Athletic Apparel

Athletic Apparel

Athletic Apparel

In order to look, perform, and feel your best when participating in any sports activity, it is important to choose your clothing wisely. Always look for fabrics that will keep your body cool and dry. Whenever you participate in outdoor activities and it is dark, or when you will be near motor vehicles, cyclists, or other individuals, it is smart to wear brightly colored or reflective clothing which will make you more visible. Proper sizing on all athletic garments is essential. Clothing that is too tight can restrict your body's range of motion and interfere with performance. It is also important to wear clothes that will keep your muscles warm and ready to perform.

Common Fabrics Found In Athletic Apparel

  • Cotton:A very comfortable, soft fabric that breathes fairly well and does a good job of drawing moisture away from the body. It is commonly found in sports apparel of all kinds.
  • Nylon:Also known as Antron®, nylon is a synthetic, durable fiber that has a shiny appearance. Nylon holds colors longer than most other fabrics. Combined with Lycra®, it is an extremely popular fiber.
  • Spandex®:Also known as Lycra®. An elastic fiber that can stretch greatly without tearing and return to its original shape. It is often mixed with other fibers to make a very resilient and flexible fabric.
  • Supplex®:Very lightweight, strong and durable fabric which feels and looks a lot like cotton. It also dries quickly and distributes moisture throughout the garment. This prevents the "spotting" caused by heavy perspiration which occurs in cotton fabrics.
  • Gore-Tex®:A waterproof, windproof fabric that is very breathable. A layer of Gore-Tex® is normally placed over other types of material to create a garment.
  • Coolmax®: This was designed to keep the user dry and cool. It is soft, yet retains 14 times less moisture than cotton. It will not stick or cling to the skin.
  • Tactel®:Soft, durable fabric that is breathable and holds colors extremely well.
  • Aquator®:A mixture of cotton and Tactel®. It does an excellent job of keeping the body dry.

