Do You Ever Wear Gym Clothes to NOT Work Out?

“Free Dress Days” were the coolest. If you attended a school that required a uniform, nothing symbolized independence quite like choosing your own outfit. The opportunities were rare: the last day before vacation, field trips, winning some sort of scholarly award, the end, so being given a hall pass to create an outfit was like someone handing Michelangelo the Sistine Chapel and saying, “Have at it kid.”

Here’s what I looked on days I could wear jeans:


After living in a world outside the confines of Dennis plaid skirts and pleated khaki pants for at least 8 years, however, the novelty of dressing myself has mostly worn off. Not always — there are sets of weeks where I’m dead set on wearing a new outfit every day, or nights where I’m going out for the sole purpose of hanging with a pair of shoes I just bought. On the weekdays I get dressed with some semblance of coordination and style because otherwise I have to deal with Leandra glaring at me like an eel who broke its elbow during an extreme evening of fornication, BUT —

Every Saturday and Sunday from noon ’til dinner, I put on my workout clothes.

My intention is not to work out. My intention is to look like I just worked out so that I can spend my day in what is essentially the socially acceptable equivalent of being naked, if being naked also included arch support and shock absorbers. Gym clothes are just so easy. They require zero thinking. The pants have elastic waistbands. The sneakers allow to me jaywalk faster.

“But Amelia, don’t you like to get dressed up for brunch with the girls?”

No Bob Fosse. No I do not. Why, after spending 5 days creating 5 different “looks” that can take me from “day to night” or the “boardroom to the party room” would I want to waste my days of rest and eating in anything other than loungewear?

In the words of Sally O’Malley, I’m 26 years old and I like to kick, stretch and kick — and my gym clothes let me do that better than any old pair of culottes could ever dream of.

Now what about you? Let’s confess. Do you wear gym clothes to not work out? Don’t lie. I can smell the Spandex a mile away.

Image on the left: Spencer O’Brien, via Nike, Image on the right Courtesy of Vogue UK, shot by Alasdair Mclellan, March 2014. 

  • I did to breakfast this morning… And have yet to take them off.

  • Tamara

    well, sort of. i’m a pilates instructor. so i wear one set of workout clothes for my own workout (most often running) and then i shower and dress for work in…gym clothes. then i end up with a gap in the day between clients so i end up most days lunching, running errands, etc. in my “work clothes” (gym clothes). my challenge is that, at the end of the day, especially when i teach at night, i’m wearing my gym clothes out to dinner…that’s where boots and flowy tops over sports bras come in handy…it becomes a boring black legging look but it’s better than going out to dinner in obvious gym clothes!

  • Jenna Calderone

    As a pious little attendee of 13 years of private Catholic school, I find this article too relatable. Also, the Sally O’Malley reference made my heart sing.

  • Lyric

    I wear all my dorky Dr.Who and Supernatural t-shirts to work out. I have to walk to the gym in them from my house and I will run errands after the gym sometimes, but other than that it’s gym only for my gym clothes.

    I work retail and we’re required to dress in the brand’s clothes or similarly to the brand (pop of color, pattern or sparkle is a must) but it’s not super similar to my personal sense of style (black is a must), so I take all the opportunities I can to showcase my style outside of work.

  • MSCFBeeches

    I do this so hard. I love sporty looks so. And besides, the gym not good. I don’t like it. So where else would I wear workout clothes but to life. Yes to this.

  • hunter

    my dream job is one where i can wear my speed tights everyday

  • Yes! Thats all I can say Yes!
    Much Love, AnnCates

  • Hayley Clark

    I paid too much for this bougie Lulumelon shit to only wear it at the gym.

  • Angela_E

    The split infinitive in the title of this article is making me grind my teeth.
    And I could wear workout clothes all day, every day.

    • Amelia Diamond

      I’m so sorry because I grind my teeth when I sleep and that shit gives you headaches. Did you know that “no other grammatical issue has so divided English speakers since the split infinitive was declared to be a solecism in the 19th century”?!

  • Kandeel

    Rocking roshes and free runs all the timez bc ultimate comfort. I mean people use those to run? pLEEAASEE (dont know whats wrong with them)

    • In all seriousness I actually can’t believe people use those to run, actually. They have such little support, and if you run mainly on concrete, it’s best to have something with a little more support or else shin splints are comin’ your way. The bitch in the gif above warned y’all.

      • Kandeel

        haha i actually didnt know that?? But my brother cant even drive with roshes on because the bottom sole is too large….(and btw bitch in the gif above is rae from “my mad fat diary” super good show)

        • I’ll have to watch, thank you for the recommendation!

    • Amelia Diamond

      Hang on. You just WON the gif game.

