I don’t think it’s news that owning and wearing fancy fitness clothes, with their sweat-wicking properties and super-slimming cuts, can encourage you to workout (or at least to want to). After all, we often dress in ways that help us get into the mood of what we are doing: ill-fitting, stained t-shirts and worn-out jeans when we’re repainting the living room, satin and lace for more formal affairs.
Those clothes put us in character for the work ahead whether that be schmoozing with people we hardly know or contorting our bodies into positions that cause great discomfort. In fact, getting yourself some shiny new exercise clothes is one of the “tricks” of motivating yourself to exercise more. You wear the clothes, you look the part, and you feel comfortable (even excited about!) acting the part.
And it’s also not surprising that clothing companies are capitalizing on the interest people have in looking good even when they are sweating it out at the gym to sell clothes that look more and more like “normal” or even “fancy” clothes with bright colors, fashionable patterns, and current cuts.
However, the Atlantic‘s recent online article about the psychology of fitness clothing has me wondering if we’re blurring the lines between “fashion” and “fitness” too much. Fitness clothing companies like Lululemon and Athleta are growing. More and more women are embracing the “need” for workout duds that are both fashionable and functional, and more and more clothing companies are stepping in to fill those needs. And, if the article is correct, it won’t be too long before fitness fashion is just “fashion” — just another everyday look.
Now, my own position is that I would love to wear my running clothes all day, every day. They are comfortable, light, stretchy, and sturdy. And like many mothers, I feel that they are a great fit for my “active” (e.g. chasing toddlers, changing diapers, smearing peanut butter and jam on bread) lifestyle. That is, I’m sure, why so many mothers have taken to coming to school pickup in yoga pants (and have been called out for it). Perhaps they did just come from the yoga studio, or maybe they didn’t have to change after their morning class. Or maybe they just meant to go their class but with so many other things to do, it just didn’t happen.
However, even though I’d love to wear my workout clothes all day, every day, I’m not going to, and here’s why: first and foremost, I don’t want those lines between fashion and fitness to be blurred in my own life. Of course I want to appear strong and fit, healthy and active in my role as a mom, but I don’t want to send the message that exercise and working out are my top priority. I can dress in ways that lets me do my job as a mom, lets me be fashionable, and lets me appear that I take care of myself without wearing Lycra all the time.
I also don’t want to remove the power of the clothes. After all, if I treated them like “everyday clothes” then they wouldn’t be special anymore. And when I put them on, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that I needed to go for a run, or head to yoga class, or do my core workout. It would just mean that I wanted to wear something comfortable and cute.
Maybe I’m a little too traditionalist, but I do think that it helps to keep the different roles in my life separate from each other. I focus better on my kids when I’m wearing my everyday clothes. I focus better on my worship when I wear my Sunday best. And I focus better on my workout when I’m wearing my Dri-Fit and Spandex.