When I lived in Lyon, France, I made a point of signing up at one of the few gyms within the city (French people don’t work out; they’re naturally thin for some yet-undiscovered, elusive reason likely related to their mode de vie) because I pretty much subscribe to my father’s dictum that nearly anything can be cured by exercise and a lot of water. (My father runs five miles every morning. And he’s in his 60s. How’s that for inspiration?)
One morning, on my daily trek down Rue Auguste Comte to my poor excuse for a gym (it featured a few rinky-dink exercise bikes; a cramped group exercise room where individuals clothed in civilian garb — rather than exercise gear — dashed about, yelling “OUP!”; and poor ventilation), two young men leaned out the window of their clown-like car and cat-called me with the words: “Tu es sportive!” Excusez-moi? This translates roughly to: “you are sporty!” Um. Thanks…? I guess I’ll take it as a compliment and use the anecdote as a segue into “Le Sportif Done Right” — what to wear to the gym.
To begin with: dispense of your inclination to pull out a ratty old tee and some frayed sweatpants. If you’re like me and you work out multiple times a week, why not take it as an opportunity to put together a different kind of look? I love bright, nearly-neon colors for my workout gear — I find it peppy and invigorating. I almost always wear a pair of super-bright Nike Tempo shorts (pretty much everyone and her mother owns a pair…or ten — they’re breathable, cheerful, and have a little pocket built in for spare keys.) This flamingo pink pair is probably my favorite ($27.99, EastBay):
Up top, I’m crazy about C9 by Champion sports bras — they’re sold exclusively at Target, come in a variety of day-glo, nearly-neon colors, and ring in at a modest $16.99 a pop:
Then I’ll either wear a J. Crew tank or a Hanes’ little boys’ solid white t-shirt (tagless, a perfect weight, and oh-so-soft!) I usually buy them in packs of three when I see them at department stores — they’re only $5 for a set!
I’ve of course got to have my iPod shuffle handy (comes with a useful built-in clip, so it’s ready to be secured to your running shorts or leggings):
(Apple just released a new design that’s probably even cooler — $59, Apple.) Because I work out a lot, and because you’re not really working out if you’re not breaking a sweat, I’ve ruined many-a-set of earbuds. To solve this problem, I pick up inexpensive JVC brand Gumy earbuds — they come in fantastic colors that just make me smile ($9.99, BestBuy):
But back to the subject of leggings: I’m into Nike’s Dri-FIT Tech running capris. They have a little zippered pouch in the back for key/iPod storage and have sleek neon color accents (on sale from $55 to $32.97 at Nike):
I’d wear mine with an extra-long neon burnout tee (long enough to cover the rear — I’m a tad modest in that department), like this surfer-girl Nollie brand tee ($9.99, PacSun):
Or, alternately, this Stella McCartney for Adidas loose-fit tank ($65, Adidas):
Adore the vintage styling and love the idea of a day-glo sports bra peeking out around the neckline to spruce up the color — the shocking pink and electric green hued versions below are by Gemsport ($25 apiece, Lucky Dog Volley Ball):
You might also consider upping the ante (and the brightness factor) by layering one of Splendid’s racer-back whisper tees atop in a contrasting day glo color ($44 apiece, Shopbop):
Round out the look with a crisp, solid-white anorak ($69, Athleta — and it has built-in UV protection!):
And — now I know this may sound weird! — I occasionally browse the Gap Kids merchandise because I’m petite and easily fit into a lot of their XL items. This candy-colored parka would be the perfect topper to my exercise gear ($34.50, Gap):
I also need a million and one bobby pins to secure my hair so that it’s not falling into my face — nothing is more nettlesome:
Love the neons above (you can finds sets of 60 for under $5 at trendy teen and tween shops like Forever21, Hot Topic, and Rue21). I’ll store spare bobbies and my other gym rat essentials in my trusty black nylon Longchamps pliage tote ($145, Saks):
I’m also tickled by Anya Hindmarch’s “Gym Kit” canvas tote ($120, Anya Hindmarch):
Almost big enough to double as a weekender! Now, because I’m a proud graduate of the University of Virginia, I’ve got to show some Wahoo pride by capping it all off with my camo UVA hat ($17, Mincer’s):
Also in my gym bag? Some sporty Carrera aviator shades — love that they’re making a comeback. So 80’s chic. I just snagged a pair in neon pink ($130, Endless):
And, for grounding, some unobtrusive Ralph Lauren peds ($12 for 2 pair, Bare Necessities):
I’ve heard arguments for a number of different athletic shoe lines, but I’m big on Nike’s Air+ Pegasus ($85, Zappos):
They are light-weight yet cushioned — in other words, the perfect running shoe. I can’t live without mine. Side note: running is an ideal workout option if you’re not willing to shell out the cash for a gym membership. You can track your mileage/figure out a suitably long course by using MapMyRun (for free!) They just came out with an iPhone app to boot, and I’m obsessed.
I’m lucky in that my parents have a home gym and live a mere 10 minutes away, so I can exercise for free. For days when I don’t make it over, I’ll go for a run, lift light free-weights (the 2-pounders below are by Valeo — $9.99, Amazon), and do as many crunches as I can stand.
The one base-line requirement to any exercise I’m doing? A heart-pace-raising, go-kick-some-butt playlist. I have a series of “Burn It Up” playlists on iTunes that I load onto my shuffle prior to workout. My go-to mix of the moment?
The Magpie Move-It Mix
- “Bulletproof” — LaRoux
- “Lemonade” — Gucci Mane
- “Money Honey” — Lady GaGa
- “Murder on the Dance Floor” — Sophie Ellis Bextor
- “Your Love Is My Drug” — Kesha (don’t judge — it’s got a good beat!)
- “The Seed (2.0)” — The Roots and Cody Chestnutt
- “Sexy Back” — Justin Timberlake
- “Keeps Gettin Better” — Christina Aguilera
- “You Make My Dreams” — Hall & Oates
- “Survivor” — Destiny’s Child
- “World, Hold On” — Bob Sinclair
Work it, girl!
My online Stella & Dot trunk show is still up — but only until this Friday!
For access, go to:
At the top right of the page, click on “Can’t Make It to the Show? Find Your Hostess” and type in first name: “Fashion” and last name: “Magpie.” Shop away!
Read my “It’s a Magpie Mini Market” post for styling ideas.