Why is it that fashion guidelines go out the window for many men when they enter a gym? Certainly generational clothing gaps exist, regardless of the setting, but no one should think a two-decade old white cotton shirt is appropriate. We are still in public, after all. Made Man wants to help. If you have been out of the weight room since Bush senior, and are concerned about the statement your workout gear might make upon your triumphant return, we’ve got you covered. If you have a buddy who’s shorts cover less than your girl’s skirts, please, forward this article to him. Working from the floor up…

Shoes and socks 

What we dress our feet in is often overlooked when considering appropriate gym attire. Your local shoe store probably carries a plethora of athletic footwear that would fit in well at the gym. The trick is to not just buy any spiffy looking pair, but rather a shoe designed for your planned activity. You don’t run in jeans (we hope), so why lift weights in running shoes? A solid lifting shoe should be just that, solid. It should fit snuggly and feature a non-compressible sole, for stability. You want your foundation to be level and provide maximum support during that last set of squats. Weightlifting specific shoes do exist, but you might be better off purchasing some K-Swiss Classics. They get the job done and make the transition to dinner date well.

When you are choosing running shoes, shop at an actual running store. Ask a salesperson to diagnose your stride, and suggest some shoes designed for runners like yourself. There will be a number of brands and colors to choose from, so pick a look you like, but don’t sacrifice fit for a logo. The correct shoe will allow you to avoid unnecessary foot pain, which would have caused you to give up on exercising, ruining beach season. Told you shoes were important. Also, socks – keep’em short and white.

Shorts 

The main goal here is to avoid offending your fellow gym patrons. Anything too short or too tight is going to be revealing too much. Pick out some comfortable fitting shorts that extend slightly below your knees and hang a little off your waist, but no further. If your shorts slipped off during a lift, in addition to being embarrassing, it would be dangerous. Feel free to represent your school or favorite athlete on the shorts, but stay away from neon and/or striped designs popular 20 years ago. Everyone around you will have to question the cleanliness of gear as old as their kids.

Also, resist whatever urge some fall prey to that makes men want to wear spandex. If you are worried about chaffing or really need to keep everything…secure…pick up some compression shorts from Nike, and wear them under your athletic shorts. There also is not much of a reason to wear pants in the gym. It is easy for them to look too tight or too baggy. Unless you are attending a Rex-Kwan-Do class, showing a little leg will benefit you more.

Shirts 

As we enter 2010, we have many things to be thankful for. Made Man is thankful workout specific material designed to perform better than cotton. Please avoid wearing your white cotton shirts to the gym. Not only are they inferior, but white does not radiate heat as well as darker colors and gets dirty real easy. Synthetic blends created by Adidas, Nike and UnderArmour becoming more and more popular because they do such great job of keeping you cool and wicking sweat away. Some are designed to fight odor as well. Also, they look good. An athletic specific top will not constrict any range of motion. This is good news for those of you who like to wear tank tops that barely contain your bulging chest. No one wants to see that hair and a justifiable excuse for exposing it does not exist.

You can choose loose fitting or tight, just make sure it matches your body type. Have guns your just can’t resist revealing? It is kosher to opt for a sleeveless shirt. Proud of your recent marathon finish? Feel free to rock the shirt you earned at the race. Find a high performance shirt you feel comfortable in, and then focus on the workout. You won’t be revealing skin unnecessarily, overheat or look like you just won a wet t-shirt contest.

Head 

In the gym, let your head breathe. You are not at a frat party, so leave the baseball cap in the locker. The hat will only serve to trap heat in your body. Also, most people wash their hats much less frequently than other clothing, so the sweat and grime builds up quickly. Whatever fashion statement you were trying to make with your backwards cap indoors will be negated by the evident discoloration and odor. Headbands should be reserved for Kurt Rambis Halloween costumes. Bring a towel and wipe your head between lifts.

Gym fashion is really pretty straightforward. Use gear that was designed this decade and fits comfortably, while avoiding revealing what should be covered. Perhaps that the first step for many is admitting they have a problem. Forward this to friends in need.

By