Friday, September 10, 2010

Exercise Wear and Personal Style

I'll admit that I'm not really a fan of The Sartorialist (I find all that postured hipster chicness somewhat pretentious at times), but I thought he asked a really interesting question this week: "Does your personal style translate to your workout?"

The impetus for this question was the following photo, titled "What Chic American Women Wear to Work Out, New York." (Ugh, see what I mean about pretentious?)

First, it must be said: those are harem pants. Okay, moving on. We will speak no more of the harem pants.

The pants-which-shall-not-be-named bring up an interesting question for retro lovers and seamstresses alike: when you work out, are you trying to incorporate your fashion sensibilities into your ensemble? Or are you purely functional?

I fall into the purely functional camp. I require my workout clothes to be easy to care for, comfortable, and able to stand profuse sweating and many repeated washings. It had never occurred to me to try to sew my workout wear or to incorporate retro elements into it—until I got into hula hooping, that is. Now I can't stop thinking about cute outfits to hoop in! And I've been working hard on my "hoopin' romper" this week. Practicality may win out, though. A handmade creation isn't the way to go for every little practice session, I don't think.

Now, about you: have you ever sewn workout clothes? Do you try to incorporate your style into your gym gear? Or are you functional all the way?

65 comments:

  1. Practical all the way.

    However, I do like to pick workout gear in fun colors, and I usually wear a headband I crocheted to keep my hair back. And my swimcap color coordinates with my swimming suit.

    For me, the main thing is to have appropriate gear and look like I belong- a speedo-style suit for swimming, running shorts and sneakers for running.

    When I'm not feeling self conscious I can focus on my activity. When I took up swimming, I went lap-swimming in a old bikini for a few weeks before I could find a good suit that fit well and it made me feel like I stuck out like a sore thumb (and not to mention the time it came untied, on the backstroke of course!!).

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  2. For me, sport attire requires functionality for the most part. But however if I can I will add a bit of 'me', whether it be a pretty scarf for my head or some vintage inspired clothing piece. That being said harem pants for the gym just seem irrational to me. Wouldn't all that extra fabric get in the way? Wouldn't running be awkward?
    -Ruby

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  3. Well I did make a very funky palazzo leg fold-down waist yoga pant BUT I tripped over the extra fabric in the wide leg ant downed my dog and me besides. So I have rediscovered the occupational health and safety merits of Target gym wear. I often fail to work up a real sweat, so my gear would be better called 'damps'!

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  4. For some reason, when I look at your blog it has dredged out a show from my television memory of the 1970's. http://www.nannyandtheprofessor.com/
    Now, I'm not suggesting you rush out and get the hat, but there is a properness to her attire ...(sorry, nothing to do with Exercise Wear ... I don't exercise ...)

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  5. Puuuleeease! That gal's shoes are not even designed for actual running. I'm not saying fitness and fashion are the polar opposites of one another. In fact, there's this popular though pricey company called LULULEMON who have created items that seem to do a great job of both (perhaps TOO good a job, as people wear the gear as streetwear ALL the TIME). Anyway, I do think some people should worry less about how they look while working out than about actually working out. To me, you can tell who is at the gym to get attention (like the stylish gal in my yoga class who was doing all sorts of gymnastic moves as warm up IN HER SHOES on the mat) and people who are there to actually tone and condition and improve the general well-being of what's UNDER those clothes. For the record, I think those harem pants are completely impractical and even mildly dangerous in a gym setting, depending on which (if any) machines that person is using. FORM AND FUNCTION, people!!

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  6. One of my favorite pair of comfy yoga pants I made myself. I found this awesome snake-skin looking print with large pink roses all over it in a comfy cotton. I'll wear a (store bought) purple shirt with a snake-skin print on the back. I get lots of weird looks when i wear it but it makes ME happy, so NEENER.

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  7. I make my workout clothes. I treat these garments as a way to make a joke of some kind in some way. For example: the stretchy shorts I made for cycling class are in knit remnants that are patterned white or gray on black. The cycling room has black lights in it, and all instructors turn off the fluorescent lights and turn on the black lights, so the black backgrounds disappear and you only can see the contrast on the shorts spinning wildly. I wear plain black tanks to emphasize the effect, made from bamboo/cotton knit.

