What exercise clothes should I wear for school drop-off/morning jog?
September 24, 2016 7:00 PM   Subscribe

I walk my son to school and then get in a short run before work. My current uniform is droopy, saggy-bottomed yoga pants, a ratty Eagles tee-shirt, and shoes with one lace missing. As a West Virginian accidentally living in a swank area of New York City, I already feel sartorially self-conscious. Dress me?

I'd like to find some exercise clothes that look smart-ish. I don't love the current trend of spandex tights and spandex capris that I see on the other ladies at the gym, because I'm not super-slim. I've always exercised in sweats and tees, but as I get older I feel like that look is even less attractive than the tight running clothes. Are there exercise clothes are flattering and look...intentional? (As opposed to my current look, which I think makes me appear like someone in a decline.)

What I would like:

--exercise clothes that are flattering to a long torso and short legs and 15 extra pounds
--maybe something with a little style to them, maybe something that doesn't even look like exercise clothes? It's a very short jog, sometimes I even do it in ratty jeans just to change up the weirdo look.
--probably not spandex tights? Would feel funny with no pants on.
--probably something cheap, but willing to go higher if it's stuff that will last
--pockets or something for phone, keys, $20
--ideally stuff that can be washed and dried, not big on handwashing or hang-drying.
--can be bought in NYC or online, probably not Lululemon because I think someone said something icky once about not-slim women?

Thank you! Oh, I am a woman.
posted by pipti to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (27 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I wear straight legged pants made out of a quick dry material. Basically a less fitted version of spandex and sometimes these have pockets. Also a t shirt. Not tight or baggy. Some are sports shirts and some are like walmart v necks. You can probably find these things at T.J. maxx or similar for a decent price.
posted by Kalmya at 7:28 PM on September 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

- yoga pants or some other ass-covering clothes that are in good condition and fit properly, which you feel comfortable in.

- the ratty band t-shirt sounds par for the course in New York, I'd keep this.

- functional shoes that actually lace up properly. (Why are you running in shoes that are missing a lace, anyway?)

Honestly you should either stop worrying about dressing to fit in, or if this is an external rather than internal thing, get friends who don't judge your clothes. The best thing about New York is that it's a place for weirdos and not particularly image conscious. Unless you run in certain circles. But the answer to that is to start running in better circles. If you see someone wearing a lot of Lulu Lemon who looks like they might be judging you, go in the opposite direction ASAP.
posted by Sara C. at 7:36 PM on September 24, 2016 [8 favorites]

I have a half-zip shirt like this that is kind to my long torso and middle aged physique.
posted by salvia at 7:48 PM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

For the pants, what about yoga pants that are not droopy, made out of a spandex blend? You can buy yoga pants that will look nice pretty much anywhere, including places like Target. And the casual observer can't tell the difference between Lululemon and Target yoga pants. And yeah, just buy some new running shoes. Your t-shirt sounds fine, maybe buy a light hoodie for when it gets colder.
posted by lunasol at 7:49 PM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Matching laces and you're good to go.
posted by Marky at 7:50 PM on September 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

NYC (Upper West Side) runner here. I wear Old Navy running stuff, mostly, which is cheap, matchy, and lasts forever.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:56 PM on September 24, 2016 [7 favorites]

Also, for pockets, I wear a Flip Belt.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:57 PM on September 24, 2016 [4 favorites]

If your clothes are in good repair and fit you, you are fine, although you might want to get some new shoes, since one lace doesn't sound ideal. People do judge, but they also don't pay as much attention to you as you think. That said, if you want a change, that's okay too.

I have an inexpensive, but decent quality set of workout clothes from Marshalls, and I think I look reasonably stylish. They have tons of brands and variety, so I would just try a bunch of stuff on. An alternative to yoga pants are the cuffed joggers that are everywhere at the moment. I'm not slender, but I've still found pairs that are flattering on me.
posted by Diagonalize at 8:08 PM on September 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

I wear yoga pants from Target or Old Navy. I like the "semi-fitted" ones, which are fitted enough not to look sloppy but not so fitted that they look like tights or make me self-conscious. Tops are harder. This is a particularly grim year for workout tops, for some reason, and I haven't been able to find any that I like at any of my usual cheap places. I like these guys from Under Armour, but $30 is probably more than I want to spend on a workout top.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:10 PM on September 24, 2016

