A Sporting Good Chance: Advice For How To Look Good When You Sweat

This is sports, yeah?

In IBC’s ongoing attempt to address reader questions and advice requests, I decided to do a post on something I know nothing about : clothing for people who enjoy playing sports. Last week, a reader posted the following comment on IBC’s Facebook page:

Today in preppy conundrums:

What should I wear to field hockey practice?! How do I keep my sweaty hair out of my face

without looking like a douche?

Today in MvB conundrums: what is field hockey again? Is that like lacrosse? That’s lacrosse, right? Wait. What’s lacrosse again? Is that like rugby with sticks or something?

That reader’s question prompted a thread wherein many readers expressed confusion about how to look good while participating in everything from yoga, to Crossfit, to belly dancing. One reader even articulated a deeply-held suspicion of shorts in general (stay tuned for a post on Wed. about only this).

What I think of when someone says the word "Sports."

Before I begin, you should know–if you don’t by now–that I have no experience what-so-ever with sporty things. I’ve often been heard saying that I only want to run if something’s chasing me, and by that I mean a rabid animal or some other immanent threat. Somewhat ironically, I’m actually a really good runner. After a random race day in 7th grade gym class in which it became apparent that I could sprint like a motherfucker, my gym teacher tried relentlessly to get me to join the track team. I relentlessly declined because I found that being a shy, flat-chested girl with strange interests and a boy’s name in junior high meant that I was already exhausted from running emotionally from the verbal jabs of my crappy peers. I didn’t need to spend time with them outside of school, too.

Last year I won $10 when my boss bet me that I couldn’t run full speed from the bottom of Octavia St. all the way to the top without slowing down or throwing up. For those of you not familiar with the San Francisco city landscape, Octavia St. is a street in Hayes Valley that for 3 blocks has a constant uphill grade that LOOKS slight, but has been the downfall of many a casual city cyclist. I ran from the bottom to the top without slowing down or throwing up and walked away with $10 and a comedic sense of pride. A little like when I wrote a haiku about my number one junior high bully that successfully publicly humiliated him and put an end to his teasing. I WIN!

Now, sports clothing advice!

For activities that involve running

It seems that many sports involve running. This includes field hockey, which after some research I discovered is literally hockey played on a field instead of on ice. Makes sense! So, the reader who posted on FB wanted to know what to wear to field hockey practice and how to keep her sweaty hair out of her face.

Let’s start with what to wear to practice. I already suggested these sweatpant-esque shorts:

Along the same lines are these other sweatpants shorts:

Darker material makes them easier to clean.

There’s also always Nike, who makes some surprisingly decent looking sportswear.

If you’re looking for a whole outfit, then take a look at vintage sporting photos. It used to be that people always looked good when they were engaged in sweaty activities.


So buy this:

Technically tennis shorts, but you have to run in tennis, too.

And this to go on top:

Or head over to REI and buy this simple runners shirt (says it handles moisture like a dream):

The women's runners shirts were all in crappy colors. This is nice and simple and matches all of those shorts.

Or you could just buy this whole amazing outfit and hope your team doesn’t notice that you have the wrong name AND sport referenced on your practice clothes.


As for keeping your sweaty hair out of your face, I always like a good headband. Here are a couple that look pretty decent:



Really, though, you should get a plain headband and then have it personalized in some way, because that would be the most badass.

So much potential was lost in these examples. You could have ANYTHING embroidered onto your headband and you chose "Go Wildcats?"

Other outfit options include:


Activities that are yoga.

Yoga is something I have steered clear of for a long time because everyone talks about it and the more people talk about it, the less inclined I am to do it. Particularly because if I’m not going to sit in meditation for 8 hours, I’m not going to stretch as though I’m about to. Breathing, exercise (poses), meditation. But then, I’m a suspicious personality in general, and if it’s a physical activity of some kind that has a vocal following, I’m even more suspicious.

So, yoga. What happens there? You sweat a lot and you need clothes that can withstand bodily contortions and bizarre poses, yes?

