Why well-made workout clothes make us feel confident

Is it enough to exercise in your collection of boxy, oversized T-shirts? Of course it is. If that’s what you have on hand, that’s how you make do. I even ran a 5-kilometre race in an extra-large "Lord of the Rinks" shirt because it happened to be at the top of my laundry pile that day.  But, if you're constantly toughing it out in cotton T-shirts, it might make sense to give your workout wardrobe a bit of an update. When you invest in well-made exercise apparel, you cash in on key functional and psychological advantages that impact the quality of your routine, your emotional wellbeing, and your long-term fitness goals. You won't have to empty your wallet to do this, either. Here are a few reasons why well-made workout clothes make us feel confident.

TOP AND BOTTOMS: Appleletics| SHOES: Asics

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Workout clothes impact the quality of your workout

COMFORT. Most exercises are based on a series of repetitive movements: you're commanded to do reps of particular moves (like crunches) and you use the same repeated body motions for aerobic activities like running, cycling, and rowing. Clothes will rub against your body in the same places, causing you to itch if your gear is made of rough material. It's hard to develop a confident and comfortable relationship with exercise when each workout sends itchy distress signals all over your skin.

SWEAT. What's more, thick cotton clothing only worsens problems for perspiration-prone athletes. Cotton absorbs your sweat and leaves your clothes damp, making it hard to cool your body off during warm temperatures and leaving you feeling cold in frigid weather.

The solution: Well-made workout clothes solve these problems by using a blend of synthetic fabrics - this gives you a greater range of motion, and reduces friction without irritating your skin. They hardly keep your sweat locked in —compare polyester's 0.4% moisture retention to cotton's 7%—and they're woven in a way that allows perspiration to evaporate more easily. Check the labels of your clothing and look for lightweight and breathable fibres like polyester, lycra or even bamboo (if you don't jive with the synthetic stuff). You'll feel dry, itch-free, and at your best.

Workout clothes impact your confidence

FIT AND FORM. Many workout clothes on the market are designed to make us feel confident about our progress. Heck, once you've found the perfect pair of leggings, pants start to feel like leg prisons. Pick colours and cuts that flatter your current shape. Play up your strengths. If you're particularly proud about the way your shoulders and traps are shaping up, show them off with a racerback tank top. Once you've found functional clothes that make you feel confident, invest in a few quality tops and bottoms that will last you for a long time.

SYMBOLIC MEANING. A 2012 study reported that clothing can impact how we see and position ourselves in everyday situations. We assign symbolic meaning to the items in our closet - bathing suits are associated with swimming, for example. This influences our physical experience of wearing clothes and ultimately, our performance and behaviour. Well-made workout clothes evoke a sense of athleticism and wellbeing - the act of wearing exercise apparel will boost our motivation to head out to the gym. It's up to us to sustain that motivation over the long-term.

Finding the right workout clothes on a budget

Well-made workout clothes don't have to break your bank. A few major retailers have been developing lines of budget-friendly and functional activewear. However, if you're shopping online, Appleletics is one of your best bets when it comes to affordability. All of their athletic apparel fits your every day lifestyle: on the treadmill and at the grocery store. Their Need for Speed outfit was perfect for me. It's lightweight, comfortable, trendy, and it kept me cool and dry throughout my 5K jog around the neighborhood. The top was great for my broad shoulders- it played up my strengths and showed off a lot of definition in my upper back. Later that week, I tested the bottoms at yoga class and they didn't pinch or pull anywhere - not even during pesky inversions. Their prices are so reasonable for the working girl's budget, too. Appleletics combines the best of all possible worlds: functional fitness, trendy styles, and affordability.

When you're looking for well-made workout clothes on a budget, follow these tips to make more informed decisions:

  • Determine how much you're willing to pay and shop accordingly. If you're going to splurge, do so on proper footwear. Different activities impact your joints at various levels of intensity.

  • Test the fit of your clothes. Move around in them before you purchase - you'll be exercising in them, after all. If you're shopping online, follow the site's measurement guides closely. Buy clothes that highlight your strengths. They'll make you feel more confident.

  • Maximize comfort and dryness. Check the labels of your apparel. Make sure your clothes are made with breathable fabrics that keep irritation at bay.

What are your favorite workout clothes?How do they impact your confidence? Where do you usually shop for your gear?  Share your thoughts below. I'd love to hear them! *Disclaimer: I received this outfit as a gift from Appleletics, however all opinions are completely my own.

About the Author

Alessandra Hechanova is a highly caffeinated long-distance runner with a penchant for puns. She is the Community Manager for PumpUp, an inspiring mobile health and fitness community. When she isn’t toying with typography or serving up a smoothie, she’s struggling to achieve the elusive pull-up.