Getting Fit With Style – Don’t Dress Like a Gym Rat!

September 23, 2008

Many people who decide to get fit, forget everything they know about fashion and style. I am not sure what the deal is, but as soon as someone gets in great shape they take every opportunity to show off their new physique. If you dress in sleeveless shirts and tank tops 75% of the time, then this post is for you. If you wear sweat pants in public and have no intention of working out, then pleeeease read this post. I’m just trying to help!

[Women like it when a man dresses up every now and then. Even though this guy is wearing dress clothes, you can tell he is fit.]

 Showing off Your Rocking Body Without Trying Too Hard

When you get in great shape and look good, you do want to show it off a bit…but you want to do it in a strategic way. The best approach to take in my opinion is to have a ‘funky’ look if you are going to wear super-fitted clothes. A woman who dresses like a stripper will get attention, but the one who dresses in hip Urban clothes will create a sexier look.

Fitted vs. Tight Clothing

I have to admit it, I do have a few t-shirts that are pretty darn tight…but I normally save those for lounging around at home or going to the grocery store. When you are hitting the town, it is best to aim for fitted clothes. Also, slim people can probably get away with tighter clothes than overly muscular people…this is just an observation. Whenever I see a guy with 18 inch biceps in a tight t-shirt, I just can’t help think how cheesy this looks. On the flip side, slim ‘indie rockers’ look cool in tight t-shirts.

Overly Baggy is Just as Bad, If Not Worse Than Too Tight

I never liked the baggy look. It just looks cheap to me. Fine clothes are tailored to fit. You don’t have to get clothes tailored, but aim for clothes that look like they were made to fit your body. The sagging pants deal has been big in the hip-hop scene for close to 20 years, but luckily that look is finally dying. Sorry…the waist of your pants should be at least somewhere close to your waist. Wearing at the level of your hips is fine, wearing them below your butt is not!

[My girlfriend is a fashion designer and she makes high-end dresses…I had to throw this photo in for her. She likes the way women look in dresses and so do I.]

Pay Attention to Style and Create Your ‘Look’

Have you ever thought about how clothes are a big part of first impressions. People have to use shortcuts to decide what someone is all about…they simply don’t have time to talk to every person that they run across. A guy with a leather vest and handlebar mustache will send off different signals than a man in a tailored suit. A girl wearing a summer dress looks different than a girl with a hooded sweatshirt. I’m not saying one look is better than the other (well I am kind of) I am just saying that people do judge you based on your overall look.

People Do Enjoy a Unique Look the Person Can Pull it Off

I love it when someone has a funky style or has their own look. A good example of this is Beck. Pretty much nobody else could look good wearing some of the stuff this guy wears, but he makes it look cool. He “owns it”…he is congruent with the look. As long as the look seems to fit the personality of the person, then outlandish and wild looks cool.

Speaking of Beck…You Gotta Love “Gamma Ray”

[Yeah…I’m partial to Indie Rock…especially the new stuff mixed with Industrial. Remember, I live in downtown Seattle and we eat this stuff up.]

I Bought the New Album by MGMT today…”Brilliant”!

[Yeah…no fashion tips here, but just an amazing new band. These guys should be huge…they have an indie sound with some late 80’s new wave synthesizers in this song. Every song on this album is exceptional…two thumbs up!]

I’ll Throw in One More Video…Band of Horses

[Theses guys have the extra scruffy look, that works for them. You would almost have to be in a band to pull this look off. Don’t let their looks fool you, they put out some beautiful tunes.]

So Back to Style…

I just can’t help it, I love music and especially unique bands. Okay…so the idea with fashion is to not get stuck in a rut where you only wear workout clothing. I have seen bodybuilding videos where the guys are walking around downtown in those weird baggy Everlast pants and cut sweatshirts. Sorry…totally corny!

Another Reason to Stay Slim Instead of Bulky

You will look better in a variety of different types of clothing. A slim GQ looking guy looks cool in a sleeveless shirt and jeans…a massive guy can’t pull this off in the same way. A slim and fit female looks great in a cocktail dress…a female bodybuilder in a cocktail dress looks like…’a female bodybuilder in a cocktail dress’! If you are bigger, you almost need to ‘tone down’ your look a bit to look cool.

You Can Workout Without Going to the Dark Side

Unfortunately most of the big fitness sites and magazines still have people working out in WAY too much spandex for my liking. You don’t have to transport back to the 80’s and to pick out your gym clothing. I’m not saying that I dress up for the gym, but I certainly look like I have progressed to the new millennium. When I go into the free weight room these thoughts run through my head…”Welcome to the year 2000 people”…”I am from the future where spandex has been outlawed”…”I come in peace and mean you no harm”.

