Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Can I Make a Capsule Wardrobe with my Gym Clothes?

It's a frequent question - does the idea of a capsule wardrobe work when we're talking about clothes for athletic activities?

Heck yes! If you like black, it's really difficult to avoid a capsule wardrobe, because so MANY athletic garments are black. But even if you source out different colors, there's no reason at all not to have a plan and a structure for the purchase of your sports apparel...

And this works for any sport - golf, yoga, running, weight-lifting...

So let's start with a favorite outfit - a tee shirt and capri athletic pants, with a cropped sweatshirt to top it all off. I'll assume that you have the appropriate shoes and socks, as well as any sort of sun protection or hair control gear!

workout outfit in black and light blue
sweatshirt - Alo; ponytail holders - L.Ericson; tee shirt - Zella; cropped pants - Zella; socks - Nike; sneakers - Adidas

Since we're going to try to make this wardrobe as versatile as possible, I'm going to use the "Whatever's Clean 13" template to keep us on track. This is what your initial garments look like when placed in the template. (I'm working from coolest weather to warmest weather from left to right - but that's not a requirement!)

It's worth noting that those of us who are opposed to wearing visible logos are going to have to be a LOT more flexible when it comes to our sports apparel. The best stuff often has visible logos, and if you're serious about your chosen activity, you are going to make the compromise and learn to live with it! It stinks, but sometimes we have to accept reality...

Step 1 of a Whatever's Clean 13 athletic wardrobe in black, white and blue

At this point it's worthwhile to decide on a color scheme. I'm including white with the black and blue, although grey would also be another possibility - it's readily available and doesn't show dirt as easily as white!

wardrobe color palette in black, white, and shades of blue

So let's add a 2nd outfit, for (in my case) a day when I'm going on a long hike, during which my legs will be plenty warm, but when I'll need quite a bit more warmth above my waist.

It's important that you think for a while about what sorts of outfits you're going to need. It might be as simple as needing 5 pairs of golf shorts, 5 golf shirts, and a couple of cardigans! But for those of us who do a range of activities, it is worth the energy to determine what kinds of garments are going to be most useful for you.

a sports outfit including a black jacket, blue long-sleeved top and black shorts
jacket - Zella; pullover - Nike; shorts - Brooks

This template already shows quite a few options:

Step 2 of a Whatever's Clean 13 sports wardrobe

Maybe you're going to be doing something indoors, and all you need is a tee shirt and a skort. But you want a nice, cozy something to put over for your travel... (This jacket REALLY tempts me - I could wear it a ton!)

And while this tee shirt at first glance seems like its just simple, solid black, it actually has mesh-insert stripes! Those kinds of details make a difference in looks and in comfort...

sports outfit of black tee, skort and wrap hoodie jacket
mesh-striped tee - Zella; wrap hoodie - Nike; skort - L.L.Bean

Almost done! Still looking very coherent:

Step 3 of a Whatever's Clean 13 sports wardrobe in black, blue and white

One last outfit! This wardrobe has neither long pants, nor a white tee shirt. While not the most amazingly original outfit, it's still comfortable and appropriate... ( think these pants are actually charcoal grey... which makes NO difference to how well they work in this wardrobe!)

sports outfit of a white tee and black sweatpants
tee - Zella; pants - Zella

At this stage, all we need are a couple more tee shirts...

Step 4 of a Whatever's Clean 13 wardrobe in black, blue and white

These two shirts (1) aren't the perfect shade of blue (oh bother...) and (2) I think that they're supposedly made for men. THEY'RE TEE SHIRTS, for heaven's sake! If you like them, buy them. Nobody's going to gender-check you, and I suspect that the difference between how these fit and how the shirts fit that are made for women is tiny...

And after a while, you'll end up with more "event-related" tops than you can keep, or store, if you're a runner. We regularly have to purge our dressers of dozens of 5K shirts that I KNOW are identical for both men and women...

If you like Hokusai, you're going to love these...

2 Hokusai themed tee shirts
all-over waves tee shirt - Uniqlo; fishermen tee shirt - Uniqlo

With the addition of these 2 tee shirts, you've got a tidy 13-piece wardrobe that's literally impossible to wear badly!

Whatever's Clean 13-piece sports wardrobe in black, blue and white

Just for fun, and just to prove to myself that this is indeed a foolproof wardrobe, I generated 3 random numbers, based on the number of jackets, tops and bottoms, and then selected the corresponding garments to see if they would indeed make a nice outfit! Here are 4 results from my little Excel experiment:

2 outfits randomly chosen from a Whatever's Clean 13 sports wardrobe

2 outfits randomly chosen from a Whatever's Clean 13 sports wardrobe
Has Excel ever been used before to assemble an outfit?