    Mainly, they have to survive repeated sweating and washing.

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  8. It didn't even occur to me until this post that anyone would bother to style their workout clothes in the same way that they style the rest of their wardrobe. Like the first commenter, the best I do is pick fun colours but otherwise... this is clothes I'm sweating in, it does not need to be stylish.

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  9. When I first saw the title of the post, I was a little like "not my thing" because I don't go to the gym, then it occured to me that I have this issue EVERY SINGLE DAY when I take my basset hound for our daily few mile walk!

    I have been a stay-at-home-hound-mom (um, laid off) for almost 2 years (OK, not job hunting TOO hard!) and it's been interesting keeping it together, style-wise. There are days when I don't really leave the house much, and I feel silly if I dress up TOO much, although I sort have settled into a caual skirt/dress vibe many days.

    But when we head out for our dog walk, it's hard to stay in the vibe. In the summer, it's not super, duper comfy to walk for an hour wearing dresses, but I HATE wearing shorts! The biggest issue for me is my shoes - I like to walk in my Keen walking shoes - super ugly, but very good for walking!

    I sort of just have a happy medium. Stay in my regular clothes from the ankles up. I have to admit to imaginging that Stacy and CLinton are hiding behind a tree video-taping me more often than I'm guessing most people do - but it keeps me in line!

    And if I ever did head back to the gym (probably won't, only so many hours and I like to spend my recreation time with hound and hubby!!) I would be tempted to make my own workout wear, but in an ironic way. You know, black leggings and cute stretch workout shirts with a cherry print and a peplum tacked on. Jalie seems to be the workout wear pattern place to go!

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  10. Functional all the way! And I never lift weights on tip toe.

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  11. Since my workout of choice is karate, the style of my outfit is not up to me - gi only, though we are allowed a choice of color.

    I have been considering trying to make my own, though, since gis are sized for athletic young men, not stocky middle-aged women. To fit me through the shoulders and chest, my sleeves go down past my hands, and likewise for hips and leg length. We won't even go into issues like waist and rise.
    Unfortunately, there's only one gi made for women, they're hideously expensive - and they're made for the stereotypically curvy woman. This makes since, as someone hippy with narrow shoulders would have even worse fit problems than I do, but it means that they don't fit me any better than the mens gis - it's just that the bad fit is in the opposite direction.

    I keep thinking there's got to be a way to make myself an acceptable gi that actually fits, but I'm a bit nervous to try it.

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  12. I have sewn workout clothes and will do so again. I don't have the same well defined personal style that you do (one day maybe) but I have found that I like the way I feel in some gym clothes more then others. I feel cute in my gym scort for example. Mostly I will be sewing them though bc I got the fabric for super cheap a few months ago and bought way too much of it.

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  13. This is such a great post, Gertie. I've never sewn any workout gear, but I've often thought about whether it was a good idea. Surely there's a way to incorporate a little vintage style into some functional, wash'n'wear workout clothes? I'm going to think about it further now.

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  14. I work out to a DVD at home, so I just wear whatever comfy outfit is at hand. Call me cheap and unfashionable, lol! I'm putting my effort into my new coat ;-)

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  15. Functional to the point of ugly. Gathered at my local thrift store. Basic cotton jogging pants and sweatshirts like we wore in the 80's. I think of it as retro-to-come.

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  16. I'm very practical with my workout clothes--they generally don't reflect my personal style at all! Mostly because I sweat a lot when I'm at the gym (or just working out, since I tend to do a lot of pilates/weight training at home; I'm not a huge fan on the gym!). Thing need to be washed a million times and still hold up. I also find that I prefer either leggings and over-sized shirts, or loose yoga pants and babydoll tops to work out in; anything else is pretty much going to get in the way. ;) Eventually, I'd love to replace my workout wardrobe withe some simple black leggings and black boat neck tees (a la Dita von Teese), but right now it's just old wardrobe cast offs. ;)

    The idea of dressing up is fun, but ultimately, I find that it's just one more way for me to get distracted before working out! lol. Plus, since I usually exercise in private (did I mention I hate gyms?! lol.), there is no one to impress beyond my pet rabbit, and I doubt he cares. ;)

    ♥ Casey
    blog | elegantmusings.com

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  17. I like to play tennis. I have always wanted to make some of my own tennis wear. Trouble is that I really like the tops or dresses to have built in structure (if you know what I mean). I would never be able to find all the materials and moisture wicking fabrics. By the time I purchased all the materials, it would cost me so much more than what I could buy it for. Worse than that, I don't know if I would be happy with the product that I created.

