Culturally pervasive as it may be, it's inspirational nature is often exclusively represented (and aesthetically illustrated) by the non-athletic tailored attire of it's superstar athletes whilst off of the pitch, circuit, court, or wherever it may be that they respectively ply their athletic prowess.
Think about any modern sporting style icon and your eye will assuredly veer towards their considered (and calculated) personal — signature style — wardrobing. It could be to their bespoke suiting or even their near spotless casual wears, whatever the case may be it most assuredly does not include the tangible looks they employ while breaking a sweat or earning their pay-checks. No, it's rather the ensembles they (or their stylists) piece together for press conferences, interviews, and media events alike that come to mind. The proof: perform a simple search on the style ofLeBron James, David Beckham, or even Lewis Hamilton (to name but a few) and see what results surface.
So without a true fitness style muse, what is a gentleman to do?
Well, the gentleman’s solution to stylish performance fitness attire lies not within trendy athleisurewear or gaudy wearable technology, but rather in a creative domain that mixes classic essential workout staples — cotton crewnecks sweaters, joggers, sneakers/trainers, et al. — with modern performance inspired compression marvels that tout moisture wicking, quick-dry, odor-resistant capabilities and stretch fabrics. It's a contemporarily progressive aesthetic that is also classically grounded in time-honoured tradition.
The result: a gentlemanly tailored and charmingly sporting thematic coalescence of classic boxing inspired aesthetics teamed with fitted performance wears. Its premium utility gear with a solitary (fitness) purpose.
Accordingly, a collection that is transitionally predicated upon multi-sport application and layered versatility — and not for unwinding in — is advised. And if you do desire something to comfortably relax in, then I’d suggest investing in a range of luxurious lounge wears that were purposefully crafted for post-workout refreshment and nothing else (David Gandy’s Sports Inspired Loungewear collection by Marks & Spencer comes to mind).
Point being: your activewear should reflect your fitness desires, being readily able and fit for any strenuous duty at a moments notice. It's for breaking a sweat in, for chiseling and maintaining your exquisite physique (ie. exercise alone) and not for partaking in any peripheral cultural indulgences like lunch dates or running daily chores in.
As such, the following capsule wardrobe is not about casually democratizing menswear any further, of aiding the inexorable rise of athleisurewear or the advent of wearable fitness tech to an irredeemable extent. It's simply about investing in a proper gym kit that will do exactly as advertised (and desired).
So, from cutting-edge performance wears to classic mainstays, here are the pieces that a gent can rely upon, those that will deliver not only the performance results he desires but also the style he demands in spades.
*BRANDED NOTE: Nike is highlighted throughout, but fitness heavyweights like 2XU, ADIDAS and Reebok would sufficiently fill in as would the activewear lines of popular fashion labels like H&M, Mango, and Marks & Spencer. On the up-and-coming front, dedicated newcomers like Victor and Tracksmith may also capture your stylish imagination with their respective All-American and (70's) Ivy-League inspired aesthetics.
: FITNESS STYLE EDIT :
: SPORT THEM WELL :
AUTUMN/WINTER (L): An all-weatherrunning vest (NIKE) will help trap heat and ward off the cold when teamed with aDri-FIT turtleneck (NIKE) on those chillier mornings/evenings while the form fittingjoggers (Topman; banded waist + ankles),knit beenie (Frank & Oak), and running gloves (NIKE) stylishly round out the practical monochromatic seasonal look. Wear it jogging through the park or streets, while performing an outdoor HIIT session at a local playground/gym, or whilst playing a late autumn game of pickup futball.
SPRING/SUMMER (R): If its on the warmer end of the temperature spectrum simply omit both the cotton crewneck sweater (Victor) and the insulating compression (lycra) running tights (NIKE). But if additional warmth is needed, look for leggings constructed without an inner seam (to bypass any chafing) that offer flexibility in the knees to ensure your stride is left unrestricted.
Feel tights are a tad too "revealing?", layer a pair of mesh running shorts (Tracksmith; ideally hitting mid-thigh) over the compression pants. With that said, this look is the most versatile of the two, being transitionally applicable both indoors and out (with a simple layering addition here and there for rainy/colder days and weight training/cardio sessions).
