It’s been a stressful year for many reasons. As such, I’ve been focusing on controlling the things I can (which sometimes feels like a VERY short list, ha!) and doing the smart baseline things known to be effective for stress management. That means I’ve been prioritizing solid nutrition, good sleep, and working out.
While none of those things are easy, I try to set myself up for success by planning ahead and making sure I have what I need in advance, so actually eating the decent food, going to bed on time, and getting those workouts in is as seamless as possible. (I wrote about this more in Don’t Overthink It.)
Having athletic clothes that fit and feel good makes gearing up for those workouts easier—and it’s not unreasonable to think fun workout attire also makes it a little more fun. I see gym clothes as an opportunity to wear colors I might not wear for my normal (read: heavily neutral) out-in-the-world wear, and that distinction brings me great joy: happy colors like aqua and turquoise feature heavily in my workout color palette!
Your mileage may vary when it comes to my workout staples. I’m tall, which means finding pants that don’t ride down is crucial (and not always easy). I don’t care about having current styles for workout clothes; I dislike shopping so I want these garments to last me a long, long time so I don’t have to seek out replacements. And I’m looking for gear that isn’t revealing but also feels cool and breathable for my humid climate.
A note about care: I washed my athletic apparel by hand for years, but since reading Laundry Love I started washing these garments in mesh bags, in warm water, on my washer’s express cycle. I let them mostly air dry, but often toss shirts and leggings (not shorts or sports bras) in the dryer for a few minutes to decrease wrinkling. HOWEVER. Laundry Love also taught me how easy hand-washing can be, and now I’ll sometimes quickly wash favorite garments by hand so I can have them ready for the next day without having to do a full load. This strategy is also a lifesaver when traveling! I typically use regular detergent, but if my clothes are especially stinky this is what I reach for.
I’m not sure if this is true for everyone, but for me sports bras and leggings are the hardest pieces to get right—so when I find something I love, I tend to stick with it. For years I’ve been partial to the Lululemon Energy Bra (medium support) and the Solace Bra from Athleta.
I’ve become a convert to American Giant Power Leggings. I like them so much I have two identical pairs in black, and I also really like their limited edition colors Blue Mountain and Grapeseed for variety.
I first discovered these leggings when the brand sponsored What Should I Read Next—and listeners began writing in telling me how much they loved the power leggings. They gave me a special discount to share with you today: take 15% off your first order with the code DARCY at checkout.
I haven’t found these to be well-suited for my long legs, but my petite friends at the gym swear by leggings from Old Navy.
The Athleta Mesh Racer Run Short 4″ is my go-to during the summer months. (I also like these Lululemon shorts, but they feel a little skimpier—though whether that’s good or bad is up to you!) My daughter also just got these shorts and they are adorable in person. Now I’m thinking about getting a pair for myself.
Good tanks are the easiest piece to find. I rotate between a few different options, like the Swiftly Breathe Muscle Tank, shown above, and Lululemon Sculpt Tank, which I have in black. If I liked the colors better, I’d get it in more. Teal Lagoon, for instance, is all sold out in my size! Love the color.
For a trim-fitting tank, I love the plentiful happy color options for Athleta’s Momentum Tank: orange and teal and fuschia, oh my! Again, many gym friends with fun workout apparel (especially those who seek out petite options) speak highly of Old Navy’s offerings.
I’ve accumulated quite the collection of literary-themed tees, and I often wear these to run when it’s not too hot. (Funnily enough, I rarely wear them to work out at the gym—though when I do it nearly always leads to bookish conversations.)
If you listen to What Should I Read Next you’ve surely heard me talk about how much I love Bombas. These are the only athletic socks I wear; my whole family loves them. (Get yourself 20% off your first order.)
Hydration is crucial when you’re working out; in fact, in the past year I’ve started carrying a water bottle nearly everywhere. An old friend gifted me this Copper Horse bottle when I appeared at The Strand last year. Now it’s almost always with me when I’m working out or on the go.
What are your workout favorites? We’d love to hear about your go-to items in the comments section!