with Susan Wagner
The Working Closet is your source for the best of what's hip and fresh in fashion and beauty. Susan Wagner keeps you up-to-date on trends and offers tips and tricks for making everything in your closet truly work for you.
You can also catch Susan over at Working Closet.
In May, I ran on a relay team for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. We had special team shirts made up, and I bought a running skirt to wear for the race, because my everyday shorts were pretty beat up, and everyone’s always talking about how much they love their running skirts.
I hate that skirt. I only wear it when everything else is in the laundry and I am totally desperate for something to run in. It has too many layers (the shorts! and the skirt!) and because of that, it tends to be hot and not particularly comfortable. But beyond that, I hate that skirt because when I run in it, I feel like a girl. And not in a good way.
I love running because it makes me feel strong. Pushing myself to run eight or ten or twelve miles is an awesome experience. After a long run — or a short, fast run — I feel energized and powerful. Running in a skirt, though, undercuts all of that for me. It’s too frilly, too pretty. Running in a skirt saps my mental power, in a way that my hot pink running shorts don’t.
I realize that I am essentially alone in my hatred of the running skirt. As more women take up running, women’s running gear is finally getting hipper than just the shorts-and-tee uniform most men run in, which means the advent of running skirts and dresses and other more stylish pieces designed for athletic wear. The August issue of Runner’s World magazine features an article about “fastinistas:” women runners who are looking for hip, chic pieces to wear for runs — and beyond. “Being a ‘fastinista,’” writes Sarah Bowen Shea, “means not just grabbing what’s at the top of the drawer. Fastinistas (also known as ’stunners,’ for ’stylish + runners’) wear what they think performs well athletically and aesthetically.”
I’m all for good-looking workout wear; what baffles me is both premise that running needs to be one more thing we get dressed up for and the insistence that the more stylish versions of running wear can be worn — well, everywhere. The article opens with a quick profile of 34-year-old April Powell, who confessed that she lives in her running clothes. “I’m lucky if I’m out of them by school pickup time,” she told Runner’s World. Even worse: Powell packed only running clothes for a recent family vacation.
That’s just not right.
I get the desire to look good while you’re working out. I’m picky about my workout clothes, both in terms of form and function. Most of the pieces I own are black — tights and shorts and tops — with some bright punches of color thrown in, to keep me motivated. I choose my outfits carefully for races and group runs; I save my sweat and sunscreen-stained pieces for days when I’m running on my own, and opt for something a little more put together when I’m going to see people. But I don’t dress up to run, by any means, and I certainly don’t think about my workout clothes as an alternative to real clothes.
Workout clothes are clothes you work out in. For me, this means pieces that will stand up to long, sweaty runs without chafing or otherwise distracting me. It also means pieces that can be machine washed and dried over and over and over again, because after those long, sweaty runs, everything needs a good cleaning.
I don’t need to feel pretty to run fast or far. I like to think that I am presentable when I’m running, but I’m no “fastinista.” And you won’t catch me running in that skirt unless I absolutely have to.
What about you: Do you think of your running clothes as another part of your wardrobe, or as simply the things you wear to work out? Do you have special workout clothes, or are you just winging it with old tees and shorts? And what about those running skirts?
Pictured: Printed Powermesh CYA skirt, $49 at Athleta
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