As it gets hotter, it's tempting to hang out in your workout gear for longer. No need for putting track pants on over shorts, or a hoodie over your singlet before you hit the cafe or the shops or the soccer sideline, right? Wrong.
To borrow the thongs rule - that they should only be worn on a beach or within 50 metres of a beach - I'd advocate a similar self-imposed boundary around the wearing of running gear, especially if it's of the short shorts and gaping singlets variety favoured by some men. As in: they should only be worn in the act of running and within, say, 20 minutes either side of said act.
Limits of endurance
Yes, it might sound a little harsh, but I don't think men who wear this gear to the hardware store or the cafe for breakfast or - worse still - on a plane, are aware how confronting it is for the rest of us.
The key problem is a lack of fabric to soak up the sweat of running. Instead it drips onto cafe seats, rubs onto unfortunate passers-by and generally wafts around them like a pungent cloud. And while technical fabric has been a boon for its ability to mitigate some of the harsh side effects of perspiration, it still helps to wear a little more of it.
The rise of activewear as a fashion line in its own right has been both a good and bad thing. It's good because it has given us some great fashion options for training gear and opened up the market to designers outside of the usual brands. It's bad because sometimes people forget that no matter how clever the fabric is, it can never entirely mitigate the smell of fresh sweat, let alone that which is hours old.
I interviewed New York-based Australian TV host and model Jason Dundas for the launch of his DundasFit mens' activewear range for David Jones in July. He was advocating that blokes could wear his gear to the gym and the café, and to a mate's barbecue later. I'm sure he meant to have a shower after the gym, but the gist was that the gear had dual functionality – as good for sweating in as for swanning about.
Women have been wearing gym gear for almost every activity other than exercise for years, as brilliantly satirised by some Sydney women in this YouTube video. There's no reason why men shouldn't do the same; mindful of the fact that they might no longer have the body they did at 18. Singlets and short shorts only work on a select pool of the population.
Comfort is still king
But as long as comfort is king for men, there is a future for men's activewear. Here are a few labels to consider as an alternative to major brands such as Nike and Adidas, with their conspicuous swoosh and stripes. Consider Rhone, a US label that is logo-free and multi-purpose. Good for "running errands, jumping on a flight, pushing hard in the gym" (hopefully only in that order). Isaora is a New York-based label of limited-run "urban techwear". Check out end-of-season sales to synchronise with Australia's summer and reduce the currency conversion damage. You can do worse than some of the pieces in Target, usually inspired by the on-trend collections of established labels. And for flattering cuts and durability, Canadian label Lululemon is always a good investment.
Feeling good in your workout gear is one incentive to use it for its actual purpose, so whether you buy it for yourself or for someone else, it's going to be a step in the right direction.