Dressing for the badass exerciser you want to be
August 27, 2014 9:15 AM   Subscribe

I’ve noticed that wearing workout clothing/gear that makes me feel good, tough, and strong, can actually give me a little extra mental confidence to make me better, tougher, and stronger in my workouts. What kinds of workout clothing and accessories make you feel badass?

My attire has generally been random cheap stuff, a lot of boring solid black, gray, and blah. Which has been fine and helped me lose 50+ pounds and dropped from a size 14 to 4, pretty much entirely through upping my exercise over the course of a year and a half. But I’m beginning to develop the confidence to explore more “bold” workout options that both make me feel better, and also perhaps perform slightly better. They say “dress for the job you want,” but what about “dress for the level of fitness/badassness/strength/etc you want?”

When you exercise, what kinds of things that you wear/use give you that extra "I got this" edge?
posted by raztaj to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I recently bought some funky leggings from Athleta. I wear these for pilates and it's such a nice change from plain ol' black. I'm usually the only person dressed in these in my classes, so it's fun to stand out.

All of my sports bras are bright/neon colors, and since I tend to work out in tank tops you can usually see some of the color, which is fun I think.

For running I wear short shorts (like these or these). Requires some built-in self-confidence, but for some reason they are a BLAST to wear.

(I hope this answers your question a bit. I personally totally agree that workout clothes matter. And, congrats on the weight loss!)
posted by schroedingersgirl at 9:23 AM on August 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


A t-shirt with the name of my rival written in mirror image on it.
So that when I look in the mirror i see his name.

Also Zubaz.
posted by entropone at 9:27 AM on August 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is an extreme option, but I have a tattoo on my back that doesn't usually show, but some of my workout clothes show it off. I'd be lying if I didn't say that sometimes that is what prompts me to put on my workout tank top to run around and do errands..and being dressed for the workout is half the battle.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 9:31 AM on August 27, 2014 [6 favorites]

I love my muscle leggings and tank from Black Milk Clothing. (Not together.) Just makes me feel all, like, "In case you didn't notice them before, I got some serious muscle fibre going on."
posted by Kurichina at 9:33 AM on August 27, 2014

I dress in bright colors and loud patterns and I wear what I consider the socially acceptable minimum amount of clothing that still meets the functional requirements of the exercise. In other words, hot pink booty shorts. I love the way those clothes look and feel during a workout, and every time I leave the house dressed like that it's a reminder that I'm no longer the person who would have been terrified to leave the house dressed like that. To me that is badass.
posted by telegraph at 9:50 AM on August 27, 2014 [10 favorites]

First of all, I am impressed that you went from a 14 to a 4!

Second, I have arm warmers - not this pair exactly but a similar pair. For some reason, I feel like I am ready for the fight when I put them on. I don't wear them often but I also like that, if I start running with them and get too warm, I can shove them halfway in my shorts unlike a long-sleeved shirt which I would have to tie around my waist. Really though, anything with thumb holes makes me feel pretty psyched.
posted by kat518 at 9:59 AM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

What kind of workouts do you do? Running, dancing, lifting, swimming... ?
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 10:12 AM on August 27, 2014

Oo, I saw in your question history that you do Zumba. Fellow dance exerciser here. I feel badass when I have fun with my dance class wear -- big earrings, tight black leggings, fitted tanktops, headbands, ultra bright shoes. Luckily there is an entire industry to supply this desire! I hate LuluLemon's politics but they tend to be on the forefront of badass exercise styles. If you have a store near you, it would be worth trying some stuff on and seeing what styles you like -- then finding similar cheaper options from Athleta, Title 9, GapFit, or even the Zumba-brand clothing shop.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 10:19 AM on August 27, 2014

I've worn basically the same outfit for every distance race I've ever run. It's gotten me through four marathons, a bunch of halves, and some shorter-distance races. I also usually wear it on my long runs.

Nike boyshorts and an older version of this long bra (which had two little pockets at the lower back).