Here is a truth: yoga pants don’t look good on anyone. Even the supremely physically fit.

Oh the butts. Somehow, not attractive.

This Hindu priest and Yogi, on the other hand, looks awesome:

Baggy pants. Maybe linen.

Now, again, I’ve never tried yoga, but it seems to me that you’d be better off going with the Yogi’s idea of what to wear (though to be fair, there are A LOT of loin cloth scenarios when you look at actual Yogis), and go with some lightweight linen, drawstring pants.

Yoga and the beach are always together, right? You know, for maximized contemplative stretching.

If you’re worried about your pant legs flopping around, then go with this sort of deal:

Or better yet, this:

As for up top, just go with whatever’s comfortable, right? A nice cotton t-shirt in a pleasant color, runners shirt to sop up moisture, etc.

Activities that are Crossfit.

What is Crossfit? I think those are the people I see running down the street carrying strange objects of varying weights. At least they come out of a re-purposed mechanic’s shop that says “CROSSFIT.”

Honestly, I can’t imagine anything working better for this sort of activity than a striped tank top and black shorts. Or, when the weather’s colder, a striped shirt and black pants.

When looking for anything striped, I hit surf shop sites first. LOOK:


Or nice sweat shorts (see top of post again):

As someone not really interested in sports that don’t involve a horse or a deadly weapon, it seems to me that the biggest block to being able to feel like you look good aesthetically when you’re doing your sport or exercise  is group think– the downfall of nearly everything awesome. For example, since I’m not doing any of these activities, I don’t think about what everyone else is wearing or what you’re supposed to wear according to retail marketing.  Instead I think “well, what would you need to do during these activities and what sort of clothes can you get from all over that would serve that function?” Sort of like how one summer a few years ago, I couldn’t find any swimsuits I liked, so I just wore underwear from American Apparel. Bikini…underwear… there’s BARELY a difference. Throw on a pair of giant sunglasses and people just think you’re a hungover rebel who doesn’t care that she’s wearing underwear to the beach. Or at least, that’s how I rationalized it.

You don’t need to go to yoga pants stores to be able to find pants that would be comfortable for your yoga activities. And if you’re willing to not look like everyone else coming out of the yoga studio, you can find clothes that suit who you are as a person. And as with most things, I think it’s useful to leave the present and return to the source if you’re in need of inspiration. Yogis invented yoga, so they likely have a better idea of what works for that activity, than say, anyone who didn’t invent yoga.

As for the belly dance question… I’m sorry. I just couldn’t figure out a good solution for that one.

Stay tuned for Wednesday when I will convince another reader of why shorts are AWESOME.


About Michael von Braithwaite

Does it look like I'd wear it on a boat, at an eccentric person's estate or accompanied by a peacock on a chain? Yeah, I'll probably buy that.


  1. i haven’t even finished reading this but had to rush down to this comment box to celebrate, vehemently, its hilarity. now i will go back up and read the rest. also, i just finished knitting a gauntlet. i think you’d like it.

  2. Jonanna

    Those tennis shorts are the SHIT!

    • Michael von Braithwaite

      They ARE aren’t they! I want to buy them myself. In fact, I’ve been scouring the globe for all manner of vintage tennis shorts. They’re always incredible.

  3. MB- I’ve gathered that you are currently Providence girl so I feel inclined to let you know that that Crossfit building isn’t actually an old auto shop (I mean, maybe it was at some point)- it was, and you couldn’t imagine this in your wildest dreams, A PRIVATE REPTILE ZOO. Yes. Called “Regal Reptiles”. It was there for YEARS! God, Providence is so weird.

    Also, let’s not talk about the smell that assaulted that block after RR moved out and renovations began.

    • Michael von Braithwaite

      STOP IT! Are you serious?! Oh, I wish it was STILL a reptile zoo. Though I can’t imagine that would have been a good scene for the reptiles. REGAL REPTILES! Amazing. I’m off to look up everything I can find about Regal Reptiles.

  4. Pingback: Most recently released Coupons For Hyde Women’s Jen Jen Tank

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