Here is a rundown of items I wear to the gym in a given week:
• A formerly nice grey top stained with coffee
• A pair of thick black leggings purchased under desperate circumstances at a store for tweens; if I sit, crouch, or walk even briefly, all the excess fabric pools at the knees
• An Aerosmith T-shirt from when I dressed as Garth from Wanye's World for a costume party
• Old field hockey shorts
• Mismatched socks with permanent grass stains
• A splendid assortment of white T-shirts and tank tops barred from the regular wardrobe rotation because of horrid, yellow deodorant stains in the pits
These clothes look disgusting. I am consistently the messiest person in my gym, where cute gym clothes reign supreme. On every treadmill, there is a designer legging or a strappy, color-blocked spandex shirt. Along with the ubiquitous Lululemon hair-flip/uterus-diagram logo, it's all Sweaty Betty, C&C, and Athleta. What happened to cutoff tank tops? Where have all the tie-dyed Hanes tees gone? Whither the sweatshirt?
Here are my requirements for gym clothes: clean, comfortable, and suited for the activity. Your requirements are probably similar. It is unlikely you need fancy gear to use a treadmill. Windbreakers that wick sweat, neoprene layers, and aerodynamic running pants are irrelevant. Besides, most of today's trendy gym clothes sell themselves on aesthetics rather than performance. The workout clothes of today are cute jerseys, push-up sports bras, and patterned leggings.
As in any situation where branded or fashionable items are present, one-upsmanship comes into play. But what makes the gym different from an office or a bar is that your primary activity there involves turning your fashionable branded items into mops of perspiration.
No matter your choice of gym routine, the thing you're most likely to be doing is sweating. It's also probable that you produce some phlegm. I use my sleeves or the midsection of my shirt to wipe my forehead or my nose. Wait, what? Boogies on your clothes — that's truly revolting! It certainly is, but that's what happens when you heave yourself about on a stationary bike as someone interjects inspirational baloney at you. You're there to breathe hard and get fit, and these things take priority over protecting your garments from nastiness.
Aside from the weirdness of wearing cute clothes only to drench them in phlegm and sweat and whatever, the very notion of going out to buy workoutwear is perplexing. Your closet will just hand you exercise clothes! When a shirt is over-washed or over-worn, stretched out or stained, while you've lost an item from your wardrobe, you have gained gym clothes. Of course you can't rely exclusively on old clothes for your gym gear; retired jeans do not fade into running pants. But for the most part, it's a steady pipeline.
To be fair, I have heard friends say that choice new workout clothes give them motivation to go to the gym to show them off. Motivations to go to the gym are worth their weight in rubies, so I won't argue with that. But once at the gym with your hot new gear, wouldn't it be great not to worry about sweat stains on your $96 tank top? Another argument for wearing the cutest workout clothes involves a mission to entice someone at the gym. But who is to say this gym cutie would be opposed to a faded high-school basketball jersey? Think of it as a conversation piece. There's a lot more to say about the 2004 JV Wildcats than about a moisture-wicking racer-back tank.
What's more, the company that is perhaps that most influential leader of the adorbs workout clothes phenomenon also created pants that were sheer in the booty area. Donning your ratty sweatpants is a much safer option.
Most Viewed Stories
Why Did Everyone Act Like I Was Crazy When I Decided to Have a Baby in My 20s?
Rereading The Handmaid’s Tale, One Month Into the Trump Era
It Sure Looks Like Diane Kruger Is Dating Norman Reedus Now
People Everywhere Agree That Justin Trudeau Has a Good Butt
Woman Framed by Ex-Boyfriend’s Wife in Craigslist ‘Rape Fantasy’ Plot Speaks Out
Karl Lagerfeld Calls Out Meryl Streep for Canceling an Order for a Chanel Dress
Taylor Swift Is Not Going to Be Happy About This New Friendship
Someone Paid $2,000 to Provide Us With This Terrible Billboard
Sports Illustrated’s New Curvy Model on Fitness, Staying Healthy, and Embracing Her Body
Barbara Pierce Bush to Speak at Texas Planned Parenthood Fundraiser
The Cut’s Latest Love and War FeaturesA Holiday Season Weekend Through London
A good guide for avid The Crown fans.It’s About Time You Learned Tove Lo’s Name
The singer has crafted pop hits you’ve heard a thousand times by now.Marina Abramovic Has Outlasted Her Lovers and, She Hopes, Her Critics
The world's most famous performance artist at 70.The Wing: Do Women Still Need a Space of Their Own?
This exclusive social club for women, is part sorority, part start-up.In Virtual Reality, Women Run the World
A new generation of female artists is making VR the most diverse corner of the male-dominated tech space.The Novelist Disguised As a Housewife
Shirley Jackson wrote 17 books while raising four children — and she couldn't have had a successful career without them.Ava DuVernay on Hollywood Racism, Modern-Day Slavery, and Why She’s Still an Optimist
The director, whose new documentary The 13th chronicles America’s history of racial subjugation, talks to Rebecca Traister about Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the modern criminal-justice system.What No One Tells Couples Trying to Conceive
It helps to be rich.The Hidden Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
A segregated unit of mathematicians born of desperation during World War II became the secret to NASA’s success.Slut-Shaming Squids Are Everywhere
The “Bermuda Square” comic strip is back.
The collaboration that dreams are made of.Good Morning America Host Amy Robach Apologizes for Saying ‘Colored People’ on Air
She quickly apologized.Unknown NFL Player Tries to Get Attention by Asking Aly Raisman Out in Video
That’s one way to do it.Don’t Mess This Up, Mischa Barton
Marissa Cooper is poised for a comeback ... maybe.California Votes to Remove Time Limit on Prosecuting Rape Cases
In light of the Bill Cosby case.Beyoncé’s Behind-the-Scenes Lemonade Photos Belong in a Museum
She had the "Boycott Beyoncé" sign already in formation on set.The Rise of the Male Celebrity Full-Frontal
An ex-publicist explains.Gabby Douglas Will Be a Miss America Judge
The gold-medal gymnast will help choose the 2017 pageant winner.Camille Becerra’s Photo Diary of Rockaway Beach
An ideal trip to add and cross off your summer bucket list.Sorry Nerds, Ian McKellen Won’t Officiate Your Expensive Lord of the Rings–Themed Wedding
Not even for $1.5 million.