Men’s athleisure wear has come a long way since the olden days, and that’s especially evident in the category of men’s yoga shorts, gym shorts, fitted microfiber tees, and tracksuits.
Over the last decade, the typical man’s closet has made significant changes:
- What do guys wear to the gym now?
- What are they wearing to yoga class?
- What clothes do they put on before they run errands without looking frumpy and old?
What follows are tips for upgrading your wardrobe with athleisure wear that makes you look younger, stronger, and more fit – and organizing it all efficiently.
Dudes Are Different Now
Beginning in the 1970s, unless a man was at the office, he could:
- often be found in jeans, a cotton t-shirt, and sneakers.
- If he was fancy, he might choose pleatless chinos, a polo shirt, and loafers or boat shoes.
- And if he was exercising, he was usually in a grey, baggy cotton sweatsuit.
- In the ’90s, hip-hop culture and basketball converged just as gym chains started popping up everywhere, and this meant lots of super baggy basketball shorts and oversized, formless t-shirts and tanks.
That’s pretty much how it was until about 2010 when suddenly men’s athleisure wear started taking big technological leaps forward with the quality and comfort of microfiber fabrics:
- The new tracksuits – coordinated pants and jackets in flexible, tailored fabrics – look strongly masculine and dignified.
- Many brands of today’s athleisure wear appear crisp, fitted, and highly presentable (those super baggy basketball shorts and shapeless oversized t-shirts are now considered a bit dated).
Yoga Shorts and Gym Shorts
Yoga shorts and gym shorts have become a staple in many men’s wardrobes – and not just for exercising.
However, there are many levels of athleisure wear – from casual to almost formal – and, since the pandemic and the advent of professionals working much more from their home offices, many men are choosing athleisure wear for their desk work.
What Guys Wear to Yoga
What types of yoga shorts a man wears to workout is mostly a matter of personal preference, but here are some guidelines that you might find helpful.
One of the physical benefits of doing yoga is that you increase flexibility, and that means your yoga shorts have to be flexible too and made from stretch fabric. (They even make yoga shorts for men who are more largely endowed with a separate pouch liner inside the shorts that separates the banana from the plums – to prevent sweat from making everything stick together.)
Here are some brands of yoga shorts that many men are wearing and finding helpful during their yoga practice:
- Ten thousand
- Brutal Buddah (with pouch separation)
To know what men’s yoga clothes to wear to yoga classes, you first need to understand what type of yoga workout you’ll be practicing.
For example, hot yoga (such as Bikram Yoga or Moda Yoga) might require something different than, say, a Yin yoga floor stretch class in an air-conditioned room.
In hot yoga, you get extremely sweaty (intentionally) and so you need to wear something made from microfiber:
- For loose shorts, basketball shorts might be better than rugby shorts because when you do tree pose and place your foot on your opposite upper thigh, the fabric there will help you hold the yoga poses without your foot slipping.
- For tight shorts, compression shorts are currently popular and help to reduce muscle fatigue and improve muscle oxygenation and vein health.
- Alternatively, you can wear leggings (tight compression pants) or a loose pair of yoga pants.
Whatever yoga shorts you wear to exercise, you want them to allow for a full range of motion and complete freedom of movement.
These tips can further help you to have a good experience and better results from your yoga workout:
- Bring your own gear (it’s more hygienic to bring your own yoga mat, long towel, hand towel, and water bottle), and wear a base layer of synthetic materials or compression garments that allow your skin to breathe and wick away sweat from your skin – over which you can wear a loose, organic cotton t-shirt that can be removed before class begins (or, in the case of hot yoga, many men opt for no shirt at all).
- The elastic on the waistline of your yoga shorts should be tight enough to prevent your shorts from falling down and exposing your butt crack, but not so tight that it pinches your skin and causes the fat above the elastic to push out in an exaggerated way (which would interfere with some of the side stretches).
- Finally – and this is important – if you’re going to wear a shirt, the shirt should be fitted and made from a breathable synthetic fiber; otherwise, when you do downward dog (and you will do a lot of downward-dog poses in class), you’ll have wet cotton fall down in front of your face and mouth and block your airway. It’s a rookie mistake. Old-fashioned, regular gym clothes don’t usually work well for men in yoga class, which is why all of the activewear brands today offer fitted, microfiber shirts, yoga shorts, compression leggings, and track pants.
New Advancements in Gym Shorts
Gym shorts and yoga shorts are essentially the same thing, except that for gym shorts you want to have the built-in pocket within the liner of your shorts for your phone. This way you can listen to music or podcasts with your wireless ear buds while you pump iron.
Though a zippered pocket on the outside of the shorts would work also, it wouldn’t work as good because your phone would be flopping around while you jump or move. In the liner, however, your phone will stay snug.
