Exercise gear – a trend-free zone

17 Mar

Go shopping at Westfield Bondi Junction and you will see chic women, dressed impeccably in designer jeans and sky-high heels, hair coiffed, dropping thousands of dollars on Louis Vuitton and Chanel. Less than one kilometre away is Centennial Park – it’s the opposite end of the fashion scale. It’s home to exercisers of all shapes and sizes, ages and genders. But they all have on thing in common – bad exercise gear. I should know. I’m one of them. Not that we all wear the same thing. Not at all. Exercise fashion falls into three different categories.

1) Lycra – and lots of it. This is for the serious exerciser who has the body to carry it off. Sometimes, people who don’t have the body to carry it off also give it a go.Bad idea. In fact, for anyone – bad idea. (Gisele Bundchen excepted) People in top to toe lycra need schooling in one of the biggest rules of fashion – you’ve always got to leave something to the imagination. We don’t all want to know what you had for breakfast thank you very much.
2) Clothes at the bottom of the drawer that should never be seen in public. We’ve all got these. The t-shirts that are fraying at the collar, or have yellow stains in the armpits. The pair of shorts with the hole in the crotch that you can’t really see – unless your legs are in the air and splayed. And – within this category, I also put the ‘freebie’ t-shirts – the one you received at your corporate picnic day and are emblazoned with slogans like ‘Team Building ’99’ (Flight of the conchords fans will appreciate that one). People who wear these clothes operate on the premise that they are somehow kind of ‘invisible’ when they exercise. It’s kind of like eating something while you’re standing at the fridge door – the calories don’t really count. Same with tatty exercise gear – people who wear it think it doesn’t really reflect their overall style. Well, sorry but yes – it does. If you wear it, it’s fashion.
3) Boring, predictable, sports gear. This is the category I fall into. I wear navy nike shorts and a white v-neck top. Fairly tasteful. Very safe. Incredible boring. On the occasions where my kids are running riot in the morning, sometimes I stay in this outfit all day. I do have a back-up outfit for the days the number one outfit is in the wash. And it’s basically the same – shorts, t-shirt – like 80% of people who I encounter in the park. So, the reality is – I have two exercise outfits that I wear every day, sometimes for the whole day. In terms of volume of wear – they are the clothes I wear the most – hands down. But they’re the clothes I spend the least amount of money on. I think I’ve really only ever been shopping twice for exercise gear.

For my birthday, my husband gave me a wad of cash to spend on clothes. I decided at least a portion should go towards updating my exercise wardrobe ie two pairs of shorts and two t-shirts. Today I ventured into Rebel – the shop that offers the biggest sports wear section. Given that the last time I went shopping for exercise gear was when 3/4 bike pants were a relatively new invention, I thought the fashions might have evolved. After all, Stella Mcartney has an exercise range, doesn’t she? So I walk into the shop. And I’m hit by a wave of nostalgia. With all that fluorescent clothing, I feel like I’m at an ’80s blue light disco. I last wore fluoro when I was 12. I’m never wearing it again. That ruled out most of the clothes in one shot. Good, I thought. After all, there was a lot to get through. Next I see a lot of lycra. Striket that too. And then t-shirts emblazoned with witty (not) slogans like ‘Grin and bare it’ or company logos. Strike that as well. I refuse to be a running billboard for Adidas, Nike etc. I did discover one new development. Pants and shorts in water-proof, parachute-style material. Clearly, this is for the serious exerciser who likes to pound the pavement, even in a monsoon. It looked OK – kind of that shiny, satiny look. But, can you imagine the ‘swish, swish, swish’ noise when you run. Not to mention how damn hot it would be – like running in a mobile sauna. Those clothes were out too. What did that leave me with? One solitary, sleeveless, cotton, ‘hoodie’ top. I’ve just re-read that sentence and realised how awful that item of clothing sounds. Anyway, I couldn’t be bothered going through the rigmarole of undressing just to try on one item. Yes – they did have acres of navy and black shorts – but I’ve already got them. I was looking for something different. Something chic. Something to reflect current fashion trends. I came away empty handed. Clearly, fashions never really change when it comes to exercise gear. It’s trend free. Try to put a positive spin on it and you could say it’s ‘timeless’ or ‘classic’. I just say – it’s the clothing that time forget. I know it’s hard to look chic when you’re hot, sweaty and huffing and puffing. But a girl can dream, can’t she?



One Response to “Exercise gear – a trend-free zone”

  1. Anonymous March 17, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    can i have the "wad" of cash back then???

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