Types of Athletic Apparel

  • Athletic supporters: Commonly referred to as jock straps, they provide support to the male private parts. Some athletes always wear them during competition, while others feel that a cotton brief is sufficient. Some athletic supporters have a pouch sewn in them in which to place a rigid groin protector cup.
  • Bicycling jerseys: If you are a serious cyclist, a cycling jersey is recommended. Jerseys that stretch in more than one direction will give the best fit. On hot days pick a lighter colored jersey, and on cool days pick a darker one. The best jerseys are made from Nylon/Lycra®, Supplex/Lycra®, Coolmax®, and ESP®. These materials are best at keeping the body cool and dry. The fit of the jersey should be snug as you sit in your riding position on your bike.
  • Bicycle shorts: These shorts are mandatory for anyone who spends a lot of time cycling. They offer cushioning, prevent chafing, and offer protection from the sun's harmful rays. True cycling shorts have a liner in the crotch. Shorts for men are made differently than shorts for women­especially the liners­so be sure to check the tag. Shorts made from nylon and Lycra® are most common. Make sure the fabric is breathable. Look for shorts that have flat drawstrings that won't cut into your body like round ones and that don't have a seam running down the middle of the liner.
  • Briefs: Briefs are close fitting, lightweight, high-cut underpants. For both sexes, briefs should be made of fabric that is breathable, comfortable, and non-binding. Cotton briefs are ideal for most individuals. High-cut briefs allow the maximum amount of movement. Briefs offer much better support for men than do boxer shorts.
  • Compression shorts: Compression shorts are snug fitting shorts normally made from Lycra®. They are designed to help warm the muscles quickly and keep them warm longer. They may help prevent muscle injuries. Compression shorts are often worn beneath other shorts.
  • Foul-weather athletic suits: Should be lightweight, breathable, waterproof (or at least water resistant), and should not restrict your movement. Look for garments made with materials like Gore-Tex®, Thintech®, or Isofilm®. These materials are waterproof, breathable, and wind resistant.
  • Golf gloves: Most golfers wear a golf glove on their non-dominant hand while they are playing. A golf glove can provide a better grip and prevent blisters from forming on the hands. Golf gloves are commonly made of leather or synthetic leather. They normally have an adjustable velcro® closure. Make sure that your golf glove fits properly. It should not bunch and there should not be too much extra room at the finger tips. It also should not be extremely tight. After using a golf glove, lay it out flat so it can dry this way. This will make your glove keep its shape better, stay softer longer, and prolong its life.
  • Golf shirts: Golf shirts should be comfortable and allow lots of freedom of movement. Many golf clubs have dress codes for golfers. The normal golf shirt that will pass muster at nearly every course is a short sleeve, pullover collared shirt. The sleeves on a golf shirt should be a little longer than on a normal polo shirt. This gives the golfer more protection from the sun and added comfort. If your shirt has ribbing on the bottom of the sleeves, make sure that it is not so tight that it could restrict your swing. Pick fabrics that tend to draw perspiration away from the body. Cotton is a favorite fabric among golfers.
  • Golf slacks: Golf slacks are worn by many male golfers at golf clubs around the country. Slacks must be comfortable and non-restricting. Make sure your pants are not too tight or your swing may be restricted. It is often necessary to have golf pants tailored so they fit properly. Proper tailoring of your pants will not only make you look better, but will also allow you to perform your best.
  • Hats: Hats offer protection from the sun's harmful rays. Hats with long bills on them like baseball caps shield the eyes and face from the sun. Hats can also keep the body cool on hot days. Lightly colored hats are best for hot days. Dark hats are better for cooler days. On hot days, choose hats that have nylon mesh panels, or are made of materials which breathe easily like Supplex®, to keep the head dry and cool. Adjustable hats are usually best because they can be adjusted so they won't fall off during movement.
  • Headbands and wristbands: Many athletes like to use headbands to keep perspiration from rolling down their forehead and into their eyes. Wristbands keep the hands dry by absorbing perspiration which rolls down the arms. Both are commonly made out of soft cotton which does a good job of absorbing perspiration. Many athletes who play racquet sports use wristbands to keep their hands and the grips on their racquets dry. It may be necessary to change headbands or wristbands if they become saturated with perspiration during an activity.
  • Leotards: Various materials are used to make leotards including Spandex®, nylon, cotton, Tactel®, Supplex®, Coolmax®, and Dryline®. Proper fit is important for maximum performance and appearance. Sizes from different manufacturers often vary, so try on several different leotards before buying one to decide which one fits and looks the best. A properly sized leotard will not ride up in the front or the rear and will not droop or sag anywhere. The shoulder straps should be loose enough to place your thumbs beneath. If you can't do this, then you need a larger size. If the leotard has a bra built in, make sure that you fill it out properly. Look for leotards that have flat neat seams in them and that have good recovery properties­meaning that they maintain their shape even after repeated stretching.

    Choosing a leotard that will make you look your best: Dark colors seem to recede. So black, burgundy, blue, and other dark colors will make the body look thinner. Outfits of all one color will also have a slimming effect. To minimize the hips, thighs, and waist, avoid tight belts or other elastics that can create bulges. Also, a leotard with high-cut legs will make the legs look longer and the thighs look thinner. A high leg and a high waist on a leotard can have a slimming effect on the waist. To make a large chest look smaller, choose tops that have higher necks and that cover the chest. Also, detail at or below the waist will focus attention at other areas. To make a smaller chest appear larger, choose a top with bright colors, or even a bustier.