As I was working with this, it dawned on me that  - at least for someone who lifts weights - black and blue is the PERFECT palette for sports apparel, in that it matches our bruises!


p.s. Yes, I included no tights. I'm SO tired of seeing the explicit details of feminine genitalia on the streets... If you can find a pair that are modest, go for it, but please be aware of the potential for inappropriate revelations of a very personal nature...
Can I Make a Capsule Wardrobe with my Gym Clothes?
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  1. I literally started to evaluate my athletic capsule just this week. I will use your valuable template and guidance to make sure I don't go off track. Thank you.

  2. I adore your blog. Nice post! I am losing weight, but still have a long way to go, so I am trying to hold off on too many clothing purchases for now, but your posts are so inspirational so you make it difficult! But on the plus side, you are definitely inspiring my grand plan for my new wardrobe down the line.

  3. Love that you omitted tights! Thanks!

  4. The idea of spending with a plan for sports attire is so appealing! For my golf/tennis/hiking capsule I'm thinking I'd like to keep the bottoms and jackets to 2 neutral colors and then go all out with lots of coordinating colors and patterns for the tops. Using the template will make this so much easier - fun even!

    BTW -that wrap hoodie is amazing and now on my wish list!

  5. I agree with this in theory; I wish it worked better in practice. Maybe I shop in the wrong places, but workout clothes always seem to have trim or color blocking or accent stripes in a different screamingly obnoxious color from last year. I do agree with you regarding workout tights; I find that tights crawl down, bike shorts crawl up, and I’m forever picking at my clothing during exercise. Then I discovered running skirts, which sit at the waist and cover anything crawling up, are a thing, and hallelujah!

  6. I like the running shorts you included--longer length and they have pockets! I have a similar pair I purchased a couple of summers ago and I love them for so many activities. Not all shorts have pockets but I think they should. My workout wardrobe consists of all black bottoms and a variety of colors in the tops. I have to admit I haven't done much planning, I may use your templet and see if I want to make any changes. Thank you Janice!

  7. What a fun idea this set is! Skirt Sports has some nice options in solid colors that could work for sports, travel or running around. There are also some raucously-colored options.

  8. This was such fun and opened up some other ideas for me about other types of specialized wardrobes. I have become aware (kind of embarrassing to admit this) that I put off painting and dirty household chores because I have to wear worn out, misshapen, unappealing clothes. I was just talking to my sisters about this and realized that I just need a capsule of clothes for this purpose - things I won't hate wearing but which are suitable for painting and cleaning the basement and doing woodworking. I had thought that I would have a mans overall tailored to fit me, but this opens up other possibilities.

  9. So often, capsules exclude athletic-, lounge-, pajama-wear, but this is a really nice way to approach it. I also love that 13 seems like a really reasonable number - it shouldn't overflow the drawer or other storage area you have designated for it. I have a bad habit of acquiring orphans in these departments and feel like nothing works together. While it's not the first place I want to spend money in my closet, starting with "whatever's clean" and developing a palette seems like a brilliant way to separate the wheat from the chaff. I love the Excel outfits. I feel like you could probably develop an app for sale with Style Book or another similar program and just dress us, already!! :)

  10. Thank you for this post, Janice. I so agree with you about tights. In my gym, I see the men oggle the tights-wearing gals and you are right about the uh - exposure. I've given up trying to find my dark neutral, navy, in gym clothes and opt instead for grey. I agree with "tmd" above regarding the screaming colors on many workout clothes. Except for solid grey workout pants, my tops are not specifically "exercise" tops but simple tee shirts or camis( for yoga). Your template here is great for me as I just purchased a great pair of running sneakers in a nice french blue color. Thank you! Janice Collins, Washington, DC

  11. This post is so timely for me as I am packing for an adventure where athletic apparel is best for the trip and climate. I love the color scheme, too.

  12. I LOVE that you did this. My workout gear was the first capsule I created after I got the hang of the how-to. Before, I used whatever old items were no longer suitable to wear outside the house. I got tired of looking and feeling slouchy and they needed to be replaced, anyway. I started by finding bottoms I absolutely loved and then worked in tops and underpinnings around them. You can't mistake me for being slouchy now!

  13. Such a great idea Janice! Reviewing my gym clothes like this not only reveals what's missing (a sleeveless vest), but also those worn out, unflattering teeshirts I've been hanging on to, "just in case." Out they go!

  14. love this color palette! - nancyo