  • I only wear workout clothes if I actually worked out. I guess because I associate them with feeling sweaty and sticky, putting them on would just make me feel unclean and cranky.

    My workout clothes really happen to be free things from coaches who do tons of road races and great 80s/90s running shorts from my mom’s college running days. If I spent a ridiculous amount of money on fancy yoga pants (like LuLulemon), then I guess I would feel inclined to wear more often.

    • Amelia Diamond

      You just wait until college Emma. YOU JUST WAIT.

  • GapToothedGirl

    I always put on gym clothes, but when is time to go out I always change my mind…

    Keep trying!!

    XOX, Gap.

  • Chloe

    I’m notorious for doing this. And then my friends/bf/mom will be like, “oh did you just work out?” and I’m like yyyeeaahhhh..! Haha great post!
    xx Chloe

  • I just got home from work, and the first thing I did was bust out the yoga pants and sports bra. The rest of my day is going to be me, outside, with a glass of wine, grading final exams. Because if I’m going to be working without getting paid, I should at least get to do it without wearing a real bra, right?

  • kforkarli

    Right now, as I read this. I did my tax return, 5 loads of laundry, culled a heap of clothes, dusted my bookshelf, sorted out my makeup drawers and cleaned out my wallet. I say lycra makes you more productive. I’m even wearing a hat.

  • lavieenliz

    honestly I live in LA and every single woman walks around in lululemon outfits all day!!! It’s the most annoying thing. We all know you didn’t work out because your hair and make up is done perfectly! ugh lol sorry it just really annoys me

  • I don’t wear sportswear, but I live in soft boyfriend jeans and t-shirts with no bra (so nice when there is nothing squeezing your rib cage!). I have been wearing this outfit for so long, that I can no longer force myself into skinny jeans!

  • ALL THE TIME! I go to NYU and while I refuse to wear sweats around, I love to frequent dining halls for breakfast/dinner or on weekends in my workout gear for a couple of reasons. 1. Like you said, it’s comfy as hell 2. Everyone always assumes I just worked out so they come up to me and say things like “Wow, good for you for going to the gym so often!” and then I get to play along. (In defense of my white lies, I do actually workout quite often).

    Once I went to brunch dressed like this (see embarrassing snapchat selfie attached). I told my friends I was being “sport chic” and they rolled their eyes. However, I had the last laugh when my elastic waistband was extremely accommodating to my massive waffle.

    • spicyearlgrey

      this is incredible

  • pinkschmink

    I wish I could pull off the gym-clothes-as-day-clothes thing, but I look like a fraud. I wear my gym clothes in the gym, and hope that I don’t run into anyone I know crossing the street to my car after a workout …

    On the flipside … people that dress up to go to the gym. Like the girl on the treadmill the other day in full makeup complete with false lashes and fuchsia pink, sparkly lipgloss. Unless you’re a Victoria’s Secret Angel (and even then …) what is that about?!

  • Tahira

    I absolutely do, sometimes I even tell myself having them on will motivate me to workout later since I won’t have to change.

  • Harem Sweatpants = answer to everything.

    Magee /

  • Yes! Most Sunday mornings to breakfast…

  • Anne-Marie Larson Earl

    I live in yoga pants. If I could go to the office in yoga pants, I would. The second I get home from work, I put them on, and if someone invites me out that evening, I have to really consider whether I want to stay in or put on real clothes.

  • Rebecca

    Hi Leandra and clan,
    Haven’t posted on here in a lonnnngg time but this is something i can totally relate to. I find myself, more often than not, wearing workout clothes and also find my mother both criticizing and complimenting me on how cute I look in them yet also telling me I never really wear any real clothes. However, I have come to wear workout clothes because I have become one of those lazy americans who is too lazy to change from “legitimate” clothing and into athletic wear when its time to workout. Wearing actual clothing feels like I’m rebelling against the long rack of lulu lemon I have collected. I think once you put the workout clothes on its like an addiction, you feel comfortable, and sometimes cute and wearing jeans just feels like the ultimate struggle. As I decipher back and fourth between “real clothes” and my beloved lulu lemon more often than not, its more about the comfort. When I get a real job and have to wear clothes other than my workout wear, it will be a real heart wrenching moment. As for now I’ll hold on to my lulu for as long as I can.

    Such a relatable post!!


  • donn
  • donn
  • donn
  • Melissa

    I love my kiragrace outfits. I can wear most pieces out without looking like I just walked out of the gym. Like this tank: with it In loooove

  • _ANA3ANA

    I love wearing gym clothes to do housework. It gives me a feeling of being aerodynamic 🙂

  • Absolutely. First because it feels good to openly not make any sartorial effort, second because it can be super stylish !

    Iman ||