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  18. My workout clothes are purely functional. It's MUCH cheaper to just go to TJ Maxx, Marshall's or Ross and grab shorts and racerback tops.

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  19. I work out in leather boots that cost more than my monthly rent. I wear leather pants which happen to be from the 1970's simply because I bought them at a second hand store. I couldnt afford them new as they weould be $250 or more. Polo shirts and gloves can be bought at discount but I also need a helmet. My first cost me 80$ but now, as I become more competitive, a proper one cost me 150$ on sale. Competition gear includes wool blazers worn throughout the summer, long sleeved collared shirts and hair nets(!!).

    What sport? I ride horses.
    Does the clothing reflect the athleticism involved? Not remotely.
    As far as my outfit reflecting my personal style goes, I get to pick the colour of polo shirt that I wear.

    Ive never attempted to make my own riding clothes but a tailored jacket would be really awesome. I have made things for my horse to work out in though!!

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  20. I certainly do not put the effort (or cost) into my workout attire that I put into my work or casual wardrobe. At the same time, I don't opt for a sloppy t-shirt either. I find anything I do ends up being more fun if I like my outfit while doing it.

    With you on the harem pants, not attractive.

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  21. I made a couple of pairs of wide leg "yoga" trousers recently, one with gorgeous ribbon down the side seams for dancing and pilates and one more functional but cool piping and the things I know I need when climbing (pale grey, cropped and with pockets). My exercise gear is never going to be the focus of my most creative work, but I do like to make it as pretty as I can.

    I hate harem pants with a vengeance, but there was a girl wearing a pair to my belly dancing class the other day and they seemed to work.

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  22. My personal exercise consists of jiu jitsu or arnis. Jiu jitsu has a traditional gi/belt uniform, and we do a lot of grappling on top of normal martial arts activities. Arnis just requires something comfortable that you can dodge sticks and knives in. I can't imagine doing all of that in a girdle!

    Janice
    http://www.meladori.com/shesinfashion

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  23. I can't speak to the sewing aspect of this question, but can weigh in on the rest.

    I recently gave my workout wardrobe a makeover, upgrading from loose-fitting tees and sweats to more fitted gear. While my aim wasn't necessarily to align my workout looks with my non-workout looks, I fully expected this to completely transform my feelings about exercise. I thought if I looked sleeker and more stylish while working out, I'd enjoy it more and feel more confident.

    Weirdly, I did not. It has helped a bit, but I'm pretty sure that workout togs are designed with the already-fit and athletic in mind. I am not built like an athlete, and have struggled to find gear that suits me.

    Maybe I'm making the argument right here for sewing your own!

    Oh, and Athleta sells drop-crotch sweats. They might look weird on the soccer field, but for yoga, pilates, and even aerobics, I can see them working just fine.

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  24. I go with function. The local TJ Maxx carries a lot of overstock Nike and Adidas, so I buy those. Especially the Adidas since they work best for my figure. Tops consist of various T-shirts, mostly women's. I prefer the fit vs. the normal baggy shirt.

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  25. I am generally in your camp, practical and easy to care for. Yoga pants and a tank or tee shirt. That being said I am sort of picky about the items in that category. I hate those "Beefy" tees that are really thick knit and are stiff-ish like cardboard. My tee shirt also has to fit, not be super oversized. I still have to feel like myself, so nice fabrics that are soft and colors that I like. I also happen to be obsessed with high tech fabrics so this is the arena that I get to occasionally play with that! I don't think I would sew my own though.

