October 29, 2020

We work out to get in shape, feel good, and live longer. Some of us love the gym, others prefer the great outdoors, and recently online group workouts have become popular as well.

But no matter how you choose to burn calories, you want to look great while doing it. While athletic gear trends have always been performance-focused, style has taken a back seat. That has changed in recent years with athleisure wear up front and center.

Let’s look into the most fashionable workout clothing available and give you a few trends you’ll want to avoid as you rethink your athletic wear wardrobe.

Tees, Hoodies, And Pullovers

You’re probably used to working out in a worn, ratty tee or sweatshirt that has seen hundreds of wash cycles over the years. After all, you’re going to be working up a sweat and stretching out the fabric with tons of dynamic movements during your session.

Unfortunately, cotton tees and hoodies don’t last long if you train intensely every day, and these fabrics wear thin quickly and get filled with holes. Before long, your favorite workout shirts are ripped to shreds, and it’s not a great look.

Let’s be honest; most men go to the gym to focus on upper-body movements that pump up chests, shoulders, arms, and back muscles. You need to wear a top that accentuates your best features and motivates you to keep pushing the limits on every set. 

The best-looking t-shirts are not too boxy or not too slim, allowing your arms, chest, and back to move freely in every direction without any weird bunching or uncomfortable constrictions. Your tee needs to look great from every angle, no matter what position you’re in. 

As a fashionable gym-goer, you should have at least a few different tee shirt styles to choose from, depending on your workout goals for the day. 

Sometimes you need more arm coverage with sleeves that drop down to just above the elbow, but for heavy upper-body workouts, you may want shorter sleeves that show off those biceps and triceps with tighter fits around the arms.

When it comes to long-sleeve shirts, fit matters even more. You don’t want to be that guy with the skin-tight shirts that fit way too tightly under the armpits and bunch around the neck area. Not only does it look goofy, but it also impacts performance negatively. 

The best long-sleeves have just enough coverage to show off your results without restricting movement, and they come in flattering colors that don’t shine too brightly or distract with crazy patterns. Simple, sleek, and understated is the way to go. 

The same rules apply to zip-up hoodies and pullovers, which come in handy when training hard on those cold early mornings in the winter months. Added fabric doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style or performance, so choose wisely with gym clothes that do it all. 

Remember that your shirt is the first thing people notice about you at the gym, so pick a top that fits your body to perfection and conveys real comfort and class.   

Shorts, Sweatpants and Track Pants

If your fitness goals include weight loss and improved cardiovascular health, the majority of your exercise routine will focus on the legs. Jogging, sprinting, biking, and other endurance-based workouts use your legs as the key source of locomotion.

Even if you aim to build muscle, lunges, squats, and deadlifts are going to blast your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

What you wear on your legs makes a difference, not just from a performance standpoint, but how you look in the gym or out on the trail. It’s time to toss those baggy basketball shorts from the mid-2000s and upgrade your legwear for the modern era.

Let’s begin with shorts, the gym-rat standard for decades. Standard exercise shorts fall right before the knee, showing off your quads without raising too many eyebrows in public. These will serve you best in crowded gyms and group classes. 

It’s not a bad idea to have a more lightweight pair as well, for long jogs and jump-rope sessions. These can extend to the mid-thigh, offering more freedom and flexibility. Less fabric means more sun exposure and aerodynamics when running and leaping outside. 

Sweatpants are essential for colder outdoor workouts or warming up in the gym before a heavy leg day. They should be easy to slip on and off over your shorts while still giving your lower body a streamlined, slimming effect. 

Track pants are another must-have and shouldn’t feel any heavier than a good pair of shorts. They must be thin yet warm enough to work up a sweat on a cold morning jog or coffee run. Be sure to pair with a color-matched pullover for that classic tracksuit look.

In terms of length, athletic pants should not fall lower than the ankle since you’ll be in constant motion in the weight room or during an intense workout class. You want that cuff to gently drape over the top of your sneakers but not bunch up more than an inch. 

Some folks prefer the high and tight cut of jogger pants, but these tend to constrict movement during squats, lunges, and other dynamic movements. The most versatile and fashionable sweatpants look fantastic while giving you a complete range of motion at all times. 

Don’t just grab any old pair of sweatpants off the rack at your sporting goods store and wear them to the gym once or twice. Invest in a high-quality pair that you will use time and time again, in and out of the gym.  

Swimwear For The Pool And Beach

When the sun is up, and the heat is on, lots of us are eager to jump into the water for a long swim or surf session. If you have access to a pool, there are few better ways to workout than swimming laps and using your entire body to shred calories.

The problem is that most swimwear is built for sunbathing, throwing the frisbee, and cracking cold beverages by the pool, not rigorous athletic activity in the water. 

Luckily, the most stylish swimwear does not need to be complicated by crazy designs and aggressive lines. Simplicity is the key here, and it’s more about function over form. 

Rather than squeezing into a full wetsuit, look into a sleek rashguard top that gives you total protection while emphasizing your best upper body features. Aim for a sophisticated look that will make you stand out from the rest of the surf crowd.

For swim trunks, find a pair that offers a slim-fit look over your leg while giving you the UV and rash protection you need for a long day at the beach. You may not notice the quick-drying effect on the surface, but you’ll appreciate it as the hours roll by. 

These two items are really all you need to get wet and wild for a high-octane workout, then cool down with your friends in the sand or by the pool when your mission is complete. 

Underwear, Shoes and Accessories

You can have a wardrobe filled with the finest t-shirts, hoodies, and sweatpants, but that’s only part of the equation. Your undergarments and shoes are key to rounding out a stylish gym outfit, and accessories give you the opportunity to flash some extra personality.

Not only do your undergarments keep things cool and clean where it matters most, but they also help accentuate your physique and create an aesthetic appearance when pushing yourself during a workout.

If your routine involves jumping, jogging, or getting inverted with handstand pushups or abdominal exercises, you’ll want a reliable pair of boxer briefs to keep everything in order. The colors and materials should match the rest of your outfit for a complete coordinated look. 

A quality undershirt is also highly underrated for maintaining a masculine figure when wearing a button-down top for work and draws attention to your build on a night out. 

For some extra sun protection and swagger, it can’t hurt to throw on a structured snapback baseball hat during a workout or just a casual stroll through the neighborhood. Pair that with a sweet pair of shades, and you might be mistaken for a local celebrity. 

As always, strap up with your favorite pair of shoes to complete the outfit, but make sure you blend form and functionality when hitting the gym. You don’t want to twist an ankle in the name of looking good. Thankfully, there are plenty of solid shoe designs that complement your gym clothes and deliver on performance. 


Gym fashion doesn’t need to be complex, so we’ve mapped out the fundamentals for you here. 

A few solid pieces in your wardrobe are always better than constantly cycling through expensive trends. Stick with these basics, and most of your work is done. Now it’s time to get moving!