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Exercise in Style – Cute Workout Clothes for the Gym


Woman working out near the beach on a pink exercise ball

The holiday season is one of the year’s biggest contributors to weight gain – the Halloween candy, Thanksgiving cooking, and of course Christmas candy, cookies and food. It’s a time when hitting the gym becomes more important than ever!

But what’s a fashionable girl to wear when she works out?

When you exercise, do you throw on any old pair of sweats or do you have cute gym clothes that inspire you to get moving? If you don’t, there are a few good reasons why you might want to invest in a workout wardrobe!

To get you looking great at the gym, I’ve compiled a list of cute workout clothes that are flattering, functional, stylish, and budget friendly. If you’re trying to fight the freshman 15 or just want to keep up with an existing workout routine, why not do it in style?

Why dress well to go to the gym?

I know what you might be thinking – why is looking good at the gym important? You aren’t there for a beauty contest after all. While I agree that you shouldn’t go all out with full hair & makeup, there are two important reasons to invest in some cute workout clothes.

1. Fab workout clothes will motivate you to exercise.

Yep, it’s been proven: looking good may make you want to work out more. If you buy yourself some cute workout clothes, you’ll want to wear them! When you spend the money on fabulous new clothes, you’ll naturally feel guilty if they sit in your closet. This helps get you out and hitting the treadmill in no time.

2. You never know who you might run into.

Unless you work out alone in your dorm room, you’re bound to run into someone you know when you’re exercising. Do you want to be seen in ratty sweats and a stained oversized tee?

Kimora Lee Simmons considers it one of her personal “rules of fabulousity” that you should always dress like you might run into your worst enemy. I couldn’t agree more with her, and this rule holds true at the gym. After all, worst enemies (and hot guys from your English class) exercise too! Look your best and you’ll be confident no matter who you bump into.

Cute Workout Clothes – Pants

Whether you’re doing yoga, using the elliptical or going for a run, comfortable workout pants are essential part of your gym wardrobe. They’re great for summer or winter, and even better, they keep you covered up.

Here are some of my picks for cute yoga pants and sweats for the gym:

Cute workout pants and sweats for the gym

Top row from left: C9 by Champion Yoga French Terry Pants ($29.99), VS PINK Signature Sweats ($38.50), Blue Life Best Butt Boot Pant> ($33.90)

Bottom row from left: Mossimo Supply Co. Knickers ($9.99), VS PINK Foldover Waist Sweats ($28.50), So Low Striped Fold Over Pant ($79)

Cute Workout Clothes – Tanks

Since I’m not a long distance runner or anything, my idea of a good outfit for the gym is a pair of sweats and a basic tank top over a sports bra. I’m no expert on what types of tops you should wear for marathons or sports, so here are some basic tanks that are adorable & comfy for the gym:

Tank tops for working out

From Left: Ribbed Racerback Tank ($8.90), Polka Dot Rib Tank Top ($7.50), VS PINK Printed Tank ($22.50), Charlotte Russe Ribbed Tank ($6.00), Scoop Neck Cami ($8.90)

Cute Workout Clothes – Sports Bras

A good sports bra is so important when you’re working out for comfort and support. But bonus points to you if you can find a sports bra that’s actually cute!

I looked through hundreds of plain, white, boring sports bras to find the four colorful options below.

Cute colorful sports bras

From Left: Aerie F.I.T. Sports Bra ($24.50), Moving Comfort Lila Sports Bra ($40), Aerie F.I.T. Workout Bra ($19.50), Under Armour Core 2 Sports Bra ($35)

Cute Athletic Shoes and Sneakers

Here’s the thing about athletic shoes – no matter how hard you look, really stylish ones just don’t exist. Athletic shoes by nature are functional, not cute. That said, there are some less ugly options out there if you’re really willing to look!

Here are the cutest running, walking, and general fitness shoes that I could find. I tried to focus on simple designs and good colors and stay away from overdone shoes with a million swooshes and lines.

