The standard gym class uniform is a pair of cotton shorts with an elastic waist and drawstring and cotton T-shirt. More than likely, they are a drab gray.
It might have worked – sort of – in fifth grade but not today. Gym-goers and regular exercisers can be seen sporting everything from jeans and pajama pants to high-end workout gear. The options can be dizzying, especially if one participates in multiple activities.
Here's some help from the experts:
“A lot of people are concerned about how they look and honestly, it's a come-as-you-are kind of thing,” says Vicki Eber, owner of Lotus Yoga and Wellness Co-op, 1934 S. Calhoun St. “Be comfortable, but don't wear things that will trip you up.”
What to wear: Tank top, leggings and bare feet.
Do: Wear close-fitting clothing. Baggy pants can get caught under the feet in a flow sequence and tops can fall over the head in poses such as downward dog, Eber says. Crop pants or capris are popular among clients, she says, and tops with either bands at the bottom or cinch-ties can keep the midriff covered.
Don't: Wear casual wear, such as jeans and khakis. Skirts are on the no list, as well.
“Sweat pants are fine but be mindful of the season. You might get warm because yoga does build heat,” Eber says, adding that sweats are better suited for slower practices such as restorative rather than fast-moving flow classes.
Material: Brooke Johnson, who works in community relations at Lululemon, recommends looking for preshrunk clothes, since those will withstand washes over time.
Cost: High-end yoga pieces from retailers such as Lululemon can cost $100 for bottoms and $50 for shirts. Eber suggests going to TJ Maxx or Marshall's, where items can be found at a discount.
What to wear: Bike shorts, shirt or jersey and helmet.
Do: Invest in padded bike shorts.
“Comfortable shorts are going to make or break your ride,” says Julianne Koval, sales associate at Summit City Bikes, 3801 Lima Road. “Some people aren't aware that there are padded bike shorts. You can wear them under gym shorts or on their own.”
Less expensive shorts have padding with give and more expensive pairs are more dense. Koval says the length and type of riding dictates what type to buy.
“(The padding is) to cushion the hip bones that are actually keeping you perched on the saddle,” she says.
Don't: Wear jeans or pants/shorts with lots of seaming in the crotch area as they can make for an uncomfortable ride and cause chafing.
Material: “A lot of people just throw on a T-shirt and just go – and that's great,” Koval says. “(But) cotton doesn't wick away moisture or dry very well.”
Cost: Padded bike shorts cost between $50 and $130, and bike jerseys start at $60. Helmets start at $40 and cost as much as $300.
“I advise spending $80 to $90 (on shorts) – at least half way – and they do a little bit of everything and keep you happy,” Koval says.
What to wear: As fall approaches, a pair of shorts and long-sleeve shirt are good staples to have.
A breathable long-sleeve is going to be a key piece at any time of the year,” says Tiffany Rauch, sales associate at Three Rivers Running Co., 4039 N. Clinton St. “Wear it as a base layer (when it's cold) or in the early morning. It will pull the sweat away from your body.”
Do: Have at least three pairs of shorts in the rotation. The more a person runs, the more shorts he will need, Rauch says.
Don't: Wear cotton.
“A lot of people tend to go for the dry-fit feeling. ... Go for anything that is lightweight and absolutely not a cotton. It isn't as substantial and doesn't breathe,” Rauch says, adding that cotton can also cause chafing.
Material: Nearly all running apparel companies make items that wick away moisture.
Cost: A quality pair of shorts, such as those from Brooks Running, cost $40 to $50 and shirts are $30 and up.
“You're not going to wear holes into the shorts that you buy like the Brooks because they are so high quality. You are not going to have to continuously buy them,” Rauch says. “Once you buy those shorts, you are going to be in them for a couple of years – minimum.”
The Chicago Tribune contributed to this story.