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  26. I don't know if I'd say my workout clothes style reflects my everyday style, but it certainly reflects my work-out style. Eg. nice low-rise yoga pants with a super-wide waistband good, baggy sweats with too-short legs and flappy hips bad. If I don't feel like I look nice (for workout) I don't want to wear it, even while working out. Same goes with comfy-lying-around-the-house clothes. Obviously it has to be practical to work out in---free movement, easily laundered, etc.---but within those limitations it should look as nice as possible.

    Also my favourite form of excercise is bellydance, which kind of demands something with a bit of style. ;)

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  27. I grew up dancing. As a busty girl, it was always difficult to find a sports bra with support, those little strappy leotards were never enough to keep the girls under control with all of that leaping around. After my first two years of training (I was in high school and I think had proven myself committed to the sport) my mother (who is an incredible seamstress) actually started a costuming business. Sewing my own dance wear is actually when I learned to sew (my mother never had the patience to teach me beforehand)! It's definitely primarily functional but I've always had fun designing my own patterns, choosing materials and colors to make something original.

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  28. When I'm out on a run I need fabric that will wicker the sweat away and a good sports bra. All my exercise clothes need to endure countless cycles in the washing machine. My gripe with the shop-bought exercise clothes available is that larger-sized women must struggle sometimes, why do so many running tops have to be so short and enough with the corporate logos!

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  29. As I am a gymnast the attire is often really expensive. Even just the workout leotards. So yes, I have sewn a few leotards over the years, mainly for practice some also for competition.

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  30. I play roller derby, and so I have a ridiculous amount of workout clothes. They are completely practical and functional. I'm for comfort, above all. I love bright colors though, and so I usually stand out in the sea of basic black at practice, but that's about it.

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  31. I've been a professional athlete in the past and have basically been provided with all of my training/racing/workout gear for free for the last 5 years, which takes most of the thought out of this for me. However, now that I am sewing my own clothes, I have definitely steered clear of making my own workout stuff, and here is why:

    1.) I don't have a serger and I think if you really want to tackle knits properly, you need the right machine. Most quality workout wear features flat lock seams that are industrial strength an can handle endless amounts of stretching, sweating, and laundering. I cannot do that with my current machine. I tried altering a few of my cycling jerseys to fit better and the seams are already stressed and unraveling. I can't imagine what would happen if I tried to sew an entire garment and put it through the rigors of racing and training.

    2.) I can't even begin to sew high quality knit/wicking fabric with the same technique as the third world child laborers do in the Nike factory.

    3.) I dress for function. Most of my workouts are outdoors (cycling or running), so in addition to being weather appropriate, I prefer things to be easily visible to cars. I also don't want to draw attention to myself when I am out training alone - I tend to stick to basic colors and designs that alert cars or other pedestrians to me running by rather than screaming "Look at me!". It's not that I head out to train in fear of being assaulted or anything, but it is one of those instances where I am not going out to be seen or make an impression, I am going out to train and do the work that needs to be done. The workout clothes I choose need to fit properly, wick, reflect, and not chafe. If they meet those demands, they are acceptable.

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  32. i believe "the sartorialist" was being cheeky with the photo title(doubtful that she was really coming from the gym)...form follows function for my own personal workout wear. i need to be cool as in not over heated, so a tanktop on top and fold over waist yoga pants on the bottom. although a few years back i did work out in shorts and polka dot knee socks.

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  33. My personal style is colourful and sporty, so I would say that my workout clothes mesh well with my style. I haven't had time to make myself anything lately, but I would love to make racerback tanks and sleeveless fitted tees in bright colours and camouflage. I'm tall, so Lululemon won me over with their tall pants, although they're expensive, so I only have a couple pairs, and I know I could make them fit better (those low-rise waists drive me nuts!) and add my own design details, like wide legs and different pockets. I also love lots of seams and topstitching, and my next project is a Jalie zip-up hoodie in the brightest pink you've ever seen. :D

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  34. I've never sewn workout clothes, and I tend to fall into the function over form camp. I do still try to get my tank tops and sports bras in colors that I love, though, and choose relatively form-fitting options.

