The Playbook For The Modern Man

How To Look Great In The Gym, Even When You’re A Mediocre Athlete

Take your active wear to the next level.

Gyms don’t exactly lend themselves to chic dress codes. Mirrors, sweat and suspect protein shakes are a fairly potent cocktail in the first place – add in subpar active wear and you’d be forgiven for never stepping foot in one again.

Be that as it may, those guns aren’t going to sculpt themselves. Recognising that the gym is a necessary evil, we’ll delve into the best way to wear gym gear so that you stay fresh even if you’re feeling anything but.

Singlet & Shorts In The Gym

Nike Singlet / Tank From $30
Lululemon Metal Vent Tech Surge Tank $68

The most basic of gym kits, everything you need for sweating it out rotates around the standard singlet and shorts. But with such a surplus of options, it can be a little daunting knowing where to start. For me, it’s all about finding a style that fits well. And remember, regardless of what size your pecs are, no one wants to see them spilling out of a stringlet.

When it comes to finding a top that’s appropriate and chic, look at the likes of Lululemon and Under Armour for interesting colours and weaves. A personal favourite is grey blues – they’re forgiving on sweat patches and are easy to pair with dark shorts.

Speaking of shorts, this is one of those times where less is more. And when I say less, I’m referring to less of your upper thighs. No one wants to see more than they bargained for when you’re doing a deadlift, so look at mid length options that have a boy leg liner built in.

Wearing Compression Tights In The Gym

David Beckham in Adidas tights
Calvin Klein Compression Tights @ The Iconic

It’s a truly brave chap that dons a pair of compression tights sans cover up. However, for those that are a little more, ahem, demure, there is a way they can be worn that won’t cause offence to the rest of the weights room. Cue the classic jogging short. These fellas are a great way to feel all the freedom of tights without some of the unfortunate side effects.

When it comes to styling, build off a base of black 2XU compression tights, jogging shorts and a lightweight singlet. Make sure you choose slim fits that are in keeping with the streamlined nature of the look and prioritise dark block colours like black and navy. Pictured above are good points of reference.

Essential Runners Built For The Gym

Adidas Ultraboost $250
Nike Metcon 4 XD Training Shoes $220

Runners can make or break your gym ensemble – choose a pair of chunky dad runners and you risk throwing off the equilibrium of your outfit; choose something with not enough support and you risk spraining an ankle. It’s a tricky trade off.

Given that the bulk of gym activity doesn’t require long distance running (at least, it shouldn’t) most cross training sneakers from the likes of Adidas and Nike should fit the bill. Look for versatile colours like black and grey that can be paired with most of your kits to optimise wears.

On the flipside, if you’re a little more flamboyantly persuaded, the sneaker is a great way to show some flare. Whether it be a pair of monogrammed kicks or a splash of colour and print – Epic Reacts with hot pink detailing, I’m looking at you – sneakers are a great way to put a spring in your step, both literally and style wise.

Selecting The Right Sports Socks

Socks or no socks?
Nike Dry Cushion Crew $25
Adidas NMD No Show Socks $10

Sports socks have come a hell of a long way in the past few years. Whereas once, the chunky white tube sock was the ultimate sporty statement, recent style dictates a move to more streamlined, thinner equivalents.

When you’re shopping around, there are two versions worth considering. One is the standard ankle sock which will ideally sit below the top of your sneaker. These are great if you fancy getting your pegs out as they elongate your leg. Alternatively, the likes of Nike make a strong case for statement compression socks. Our preference are black socks as they’re less likely to show dirt.

Invest In A Gilet For Colder Months

Adidas Undefeated Vest $100
Nike AeroLoft Vest $190

When it gets seriously chilly (and sadly, it’s not far off), sometimes a jacket alone won’t cut it. And that’s when the gilet really comes into its own. Warm without the intensity and bulk of a down jacket, the vest is the ultimate sports winter warmer.

Look for thin shell versions in blacks, greys and blues that can work with your broader kit and, whatever you do, avoid thicker versions that make you look like a Michelin man. They give you an incurable case of chicken legs – the opposite of what you want post squats.

Wind Breakers For Warmer Months

Nike Windrunner Tech Pack $230
UA Unstoppable Windbreaker $140

It’s always the way that no sooner have you mastered the standard singlet and short combo that you need to cover it all up for Autumn and Winter. With increasingly stylish options hitting the market in spades though, the activewear windbreaker is getting increasingly cool.

The key here is keeping it lightweight and slim fitted. It’s also worth looking for cool logo and hardware statements to ensure you stand out from the scrum. Sydney wunder brand, P.E. Nation, has a great range with small pops of colour that can take you from a HIIT class to brunch in no time.

Gym Apparel FAQ

What is the difference between a singlet and a tank top?

The difference is on the fit. Singlets are usually a snug fit, not allowing for sag or excess fabric. Tank tops may be tight fitting or loose fitting.

What are men's compression tights for?

Compression tights hold your muscles firmly in place and improve your blood flow. They also help reduce muscle fatigue and strain while boosting your athletic performance.

How should a gilet fit?

Your gilet must fit just like you waistcoat. It must be snug around your body so it can sit nicely under your winter jacket. A gilet’s arm holes should also be high so it will fit more closely to the chest without bunching.

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