Clothes maketh the man

Sunday, April 29, 2012 Permalink

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. Mark Twain

It’s Fashion Week here in Oz this week – well, in Sydney anyway. Nevertheless, given my expertise and excellent taste (not!), I’ve written in my other blog about fashion and thought I should do so here as well.

It’s quite timely as I’ve been thinking a bit about the book I mentioned ‘If Not Dieting, Then What?’ by Dr Rick Kausman. As well as all of the important stuff (!), I had a chuckle as I came across one of his patient’s anecdotes – about her experience when she first joined a gym.

Now the book was written in 1998, but it occurred to me that many of her concerns are still relevant today. But not all. She commented, for example, on how confronting it was to be faced by thin women in neon lycra g-string leotards.

Other than that very tragic relatively recent film clip (Call on me, by Eric Prydz – picture below), I don’t think leotards have made an appearance in a gym for a while. (And I’ve got my fingers crossed that the look never returns. Leg warmers – okay, lycra – hmmm…. maybe; but g-strings in public – not so much!)


Tragic 1980-90s gym wear aside, even now I can still imagine that many suffer some angst when joining a gym after a hiatus. It’s one thing when you’re exercising on your Wii Fit with only your toddler to witness the inept sports bra and baggy pajama pants, but what happens when you need to actually exercise with others? In public?

As I’ve exercised (albeit) on and off in some form for most of my life I wasn’t too worried when I joined a gym last year. And, for the past 6 months I’ve basically been wearing the same thing I wore when I exercised in preceding years.

I’m a big fan of the large baggy t-shirt and I own quite a few of them. I prefer Nike – not sure why, although perhaps it’s a size thing cos the men’s XXL (or XXXL) is baggy enough even for me. I also wear legging things which I wore even 20-25kg ago, rather than loose tracksuit pants. This is predominantly an issue of comfort. Tracksuit pants can ride up between your thighs if they’re ample enough (the thighs, not the pants – and mine are). Leggings just stay there. They don’t move. Another benefit is that they don’t allow a lot of wobble. So, if I’m running and dancing about madly I know the excess fat may be wobbling, but it’s minimised by the fitting pants. And because I wear big t-shirts that come down to my thighs, I don’t have to worry about my middle section or butt being visible!

IMG_1281I love the arrival of winter because I can don my most favourite piece of clothing. I bought this Nike hoodie (right) 8 or 9 years ago. It’s huge. It was huge on me 20+kg ago and it remains huge. It is now, however, somewhat faded and has a few faint stains, but…. I. LOVE. IT. In fact, I may mourn it when I eventually have to give it up!

I must confess, however, that I do aspire to a new wardrobe for the gym. And no, I won’t be wearing little bra tops and shorts. Instead, I like the idea of just removing the baggy outer layers. In summer I look with envy at those who wear sleeveless tops. I think how much cooler they must without thick annoying sleeves and an added layer (and I don’t just mean fat!). And I envy other women’s ability to wear short t-shirts or singlet tops and not have to worry about their bulging stomach or what their midsection looks like. Imagine that?!!! (Frankly, I cannot!)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m actually not overly angsty about what I look like when I work out. I perspire. A LOT. So I rarely look decent when I finish exercising anyway. And I don’t care. I grew up playing a lot of sport and it was more about the comfort than the look.

It still doesn’t stop me looking wistfully at others in my gym sometimes. Hoping too that one day I can strip off my outer layer. (In more ways than one!)

What do you wear when you exercise?
Do you care?

PS. There’s still time to vote for my blog in the Sydney Writers’ Centre 2012 Best Blogs People’s Choice Award, if you care to. You just need to click the button on the right hand side of the screen.


  • Karen@WaistingTime
    April 30, 2012

    I have planned a post on this very topic! I’ve actually evolved over time, I guess in part in conjunction with losing and keeping off weight. I like my clothes for comfort and performance, like moisture-wicking and stretch. I used to wear very baggy stuff. But over time I’ve come to really like cami tops, which are quite fitted, because I can see actually see muscles when I strength train my upper body:) And, since I know work for a store that sells workout clothes, I am much more aware of what other people wear!