Cute athletic shoes, running shoes, walking shoes, gym shoes, and sneakers

Top row from left: Nike Air Max Torch 3 ($78.30), Onitsuka Tiger by Asics ($79), adidas Running – Supernova Cushion ($89)

Middle row from left: PUMA Magley Metallic ($59), Nike Steady V Leather ($56), adidas Running MicroBounce Etana ($75.60)

Bottom row from left: Nike Dart VI ($56), KangaROOS Lotus Shine ($59), New Balance WX825 ($75.60)

What do you think?

Now that you’ve seen my picks for some cute workout clothes, I want to know what you like! Do you think dressing nicely at the gym motivates you, or is it unnecessary? What do you usually wear when you workout? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

*Top photo by adria.richards

Posted on on October 23, 2008 / Filed Under: College Life / Tags: , , , , , ,

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35 Responses to “Exercise in Style – Cute Workout Clothes for the Gym”

  1. 1
    October 24th, 2008 at 12:37 am

    I think hair is also important?

  2. 2
    October 24th, 2008 at 2:53 am

    I so agree with Kimora’s post. I always run into people I know at the gym, and I think these options make it so easy to look cute even while you’re working out! I was actually thinking of getting those VS sweats! This was a great post :)

  3. 3
    October 24th, 2008 at 5:12 am

    I’ve found that buying cute workout clothes is good motivation for actually going to the gym to workout (or running on the street or wherever you do it) – you want to wear those cute clothes, get some use out of the money you paid, etc!

    I’m too self-conscious about my body to exercise in tank tops, so I usually wear a half-sleeve t-shirt. Since I also live in a place where it is cold at least eight months out of the year, it’s important for me to have a jacket to wear, after I’ve stopped sweating and have started cooling down.

  4. 4
    October 24th, 2008 at 8:09 am

    I really don’t care what I look like when I go to the gym.
    I know (and everyone else does too) that I look fabulous when I want to, so if i don’t look all glammed up at the gym then…who cares ? =/.

  5. 5
    October 24th, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    Good post–wearing tanks is a good idea; I’ve just been wearing event t’s. Then again, they can be fun to wear if you went to a cool event and want an excuse to wear the shirt; band t’s work well too.

    One comment: cuteness shouldn’t be the top priority when shoe shopping. Especially if you run, getting the wrong shoes can damage your feet, allow injuries that shouldn’t happen otherwise (like shin splits) and otherwise hinder your workouts. Are kangaroo shoes really designed for working out? Maybe if you’re just doing weights and the eliptical, and not running?

  6. 6
    October 25th, 2008 at 6:37 am

    i wear tanks (sport ones that are used for fitness or any cotton tank is fine) or t-shirts with either leggings or yoga knee pants. Crop tops i wear under tops, but sometimes when in a spin class, i usually wear a crop top (mind you, it gets quite warm and you get sweaty in the classes).

    as i agree with Beth in the above post, shoe cuteness isn’t a priority (if you run on the treadmill or take aerobic fitness classes), can cause injuries to your legs, but if you just use the elliptical and/or do weights, then tennis shoes should be fine.

  7. 7
    October 25th, 2008 at 7:51 am

    also, this may sound random, but if you are short on time on going to the gym or in the dorms most of the time, u can get a resistance band (i got one recently and love it!!). they’re inexpensive yet help keep in shape!! ideal for dorm workouts. :)

  8. 8
    October 25th, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    First of all, the main cause of shin splints (which is technically an inflammation of the periosteium around the tibia) is a drastic increase of duration and intensity or overload of activity, running on slanted, downhill or tilted hard surfaces (or participating in start-stop running sports like basketball). Lack of support will hurt your feet mainly, knees and back will then follow. Shin splints… maybe, but not so much.

    I know I’ve said this before, but cute shoes are one of god’s greatest gifts to women. The fact that they may now offer support is something we need to learn to provide on our own. In all honesty, your favorite pair of running shoes doesn’t have the exact support you need. Everyone has different feet and different needs. The best thing to do is try orthotics and inserts if it gets to be that big of a problem. No one but you knows about them and you can wear just about any set of shoes.

    I have those Asics (and a cute set of Nikes, which are usually really great with support. All the athletes I know at my school wear them), btw. Love them.

  9. 9
    October 26th, 2008 at 3:00 am

    I hate running shoes. They are so ugly =[
    I work out with Nike dunks…they are cheap and cute.
    White Nike lows are also good, they go with everything.

