Activewear is the workhorse clothing for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. The apparel enhances the performance of the user due to the technological advances on the material (think, four-way stretch) and cut. Women’s activewear is particularly popular also due to it’s versatile function which lets it go from gym wear to athleisure wear in the blink of an eye. But why there is an ongoing debate as to why women’s activewear really so tight? Is there a reason other than function? In this post we share with you why women’s workout clothes is so tight and how it’s perhaps not as malevolent as you may think.
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Women’s Activewear is a Multibillion Dollar Industry
In recent years, activewear has shifted from physical storefronts to online shops. Although clothes have the highest return rates of items sold online, you can rarely go wrong with buying women’s activewear online. For the most part, due to their stretchable characteristics, you can go true-to-size, and still get the right fit regardless of your body type.
If you see advertisements on active and sportswear, don’t be surprised. It is a multibillion industry, after all. For instance, in 2017, the women’s activewear industry was worth $119 billion. With a compound annual growth rate of 7.7% in 2018-2025, the market is projected to hit $216 billion by the end of the forecast period.
The fashion industry is just that, an industry. And women’s activewear isn’t an exception when it comes to business. Another reason some manufacturers sell these “revealing” clothing is that there is a market for them. Now, whether that is the fact that it’s great workout wear or cute everyday wear is neither here nor there.
Is Women’s Activewear Sexist?
A 2017 survey showed that nearly 8 in 10 women believe that activewear, tights, and yoga pants are sexist. For example some people believe that some of the designs, like extra tight clothing, are meant to show off rather than to enhance performance. One respondent claimed that the necklines are too low. And some say that biker shorts are just too tight. Others say that the apparel featured sheer material and even some peek-a-boo panels that reveal more than they should.
However, it should also be noted that the choice is ultimately up to the buyer. You can choose to buy loose t-shirts to work out in, or go for workout leggings that are quite tight. It truly is about however you feel the most comfortable.
Why Are They So Tight Then?
When you browse for women’s activewear online, you can see that they are tight, and there is a reason for that. Women wear tight exercise clothing as it’s said that compression clothing is helpful for increasing blood circulation and blood flow, which will ultimately help your performance, allow ease of movement, and prevent chafing.
For triathletes, you can see that they wear as little (and as tight!) as possible to discourage drag. The clothing is not to show off their fantastic bodies. It’s meant to enhance their performance to get an edge over the competition. The main objective is to win.
Choose support and comfort
Who said tight fitting clothes aren’t comfortable? As a woman, choosing clothes that offer support not only helps physical performance, but also helps you feel more comfortable than working out in loose clothing. The more form fighting the clothes, and the tighter, the more support they provide.
Another reason for tight-fitting tops for women is that they provide additional support for the breasts. And some of the best workout tops can have a built-in bra. You can also choose form-fitting tank tops that provide the same support.
It really is no different for marathoners who also wear tight cycling shorts for support, although some of them wear lycra shorts on top of the tights.
Here are some reasons to wear tight clothes:
- Many are made of breathable fabric,
- A crop top can be very comfortable when working out,
- They help regulate your body temperature,
- There is very good moisture-wicking fabric on the market, and finally,
- Because it’s your personal choice.
There are alternatives depending on the exercise
If you merely want fitness apparel for your time at the gym or yoga, you do not have to buy skimpy activewear. Of course, women are not prohibited from wearing a pair of performance shorts or skirts on top of their yoga pants if they want to retain their modesty. Some exercises don’t require you to go skin tight. A slightly looser fit when it comes to your yoga pants is suitable for the function.
If you want to wear cute workout gear but prefer to dress modestly, here are some options for you:
- Wear a loose top,
- Choose bright colors to mix and match your workout clothes,
- Wear short shorts on top of your compression leggings to give you more modesty,
- Wear a sports bra underneath a looser fitting top and,
- Choose a looser pair of leggings that still give you full range of motion.
Regardless of the revealing design, you still have the choice of buying it or not. But the good news is that you do not have a scarcity of options. You can go online and look at how the activewear apparel looks on the models and decide if it will work for you.
It might seem like simple apparel, but millions have been poured into research and development to come up with the ideal snugness, cut, and material to enhance performance. But at the end of the day, it’s up to you.
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