    Also, being firmly on Team Skirts, I picked up one of those cute running skirts with built in shorts at my local Target. So far, so good.

    RRebelGrrl - I used to ride too, but it's been years! It's awesome that you make stuff for your horse.

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  35. "The pants-that-shall-not-be-named." I love it! I DETEST harem pants and I thought the exact same thing when I saw that photo.

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  36. Functional and retro is what I try to go for. Last year I made a retro-inspired gym-suit out of sweatshirt fleece. I am currently working on another one with capri-length legs. I also bought a pair of high-top leather Converse into which I have inserted athletic insoles. That said, my workout is pretty mellow. I might feel more inclined to wear traditional workout gear if I was a long-distance runner or step-aerobics devotee.

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  37. Fun topic! It's been interesting reading commenters' thoughts.

    I usually work out in Old Navy gear - cheap, but still cute. Though I do spend more on sports bras.

    I wouldn't sew workout clothes because of the cost/benefit analysis - I'd rather spend my precious sewing time making the more-expensive-to-buy dresses and blouses.

    Happy Friday!

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  38. Function/practicality all the way. Actually, I work out at home to avoid the "having to look decent" dilemma. I hate it when I used to go to the gym and find women in full makeup and even wearing jewelry. Nowadays I put on a sports bra, shorts and shoes (only when absolutely necessary though) and that's it. I love working out at home!

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  39. Practical all the way - I look like a different person in workout gear. I have a couple workout outfits of very good quality and that's what I wear. Of course, one top is hot pink and the other is bright turquoise - so my love of colour is the only part that overlaps.
    Hula-hooping though, that just screams for a cute retro outfit!

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  40. Exercise? HUH? I definitely don't go out of my way to work out, but I ride a bicycle everywhere which means no minis and no pencil skirts. You also have to make sure to wrap up wide legged pants. I have recently considered buying a scooter so to not avoid wearing my pencil skirts!

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  41. Functionality. I've had the same two identical grey sweatpants with black and white stripes down the sides for the last eight years. Due to abdominal surgery earlier this year I added a pair of black yoga pants. Pair them with old band t-shirts or a sweatshirt, put on my Chucks or Sambas, and I'm done. The only thing retro might be the Chucks, a ponytail or chignon, and red nail polish.

    I've never even thought of sewing my own workout clothes. I've always been afraid that my seams wouldn't come out strong enough, or that the fabric would fight me. Just seemed easier and safer to buy it.

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  42. Hmm... I've never really thought about that before, but my running and yoga outfits are bland and functional... and interchangeable with my pyjamas. Swimwear is, bien sur, chic as can be.

    Which lets me seamlessly segue into shamelessly into plugging the gorgeous Esther Williams swimsuit giveaway on my blog! bit.ly/cC0ZWt

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  43. Practical all the way, but it involved sewing shorts out of a thrift store t-shirt once, and that practically meant carrying my style into the basketball lesson as well...
    Sport kind of calls for practical, I'm afraid. Dance is different. My sister has taken up kathak fairly recently and the Indian style has creeped into her everyday style as well - which is great, because she looks fabulous in it.

    This, though, made me think of another issue - how about doing your housechores? Or maybe working in the garden, if it's part of your "free time", or anything else of that kind? I've figured that I like wearing skirts or dresses more than pants around the house (more free movement! fun twirling!) and it was around the time when I started incorporating more skirts into my outdoors wear as well.

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  44. To second Amanda S, my wardrobe was all function until I joined a derby league. Now it's hilarity all the way. I finally found an excuse to sew the 70's terry short-shorts suit pattern that's been squirreled away in my stash. ^__^

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  45. I do incorporate personal style into my exercise wear. I'm quite picky. I like simple. I like black for the yoga capris or pants. No stripes. I like solid color tops as well. Again, simple and cotton. And made in the USA.

    I would not wear those silly pants.