I love -- LOVE -- my Lucy perfect core leggings. I wear the capris, but they have a yoga pant and a regular legging, too. The material is thick and doesn't show anything, the waistband is nice and wide, so it doesn't roll down or get bunchy, and they do amazing things for my practically concave ass. Those and a tunic or pullover (I like this one and this right now) usually get me through the fall and warm winter days until it's time to seriously layer up. (Or, uh, stay inside. Either way.) I've also had good luck with the Champion C9 stuff at Target.
posted by ThatSomething at 8:17 PM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have a 'school run', too, albeit in California. Gap Fit seems to, uh, fit your requirements. These pants work well as a spandex legging alternative. You could keep your band shirts, and supplement with some of their more baggy workout shirts from the 'breathe' line. I hear you on the Lululemon/Athleta scepticism - even when I get the right size (Medium for my post pregnancy body), they make me feel extra flabby...
posted by The Toad at 8:35 PM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

I wear capris or capris with running shorts, a ratty cotton T if it's hot and a half zip if its cold and a fleece vest over the half zip if it's really cold. If it's colder than that screw running.

I'll add another vote for Old Navy workout clothes which are cheap, well conceived, long enough for me, not too tight and are wash and go. I do hang dry some of my workout clothes but by "hang" I mean toss on the rack thing next to my dryer for a few hours. The rest go in the dryer. I gave up on decent pockets in cheap running clothes and bought a sipbelt, it works great.

For pants REI used to have these not super fitted capris in a thicker material. I love them and run in them till it's literally too cold to do so anymore. But I looked the last time I was there and they didn't have them. Boo.

For other non fitten pants options there are lots of those jogger things around now and they are not only not spray on fitted but they're in style.
posted by fshgrl at 9:06 PM on September 24, 2016

If you're ok with cotton (aka no moisture wicking), I am a big fan of Uniqlo's women's sweatpants. They have pockets. They are cut slim, but def not leggings. I have them in a few different fabric weights.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:06 PM on September 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

There are definitely yoga pants that are a thicker material that is more forgiving. I just got some from Lands End that I like. They have a small pocket although I'm not sure what it could hold, really.

I go for a running belt to hold my phone and key and such.

Since it sounds like most of your workout clothes are a bit ad-hoc, may I also recommend getting fitted for a good, supportive sports bra? Life-changing. (Sorry, no suggestions on where to do that in NYC.)
posted by radioamy at 9:26 PM on September 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

When it gets colder, you might want to look into merino. These are called tights but as you can probably see from the pictures they're about as thick as yoga pants.

I think the key is actually to commit to looking like you're about to go jogging. It's the awkward hybrid between visibly workout clothing and ratty casual stuff that can send you into semi-homeless territory.

But, if you are not actually interacting with other parents dropping off their kids, it's a fair question whether you should even care. It's understandable to want to avoid social awkwardness when it comes to people you're regularly encountering socially, but you're not required to dress to match the architecture.
posted by praemunire at 9:46 PM on September 24, 2016

Are there exercise clothes are flattering and look...intentional? (As opposed to my current look, which I think makes me appear like someone in a decline.)

The way you describe them, your clothes sound depressed. Sure, you shouldn't worry so much about what other people think about your clothes, but it's fine to want attractive clothes and easier to not care if you're comfortable and confident in what you're wearing. A uniform of yoga pants, band t-shirt, and running shoes sounds totally fine, but not saggy pants, ratty shirts, and busted up shoes. Intentional is the right idea. You can keep wearing the same kinds of stuff you're wearing now, but if they're in good condition and fit correctly, that'll go a long ways towards looking and feeling more pulled-together.

Can't help you with specific styles, unfortunately, but nthing Old Navy for good quality stuff for pretty cheap.
posted by yeahlikethat at 10:08 PM on September 24, 2016 [10 favorites]

I used to run in baggy pants because like you I was conscious of my podgy legs and bum, but when I switched to a pair of lycra leggings it was so much more comfortable (and not as unflattering as I feared). Larger legs rub against each other when you are running and adding loose material to that mix is thoroughly unergonomic. I wear a long, loose racer back vest to cover my bum and make it more flattering. On long runs I take a Flip Belt, which I see someone else has recommended. These are brilliant, you can fit so much in and it doesn't bounce round at all. I like to buy nice brightly coloured vests and match them to my socks.