Bottom Line, Don’t Just Get Fit, Pay Attention to Style As Well!

----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Yegin - No Diet Needed September 23, 2008 at 1:02 am

Hey Rusty,
I have to admit, I was a bit nervous when I saw the title and remembered the post with the Bond Swimsuit :). But it turned out to be just another great post. Absolutely agree, we spend all this time to bake the cake, why to screw up all the taste with bad icing.

Methuselah September 23, 2008 at 1:36 am

Good post, Rusty – another advantage of detatching oneself from the muscle-head philosophy is, of course, that you stop listening to their woefully wide-of-the mark advice on nutrition which has largely been cobbled together by people who’ve had far too many steroids or put forward by people in the pay of the supplement industry.

Anyway, on the style front, I have found one of the few unfortunate by-products of my new slim, lean, but muscular physique to be that my waist is now so narrow that I cannot get trousers that both fit my waist and are long enough. Tops look much better now though!

Trygve September 23, 2008 at 12:19 pm

we share the same feelings for that category. great post

Ron September 23, 2008 at 12:25 pm

Since you mentioned music, I thought I’d point out some bands that you might not have heard of, but might like…

1) R.L. Burnside
2) Los Campesinos! (the exclamation point is actually part of the band name)

Back to fashion…
Also, as a guy on the slightly shorter side, it’s hard to find jeans that aren’t too long, so I end up rolling them up, which makes me look as short as I am. In my town, it’s hard to find a tailor who knows about re-attaching the original hem. The all look at me like I’m nuts when I ask them about it, but I tell you it’s been done! The internet told me so! And as we all know, everything on the internet is true…right? 🙂

Yeah, good post. Though the people that look and/or dress poorly do serve the function of making the rest of us look better.

Oh, but maybe you or someone else here can answer this…
When you go to get pants hemmed, what shoes do you wear??
For instance, sometimes I like to wear combat boots. Other times, I wear something similar to a Chuck Tailor shoe (they’re actually the Simple Shoes eco sneaks line – shoes made from recycled materials!). The type of shoe I wear affects how the pants look/how tall I am. So…what to do? Wear the Chucks, which I’m shorter in? Or wear the boots, but risk that making the pants too short and, therefore, look silly with the chucks? Rusty, that might be a question to throw at your girlfriend, since she’s a fashion designer.

Ron September 23, 2008 at 1:26 pm

Hmm…after some reading, I guess the better option seems to be to wear the boots, since I’d be taller with them and the jeans would be longer. I had it backwards, thinking that the jeans would end up shorter if I wore the boots.

Trevor September 23, 2008 at 1:36 pm


i couldn’t agree with this topic more. i pay a lot of attention to what i wear, and i’ve found that as i continue to get in better shape, clothes keep looking better.

i think fit is more important that anything though. it bothers me when people wear $250 jeans that don’t fit them well. fit is more important than the brand. if levis fit you better than true religion….wear levis. being a musician, i have to have a good “rock star” look. i tend to focus on the overall look than what brand i’m wearing….though i AM a big fan of buffalo and ben sherman.

another good post…something that needed to be said.

Helder September 23, 2008 at 5:00 pm

I’m 1000% (yes thousand) with you Rusty, clothings are very important to look good, if your body looks really good, but you don’t dress in a good way that fits you well, you’ll still be far away from your goal of looking good.

The worse part is bodybuilders, at least most of them, i still pick up BB magazines from time to time ( i don’t buy them no ) just to have a good laugh, you can say i’m being bad or whatever, but it’s ridiculous to see those pro bb’s still dressing like in the 80’s, there’s a portuguese word for that kind of style and other similars, it’s “Chunga” it goes for someone who doesnt look good, usually someone who dresses really bad, and also someone who is sloppy, or has a poor hygiene or no education. I’m not saying those BB’s have a poor hygiene or no education, i was only saying all the different meanings of the word chunga.

Anyway back to the topic, style is very important and like you said it’s not the brand that counts, but the way it fits. And of course those bulked guys can’t fit well in any clothes, they never look natural no matter what, they always have a weird unnatural look.

admin September 24, 2008 at 10:08 am


Yeah…It takes a brave and abnormal person to put up a picture like that for all to see. I had to take the James Bond swimsuit picture off the first page, because I was sick of looking at it. I’ll try to avoid the scary pictures for a while 🙂


I hate it that so many people in he fitness industry push supplements so hard. You can get ripped without ever taking a supplement. I do take a strong antioxidant, only because I don’t eat as much veggies as I should.


