One topic I don’t read a lot about is fitness apparel for midlife women. There are one or two women-driven niche brands out there that recognize that our needs have changed, but I have personally found their clothing to be a miss for me. They are just not that exciting, nor do they address my personal requirements and are limited in choices.
I’m a fashionista at heart and want to have diverse outfits to choose from. Some people are just looking for functionality out of their fitness apparel. I get that the fashion component may not be important to everyone, and some are intimidated to go bold beyond the traditional black leggings and sports bras. While functionality is indeed critical, some gym-goers, like me, also use these clothes to represent their fashion aesthetic. Midlife women are no exception- we are currently considered the healthiest, richest, and most active group of women in history.
Those of us in midlife need top-notch fitness apparel to help us get through grueling workouts like boxing, weightlifting, HIIT, spinning, Pilates, yoga, CrossFit, dance, etc. We also account for 64% of global spending, so clearly, we have the want and we have the means! I admit I am very particular when it comes to exercise apparel. I've been doing for this for a long time (I’ve even seen certain trends come back around, like the one piece and flare) I know what I like and don't like. I'm not afraid to splurge a little when it comes to my fitness clothes, as I know I'm going to get a lot of mileage out of them. I’m also happy to step out of my comfort zone and try different things for a new look.
Fitness clothes are an expression of my fashion aesthetic-my way of enjoying trending items. Here's what I look for when shopping for fitness apparel.
Upper Body Specs
If you follow me or if you've ever met me in person, you know I like to wear black. However, dark colors are my preference for regular clothes, not so much for fitness apparel. When it comes to fitness, I'm comfortable wearing bold colors. This has expanded my choices while I'm shopping for athletic clothes. No colors are off limits!
In terms of fit, there are a few specific aspects of the top design that I'm looking for. The first is a ¾ sleeve or long sleeve. We all have certain areas that we feel more self-conscious about than others. I'm no exception. I’m not a huge fan of my elbows. Additionally, I am not one who just glistens- I sweat! The idea of my perspiration flying off my arms and potentially hitting my neighbor is not appealing, so the longer sleeve helps with that. I am also not a fan of taking sun, so the longer sleeve protects my skin when I’m doing an outdoor workout.
For sports bras the obvious perk is support, but I have also found certain styles are more flattering than others to my eye. Racer backs are universally flattering. U-shaped tops=never! Regardless of what shape your arms are in, the view from the front makes everyone look wide. And from the back, the upper arm looks unattractive, in my opinion.
The other detail I like is an exposed shoulder. Shoulders are an area where you can see the fruits of your labor more easily. Years of boxing have given me toned shoulders that I'm proud of. I want them to get some love! The exposed shoulder is a huge plus for me, though they can be tough to find with a longer sleeve. Mesh tops are another alternative and allow for fun color blocking!
Lower Body Specs
Let’s talk about leggings (everyone’s favorite)! Similar to my choice in tops, I don't shy away from wearing colors like neon green and purple. Sometimes it's good to stand out- this is Miami after all! Also like my workout tops, there are a few distinct details I prefer in my leggings.
Every woman out there acknowledges the threat of the dreaded camel toe. Awful! Especially in the gym! That' why a seamless crotch or a gusset that has been configured to deal with preventing this issue is my preference. I'm also a fan of mesh inserts that help with ventilation and mobility. These inserts apply to both tops and bottoms, but I put this detail in the lower body section because there's one area I do NOT want mesh inserts in: the knees.
Knees for me are like elbows- not my favorite body part at this stage. Mesh knee inserts can start to sag after a while as well, which looks and feels weird when you're working out. Not a necessity, just a nice detail.
When You Look Good…
There's a unique power to walking into a gym confident in your style. When you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you play good. Grammatical issues aside, that phrase perfectly encapsulates wearing fashionable but functional fitness apparel and having it translate to a better workout.
Women over 50 are not represented or targeted in marketing campaigns, despite the fact we control a net worth of over $19 trillion. The simple fact is that the ones designing and marketing these clothes are not of our age group, so there's an inherent lack of knowledge and empathy there. As a pro-aging lifestyle model and influencer, I want to not only be the authentic midlife model wearing the clothes in the advertising and marketing campaigns, but to also add value to brands by raising awareness and providing my first-hand knowledge on the subject. We all like to let our fashion aesthetic show in the gym. ESPECIALLY those in midlife.
Fashion & functionality=champion!
Ask me about my favorite fitness apparel brands-I'm happy to share!