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  46. in my opinion, hula hooping seems more like a dance to me than just an aerobic workout, so I understand totally why you would make a costume or dress up. There's sort of an element of performance I would argue is not there on the treadmill, at least not for me.
    I go for total function at the gym. I'm sorta a workout enthusiast serious about what I do to take care of myself so I want my clothes to be super comfy and washable, no nonsense. I am not there to get noticed by men and find it pretty annoying when its obvious that people are just trying to look hot and treat the cardio room like a meat market.

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  47. I think a mix of style and practicality are important. I made some running tanks for myself recently (http://www.burdastyle.com/projects/running-tank-ii) and I just wanted something long to go over my running tights to feel more comfortable, but wanted technical moisture-wicking fabrics, not just t-shirt knit. I REALLY love them, I've made 2 and have another cut out. So the length and the color were style issues and the fabrics brought in practicality.

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  48. This week I did sew my first workout pants and am really proud of it. I don't know what took me so long. It was easy, fast and makes sport so much less intimidating for me. Fitting is an issue to self conscience even when it's only Pilates and all women.
    My pants are functional but also in a nice colour and a design I like.
    You can see them here: http://herrlichkeiten.blogspot.com/2010/09/turbo-projekt.html.

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  49. I go for functionality although I have been thinking alot about sewing my own workout clothes.

    I think it would be the most awesome place to work with KNITS or those fancy sport knits that wick away sweat.

    Freddies of Pinewood has really cute 1940's knit tops http://www.freddiesofpinewood.co.uk/proddetail.asp?prod=turqu40stop

    40's or 50's shorts patterns modified for knits? Knit pedal pushers with vintage details? Converse with good insert?

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  50. I am a work & teach-from-home mom, who prefers my treadmill, Wii, and some videos to a gym.

    So, I have Target yoga pants, sports bra, and some lightweight t-shirts - with the neckband removed (by me because that drives me insane).

    For the spring/summer/fall I also have lightweight capri pants/skirt. (I live in southwest AZ - it is still above 95 right now - and only down to 70 in the morning). I don't like wearing shorts too much, as I find them uncomfortable.

    I do make some things - if I have time, and the price is right - but mostly, I just buy them...

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  51. I think she's dressed for "Body Jam."

    It just started at my YMCA and that's what the instructors look like.

    You wear those shoes because they're good for spins. Running shoes with horizontal tread will tear your knee up.

    I've been know to refashion t-shirts and sweats to work out. T-shirts from places like Race for the Cure are always shapeless and too big.

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  52. Simply practical and functional. When I'm working out, I could care less about how I look. I'm usually working out to escape stress and concerns of the day. I don't want to be distracted about whether or not I look cute.

    I do prefer to wear fun patterns, though. I guess it motivates me sometimes. ;)

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  53. ummmmm....wife beaters at old navy are like, $5. Yoga pants are $10.

    Why on earth would I sew my own???

    As far as the style....black is a style, right? :)

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  54. I read your blog through Google reader and I forgot how much I loved reading the comments of various people's input (a lot of whom I also follow on Google reader).

    I'd have to say that this is the first time in my life I've even thought about what I want my Wardrobe to say about me, much less workout gear. I graduated High School 10 years ago and have just done odd jobs here and there since then and I'm finding that I'm finally reaching a sense of self that I want to project in the world and my tshirt and jeans wardrobe does not say anything about me (other than I hate shopping).

    I've been keeping up with this blog almost as long as you've been writing it, Gertie, and when you decided to tackle projects and the VoNBBS, I decided to look for a way to learn more sewing without having to go to school. In the old days there were apprenticeships and you could learn from a master tailor, so I went to my mom (who is a seamstress) and asked her if any of her sewing connections were looking to hire anyone. Lo and behold, I found a niche at David's bridal this summer and have gotten much experience and advice from 2 lovely ladies who have sewn their whole life.

    I've found that more and more I am loving classic pieces that will transcend era and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. I am hard to fit in ready to wear (hence the whole desire to sew) and have started to collect things for my new decided wardrobe.

    I find myself CONSTANTLY designing things in my head and workout gear is ... well sort of on the list. I don't really work out, but I swim and have thought about sports bra designs in relation to swimming suits. I have a fabulous suit from Torrid with the best swim bra in it I've seen ever and have been going over in my mind how to duplicate the idea in the future.