I do like to put up posts like these every now and then, especially for new people to this site. I can’t stand the meat head mentality and want people to know that they don’t have to turn into a dork to become fit. Yes…I think a large percentage of guys and girls that workout are “out of touch” to a certain extent. It is no surprise that many people who pay for gym memberships don’t go as often as they should. There are some weird freaks in a lot of gyms.


Good music recommendation…I went on I-tunes and downloaded “Death of Los Campesinos!”…great song. I think boots are the way to go as well.


You are right that the clothes don’t have to be super-expensive. I bought my favorite pair of jeans for $80. They are Guess jeans that look like True Religion’s $290 jeans, but the Guess ones fit me better. I don’t buy cheap clothes, but I can’t see spending over $200 for jeans or over $100 for a shirt.


I like the word “Chunga”…that is funny. I just recently picked up a copy of Flex Magazine and flipped through the pages. I can’t believe that some of those publications still exist. They have terrible advice and most of the magazine is devoted to selling supplements. Too bad the supplements many of the guys featured in the magazine take our steroids. Madness.



Done September 24, 2008 at 5:09 pm

Hi Rusty…

I almost fell of my chair reading your spandex thoughts hehehe!!! I totally agree.. i mean come on – we know its not really that big.. i can see the length of your thumb !!!!!

hehehe 🙂 Funny!


Hassan September 24, 2008 at 7:42 pm

hey rusty, i have a problem, which is basically i manage to lose weight everywhere other then my legs, and i dont like my legs as they are really big and chunky looking, so that means trying to wear jeans doesnt always fit, how can i slim them down nicely? as all i have at home is an exercise bike, is there a way to slim my legs and my glutes down to my body size?

Jubby September 25, 2008 at 8:47 am

Hey rusty, unfortunately my comment isnt about dressing with style. haha. sorry bout that. Its more about my routine actually and if i could get some feedback from you that would be great as well. Here is my workout routine.

Monday: Chest and Back (all exercises revolves around 5 reps)
Tuesday: Shoulders, triceps then biceps ( revolves around 5 reps as well)
Thursday: Same as mondays
Friday: Same as tuesdays

Besides, i play alot of basketball as well. Love it to bits. And in my workout routines, i will hit the HIIT as well as steady state as well. I have just started on this as ive only started reading your blog and found it really interesting. I am starting to see a little definition after 3 weeks especially on my triceps. However, my shoulders are not looking defined at all. I would like a shoulder routine if possible, which you think might work for me.

P.S : This blog is very informative. THANKS RUSTY.

Yavor September 25, 2008 at 10:26 am

Yup, what good is a fit body if you dress like a slob.

Make sure your clothes fit. Don’t wear super tight jeans but don’t walk around with something baggy either. If your jeans are too baggy, your will ruin your proportions (waist/shoulder ratio) Also, shirt shoulder seams go just outside of your shoulder.


AC September 25, 2008 at 2:24 pm


First I just want to say I LOVE your site, really awesome. Now for a few questions since it seems this is the most recent blog you’ve done.

I’ve been wondering how long it will take to see a good set of abs, I’m 5’5 (close to 5’6) and weigh 122. I’ve been struggling with an ED for about a year (under 500 calories a day) and am slowly trying to ease back into eating a bit more.

I’m doing your plank exercises and was wondering if I do them twice a day how long will it take to see results? I also do water polo 2 hours 5 days a week. We are actually working a lot on grip strength especially for the nondominant hand so we can shoot better.

Keep up the awesome posts and this one about fashion is so true.

eric September 25, 2008 at 3:29 pm

i love MGMT! you should hear vampire weekend, the klaxons and late of the pier as well…i think you like it because they all are into the “80s synthesizer sound”!

admin September 25, 2008 at 10:16 pm


It sound like your legs are the last place to lose weight. You probably just need to focus on losing a bit more weight from diet and cardio. A strong emphasis on distance running for a while is a great way to slim down the legs…typically I suggest intervals and shorter more intense training unless someone naturally puts on too much muscle in their butt, hips, and legs.


Getting stronger with overhead presses goes a long way, but sometimes you have to shock the muscles a bit if they are lagging behind other muscle groups. If they are already defined, but not as big as the rest of your body…then double the volume of sets for a while just on your shoulders. If you shoulders are big, but need more definition…try push presses for a single rep. This is a “quick lift” and it isn’t meant to be done for more than 6 weeks. It will add a bit more density to the shoulder and allow you to handle more weight when you go back to strict heavy shoulder presses.

