In fact, over the course of my lifetime, people have showered me with COMMENTS about how poorly I dress, how I should do my hair differently, how I need to accessorize more, how I could maybe stand to wear more skirts, how I should swap out my comfy pumps for more flashy heels, and how I need an entirely different wardrobe for TV...shall I go on? No disrespect to the well-intentioned, but I think I'm good, though.
The truth is, I've never cared much about how I look--as long as I'm clean, don't smell, my hair isn't matted, and most importantly, as long as I'm comfortable. It is said that how you present (clothes-wise) is important as it gives an impression of who you are. But I'd like to think that the degree to which I have comfort with myself is way more important than which shoes I wear. I'm finding as I get older, I care way less that most think I should and, well, I don't really let that stop me from meeting new people, seeking out new opportunities, and well, just being. I've got to use the limited space in my brain for other things. In fact, I know immediately if a workplace is not for me depending upon it's rules (both stated and unstated) for dress code.
I once worked as a paralegal, legal assistant, and translator for a couple of law firms in NYC, and I found that I just COULD NOT wear suits. They were constricting, expensive, and I thought, ugly. (This was back in the late 90s--there were still shoulder pads in a lot of things, and I like my shoulders to look like what they are, slanted and soft, without the added football-player look) Suits didn't represent who I was and I did not last in the legal profession (although I very briefly flirted with the idea of taking the LSATs, working in international law at a boutique firm, and then retiring early.) I also taught at a school in the city whose student uniform was so strict, it seemed to wrench any and all creativity from its individual students. That was not who I was or what I was about, so I didn't last there either.
Enter the whole running thing, and not only have my fashion interests been piqued, but I am actually open to considering color choices and matching footwear, but only as they pertain to athletic apparel. This may be because I could live in and be very comfortable in running clothes for the rest of my life. I admit that I do push the envelope on our employee dress code at my current school, but I digress....
The truth is, these days there is a WHOLE NEW WORLD of athletic apparel for people my size and I wanna try all the things: long tights, shorts, capris, socks, tops, shoes, jackets (ok--actually, we still have a ways to go re: functional and fitting athletic jackets...), and accessories that help people do their workout without worrying about the previously dysfunctional fabrics and cuts that were reserved for queen/plus/women's...choose your euphemism
I am fully embracing athletic apparel fashion, and I'm NOT talking about the whole ath-leisure thing that's being promoted on Facebooks by designers like Tory Burch. Because I am a complicated human, my non-care of how I look does not transfer into the running arena. I mean, I don't care what others wear, but I like to look the part, makes me feel like a BAMR.
Before we get into the spring/summer season and all of the amazing capris and shorts it entails, I thought I would pay homage to my favorite pieces this year. They're my faves because in addition to looking good (whatever that means) they feel good and WORK for the most part. For all of the serious jumping around, running, weight-lifting, and stretching that I do, I need real compression bottoms with waistbands that don't roll down and that hold a jiggly tummy in (because jiggling hurts), bras that support the ladies, tops that don't look like square tents (trust me, I LOVE tents--you know, the ones made for camping in the backcountry) and are well-cut/non-hiding/flattering, socks that don't cause toe chafing, shoes that comfortably fit big feet and Flintstone-like toes (some folks in my family used to call me Pebbles), and accessories that actually work around my waist or on my head or around my shoulders.
Here are some of my favorite functional and fashionable fitting athletic apparel made for us: ( I realize that my size 18/20 self does not represent everyone who is plus sized. Baby steps, y'all.) I will be updating my favorites as I test out more Skirt Sports and Merrell stuff in the coming weeks and months:
I love the above skirt/pants combo by Skirt Sports and I wear it a lot. For this girl that once said " I will never wear a running skirt," I stand corrected. These aren't even compression but they feel so good and fit so well and I never find myself having to pull them up. I also like the crazy print on the skirt. The half zip jacket is also by Skirt Sports and it's perfect for layering in the winter. It's not too thick but it is very warm when paired with a compression thermal top. The fingerless gloves are by my favorite knitting-runner, Rebecca at Bexter Designs. The handheld bottle is by Nathan. It's specially designed for keeping your hydration unfrozen. I don't remember which bra I was wearing this day.
Here I am in this skirt again at the right, this time with a different top on. I don't absolutely love the top for jumping and high intensity activities, but it's cute. It does tend to rollup when I am jumping, so if that's a concern, go with another one. (It's great for weightlifting, though.)
The next photo has me in tights from Breeze Activewear, a new company based in Florida. They sent me a pair of beautiful and bold tights a few months ago and I tested them out while running, yogaing, and walking my friend's dog. If you like your tights to be tight, these may run big so you should probably order a size down. The Breeze tights are perfect for a brisk walk, a short jog, and yoga. I didn't try them out while weightlifting, but I imagine they are functional for that too. I would not recommend them for endurance activities like long-distance running or walking. The seams are such that they will rub your skin raw (unless you coat yourself with Body Glide and Vaseline) on a long run or walk. Otherwise, they are great--and cute. Also, on top is that jacket from Torrid. Flattering and functional (unless it's actually cold out...) The shoes are Hoka Stinson 3.
and these in Free Love print--the shoes here are Merrell's new All Out Crush trail shoes, which felt great for the entirety of the Naked Bavarian Trail Marathon I DFL'd last weekend.
A note on the socks: they are Swiftwick and they are amazing. I have had nary a blister, ever, wearing them. That's pretty spectacular given how big and unwieldy (but STRONG AF) my feet are.
I know this post is full of Skirts Sports, but I really love that there is a company making REAL athletic wear for women like me who like their clothes to fit and be flattering. I shall be scoping out some other companies that do the job too.
So stay tuned friends!