  10. 10
    October 26th, 2008 at 7:18 am

    I was also thinking there should be a ‘best workout routine for college students’ or something along the lines i.e, what exercises they can do if they are short on time and can do in the dorms etc…

  11. 11
    October 26th, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Jumping jacks, squat reps/sit-ups/crunches with a textbook in your arms, if I don’t go to the gym that’s what I do. Or walk to my class as opposed to taking the bus.. (about a 20 min. walk if you walk fast).

  12. 12
    October 26th, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Lately I’ve been obsessed with buying cute activewear. I absolutely adore lululemon athletica for cute workout clothes. :) The colours are so bright, and the fabrics are just so comfortable.

  13. 13
    October 26th, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    If I’m running 8 miles outside and then going to the gym to lift, I’m going to look like shit no matter what I wear. i would rather spend my money on clothes that I’m going to wear when I’m not covered in sweat.

  14. 14
    October 26th, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    I usually just wear my sports team t-shirts from high school, a pair of basketball shorts, a good sports bra and a pair of adidas running shoes. In fact, it might be a personal thing, but seeing girls that wear Lulu’s to ‘workout’, by simply walking around the track just really annoys me. And same with girls that wear string bikinis to a lane swim time. Really?

  15. 15
    October 26th, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Prissy – Hm, hair is somewhat important too. But a cute ponytail or messy bun is fine – your hair probably won’t stay perfect anyway!

    Celeste – Thanks!! :)

    M – I agree, it really does motivate you to work out. Also, I agree about jackets – maybe I’ll have to update this or add another post about those!

    Stephanie – I think cute workout clothes are fun to have & help motivate me, but to each her own!

    Beth – The Kangaroo shoes are good for general fitness – not specifically for running. I tried to include lots of different shoes that would work for different purposes – running, crosstraining, walking, fitness, etc.

    Lyd – I definitely agree that function is important with shoes, but I think you can find some that are less ugly than the average running shoe, and that’s what I tried to feature here.

    Jes – Wow, I had no idea about any of that! One of my friends had shin splints & I was totally oblivious to what it was or how people got them. And I hear ya on cute shoes being amazing – they’re just so much fun!

    Cindy – Ooh, I forgot about Nike Dunks. Definitely fabulous.

    Stephanie – Yeah, walking is really important, and it’s nice because at most colleges you walk a lot which helps get you in shape!

    Jenna – Love Lululemon athletica, definitely a fab choice.

    Lindsay – I agree somewhat, but for me at least having cute clothes makes me feel a little less gross after a workout & makes me want to work out more. It’s just fun I guess!

  16. 16
    October 27th, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Victoria’s Secret always has cute work out stuff. Even if you don’t really care who you’ll run into at the gym it’s fun just to look good while getting in shape. For me it makes the process a little bit more fun. It’s just all a matter of opinion if you like it or not.

  17. 17
    November 20th, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    I absolutely loved this! I’m a student athlete, and I go to class right before practice most days of the week, so I have to go dressed for both. I’m always looking for cute outfits that will carry over to practice – I don’t want people to think I’m lazy and bumming it everyday!

  18. 18
    January 7th, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    I just bought these yoga pants at aerie by American Eagle and I LOVE them, I also have some capri ones that I got at Charlotte Ruse that have different colored waist bands and I love those too. For shoes I wear my pink Nike Shox which I find really comfortable.

  19. 19
    April 10th, 2009 at 7:26 am

    ive now become obessesed!! with finding new gymwear!!!

  20. 20
    April 10th, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    I love bebesport clothes, they’re always fabulous and I own a pair of short shorts from them and they definitely motivate me to work out! I agree that you shouldn’t wear full makeup and hair to the gym, but it’s important to at least look put together and not like you’re doing some cleaning around the house!

  21. 21
    May 10th, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Well i don’t know about anyone else but my college doesn’t allow you to workout in tank tops. t-shirts only. that goes for guys too unfortunatly XD

    I find ways to look cute in what i am working out in no matter what just by having what i am wearing fit me well. I have this one Uof Montana t-shirt from my brother that isn’t so tight it’s hard to workout in, but still lays on my curves in just the right way! I wear it with some soffee short shorts and I feel like i look great! maybe that’s just me, but i am fairly certain my outfit cost me next to nothing.

    you don’t have to buy nice workout clothes just to sweat through them, but if you do fit is important (as with any type of clothing). In my opinion as long as your clothes fit your body you are already fabulous!

