Workout Wear and Street Style: Great, with a Big Caveat

Practical, but not hideous! (Hoodie by Giro)

Practical, but not hideous! (Hoodie by Giro)

I love a great piece of workout gear. Practical is awesome, but a piece that I can wear whether I’m working out or not, one that’s cut just right, that doesn’t seem ostentatiously workout-ish, something that I can feel fashionable in, now that’s just great. And it’s very en vogue right now—in the past year, most major fashion magazines have done spreads on workout-clothes-as-high-fashion, and plenty of designers (Giro, Kor Cycling, Rapha, lululemon) are coming out with clothes that are wearable whether you’re riding a bike, doing yoga, or getting brunch.

That’s awesome. It’s rad that there are ways to be ultra athletic while still staying fashion-friendly, and it’s great that if you need to sneak in an errand after yoga, you can do it without getting weird stares at the grocery store.

It’s breaking the stigma of cycling too—we’re not just lycra-clad nerds in bright colors (well, we are sometimes. Most of the time.). We can be fashionable, we can wear tweed when we ride and have it actually work with our riding.

It’s great when we’ve been out hiking and doing some light running here in Ireland and we’re going to be out all day, to have leggings and tops that function as great running and hiking gear but don’t make me feel like an idiot strolling through town or stopping at a cafe.

But, there’s a bit caveat and I think it’s being sorely (puns are ALL intended, always) overlooked.

Just because you can wear your workout clothes after a workout doesn’t mean you should.

When you do a quick 30 minute ride to the library, or to meet friends for lunch, awesome. Stay in your chamois at the table.

When you just finished a century and have family coming to dinner? Yeah, change your tights. I don’t care how fashion-forward the houndstooth fabric is.

Yin yoga? By all means, head to the mall after class in your tights and cool drape-y top.

Bikram? Yeah, change before you leave sweat puddles in the car seat.

I worry about this, especially with cycling. The number one cause of skin ‘issues’ like saddle sores, rashes, and fungal infections, according to all of the gynecologists that I interviewed, is not getting clean and dry as soon as possible after a ride. So while it might be tempting to stay in that kit a little bit longer, especially since it doesn’t look like cycling gear, that’s not always a great idea.

Use your common sense—like I said, I love a good pair of tights that I can do a light run or hike in and then get coffee. I have no problem stopping for a quick mid-ride coffee, or running an errand or two in my bike shorts (especially the ones with the Skrunch skirt that I can pull over them!). I freaking love my Giro hoodie and thermal knickers. They look awesome and I’d happily wear them to lunch—but not after an interval session.

If it gets you out the door and you honestly don’t have a chance to change, fine. Every once in a while, it’s OK to break the rules, and likely, you won’t get a saddle sore that first time (but no promises). It’s more about when you do it over and over again and it’s a routine—that’s when you’re vulnerable to all sorts of nasty stuff.

Working out is cool. Looking stylish before and after is even better. But next time you see a friend in his tights two hours after his long ride of the week, do him a favor and tell him to change… It definitely doesn’t look fashionable when you’re scratching your junk because you ended up with jock itch.

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