me, the ol' cotton t or a tank for summer is far superior. natural fibers whenever possible on this body!!! I don't workout in sweats, though, because I find they're a little too bulky. and workout gear is REALLY hard to find in larger sizes. I'm about a size 12 right now and all the bike gear I have is XXL and just barely fits. I have no idea what I'd do if I still was 235 like in high school!! I guess ride in T's and jeans probably. Oh, and I have a good friend who is seriously allergic to poly. breaks out in a rash if anything touches her skin... so I try to wear more natural fibers for that reason, too! Wool is actually awesome for wicking and staying warm when wet. Plus the wind doesn't blow through it like poly fleece stuff... - 6/11/2013 9:23:35 AM

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