Basically grab an olympic barbell and clean it up to your shoulders. Rest for a couple of seconds and then explode the weight overhead and hold for a few seconds. Go on Youtube to watch a video which explains proper form. You can do quite a few sets of these starting light and working your way up to heavy weight.


I completely agree. Speaking of baggy pants ruining proportions…I would suggest that most men avoid pleated dress pants. They create a curvy look in the hips that doesn’t look as good as flat front dress pants. If you have the choice, I would always recommend sticking with flat front pants.


You certainly can do planks more than once per day. Since this is a static hold exercise, it is unlikely to damage the muscles at all, so it won’t require recuperation like a normal lift. It is hard to say how long the results will come. My abs really started to sharpen up after 6 months of consistent effort when I first began lifting. Some people take longer and some people have abs without muc effort at all. Thanks for the compliment…I enjoy hearing from new readers!


I’ll look up the Klaxons and Late of the Pier…I have not heard of those two bands. I have heard of Vampire Weekend, but have only heard one of their songs. I saw Shiny Toy Guns last night in a small 100 person venue. They were playing songs that haven’t been released yet…it sounded great!

Good comments guys!


The Spaniard September 26, 2008 at 3:28 pm

Hello Rusty.
I have been wanting to write on your site for a long time. Eventhough there are many things that I like about your page there are other things that I’ve been wanting to dispute (ex: Mark’s Daily Apple). I have decided to start with this article because of your comment about pleated pants. I think that you are wrong about this issue. Have you seen Tiger Woods or George Clooney wearing pleated pants? Pleated pants create a problem when you have a belly and you buy them short, like Phil MIckelson, or you have no ass. If you buy the right size, whether you wear them with a suit or just with a shirt or polo the look you get is more sophisticated than the one you can achieve with flat front pants. Pleated pants are dress pants; flat front are more casual, say like khakis. As far as pleated pants are concerned are you referring to pleated “dockers”? Pleated pants need to be of the appropriate fabric: a winter wool, a tropical wool, etc…
I will be back with other comments that I have.

The Spaniard September 26, 2008 at 4:18 pm

I forgot. There is one trend today that I find absolutely disgusting, tacky, classless, etc… you name it: wearing flip flops with pants. Flip flops are for the beach, not for walking downtown or going to a restaurant. You have to wear them with a bathing suit or bermudas, but always on the beach. If you wear pants, regardless if they are pleated, flat front, jeans, khakis, dockers, chinos, you must wear shoes. I see people everywhere wearing flip flops and they don’t realize they look as dorky as the ones wearing crocs.

katie September 26, 2008 at 4:20 pm

rusty, you should do a post on a 4-5 month plan for getting in shape for spring! lots of people go on vacations or spring break at that time and fall is the best time to start preparing.

Hassan September 26, 2008 at 7:27 pm

what do you recomend i do? exercise bike? or treadmill? as i think i put weight on in my legs and my glutes easily, i want to slim down and make it look really even with my body, can you show me what kind of workout i can do for my legs to lose that extra bulk and slim down fully?

Hassan September 27, 2008 at 8:32 am

my problem is that i put weight on in my legs and my glutes really easily, and i need a way to tone them legs up, because my body looks slimmer then my legs, and i need a fix for this, as i cant wear right size jeans for my body, and i have to wear baggy as tight or nice fitted look doesnt go with big legs, how can i drop them in size asap, even if it is a drastic way to do it, i dont mind, as long as they are slim ill be happy.

Hassan September 27, 2008 at 9:35 am

oops sorry about double post, thought my other post didnt show up so i redid another one lol, my bad rusty.

Tom Parker September 27, 2008 at 2:08 pm

Gotta admit Rusty I do tend to wear my workout clothes quite a lot outside of the gym. I don’t wear spandex though, usually just three quarter lengths and a vest. The reason is they’re just so comfy. However, I know what you mean. Usually, when going out in public it is worth making the effort as people do see you differently otherwise.

Yavor September 29, 2008 at 6:10 am


Start running for 5-15 minutes and increase that slowly to 45 mins. You can maybe run 3 times a week and add 5minutes every third workout. This will help you lose weight and also will make your thighs smaller.


Hannah September 29, 2008 at 11:41 am

May get bashed a bit for this, but I wear sweatpants and a hoodie


People freak out when I wear jeans and ask me, “What’s the occasion?” with a smirk on their faces.

I just like it. It’s comfortable. Being a college student, I don’t feel the need to get dressed up for every little thing (;

jos September 29, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Hello Rusty

Gotta say I do love your site and it has become my one stop site for all fitness info, however I have noticed that you don’t have any posts on flexibility. I believe that being flexible is extremely important for a fit and functional body and i was wondering why the lack of posts on this topic?

