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A Tale of Three Sweat Suits
While I enjoy getting dressed up for the special occasions on my calendar, there is something about slipping into a sweat suit at the end of the day or on the weekends that makes life a little easier and a whole lot more comfortable for me.
Having a few fresh sweat suits that are well coordinated with tops and footwear ready to go in my closet is also one of the ways that I manage my time. I can get dressed and out of the house in minutes without thinking about my clothes or compromising my self-confidence.
I often find that women unnecessarily ignore this very casual part of their wardrobes. Yet when we help them select a few active wear outfits that flatter their figures and lifestyles, they thank us for years. The price per wear when you find the perfect sweat suit often justifies the time and attention it takes to shop for just the right one.
For the past few years, adding a new sweat suit to my wardrobe at the beginning of each season that compliments my casual lifestyle has become as important to me as adding a new business suit to support my professional goals and objectives. Casual clothes simply get the biggest workout in my wardrobe.
Here are some details about three of my favorite sweat suits. I hope this information inspires you to focus on this area of your wardrobe as well:
Soccer Mom Suiting. Last spring, I purchased a black and white cotton warm-up suit with a zip-front jacket and elastic waist pants from Ann Taylor Loft. I wore it to nearly every Saturday morning soccer and baseball game my boys had early in the season. A cool pair of track sneakers were all I needed to make the look my own. This spring, I added another black tracksuit from the same retailer. I find the cotton on this brand both sturdy and durable. This year's version has coral and tan stripes on the arms and down the front of the jacket as well as on the outside section of the legs. Tan and coral retro sneakers from a hip Italian footwear company I recently discovered in Boston give this suit a lighter, spring look and more European feel.
The Weekend Warrior. Last summer, I picked up a white terry cloth sweat suit on the sale rack at Old Navy. For $19.99, I had low expectations for this item. Would it hold up? Was white a practical choice given my lifestyle with two young boys? I bought it anyway because I loved the style, fit and, of course, the price. This garment did not let me down. It washed beautifully and served as both a bathing suit cover-up when it got cool at the beach as well as the perfect item to slip into at the beginning and end of the day at the Cape where we spend most weekends in the summer. (Editor's note: The Gap is another great place for lightweight sweat outfits that are big on style and low on price.)
Designer Addiction. Last fall, I fell in love with a chocolate brown Juicy Couture sweat suit that I have worn more than I care to admit. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Juicy Couture, it's a higher end brand that is rarely discounted until the end of a given season. You often get what you pay for and this one certainly doesn't owe me a nickel. It held its shape beautifully and I wore it to the gym as frequently as I wore it out and about grocery shopping and doing errands in town. Again, the key is having the right tops and shoes to carry it off in all venues.
Four Extra Tips
No matter what your size, age or budget, here are some extra tips for wearing sweat suits with more style and confidence:
- Know When to Break Them Up. True fashionistas don't always wear their favorite sweat suits as outfits. They frequently pair the bottoms with lacey camisoles and jean jackets or wear the jackets as chill chasers with jeans and casual skirts and other bottoms.
- Kick Start your Weight Loss Program. If you are serious about getting in shape this spring, loading up on workout essentials, including tracksuits can help you get the job done. How you feel about yourself entering and exiting the gym or even walking around your neighborhood, can go a long way in supporting your weight loss goals.
- Fit is Everything. The baggy look is so over! Fit is everything in fashion these days, even when donning a sweat suit. Whichever store or designer you favor, chances are they have active wear that will flatter your budget and figure. Make it a point to check out this section of the store next time you are there.
- Undergarments Matter. Consider purchasing an athletic top with a built in shelf bra to wear under your sweat suits. Many retailers sell these third pieces alongside the other sweat suit components. Women who need more support should purchase tops that can be worn with a sports bra. If the sweat suit is fitted through the bottom, make it a point to select underwear that is seam-free to avoid panty lines.
Mary Lou Andre is the author of "Ready to Wear: An Expert's Guide to Choosing and Using your Wardrobe" and editor of dressingwell.com.
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