The feels: I feel like a lean, sleek badass :)
The utility: Plenty of storage for the things I need to help me be badass: energy gels, an inhaler and ibuprofen (hello, mile 19!). No chafing, no bouncing, no bunching of excess fabric (particularly important when wearing a hydration belt. It's hard to feel like a badass when the loose outer part of regular running shorts has been pulled up over the inner briefs by your freaking water belt. :) )
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 10:34 AM on August 27, 2014

I love this question because my gear also helps me get super pumped for working out - crossfit, in my case. I just started recently and I'm periodically giving myself rewards in the form of tanktops from lookhuman.com that cater to my geeky side. Most recent purchase: a grey tanktop that says "Train like you live on the hellmouth."
posted by skycrashesdown at 10:48 AM on August 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

I got some fancy leggings from Teeki. I stalk the sales page at Moving Comfort for awesome sports bras and sometimes buy them full-price they're offering a style I like in my favorite color.

If there's anything you're into (anything!), look for a tank with that as a decoration. LookHuman (linked above) has tons of cool options. Also Etsy--I got a tank with a screenprint of a full moon on it from Etsy. I'm still on the hunt for a good two-in-one tank because I think those are sexy/badass for dance classes.

And Balega socks are the best imo. Worth every penny, hold up like you would not believe. Happy feet move more.
posted by purple_bird at 11:27 AM on August 27, 2014

Fabletics! Pros: Super cute styles in bright colors and prints (plus your typical monochrome shades), easy returns/exchanges. I love their leggings, tops, and sports bras. Cons: It's like a subscription service where you have to cancel your membership or remember to skip your selection at the beginning of each month (or get charged $50 if you forget), things go out of stock fairly quickly and it's not clear when/if they restock.

Also: I've never gotten anything from VSX (by Victoria's Secret), but I do think some of their sports bras look pretty badass.
posted by dire at 12:21 PM on August 27, 2014

My advice is to show off whatever your favorite/strongest body part is. I like my legs and am not crazy about my midriff, so I wear a lot of shorts/tights with larger shirts.

I'm also a big fan of "to/from" layers like sporty hoodies and cardigans, or shirts I can warm up in and then remove. They usually double as casual weekend clothes.

Brand-wise, I tend to poke around and try new-to-me brands when I can. I tend to be pretty happy with Under Armour. I have quite a bit of Lululemon but their quality's gone way down and I don't like the company. I've found workout clothes from H&M and Forever 21 that are surprisingly good quality for the price, but you may have to do some digging.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:34 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Most of my workout clothes these days are from One Tooth. They are cute as hell, durable, half the price of Lulu, and made in Canada. Not sure where you're located, but it does look like they're opening in the US soon. I also really like Lole stuff too.

When I'm doing something that will make me sweat a lot, I'm a big fan of Buff headbands. They come in great colours/patterns and are very versatile for all sorts of exercise adventures.
posted by futureisunwritten at 1:28 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a great tank top that says "I punch like a girl". It's black with jagged white writing, and the joke is on anyone who takes it seriously. I got it secondhand as a cast-off of a limited edition set that some women in the Australian special forces had made, so I can't link you to an example. But that in itself makes me feel badass.

I also like wearing my weight-lifting gloves even when they aren't strictly necessary.
posted by lollusc at 7:14 PM on August 27, 2014

Just for a different opinion: I feel the opposite of badass in yoga pants and tiny shorts and most of the stuff marketed to women in sports stores. I buy most of my training gear from Epic Sports -- not only is it hella cheap and made to take a beating, a lot of it is really gender neutral which I really appreciate. I like being able to get real basketball shorts in women's sizes.
posted by retrograde at 1:55 AM on August 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I also wear Under Armour, actually under the gear I wear for my sport, and I can't lie, I feel awesome putting it on because of their commercials featuring badass athletes. I'm sure you could find commercials for Nike or Adidas or whatever that would work as inspiration. Might as well use emotional manipulation from advertising for something positive!
posted by sigmagalator at 8:32 PM on August 28, 2014

For cardio-dance classes, a belly dance style coin belt or (for a non-noisy option) hip sash. The weight/feel of it will help you focus on moving your hips (better core workout!) plus they're just fun. You can also add wristlets (with optional jinglyness) to help you move your arms more.
posted by anaelith at 2:14 PM on August 30, 2014

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