  • Running shorts: Should be made from lightweight, non-chafing, breathable fabrics. Some examples include: Spandex®, nylon, Supplex®, and Coolmax®. Cotton is not suggested because it traps moisture in the fabric next to the skin. Some running shorts come with briefs already sewn into them. In this case, many people find that other briefs and athletic supporters are not necessary. Shorts should be relatively short in length, to prevent restriction of leg movement and to prevent chafing of the inner thighs. It is also a good idea to buy brightly colored shorts which will make you more visible to motorists. Wearing brightly colored, or even reflective, shorts and other clothing is especially important when running at night, dawn, or dusk.
  • Running pants: If there is foul weather you will probably want to wear some waterproof or water resistant running pants. Choose light, breathable fabrics like Gore-Tex®, Tactel®, and Thintech®. Pants with a drawstring and elastic at the waist normally fit the best. Also, look for pants that have at least a ten inch zipper on the pants legs so you can put them on and take them off without removing your shoes.
  • Running tights: Tights are close fitting garments worn on the legs. They keep the leg muscles warm and may help to prevent injuries. Common materials found in tights are cotton, nylon, polypropylene, Supplex®, and Coolmax®. Tights made with polypropylene and Thermax® are best for very cold conditions. For added comfort, some tights have liners in the crotch to draw moisture away from the body. Running tights are available in a wide variety of colors and patterns to suit any taste. For optimum comfort and fit make sure the tights have elastic and a flat drawstring at the waist so they will not dig into your skin. Tights that have stirrups or elastic on the bottoms are best since they will prevent the legs of the tights from continually rising up on your legs while you are running.
  • Socks: Socks are very important pieces of sports apparel which are often overlooked. Some athletes prefer thick socks and others prefer thin ones; sock thickness is a matter of personal preference. Some athletes like the reduced weight of a thinner sock; while others prefer the added cushioning and durability of a thicker sock. All socks should keep the feet dry and cool by drawing moisture away from the foot. They should also provide some cushioning effect and prevent chafing between the foot and the shoe. If you are prone to getting blisters on your feet, try wearing two pairs of socks. This may help prevent blisters. Socks made from cotton, Coolmax®, and Tactel® are best. They will keep your feet dry and cool.
  • Sports bras: All women should wear a sports bra when participating in physically demanding activities. They provide extra support and prevent the breasts from losing their elasticity and sagging. Avoid bras with plastic or metal snaps that can dig into your body during a workout. Also, look for bras that have wider shoulder straps that won't cut into your shoulders and back. Ventilated panels are a nice feature since they prevent perspiration from being trapped in the clothing. A sports bra with an athletic, y-back design will allow the maximum amount of movement in the upper body.
  • Sweats: These garments are commonly made of cotton or polyester. They are typically very soft and fairly warm, although somewhat heavy. Cotton sweats do a decent job of drawing moisture away from the body, but they tend to trap it in the garment. During intense exercise this can result in a heavy, wet sweatshirt or sweatpants.
  • Swimcaps: Swimcaps are normally made from rubber. They can protect your hair from chlorine and keep it dry and out of your eyes. They also improve performance by reducing drag. Some pools require swimcaps.
  • Swimsuits: Performance swimsuits should be sleek and well-fitted. They should be made of materials such as nylon or spandex® that stretch and do not absorb water. Normally, competitive female swimmers will wear a one piece suit and male swimmers will wear a brief. When selecting a new performance suit, make sure it is not too tight or it will restrict your movement. If the suit rides up in the front or rear, or is too tight across the chest, switch to a larger size, or to a different style or brand of suit.

    Non-competitive (recreational) swimsuits should also be comfortable and fit well. They are available in an endless array of styles and colors. It is smart to pick swimsuits that do not absorb water and thus dry more quickly. Suits which contain nylon will keep their shape and color longer than suits made from many other materials.

    Picking a suit to flatter your body: Choosing the right suit can minimize any features you do not particularly like and emphasize the features which you consider to be your strong points. To minimize hips and thighs, avoid suits with belts or elastics in these areas which can create bulges. High-cut sides will cause thighs to appear longer and thinner. To minimize your waistline, once again, avoid belts and elastics that can create bulges. Diagonal stripes and shirring (fabric gathered at the sides of the suit) will cause attention to shift away from the waistline. To divert attention from a large chest, choose suits with ruffles or draping at the bustline or that cover the chest entirely. To enhance a smaller chest, pick suits that focus attention on the bust with things like shirring, bright colors, and patterns. To make legs appear longer, choose high-cut suits.

  • T-shirts: Many recreational athletes wear T-shirts when they are exercising or participating in different types of sports and activities. These shirts are usually made mostly from cotton. T-shirts are very comfortable, affordable, and durable garments. The cotton in most T-shirts draws moisture away from the skin quite effectively. When participating in intense activity, don't wear T-shirts that have large, painted or embroidered designs on them. These logos can trap perspiration on the skin instead of drawing it into the shirt and allowing it to evaporate.
  • Tennis shirts: The typical tennis shirt is short sleeve and collared. Tennis shirts should not restrict the mobility of the upper body. They should keep the body cool and dry. White or lightly colored shirts are best on hot days. Remember, some clubs require that tennis shirts and outfits be predominantly white in color.
  • Tennis shorts: These garments are normally short to allow maximum leg mobility. They are often made from cotton and polyester. Tennis shorts should have a pocket that can hold an extra tennis ball.

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