  22. 22
    June 18th, 2009 at 12:04 am

    Love lululemon athletica!

  23. 23
    August 5th, 2009 at 11:06 am

    so i know i’m kind of late for commenting on this post, but im a long distance runner and although all of this stuff is cute, for really hard workouts where you sweat alot this stuff doesnt really work the best because no matter how cute it is…… it will never look amazing with sweat spots :(

    SO in my opinion the best stuff for workouts that will make you sweat like crazy, go with a plain black or white tank with a colorful sports bra under it and then some colorful shorts

    nike is my personal favorite to wear when i run because they have some of the best running shorts in some bright colors….. not to mention their sport bras are getting more colorful as well

  24. 24
    August 8th, 2009 at 3:54 am

    its best to look for sweat – absorbing material if you don’t want any of those ‘sweat patches’ to appear on your clothes. Washing them too many times will change the shape of the clothes and won’t look new. Shoes wise, if you are undertaking any fitness classes (especially those with impact), then function comes over fashion.

    Tracksuits are ok, but definitely not a good look for high intensity based activities and may hinder your performance. Best bet: go with 3/4 tights or shorts.

  25. 25
    July 24th, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    I am a fan of IMPACT FITNESS WEAR. They have functional and flattering fitness apparel for women — everything for yoga, tennis, pilates, running, lifestyle, and maternity workout wear.

    My two favorite products are the Summit Crop and the TrackStar 2 Tank. Both are cute, have a little more coverage for us “not so perfect” bodies, and come in a ton of colors.

  26. 26
    November 24th, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    I AM AGRRE some girls go to gyme liike
    not care how they looking its hard
    and not normal aslso at liste dress nice soime girls go to gym like hey will went to discko oh my god it gym not a discko just am prefer dress
    adidas t-shirt pink and pontalone pink and cotshi from rebook white
    we must bye our clothes of gym from excpensive area coz site long time ever XD
    thX u ……. :3

  27. 27
    January 23rd, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    I usually wear just a half-top (crop top/bra top) and cute shorts- Run:Speed Shorts from Lululemon in warm weather. My hair is usually in a bun and my bangs are pinned away from my soon-to-be-sweating forehead. This is my usual outfit for working out at the gym or when running. :)

  28. 28
    March 11th, 2011 at 10:31 am

    as far as what I wear, i used to just do sweats from middle school (ugh!) and an oversized tshirt
    like you said though I kept running into people I know!
    so last weekend i bought a whole bunch of workout clothes (who knew that spandex makes my butt look so good? :O )
    i’m psyched to wear them when I get back from break!

    anyway as far as shoes go: i asked a podiatrist (after i kept spraining my ankles :-P) and he says that the ones that provide the most support and cushioning (in general, not just for clumsy people like me!) are mizuno, ascias, and new balance.
    nikes are just poorly made apparently! so sad, I love the colors!

  29. 29
    March 21st, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Let me know were to get the scrunchy but blue pants at please.

  30. 30
    August 29th, 2011 at 3:03 am

    Onitsuka Tigers are NOT workout shoes. They provide absolutely no support and will rub your heel.

  31. 31
    September 15th, 2011 at 10:49 am

    lululemon athletica has some cute clothes. found some cute tops and pants also at sports authority…

  32. 32
    October 18th, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    I love your choices! However, I am a big fan of Fit Activewear. They have very cute shorts and sports bras. Their clothes help me stay motivated to workout hard and eat clean.

  33. 33
    November 1st, 2011 at 8:42 am


    You can workout each and every day with good and comfortable gym clothes


  34. 34
    May 9th, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    I am looking for pair of shorts that I always see in the dvd work out with the belt attached to it.

  35. 35
    November 7th, 2013 at 8:06 am

    but im in elementary school and theres someone i kinda want to impress what school i wear to gym?!?!?! respond ASAP!!!!!!!!

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