The perfect outfit can make you look as good as your workout makes you feel. But treat your sportswear incorrectly and it could fall apart faster than a celebrity’s apology tweet. From what to buy to how to wash it, we break down everything to do with athleisure care.
Your Outfit’s Building Blocks: Not all fabrics are created equal when it comes to their ability to keep you fresh and comfortable while sweating it out. For instance, while cotton may be your go-to for sleepwear, it can leave you drenched and feeling several pounds heavier in the middle of a hardcore gym sesh. How? Cotton is a pro at lifting and holding liquids, but like your ex (you know the one) it’s not that good at letting go. So as you lose liters of water through sweat, instead of allowing liquids to evaporate cotton will capture them and keep them close to your body. This can weigh you down, stretch your clothing out of shape, and leave you feeling generally icky. Thankfully, scientists have created a variety of cotton blends and synthetic fabrics that can be used alone or together to keep you dry, mobile, and at your best when in fitness mode. (See the sidebar at right.)
ATHLETIC ATTRIBUTES: THESE TERMS OFTEN CROP UP ON THE LABELS OF ATHLEISURE WEAR. HERE’S WHAT THEY MEAN, AND HOW THEY CAN HELP YOU STAY ON YOUR GAME.
WICKING: To pull away moisture; often found in socks and layering pieces meant to be worn
directly against the skin.
WATER RESISTANT: Though not guaranteed to protect 100 percent of the time, water-resistant materials guard against short exposure to liquids, like light rain or a small spill.
ANTIMICROBIAL: Having the ability to kill or ward off` microorganisms like bacteria; helps prevent unwanted odors from arising.
BREATHABLE: Allows air to move through it; a good characteristic for the clothing worn as outer layers.
HYDROPHILIC: The ability to hold water. While this may sound beneficial, with fabrics, it’s often the opposite: hydrophilic materials like cotton can cause discomfort and chaffing when saturated.
WATERPROOF: Invulnerable to water; made of a material that will not allow water to pass through.
BODY AND SOLE: YOUR SNEAKERS ARE THE UNSUNG HEROES OF YOUR WORKOUT WARDROBE – THEY TAKE A LICKING WITH EVERY WORKOUT YOU EMBARK UPON. SHOW THEM THE LOVE THEY DESERVE ONCE EACH MONTH WITH THESE COMMANDMENTS OF CARE.
1. Remove grime on the outside of your shoes with an old toothbrush, a mild soap, and some elbow grease.
2. Take out the liners, laces, and insoles from your shoes and wash them separately by hand with the same mild soap.
3. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda into each shoe. Let sit overnight.
4. In the morning, brush out the baking soda. Pop your shoes into a pillowcase and tie it shut.
5. Place in your washing machine, along with several towels. (This will help muffle the sound and prevent your shoes from being rattled around too much.)
6. Add a mild detergent and set the machine to a gentle cycle.
7. When complete, leave your shoes out to air dry – don’t place them near a heat source, which can warp them. If needed, stuff each shoe with a few crumpled paper towels to help absorb excess water.
KEEPING IT CLEAN: Even if you are the most ardent clothes-scrubber of all time, the fact of the matter is that smells can remain in your exercise top or pants long after you’ve left the gym. Stay ahead of stench and extend the life of your high-performance wear by following these leading laundry rules.
✓ Do wash your clothes as soon as you can. Lorna Jane Clarkson of Lorna Jane Active Living also suggests separating wet clothes from other garments and line dry them in the shade immediately after washing.
✓ Do use a small amount of detergent specifically designed for activewear, but slightly less than recommended on the label.
✕ Do not wash your clothes with towels or fleece garments to prevent lint transfer, according to Lorna Jane Clarkson.
✕ Don’t wash with hot water. Coldwater will better protect sports fabrics and help prevent your clothes from losing their shape.
✓ Do hang your clothes to dry. In a rush? Pop them in the drier on the lowest heat setting.