I'm in the UK so not best placed to offer specifics but to give you ideas here is my preferred vest: http://www.sportsdirect.com/adidas-hi-5-tank-top-ladies-341917?colcode=34191702 preferred leggings: http://www.karrimor.com/karrimor-running-tights-ladies-458072?colcode=45807243 and here is the Flipbelt website: https://flipbelt.com/
posted by intensitymultiply at 4:45 AM on September 25, 2016

Semi fitted running pants made of a heavier material, with a running jacket over it to cover the stomach area. My running gear is some of the most flattering I own and it's not especially fancy (I can grab brands if you're interested)

Make sure your sneakers are nice, and I've found putting your hair up in a ponytail or with a headband tends to signal "I'm not a slouch, I'm about to run" pretty well.
posted by corb at 8:05 AM on September 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I know you said no lululemon, but if they still have the "still pant", they're awesome. You can find a knockoff. They're loose and a wider leg, and have huge pockets. I agree on the icky company, but I got a pair as a gift, and they replaced all my other athletic pants.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 8:34 AM on September 25, 2016

Ooh leggings can be so. bomb. if you get the right cut, pattern & thickness. I'd totes avoid capris of any kind. they're just not flattering.
these or these? - if you're looking for more support, compression tights might be the way to go (and under armour will last for a loong time).

!buut wouldn't mix a ton of patterns, though, like if you do one, pair it with something solid. Also! If you got a saggy/slouchy top (band shirts are legit IMO) with a more fitted bottom you're good to go. But..lace both shoes? I didn't..follow that part. and no, i wouldn't run in jeans. go for function (leggins, sweats, joggers), otherwise you're just gonna look like you're running to catch a bus or something?

Jacket-wise maybe something kinda zingy like this? Hoodies are also so versatile. I've heard good things about Victorias Secret workout brathingies (cant get the site to work now?!) – tho i have some from Casall and they've been crazy durable, they look just like the day i bought them and they're already a few years old.
posted by speakeasy at 8:52 AM on September 25, 2016

I would try searching for the terms "track pants" or even "warm-up pants". These come in a variety of weights with whisking and are breathable. They look very smart but still have a relaxed fit. They were always what I wore if I was running straight before or after going out for errands since I also don't like to walk around in tights. Here's an example, I own an awful lot of these by adidas (because years ago they sponsored my running club and the clothes have held up remarkably well but there are other brands with similar fits- most athletic/shoe companies make similar versions):

Speed Track Pants
posted by stagewhisper at 9:06 AM on September 25, 2016

Fellow NYC mom here. Are you actually jogging after drop off? Because if not, I actually recommend that you just wear regular clothes and then get a post-drop off cup of coffee with your fellow parents, because the intersection of cute, athletically functional, and cheap is pretty small.

If you really are going to go jogging, then just go to your closest GAP, Athleta, etc. and try something on. They have a wide variety of cuts and it's hard to predict what you'll like without trying it on. Then just wear your band Tshirt and get a new pair of shoes (because seriously running in beaten up sneakers is not good for your feet) and you're good to go.
posted by snickerdoodle at 11:20 AM on September 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you go to a large thrift store that accepts clothing donations in a wealthy neighbourhood (in Canada the chain of stores is called Value Village) you can often find barely used workout clothes at great prices. It will probably take a few visits and some annoying time in the fitting room to amass a wardrobe at this price point, but you can really score amazing deals.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:21 PM on September 25, 2016

Given that you are in NYC, Uniqlo is a really good suggestion (trendy and good quality but not spendy). Their jogger pants + athletic top (plus cute new sneakers) is perfect for what you want.

Or alternately, you could do leggings underneath a running skirt. Here's a good outfit example (from athleta)
posted by veery at 9:01 PM on September 25, 2016

I wear a running skort in such situations. It's clearly athletic clothing and shows more leg than I would if I weren't on my way to get sweaty, but the skirt part helps cover my shameful nudity and the shorts are breezy. My favorites are from LL Bean.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:48 AM on September 27, 2016

I am plump and resisted the idea of spandex leggings for the first few years of running, but as others above have mentioned, they're much more comfortable for running. Paired with a longish loose-ish shirt, I also think they're more flattering on me than yoga pants. I recommend trying some if you haven't before to see what you think. Old Navy can get you started at a low price point - I'm short, but like their Tall sizes because it gives me more length and coverage in the waist area.
posted by hilatron at 1:26 PM on September 28, 2016

Thanks everyone. I bought some tights, a skort over tights, and yoga-like pants at Athleta. They are surprisingly comfortable and flattering, though I also bought a tunic-length top to to wear over them. I might get a few tees at Uniqlo and a vest for colder weather. Still have to replace the ratty shoes--budget blown, but at least I can replace the laces. It was way way more than I wanted to spend, but at least I don't feel like a ratty clown on my morning run anymore...thanks again!
posted by pipti at 5:15 AM on October 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

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