    • Debbish
      April 30, 2012

      I can imagine knowledge of exercise gear would be perfect in your job Karen – and vice versa – knowing more about the way clothes fit and support movement etc would surely be of benefit in your workouts!

  • nondiscrypt
    April 30, 2012

    Like you, my favourite workout top is an addidas windcheater that’s about 8 years old – stained, more likely from chinese food than sweat. I have 3 diffent styles of workout gear that I wear.

    I am a member at two different YMCA’s (no I’m not obsessive, but it’s the only way I could fit the 3 recommended pump classes into my week!). If I’m turning left and driving 10 minutes it’s whatever is clean – baggy t-shirt, tracky dacks, shorts, whatever. If I’m turning right and driving 10 minutes it’s asics or nike leggings and a sweat wicking t-shirt or running top made by either. At the “right” gym I’m actually not “cool” anyway because I’m not wearing the obligatory Lorna Jane gear (nor have I bothered to straighten my hair or put on my green eyeshadow – I kid you not!) My third workout choice is a black racerback singlet top and a pair of Nike running shorts. This option is rarely sweaty and is more often used to pose in front of the bathroom mirror (heh and I just scoffed at the girl wearing the green eyeshadow !), I’d never dare wear it in public !!

    • Debbish
      April 30, 2012

      I suspect my sweatshirt is similarly stained from food rather than sweat. Good to have a few options (gym-wise and exercise gear-wise).

      Hmmm… wonder what the green eyeshadow looks like when it runs….

  • KCLAnderson (Karen)
    April 30, 2012

    For kettlebells I wear yoga pants and a t-shirt, no shoes at all. When I do my “fitness walks” it depends on the temp, but it’s basically the same thing, with good walking/training shoes. Lately my swollen/bloated gut has me turning towards looser garments.

    • Debbish
      April 30, 2012

      I think that’s probably why I wear baggy t-shirts Karen, protruding tummy (and hips!). My thighs are hefty but solid so for some strange reason I don’t worry too much about them… it’s more my middle region.

      You’re right about the shoes. Good shoes are v.important. I need to buy some better ones for my dance-type classes as I get numb toes and sore arches from the ones I currently wear.

      (I also need a few decent sports bras – but that’s an entirely other matter!)

  • loulou
    April 30, 2012

    I like the thought of you (or me for that matter) still having something in the wardrobe 8 or so years later and it still is comfy 🙂

    have a lovely day


    • Debbish
      April 30, 2012

      Even better Loulou is that I’ve worn the thing almost every day (well, every second day) throughout winter each of those years!

  • Melly
    April 30, 2012

    I love to colour coordinate….I have 2 pairs of runners (neon blue & black Brooks and bright pink Adidas) and I have a slew of mix & match 3/4 leggings (black with side neon colour side stripes and simple plain black), extra long singlets and fitted tee’s which I layer over the singlets. But I also have a couple of tee’s that have rips and holes in them that are 10 years old that I adore and will never throw away!!! I’m obsessed with Kim K’s street style and she looks hot when she works out – she’s my workout fashion inspiration!!!

    • Debbish
      April 30, 2012

      I love the colour coordinating! You’ll have to share some pictures of the KK look!

  • Amy Cooper
    May 1, 2012


    I know what my training gear is, and I don’t have any choice in the matter… and I like that!

    • Debbish
      May 1, 2012

      I’m intrigued, though maybe I should know from your blog… what ‘training’ do you do that you wear a uniform? It’s true though – sometimes the lack of choice is a good thing!


  • Sacha
    May 16, 2012

    I wear tshirts and track pants – Capri length in warm weather. I also wear an amphipod for my keys and such, as I can’t find women’s workout bottoms with pockets. And I, too, wish I could and look forward to when I can (comfortably) wear those cute tops and other workout wear.

    • Debbish
      May 17, 2012

      Hi Sacha…. I was at the gym earlier this week and had gym-outfit-envy. Our instructor at one of my classes had her tight-fitting gym top and leggings all matching…. with no bumps and lumps (which I would have – well…. in fact I’d have very BIG lumps and bumps!) and I felt a twinge of jealousy every time I looked at her – which was often, naturally! *Sigh*


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