Last week I started pulling together information for a blog entry on a topic of great importance to me: workout attire. My initial ideas for the post were inspired by this insightful Redbook article, “How to Wear Workout Gear All Day.” I read the article, intrigued because I had previously thought that there was just one way to wear workout gear all day: put workout gear on in the morning and then. . . don’t change. Boom: workout gear all day.

Turns out, it was advice on how to ‘style’ workout clothing like real clothes. But, in my humble, finely-honed-and-generally-correct opinion, the advice was ridiculous. Like, ‘wear leggings with a sweater.’ OMG, finally good news on this! Someone should tell high school girls they can wear leggings all the time like pants. I anticipate that trend will be BIG. And universally flattering. ‘Wearing tennis shoes with whatever you want’–did you know that worked?! Pause for a minute to think of your growing wardrobe and how you can jump next to your toddler as he scooters way more comfortably than you would have in your heels. And I assert that an Anorak is neither a workout item, nor a work item. Even if you cuff it asymmetrically.

So, with budding insights like these, I decided to create an alternate list of how NOT to wear workout clothes–a list I think we can all agree is more important. So I began research, looking for ideas and images of some of the worst, weirdest workout outfits, gear, and trends out there. I had a good start. Like:

1. Cropped workout sweatshirts and long-sleeve shirtsReebok crop. Now, I liked cropped shirts as much as the next person: hardly at all. This is not ok, amIright? How often do you need to wear long sleeves but nothing on your stomach? Never, workout warriors. Never.

2. The other side of leggings: those paired post workout with a top that doesn’t cover your rear. Buzzfeed tried to help with the “Am I Wearing Pants?” flow chart, but a lot more education needs to be done on this topic. Learn the rules. Tell your friends.

3. Underwear as outerwear. Think of it as the slip dress of Crossfit. Like this, which is good for skiing under two other layers. But not by itself. Repeat after me: this is not a shirt. This is not a shirt.

4. Mesh: this is the new hotness in workout catalogs “to keep you cool.” Ok, with some of them that have venting in the back or knee or underarm. But companies have, as often happens, misapplied the trend and lost track of what we are trying to accomplish. This doesn’t keep you cool. Things like this and this keep creepy guys coming to group fitness classes and we need to work together to stop it right now.

5. Low crotch “jogger” pants. Fitness gear inspired by hoodlums of 1994.  Pass.  I like to be able to actually move in my workout gear. Plus, I think they are also called “harem” pants. Let’s reflect briefly on that as a society of empowered women.

I wanted *eight* things for my own list, though, to nicely parallel the Redbook article, so I ‘saved as draft’ and went to conduct more field observations at the gym. But before I could make any substantial breakthroughs, though, the magical internet advertising algorithms saw my browse history of unfortunate-looking fitness apparel and revved up its efforts to sell it to me.

So, I still don’t have items 6-8 for my list (feel free to propose in comments below, if you do!) but I see at least one ad at all times that would allow me–usually with free shipping!–to become my own worst dressed list.

Apparently math has a minimal sense of irony. That’ll teach me to do sarcastic research affiliated with my own account. I will be sure, in the future, to use MI’s persona. Just like I did back in 2013 when I needed to learn what “twerking” was (thinking of his ensuing months of article suggestions still makes me giggle).

Lessons learned. Go out there and wear your workout clothes.

Miley-Cyrus twerking day

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  1. Important update: I saw a woman wearing the sheer mesh crisscross pants at hot yoga the other day. In real life!! I don’t think they worked, though: she seemed just as sweaty as the rest of us.

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