Add a (sensible) pair of compression boxers (NIKE), a classy (blacked-out) sports watch (Suunto), and some (yet to be launched spy-tech worthy) performance socks from Maison Impeccable (keep an eye out on monk + eero for possible early access + discount codes at launch) to both of these ensembles to round out the looks.
: WHERE TO WEAR IT + WHY IT WORKS :
Whether weight training, getting in a cardio session on the treadmill or bike , or partaking in your chosen sport — tennis, futball, basketball, et al. — these two looks offer all the transitionally versatile components one would need for a vast array of differing fitness needs.
The overarching key to their success: breathable, moisture wicking core essentials.
As for the featured footwear of each respective ensemble, the upper support on both sets of trainers will help prevent ankle roll while the spongy sole will cushion your joints from any impact you may suffer while indulging in whatever fitness pursuit suits your fancy. But, if hitting the hardwood courts is your style, then a pair of Nike Zoom Kobe's would certainly be more fitting then a runner/trainer.
Yet, to him keeping fit is about more then merely supplementing his personal confidence (vanity) or too achieving his peak physique, it's also about mentally preparing himself for the day ahead, for safeguarding and prolonging his health, and for physically preparing him for anything that should cross his path...and yes he understands that it also makes his wardrobe fit infinitely better.
With that said, there’s no shame in taking a considered (sartorial) approach to fitness wardrobing. Why? Because there is no need to adhere to the status quo that sees most men having no inkling as to how to cut a sweat in style, to properly curating and investing in clothes that they can stylishly sport while getting in their prescribed dose of daily exercise.
On the contrary, while most either opt for purchasing pieces that they will never have any desire to actually working out in out of the fear of "ruining" them — of sullying their luxury joggers and scuffing their premium sneakers— or will lazily resort to sporting personal mainstays that should have been replaced decades ago (ie. ripped and frayed College sweaters, tees, etc.), you should simply not.
And it is to that I will simply proclaim that we all collectively shake off any lingering sinful fitness wardrobing shackles that persist from the days of yore shall we?
In its steed?
The aforementioned — and fully detailed — aesthetically monochromatic, performance driven minimalist approach to gym styling that was borne to deliver results within its confined domain and nowhere else. A wardrobe that eschews culturally transitional athleisurewear, loungewear, and (past their expiration date) personal gym favourites for regimented garments that deliver sheer performance and tangible results — a specialized capsule collection of performance driven tech wears that always properly prepare and equip you for success.
Which is precisely why classic staples like cotton crewneck sweaters, tailored sweats (modern joggers), and mesh running shorts will always have a place in the gents fitness bag right alongside modernly updated performance pieces like compression t-shirts, pants/tights, and vests that collectively work to trap heat, wick perspiration, and encourage proper circulation.
With the that said, I'd be remiss if I did not mention that the modern sporting dandy is in fact not dead, he's just cultured and educated to the point of knowing that athleisurewear and lounge wear each have no place in his "proper" fitness wardrobe. So, abandon him at your own stylish peril for it is he who knows that his fitness attire is indeed not the venue to stylishly flex his sartorial muscles in, but rather one in which practicality and performance trump fashion...albeit always with a personal touch of sensible style in tact.
It is for him that this feature was crafted.
Nevertheless, and at the end of the day, a gentleman knows he already has a dedicated wardrobe for all aspects of his life, so it's only fitting he should have one dedicated to his fitness needs. As such, he approaches the curation of his activewear collection knowing that they need not be transitionally versatile to the point of needing them for lounging about while recovering from a trying session— he is not looking for go-anywhere athleisurewear. In lieu of that, what he truly desires is performance wears that will handle anything he throws at them with virtual ease.
This curated style guide reflects those simple desires: it's stylishly traditional and timelessly authentic yet modernly progressive and sharply fitted.
And, with this guide as humble reference, I can only hope that I've inspired you to attack the year with verve, to actively pursuing a fitness regime that will leave you looking — and feeling — fightingly fit.
So gentlemen (and ladies), here's to achieving peak performance in unbridled style.
What’s in your gym bag? Have I missed any pieces in which you would deem essential or stylish above all else?
And what is your preferred fitness venue/form of working out?
Let me know in the comments below…
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