Summer Workout Style
How to Buy and Care for Summer Workout Clothes
The kids might get all the fun in the fall, but summer is the workout clothes shopping season.
Unless you live in Florida or Los Angeles, chances are that you are going to need to change up your workout wardrobe with the seasons.
From early morning runs to noon trips to the pool to evening basketball games, summer demands that you are ready to sweat.
But did you pick the right fitness gear to take you from activity to activity with nary a chafe or a chill from lingering sweat?
Here is your guide to purchasing summer workout clothes.
First, what comprises a full summer-specific workout kit? You will need shoes, socks, shorts (or a skort, if you so choose), underwear, a bra (for the ladies), a shirt or tank, a hat or headband, sunglasses, and a hydration pack (for endurance athletes).
When choosing each piece of clothing and gear, remember that proper fit is crucial. Why? No one likes chafing, for one, and for another, are you going to be able to nail that softball pitch, ace that serve, or crush your long run if you are spending the entire time thinking about uncomfortable shoes, glasses with lenses that your eyelashes hit, or shorts that won’t stop riding up or falling down? You won’t care how cute that tennis dress is if it leaves little to the imagination during your serve.
When looking at how the clothes fit, opt for freer-flowing cuts rather than one that fits tight to your body. Tighter clothes will trap heat in by not allowing air in and sweat to evaporate. However, underwear and socks should fit snugly to the body to prevent chafing.
Next, choose a wicking fabric, preferably one engineered to dry quickly and pull the sweat off you. Cotton, though fabulously comfortable, is not ideal for sweaty summer sports. Also be careful of polyester blends, which can actually trap heat rather than release it. Mesh inserts are fashionable and practical – just make sure they sit in the proper areas!
When you are looking at the construction of the garment, inspect the seams and make sure they protect and lay flat or that the garment is seamless. Fun strap patterns might be eye-catching and exciting, but make sure that you can live with the tan lines! Otherwise, you might reserve that tank for indoor workouts.
The best fabric choices for outdoor workouts are those that have built-in SPF or UVA/UVB protection. There are many long-sleeved shirts that are made to be worn in the heat of summer because they provide additional sun protection but are light, drapey, and breathable.
The last major consideration for your summer workout wardrobe? Color. This is the time to go crazy with color, and not just because the bright sunshine and energy of the season call for it; lighter colors will help keep you cool by not absorbing the sun’s heat like darker colors. So wear those neon colors proudly!
You’ve chosen amazing, well-fitting, high-performing clothes for summer fitness activities, but how do you take care of them? First, do not let your clothes sit around in a sweaty heap to avoid mold and mildew, odors setting into the pieces (and other soft fabrics in the vicinity), and salt from your sweat breaking down the integrity of the fabric.
The first chance that you get, rinse your garments of the sweat (or, in the case of swimsuits, chlorine). A quick and easy way to do this is to just get into the shower wearing them! Then hang the pieces up to air dry before putting them into a separate basket for your fitness clothes (trust me, this will make your life much easier when it comes to sorting). When the rinsed clothes are dry, transfer them to the laundry, or even wear them again!
Fabric care for fitness clothing is actually easier than caring for your regular garments because fitness clothing requires one fewer step than your average laundry load: don’t put your fitness clothes in the dryer. The quickest way to ruin an odor-repelling, sweat-wicking, go-the-distance piece of fitness clothing is to put your investment in the dryer. The heat of the dryer will break down the molecules in the fabric that provide you with those benefits and shorten the life of your clothes.
Another no-no when it comes to washing fitness clothes? Fabric softeners, for the same reasons as not using the dryer. And honestly, do you really need them with fabrics made to be soft and gentle against your skin?
When it is time to wash your clothes, machine wash cold with detergent appropriate for the washing machine and maybe even made specifically for fitness clothes. Fitness clothing detergents usually have extra odor and stain fighters in them. Making a dedicated “fitness clothes” load is preferable so that you can make sure that all the clothes are accounted for and get the right detergent and treatment as well as saving you the need to sort them out of your regular laundry. Then skip the dryer and hang them up in a well-ventilated but shady area so that they can dry but not get bleached by the sun. Luckily, drying quickly is just what these clothes are made for, so it should only take a few hours.
Last, a note on shoes: It is likely that you will need to wash your shoes at some point during the summer, but whatever you do, don’t put your shoes into the clothes washing machine. The tumbling and heat will shorten the life of your expensive running shoes by months and can even warp them. Instead, remove the insoles, loosen and tuck the laces, and pull the tongues of the shoes back before putting your shoes in the top rack of your dishwasher. Turn off heated dry and run the dishwasher on the china or normal/light setting with little to no soap (the residual in the dishwasher should be plenty). Afterward, put them toe down in your bathroom or outside in a shady area to dry. Your gross shoes will look brand new!
The “school’s out for summer” feeling never really leaves us, and summer is the season for adults to play just as much as the kids. Make sure that your clothes can go the distance so that you can earn those rooftop drinks and prize-winning potluck dishes.