The right clothing and footwear can definitely make for a more enjoyable and productive workout. Comfort plays a huge role in this, but looking your best can also contribute to a better state of mind while exercising. So with many of my clients, the workout capsule is included when we review their closet. Out go the ratty T-shirts and sad pairs of sweats. We make sure that the items are in good shape and suited to the type of exercise they do. 

People’s needs and preferences are different when it comes to comfort and style while exercising. You need to decide which styles and silhouettes are best for you. I find that my clients generally fall into one of three categories:

  1. Body Con: Wearing tight silhouettes made of spandex both on the top and bottom. 
  2. Fluid: Wearing looser silhouettes both on the top and bottom, like a pair of bootcut yoga pants, or fleece trackpants paired with a fluid or oversized welted tee. 
  3. Half ’n Half: Wearing a body con top with fluid bottoms, or a fluid or oversized top with body con bottoms. 

Once you’ve worked out which silhouettes suit you best, address the lengths of the items and the layers. Some like to wear sleeveless tops for extra ventilation and muscle visibility. Some prefer to wear sleeved tops for sun protection or warmth. Some like to layer a long-sleeved jacket or hoodie over a sleeveless top in order to manage their inner thermostat. Some like to wear baggy running shorts, while others prefer knee-length basketball shorts or ankle-length leggings. Maybe you like a combination of silhouettes depending on the weather, the type of workout, and your mood. 

After identifying the correct silhouettes, choose the colours that tickle your fancy. Some like to keep their workout wear all black or dark neutrals. Some like to keep the bottoms a dark neutral and the tops a colour. Some like to wear colour both on the top and bottom. 

Sports bras, footwear and socks are the final touch to your outfit. Athletic sneakers are an extremely specialized item and it’s often best to purchase them at a specialized sports footwear store. Sports bras you’ll find in active wear and lingerie departments. Sports socks are widely available. Headgear is optional, and is often a sports cap to keep the sun and your hair off your face. 

Build your workout capsule slowly because you’ll need time to road-test the silhouettes before you duplicate them. Authentic activewear found at athletic stores or in the activewear departments of retail stores is often quite pricey, but in my experience it is worth the initial investment. The fabrics are very durable, which means that the items last a long time. The fits are excellent, which is extra important when you work out. The styling is thoughtful, with extra pockets when you need to run with keys or phone, and ruching in the places on your body that you are self-conscious about. And the assortment of silhouettes and colours is enormous, which is always a good thing. 

Finally, think about the number of items you need. This obviously depends on the frequency of your workouts and you need just enough to avoid laundry bottlenecks.

I don’t go to gym, but I do yoga and walk with Greg a few times a week. I can wear the same clothing for both activities, which simplifies my capsule. I merely add shoes, socks and hat for our walks. Although I love the look of fluid workout wear, I cannot stand wearing it while I exercise. Fabric that flaps about while I’m in a yoga pose or walking at a fast pace gets in the way of my activity and is uncomfortable. So I’m body con all the way for this part of my style. 

Below are some of the exact items in my current workout wear capsule. I have an assortment of tight pants in various lengths across all shades of grey. All my tops are bright and long-sleeved because I must feel warm during yoga, and protected from the sun when we walk. My fleece hoodies are very streamlined and in shades of blue and grey. My jackets are just as streamlined and I have one each in black and white. My cap is bright orange and my sneakers are grey, neon yellow and purple. I wear long-sleeved tops with short pants in warm weather, and longer leggings and layers when it’s colder.

How does my workout capsule differ from yours? What do you like to wear when you exercise?