    I've been reading ALREADY PRETTY and I love the things she has to say on personal style. I've also been listening to a speaker from New Zealand that talks about how your clothing reflects what you think about yourself as a person and the more I assess, the more I find this to be true! I didn't think I was high maintinence enough for "pretty" clothing and went through a couple of years of the dreadlocks phase, whereas now I'm seeing myself in a much more sophisiticated light because of my business casual work attire.

    So I'm starting this whole wardrobe business. Ground up. You can't sew garments if your bras are crappy, and since I'm an unusual size, I'd rather make my bras than spend $80 bucks a pop. This week I received bra supplies (got my pattern from Mikaela at elingeria.com and supplies from bramakerssupply.com), the Vogue 8346 coat that I'll be using for the sew along, Simplicity 5914 cute flared skirt, Simplicity 2447 versatile princess seamed shirt, and the Vogue 8333 couture suit jacket. I think this gives me a good new beginning.

    As for workout clothes, I think I've convinced my significant other to take social dancing with me, so I'm thinking a cute halter 50's inspired party dress.

    (Sorry I'm so wordy tonight... might have to do with the cold medicine...)

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  55. I read your blog through Google reader and I forgot how much I loved reading the comments of various people's input (a lot of whom I also follow on Google reader).

    I'd have to say that this is the first time in my life I've even thought about what I want my Wardrobe to say about me, much less workout gear. I graduated High School 10 years ago and have just done odd jobs here and there since then and I'm finding that I'm finally reaching a sense of self that I want to project in the world and my tshirt and jeans wardrobe does not say anything about me (other than I hate shopping).

    I've been keeping up with this blog almost as long as you've been writing it, Gertie, and when you decided to tackle projects and the VoNBBS, I decided to look for a way to learn more sewing without having to go to school. In the old days there were apprenticeships and you could learn from a master tailor, so I went to my mom (who is a seamstress) and asked her if any of her sewing connections were looking to hire anyone. Lo and behold, I found a niche at David's bridal this summer and have gotten much experience and advice from 2 lovely ladies who have sewn their whole life.

    I've found that more and more I am loving classic pieces that will transcend era and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. I am hard to fit in ready to wear (hence the whole desire to sew) and have started to collect things for my new decided wardrobe.

    I find myself CONSTANTLY designing things in my head and workout gear is ... well sort of on the list. I don't really work out, but I swim and have thought about sports bra designs in relation to swimming suits. I have a fabulous suit from Torrid with the best swim bra in it I've seen ever and have been going over in my mind how to duplicate the idea in the future.

    I've been reading ALREADY PRETTY and I love the things she has to say on personal style. I've also been listening to a speaker from New Zealand that talks about how your clothing reflects what you think about yourself as a person and the more I assess, the more I find this to be true! I didn't think I was high maintinence enough for "pretty" clothing and went through a couple of years of the dreadlocks phase, whereas now I'm seeing myself in a much more sophisiticated light because of my business casual work attire.

    So I'm starting this whole wardrobe business. Ground up. You can't sew garments if your bras are crappy, and since I'm an unusual size, I'd rather make my bras than spend $80 bucks a pop. This week I received bra supplies (got my pattern from Mikaela at elingeria.com and supplies from bramakerssupply.com), the Vogue 8346 coat that I'll be using for the sew along, Simplicity 5914 cute flared skirt, Simplicity 2447 versatile princess seamed shirt, and the Vogue 8333 couture suit jacket. I think this gives me a good new beginning.

    As for workout clothes, I think I've convinced my significant other to take social dancing with me, so I'm thinking a cute halter 50's inspired party dress.

    (Sorry I'm so wordy tonight... might have to do with the cold medicine...)

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  56. I'm rather picky about my work out gear. Partly because I'm in the army and partly because I take fitness seriously. The weather where I live stays damp, but not humid (weird, I know) so I really have no other option than wearing synthetic fabrics because cotton doesn't dry out all the way. Synthetics can be frustrating for heaving running, etc. because cotton breathes better and doesn't get as stinky as synthetics. As work out and camping gear are some of the only things I buy ready made I really make sure to buy the best I can afford.

