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Best Workout Clothes for Women: Then and Now


Workout clothes for women have to be a perfect mix of functional and cute.

With the rise in athleisure, it’s evident that you can’t just wear your raggedy old t-shirt and a pair of trousers to the gym anymore.

After you’re done reading this blog, you will know exactly what you are looking for when you go shopping in terms of comfort, functionality, and style.

Before you look into what works now, let’s dive into the history of workout clothes for women and how they have come to the level they are at today.

The Evolution of Workout Clothes

Gym clothes or not, you can’t possibly picture yourself going to the gym in a gown. Well, as alien as it sounds, that was the reality for women back in the old days.
Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane on how we got to where we are today.


During this era, women used to go to the gym in huge gowns. Yes ladies, every night was ball night at the gym in the late 1800s. With the cinched waist, heavy gown material and pinned up hair, girls in the 1800s knew the true meaning of working out. Their clothes made working out a real test of endurance in a “God I wish I had better clothes” kind of way.

Image Credits: ELLE Australia


As we stepped into the 20th century, workout clothes for women became a bit more relaxing and thankfully so. With the introduction of frocks and moving away from those gowns, it must have gotten considerably easier for women to work out. It wasn’t until the 1930s that shorts were socially acceptable to wear. Women relied on shorts and half sleeves sweaters to assist them through their daily workouts.

Fast forward to 1960s, and we say hello to leotards, the true staple of fitness wear for the next couple of decades. The only changes we got were the inclusion of bright colors in the leotards. Even though it would be a fashion crime to wear leotards today, it was “In” during that era.

It wasn’t until 1995 that crop tops and leggings made their debut and they were here to stay.

Image Credits: ELLE Australia

2000- Present

As the 2000s rolled in, women wanted their gym clothes stylish and comfortable enough to wear for most day-to-day occasions. Big names started to show up in their gym clothes, the likes of Iggy Azalea, Kylie Jenner and Victoria Secret’s Angel, Alessandra Ambrosio.

It was evident that the athleisure trend was here and it is still alive among women across the world.

What do you need to look for when buying workout clothes?

When buying something for the gym, you need to understand that it’s not the only style that you’re looking for (Even though the style is an essential part). You need to look at the functionality of the clothes and how they can assist you in your next workout.
Here’s a list of workout clothes for women and things necessary to look for when purchasing them.

Sports Bra

The main thing to look for when buying a sports bra is to make sure that it will provide proper support. Breasts are made of soft tissue and not muscles. Hence they are held up by the skin surrounding them. Dr. Joanna Scurr, Ph.D. and Biomechanist at the University of Portsmouth in the UK says that a good sports bra cuts the movement by half.

What is a “good” sports bra? Well, that depends on the type of bra you use.


Compression or encapsulation

Compression: Shelf bra styles work usually work for low to moderate-impact workouts.

Encapsulation: According to Scurr’s research, sports bras with individual cups are better for larger-breasted women than compression-style ones. It is better to opt for a padded sports bra in this case.

Racerback or wide straps

Racerback: Because they cinch in back, they hold the breasts close to the body, providing added support.

Wide straps: Shoulder straps help distribute weight better and are more likely to be adjustable and padded. These are useful for high-impact workouts

Pullover or back clasp

Pullover: Tank styles typically cover the back more, but those with all over stretch lacks the rigid front straps, adjustability, and support to anchor large chests.

Back clasp: Clasps let you tighten the band to improve support, making especially vital for larger breasts. Opt for high-impact sports bra during your workouts.

Bras need to be suited to support you whether lifting weights or running. It is also essential to get a sports bra made of sweat-wicking material to make your workouts much more comfortable. So the next time you go shopping for a sports bra, try keeping all these things in mind. Don’t forget to choose a flattering color and design to stay in style with the trends.

Workout Leggings for Women

When buying leggings that you plan to wear in the gym here are five things you need to make sure the leggings have.


High Waisted

Leggings should feel like a second skin and have a high waist for added support when doing those lunges and squats.

Seamless Design

Seamless design means that there are no seams or stitches in the leggings, providing you with a smooth non-chafing and flexible layer so you can breeze through your workouts.


It is essential to have breathable workout leggings because you don’t want to be dying when doing HIIT.

So next time you go to buy leggings, look for a pair with mesh panels to improve breathability and provide optimum ventilation.

Moisture-wicking Fabric

No one, man or woman, wants to feel uncomfortable in moist clothes, so next time you buy your leggings, make sure they have a sweat-wicking fabric. This fabric will keep you dry and make your entire workout much more comfortable.

Gym Shorts for Women

Gym shorts are probably a staple to any gym wear outfit. The mobility and breathability that comes with gym shorts make them perfect for any workout; whether it is running a mile or doing squats, gym shorts are an essential piece to have. Make sure to buy a pair that is moisture-wicking and flexible to help make your workouts more efficient.


Crop Tops, Gym Hoodies and Jogger Pants for Women

These three are birthed by the Athleisure trend, which means that they have the functionality to help you do your exercises better in the gym and also brings style to your wardrobe.

Crop tops provide high mobility and circulation and mobility in the gym and can be a great piece to add to your casual look.

Jogger pants work in the same way as leggings just with a much more stylish look and feel to them.

Gym hoodies can help you sweat off those extra pounds in the gym and can be a cute addition to your wardrobe as well.

The athleisure trend has made a lot of funky and cool outfits that you can try when you aren’t working hard in the gym. If you need a little help in figuring out how you can become a part of this trend, here’s a quick style guide for you.


Now that you are armed with all this knowledge, next time you go online to buy workout clothes or step into a store to make a purchase, you know exactly what you are looking for, whether that be style or functionality.

Now go out there and embrace the Athleisure trend!

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