About the Author: Jason P. is a Dappered devotee, having curated the majority of his wardrobe through the site. He is an enthusiast of wool sweaters, chino pants, and affordable automatic watches. In his free time, you can find him at his boxing gym or antiquing with his wife
New Year’s resolutions are tough to keep, but a new set of threads can go a long way in maintaining motivation in your quest to get fit. Most gyms are a style wasteland. Skinny-fit joggers, huge scoop-neck tees, and “dad hats” are in vogue, making every gym look like a trendy Instagram photo-fest. You’re there to put in work, and want to convey a look that says “I’m an adult” without being too serious.
You’re not going to a gala; this is fitness. But, you still want to shoot for a mature look featuring pieces that are functional, yet flexible enough to transition into running errands after, or grabbing a cup of joe before without breaking the bank. Fitness apparel has skyrocketed in price with the boom of the athleisure movement. You probably shouldn’t be spending the same on a nice wool sweater as you do a ¼ zip you’ll be sweating in. Here are some picks to start you off, and/or keep that commitment to your resolution going.
The Pants & Shorts
- Adidas Tiro 19 Training Pants- $40
- C9 Champion Lightweight Training Pants – $20
- Under Armour Launch 7” Running Short – $26.25 ($39.99)
- Adidas Knit Axis Training Short- 2 for $45
If you make smart selections, you can find some three-season gym pants. You want fitted without being skin-tight. Super loose lounge-fit pants will just get in the way and prevent a variety of dynamic movements. You also want breathability. No stuffiness. Cotton terry sweatpants can stay in 1988. They belong there. Even if you don’t wear pants during the thick of your workout, you’ll want them for getting to the gym and almost certainly while warming up.
For shorts, opt for training or running shorts in a length between 7”-9” in a lightweight knit fabric. Anything longer than 9″ on a normal sized guy will catch on your knees. Or shins. No, you don’t have to go full short-shorts Flint Tropics, but shorts between 7″ and 9″ will give you the ease of movement you need. I tend to steer clear from big and bold logos on my gym clothes whenever possible, but a long set of stripes is classic athletic wear.
Fellas, please, please consider wearing sleeves. Seasoned gym rats know that there isn’t any real benefit to wearing stringers, tanks, or sleeveless tops other than vanity (Editor’s note: I… I might wear these… maybe. But not all the time. Okay, all the time. But stringers? No. Never. Ick.) unless you’re a serious runner and you’re pumping your arms like mad. Instead, opt for the silent champion of gym apparel: raglan sleeves! Raglan sleeves offer a greater range of motion, and seams in less chafe-prone spots. And, in my opinion, they accent an athletic physique far better than traditional stitching. Under Armour’s Tech 2.0 Tee is a staple performance tee in a ton of colors that can often be found on sale.
The Top Layers
Hoodies aren’t popular on this particular website, but there is a time and place for (almost) everything, and the gym is that place for the hood. Think of this as a hooded vest for the gym. If you wear it alone, it’s going to give off some gym- bro vibes. Throw it over a contrasting colored long or short sleeve performance tee or henley, and you now have a cleaner boxing aesthetic. You can keep it on to generate warmth faster,and then shed the layer when you’re up to speed. Now, understanding that the sleeveless hoodie is not for everyone, a ¼ zip is a great alternative. They evoke sweater vibes while still being made for fitness, but transition beautifully from the coffee shop to spin class.
Socks can get out of hand, fast. Basic workout-oriented socks should do fine without hurting the wallet. Look for moisture-wicking fabrics to keep things fresh on foot. You do NOT want old, all 100% cotton socks. Once cotton gets wet, it stays wet. Those are blisters and foot funk waiting to happen.
Running shoes are foot specific, but otherwise, look for a stable shoe with durable and breathable material. Cushion is a personal preference, but for most workouts I prefer to keep it limited to my forefoot to ensure stability on heavier lifts and jumps.
- The Functional Duffle: Under Armour Undeniable 3.0 Medium Duffle – $45
- The Backpack: Gregory Miwok 24 Daypack – $87
- The Stylish Duffle: S Zone Waxed Leather/Canvas Duffle- $47
I want function over form for my gym bag, though there are plenty of stylish options that make me rethink my position. Included above are three varieties that all get the job done. The Under Armour option is a durable lightweight duffle that fills every fitness need. Multiple compartments keep things separated as needed, and vented pockets let your sweaty gym shirts air out to keep the stench from building up in the bag.
For the commuter or the hiker, the Gregory Daypack can double as an outdoor pack or a gym bag. I enjoy hiking in the summer and fall, so this bag often pulls double duty for me as a hiking day-pack and a gym bag.
If you want something that looks a little more appropriate as a weekender, the S-Zone canvas duffel is a really nice army green shade, which evokes old-school military vibes without going full-on tactical. Full review can be found here.
I can’t tell you if the Bose Soundsport are the “best” Bluetooth sport headphones out there, but I’ve used mine for about 18 months with no issues. So that says something. For a newer pair that appears to be at the top of the crop, check out the Jaybird Tarah Pro for only $10 more.
The Pre Workout: Legion Pulse Preworkout – $36 w/ BARBEND10
This stuff has all the key ingredients without any of the filler, and is sweetened with stevia to boot. The fitness supplement industry is basically the wild west, and I’ve dabbled in quite a bit of preworkout supplements to know that sometimes simplicity is the best bet. Unfortunately, a lot of these simpler, cleaner formulas are more expensive. Why? Maybe Stevia is more expensive than Sucralose, or the ingredients are of a better supplier quality. This one is a good, basic pre-workout that won’t disappoint. Opt for 1 scoop (175mg caffeine) instead of the 2 scoops (350 mg) noted for a serving size, unless you want heart palpitations, and you’ll get 42 servings for $36. That’s as good as you’ll find.
- Rogue Fitness Speed Rope 2.0 – $25
- Combat Sports IMF Sparring Glove – $70
- Ringside 180 inch Hand Wraps – $8
A few of my favorite gym essentials I always keep in my bag. The quintessential piece of fitness equipment, a jump rope is all things for all people: self-contained cardio, a warm-up, footwork training, and conditioning. Rogue is one of my favorites, and a trusted name in fitness.
Combat sports are one of the best workouts you can find, while being hugely functional and providing valuable knowledge. The discipline, focus, and attention needed is demanding, but rewarding. It does have the word “combat” in it, so danger can abound depending upon how far you go. That being said, you need to protect your hands even in the most basic of training sessions, and I swear by these gloves. 16 oz will make the workout harder, while providing added protection to you (and your partner, if you move to sparring). And since you protect your hands with the gloves above, protect your wrists with hand wraps.