Fortunately, men’s gym shorts are now coming in a variety of inseam lengths, so that men 5’10” (177.8 centimeters) and over can choosing a longer inseam (9″ or 11″) and men 5’9″ (175.26 centimeters) and under can choose a shorter inseam (5″ or 7″). During the 2000s, when a shorter man would wear longer basketball shorts, it had the unintended – and unflattering – consequence of making him look even shorter, like a boy dressed up in Daddy’s clothes. So that problem has been solved.
Gym shorts come both with liners (built-in underwear) and without. It’s a personal preference (some companies are brilliant at liners, while others haven’t yet figured out how to make them supportive yet comfortable).
How Men Organize Athleisure Wear
What men wear has changed, and that means closets can be organized differently today than they were 20 years ago. What follows are useful suggestions on how a man can efficiently organize his closet – a closet that likely has more fitness gear, athleisure wear, and gym clothes than it does business suits.
How the Suit Closet Gradually Became the Fitness Closet
Every person’s circumstance is different, but if you’re a health enthusiast who has been living the fitness lifestyle, it’s likely that over the years you have accumulated a fair amount of gym clothes and athleisure wear.
Some men used to wear suits to work, depending on their profession.
Over time, fewer professions required suits.
Many of those professional trades you think of as hidebound – such as finance, legal, real estate, and medical – have long since switched from formal suits to business casual. This is doubly true in geographical areas that experience year-round fair weather.
It used to be that a well-appointed man would spend more time, energy, and money on his professional clothes than his fitness wear:
- Casual wear for men meant perhaps one pair of favorite jeans, a gray pair of 10-year old sweat pants, and several baggy t-shirts.
- Today’s athleisure wear and gym clothes for men look much different than our father’s old knockabouts. They are better fitted and less boxy. They are crafted from higher-quality microfibers.
- A mature, healthy man today is probably more likely to have a well-appointed fitness closet that holds more athleisure wear than business suits.
Benefits of Organizing Your Athleisure Wear and Yoga Shorts
Many people have a closet full of clothes, yet wear the same 3 outfits over and over. This means most of all the other clothes were probably a waste of money:
- The solution to this is to become a hardcore minimalist and donate all your other clothes to charity (except your 3 most-worn outfits).
- Or, as an alternative, you can keep your clothes – and instead organize your closet so that you can actually see and easily find what you need in a matter of moments.
An organized closet allows you to easily rotate your inventory.
Just like at the grocery market when the stock clerk puts the new cartons of milk behind the older cartons of milk, so, too, your closet can rotate its own inventory. The clothes you’ve gone the longest without wearing can appear on top or upfront.
The Problem with Dresser Drawers for Athleisure Wear
Dresser drawers are great for socks and underwear. Whether or not dresser drawers are good for anything else depends on how many clothes you have and from what fabrics those clothes are made.
If you have all-cotton t-shirts and don’t mind fold marks on your t-shirts, then they can be folded neatly and stored within dresser drawers.
Many of today’s t-shirt styles are tailored with a V-shaped silhouette and are made from wicking, anti-stain/anti-odor microfibers. The fabrics of these shirts are so lightweight that they can be hung easily – usually without creating creases or bumps in the fabrics from the hangers.
Over the years, I’ve realized that hanging up my workout t-shirts and tanks is what works best for me.
Additionally, instead of stuffing all my yoga shorts into dresser drawers to be wrinkled, I have found it works better to store shorts in stackable, see-through containers on my closet shelves.
You can use a label maker (or post-it notes) to create categories of your athleisure wear and gym clothes. Here are examples of possible categories:
- yoga shorts (classic cut)
- outdoor workout shorts (short cut)
- longer yoga shorts (lined)
- longer yoga shorts (unlined)
- cardio shorts
As I fold clean laundry, the freshly laundered clothes are placed at the bottom of each corresponding storage box. This helps to ensure that I wear all of my athleisure wear and gym clothes regularly (and not just the same 3 outfits over and over).
Final Tips for Arranging Your Athleisure Wear, Yoga Shorts, and Gym Clothes
There’s an old adage that “how you do anything is how you do everything.” Having an organized fitness closet will help you show up for your workouts energized and on time. It sends a message to your subconscious that fitness and self-care are important and to be prioritized.
Here are some final tips regarding what guys wear to yoga:
- Keep your athletic footwear in neat rows with the shoelaces tucked inside (I personally don’t like to store my shoes in boxes because I like my footwear to air out between wearings).
- If your dresser drawers seem to always become a jumbled mess, consider using drawer dividers to help everything stay in place (they can be purchased inexpensively at home supply stores).
- Mismatched hangers in lighter shades seem to blend in with the shirts and make the closet appear more cluttered. Over the years, I’ve found that matching black hangers help the clothes stand out visually.
In yoga classes today, the environment tends to be supportive and non-competitive, so you can choose whatever yoga shorts feel like the right size for your unique body type. There is a lot of stretching in a yoga class, so the best choice of what to wear is usually what feels most comfortable.