    I also have a moral code when it comes to buying clothes. Again, weird, I know. I try to only support companies that have a mission I believe in. So the places I shop from are highly philanthropic (sp?). Patagonia and Prana are probably my favorites. Patagonia makes a lot of their gear from recycled bottles. My favorite, bright red fleece is made of recycled bottles and is wonderful . Prana makes extremely beautiful climbing tops that could also be used for any other sport, really. Marmot makes the best windbreakers for chilly days. Super lightweight and warm.

    I'm a big fan of color, but for something like exercise function comes over form. I'm not going to run or cycle in excess fabric. I'll swim in something streamlined and have fun with the color of the suit and swimcap. It's amazing to me sometimes how the fit of a running short makes all the difference in the world. The liner has to be snug, the fabric a certain weight, and the length can't be too short or long.

    So even though they may not be 'era' inspired they are cut a certain way, made of specific fabric, and can be as colorful as I like at the same time. I have to be able to soil them and get a lot of wear out of them before replacement. As a result, it just doesn't make sense to me to wear something era inspired, but at the same time it has to be good solid quality.

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  57. i play women's rugby. enough said. in fact, there's an unwritten rule that you only where shirts you hate because they WILL get ripped. I was a gymnast my entire life up until college, and even then, functionality was more important. i was less concerned about how many rhinestones were on my practice leo compared to how comfortable it was when i sweated in it for 4+ hours

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  58. Definitely practical. Not even the cutest outfit would detract attention from my beetroot-red sweat-covered face, so what's the point? Many years ago I did sew my own leggings and bike shorts and I still wear them now.. maybe when they are too grungy I will have to whip up new ones but having to sew stretch fabric isn't my idea of fun, I'll probably just buy ready made stuff. In my not-too-distant past though, I had a good relationship with the press at a certain sportswear brand, so my daggy wardrobe did get a bit of an update thanks to lots of free stuff from them including personalised bright red sneakers with my birthdate on them!

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  59. My sister and I are both keen hoopists, but we both have different approaches to our work out wear. She has amassed a huge collection of all-in-one playsuits to hoop in, as they usually have elastic waists that don't move, and most impotantly look really cute. I indulge my inner punk, and wear shiny leggings with band t-shirts, a far cry from my nomally polished image.

    But we both agree that little jersy dresses are great for1 hooping, and look excellent

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  60. You know what? I'm thinking I like the harem pants. But then, I tend to dress pretty modestly, and those look like I could do pilates/yoga/aerobics without calling any unwanted attention to my thighs or lady parts.

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  61. I imagine they would chafe if I tried to run in them, though.

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  62. Practical, and washable. Sweatpants and baggy T-shirts. I don't have a serger and I don't want to deal with sewing knits, so mine are from Target.

    The T-shirts are a blend that wicks and dries quickly; I rinse them after each walk/jog so that, even if they aren't exactly clean, they at least are less ripe than they would otherwise be after a run or two. It's very humid here and, I'm ashamed to admit, outdoor exercise makes you sweat like a racehorse, so "cute" is not really the object.

    In my own defense, though, I don't wear workout clothes as day clothes. I jog in the evening so I can change and shower immediately afterwards, and I don't wear my sweats to the grocery store, etc.

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  63. I can't stand the Sartorialist. I'm convinced that what makes them "stylish" is that they're all rail-thin and have attitude. They could be wearing plastic garbage bags and make it on there, as long as they're thin and self-conscious. If I wore most of what is posted on there, I'd get laughed out of town.

    I just got back from Italy. What makes Italians slim and stylish is that they walk everywhere, but they also smoke like crazy and apparently only wear neutral colors. I'm not a black/gray/tan kind of girl. I guess that makes me less stylish, but whatever. Verona is wall-to-wall clothing stores and everything is charcoal. Yawn.

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  64. I posted on my blog about this just recently. For the longest time I wouldn't incorporate my own style into my workout wardrobe. I do now though. I find I workout harder if I think I look pretty :)

    http://lovelypinup.blogspot.com/2011/04/glamour-vs-gym.html

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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