Readers Roundtable: For Running Gear, Does Style Matter?

running styleWhen we’re training to reach our running goals, we tend to be focused on how our bodies perform. This means that when it comes to running clothes and shoes, we need them to function! While some of us certainly care less than others about how our running shoes and clothes look, style matters. We have colors we love and some we hate. Some of us seek out unique running looks, while others grab whatever’s on clearance or will get the job done.

We want to know how much running gear style matters to you!

So tell us:

When you shop for running clothes and shoes, how important are appearances to you?

• Are there certain colors or styles that are deal-breakers?

• Are you apt to pay a little more for a limited edition design?

Don’t forget to join us for #SaltyChat on Twitter tonight and every Monday at 8:00 p.m. EST. This week’s chat is sponsored by the Sarah Marie Designs Studio!

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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  1. This is really relevant to me right now! I am reading a book called Daughters Of Distance about women in ultrarunning. There was a whole chapter on what women wear during races. Some women feel like they need to put on an “I don’t care, I want to be equal to men” in regard to their clothing, so they don’t care about style. Other women enjoy the process of applying makeup and matching their outfits for races. I know for me, I enjoy both style and function but to be honest, if it’s a shorter run or race and I see some shirt or pant that looks awesome or has a catchy saying, I will totally wear it over something that may be anti chaff or moisture wicking. The reactions to people around me and my enjoyment is more important than function for sure.

    Oh, and I definitely wore makeup and earrings for my race yesterday 😉

  2. I fear I am not that great about style in regular life and the same holds for running gear! The two exceptions are that 1) I like to race in my running club gear if I have something that fits the weather and 2) When I am struggling, I will grab a race t-shirt from a tough race to remind myself that I can do it. But neither of those is about style….

  3. Not about style at all. For races and when I run with a friend in daylight, I try to at least match and wear shirts that aren’t too gross, lol.

    1. Good thing you’re careful about what you wear with your friends, because I have a feeling they’re judging you with a VERY critical eye 😉

  4. I’m most interested in function. My only “style” hangup is that I do prefer that the outfit match. Or at least not totally clash. (Not sure that even counts as style, honestly…)

    1. I tend to like to be matchy, even down to the rubber band in my hair. I feel angsty if my only clean running clothes choices don’t match.

      1. My husband is happiest if he can wear his blue shoes with his blue socks and his blue shorts and his blue top. Not the same shades of blue, though… just any shade. I’ve tried to explain that’s not quite what people mean when they say something matches.

        He also has an entirely yellow ensemble.

  5. Function first. Then funk (if I’ll be within smelling distance of others).

    That said, style matters in that I won’t own->wear something I don’t like the looks of – and that typically turns out to be items that have been “feminized” (e.g., rouching, empire cut, anything designed to be fun or flirty). Oh, and I hate baby pink and blue.

  6. I’ve got a pretty boring style outside of running (jeans/shirt/boots/mostly neutrals & monochromatic or earth tones), so when I run I don’t mind wearing skirts, weird prints, and bright neon. However, I don’t really seek it out- I buy what fits well, feels good, & is affordable. My favorite pieces, time & time again, have nothing to do with brand- my favorite tights right now are some Betsy Johnson magenta leopard print from TJMaxx, my favorite long sleeve is tangerine orange from Walmart (a gift), and my shoes? I buy them on ShoeKicker so usually end up with last season’s least-sold color, for months… the grey/pink/seafoam green version of the Brooks PureCadence I wore for several pairs last year, hated them for looks but oh well. I am not a matchy runner- I feel weird if everything I am running in matches.

    1. I do the same thing with shoes…I’m rotating three pairs of last season’s Saucony Rides now that are the same color. I had to label them with a Sharpie because I couldn’t tell them apart!

  7. I’m all about comfort first. I do a lot of my shopping online, so I tend to stick to brands whose sizing I already know, trying on friends’ stuff for size. I find that price has very little correlation with how things actually fit me. But if things are comfortable, match, and make me look cute (or strong, or feel fast, or whatever I’m in the mood for that day), that’s a big plus. As for sneakers, it’s function first, then looks, then price – if I’m going to make my dead sneakers do double duty as weekend athleisure, they’d better go with other weekend wear.

  8. I will absolutely not pay for limited edition or name brand running clothes. Even with shoes I don’t like to pay so much. I like to try and have things look decent in case I can’t shower right away and need to run to the store or the kids school. I don’t mind being stinky but looking somewhat matchy, but I’m not trying to look like a stank ass bag lady in jacked up running gear. Plus the stuff needs to be comfortable and not fall down or cause chafing. I’m not down with that.

  9. My number 1 question is, will it chafe? I’m very chafe-prone. Along my lats (under my arm pits), my inner thighs, and a number of places you might not think could chafe. Heck, my car key chafed my butt on a 6 miler Sunday. I don’t know if it’s a combo of my perpetually-dry skin and salty sweat, or what, but even lots of Body Glide can only do so much. So my first priority is fabric feel, seam construction, and fit. I’m pretty petite so finding pieces that actually fit is key.

    My number 2 question is, is it neon? If it is, I will probably buy it. The good thing about this strategy is that it all sort-of goes together. I would say the bulk of my running gear is either teal, hot pink, or neon yellow. I’ve got a lot of black shorts … but I also have a teal-and-neon yellow striped pair too soooooooo ….

    I’ve been able to find good deals on New Balance gear at TJ Maxx lately, too! I don’t typically wear “trendy” clothing to run (strappy tops for example), but I do a few on-trend pieces for when I teach Pilates.

  10. As someone already said, any sort of rouching (sp?), frills, etc. is a total dealbreaker for me. I don’t want to look pretty while running, I want to look bada**!
    I have a standard “race day” outfit that I like to wear pretty much all the time and don’t like to deviate from. As items wear out I’ll replace them, but there’s something superstitiously satisfying about having a go-fast outfit that I only bring out on race day. If I want a little extra something I’ll wear a certain pair of earrings and do a fun braided hairstyle or something.
    I would not pay more for a limited edition design (ex. I’m looking at you, brooks lobster shoes for the boston marathon…) but would buy it if it went on sale. I try to stick with pretty tame colors/designs for clothing and shoes since I spend a lot of time working out in a male-dominant environment where pink shoes would get made fun of. Not that I really care what they think, but, I don’t really care to stand out any more than I already do.

    1. “superstitiously satisfying” is such a good way to put it- the last few years my race outfits have been much more standard of what I know works- and more likely to play around with my hair, or headband or something else fun if I feel the need to switch things up a bit (or different color socks or something).

  11. Yo, I cannot WAIT for SaltyChat tonight! It’s gonna be so fun to talk about style with everyone in real time! Practicality aside, my goal is always to either look like I’m at a rave or look like I’m about to go on stage at a rock show… Practicality is annoying. It gets in the way of this goal. 🙂