April 28, 2020

Every guy needs some workout shorts in their wardrobe. They combine function and style and are a great building block for the rest of your outfit. But what should you pair with your workout shorts? Let’s take a look.

When to Wear Workout Shorts

Guess what? Men's shorts are great for more than just workouts. High-quality athletic shorts are great for the gym, but also during many other activities. Buy a pair of sport shorts with some pockets and you’ll be ready to hit the street for all kinds of activities.

  • They’re great at the gym (of course). Well-cut training shorts made from quick-drying moisture-wicking fabrics with appropriate waistbands are an essential piece of gear for your workouts.  
  • Outdoor outings. Whether it’s a round of golf, a backyard barbeque, or a hike, you’ll appreciate the lightweight fabric and ease of movement you’ll find with good gym shorts.
  • High-quality running shorts from best seller brands like Willy California look good with more than tees. Pair your drawstring men's gym shorts up with an athletic polo shirt for a casual day at work or a night at the brewpub with the boys.
  • Also, consider the exact activity that you will be doing to buy the right sportswear. If you're playing basketball, then you will need a pair of basketball shorts or jersey shorts. If you're surfing, you need some board shorts. If you're cross-training, then you need some compression shorts. If you're skiing out in the cold, you might need some joggers as a baselayer for warmth. 

The Right Top for the Activity

You’ll wear your workout shorts for different activities and different types of exercise, so you shouldn’t lock yourself into one type of top. And don’t forget to take into account the differences in weather and temperature you’ll encounter when you’re rocking your activewear. You wouldn’t wear the same shirt for a hot yoga class as you would for a walk to the corner coffee shop on a fall morning, would you? Follow these tips and you’ll pick the perfect top. 

  • When you choose a shirt to go with your shorts, consider the sport. If you’re running or doing a vigorous activity you’ll want a slim-cut shirt made with fabrics that manage sweat. For more gentle activities, a comfortable cotton top may be all you need.
  • Add a layer when it’s cool outside. A quarter-zip or a zippered hoodie will keep you comfortable on cool days and frosty mornings.

Let’s Talk Tops

It’s hard to go wrong when pairing a t-shirt with your workout shorts. But if you think all tees are created the same you’re not looking deep enough. Here are some of the different types of t-shirts you can choose from to complete your ensemble.

The Classic Cotton T-Shirt

Open your drawer and you’ll probably find plenty of cotton tees. While cotton tees aren’t the best for heavy-duty workouts, you can’t beat them for comfort when you’re enjoying some casual time. 

Blended Fabrics Mean Better Tees

Add synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon to cotton and you get shirts that fit great and are well-suited to moderate activities, like your favorite morning yoga class, or taking a morning stroll around the block. These synthetic fabrics have the softness of cotton but are much more breathable than all-cotton tops. Keep an eye out for features like these:

  • Added spandex or elastane for 4-way stretch. Shirts with these blends move with you during your activity for extra comfort. 
  • Added anti-microbial features. Special weaves, blends, and coatings can help inhibit the buildup of bacteria that causes your shirt to pick up that locker room funk. Your shirt will stay fresher longer.  

Performance Tees

A true performance t-shirt will keep you dry, comfortable, and let you move no matter how sweaty and hard your workout. Some shirts, like the Willy California 104 The Workout Tee add a touch of high-quality Pima cotton for extra softness. These are some important features:

  • Performance fabrics are key. Polyester and proprietary blends offer excellent moisture management. 
  • 4-way stretch. Look for 5% or more spandex in the fabric for excellent mobility. 
  • Slim cut. These shirts are sometimes cut slimmer than standard tees, so check the sizing chart. 

Add a Layer

Why stick with one layer? If you’re getting outside on a cool spring or crisp fall morning, adding a layer to your outfit will keep you comfortable before, during, and after your workout. And if your outside time is a little less demanding, a well-cut quarter-zip or other layers will keep you looking sharp when you take Rover out for his morning walk.

Quarter-Zip Pullovers

You should have a quarter-zip or two in your wardrobe. They’re casual but smart, and give you the extra warmth you’re looking for when warming up on chilly mornings, while the handy zipper lets you control ventilation. Quarter-zips look great paired with track pants, sweatpants, yoga pants, leggings, jeans, and, of course, workout shorts! Features to look for:

  • Athletic cut. It’s an outer layer, but a quarter-zip shouldn’t be loose. Go for a slim cut that highlights that torso you’ve been working on.   
  • Stretch fabrics let you move. A good quarter-zip presents a slim fit, but it shouldn’t bind you. Added spandex will make it easy to move.
  • Anti-microbial defenses will keep your quarter-zip fresh, even after repeated trips to the gym and numerous washings. 


The hoodie has come a long way from the shapeless and bulky sweatshirts of the old days. Hoodies now are a great way to add a little warmth to your ensemble without getting weighed down, thanks to cutting-edge fabrics and technical design. They’re a great match for your workout shorts whether you’re heading to a workout or taking a trip down to the farmer’s market.

  • A full-zip hoodie provides more versatility than a simple pull-over hoodie. Just use that zipper to provide the ventilation you need to stay comfortable while you’re doing your thing. 
  • Athleisure hoodies like the cult favorite from Willy California 501 Zip-Up Hoodie use fabric blends that are lightweight and much more comfortable than heavy cotton tops. 

Look Sharp

High-quality men's athletic shorts are great for your time in the gym. But they’re also great for so many other activities. And when you pair them up with a sharp-looking, high-performance top, you’ll have a look that will let you put your best foot forward, whatever you’re doing.