Iris Collado October 2, 2008 at 10:01 am

Hello Rusty

Another good article!. What is the proper workout attire for women? I wear two pieces of workout attire to the gym. First, I wear either spandex or tight sweatpants for running. Second, I do spinning after running so I wear either cycling pants or a running miniskirt for my spinning class. For my upper body, I always wear either a tank top or tight t-shirt. My gym is very stuffy and I try to stay cool during my workout. By the way, I am the only one wearing a miniskirt in the spinning class. I feel so comfortable that I do not mind about other people’s opinions.

admin October 4, 2008 at 9:48 pm

The Spaniard,

Good point about pleated pants..some people look decent in them. I guess I’m just more a flat front guy (personal preference).

I’m not a big fan of flip flops either. Maybe just when walking down to the beach or swimming pool. I know a lot of the younger folk wear them with jeans and have the whole Abercrombie or Hollister vibe going…I don’t think it is a terrible look, but I wouldn’t be able to pull it off (I don’t own a pair of flip flops). Wearing flip flops at night or in the city…not a great look (unless a pool or beach is nearby).


You are right…if you give yourself 4-6 months to prepare for spring or summer you will look amazing. If you wait until 30-60 days out, like most people…you will most likely be dissapointed. I’ll see what I can do!


Yavor gave you the exact advice I was going to give you (great minds thing alike…thanks Yavor).


College students typically don’t have spare cash or time to spend on fashionable clothes. I had a pretty limited wardrobe when I was in college as well.


If I did a post on flexibility I would be the biggest hypocrite ever! I am not very flexible at all and never have been. I’ll have to get someone to a guest post on the subject 🙂


It sonds like you dress perfectly for the occassion. I give you a lot of credit for going to spinning class. I have done it around 10-15 times and have got my butt kicked every time! The tough people aren’t in the freeweight area…the toughest people are in the spinning class. Lifting is a vacation compared to spinning. Anyone who has done both will agree!



Hassan October 11, 2008 at 12:31 pm

ok i will do thst, what about the intensity of the run though? HIIT or just moderate paced, because my legs contain mor muscle den fat because of all the soccer i play, because im a short guy, i just want to slim my legs down a bit so that my body looks all proportioned, so just need to know what level to exercise at, wouldnt an exercise bike help?

admin October 11, 2008 at 2:46 pm


Exercise bikes are great, but not for people who want to slim down muscular legs. Stick with running at various intensities…and you will be fine. Distance running will slim down your legs quicker than HIIT, but HIIT is great for training for your sport and is good for burning body fat…I would recommend a bit of both.


Hassan October 13, 2008 at 4:22 pm

ok so only treadmill running then…got it…i wil do that…thanks

Joseph Michael October 23, 2008 at 9:31 am

I really love this site…As someone who really has to work to stay in shape (genetic predispostion to diabetes and obesity) this is invaluable. I put on mass very easily, I’m 5’9″ and about 165-175
though my dad was my height and was 40-60 lbs heavier..

Great site…..great pics too! 😉

and off topic….check out my music/imagery

That’s Starla and I in the main photo…

Wayland May 19, 2010 at 12:10 am

” A slim and fit female looks great in a cocktail dress…a female bodybuilder in a cocktail dress looks like…’a female bodybuilder in a cocktail dress’ ” That right there, sir, is genius.

Matt Anderson October 11, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Genius my butt! Who in the hell cares how you dress. Stereotyping like that just fuels the already existing arrogance and intolerance that many people, like yourself, possess. I’m an avid powerlifter, and that is something I love to do and will continue to do until the day I leave this world. I’m a big (or “bulky” as you phrase it), strong, and muscular guy (6’1, 270 pounds) and I can still look good when I have my dress clothes tailored, in order to look professional, for my sales job. Yeah, I wear big and baggy clothes because I’m a big guy, and they are straight up comfortable! I don’t give a damn what other people think, and no one has ever criticized my so called lack of fasion sense. Your column is quite vain and highly judgemental. Terrible article!

Christopher February 18, 2011 at 4:27 am

You say that you come in peace, and yet at the same time, insist that spandex should be outlawed. What if I were to say that sunglasses, for instance, should be outlawed, if, hypothetically speaking, I found sunglasses distasteful? I am sure that you would take offense if you enjoyed wearing sunglasses. I live in Malaysia where the whether in incredibly hot. Constant summer all year round, so you’ll usually find me sporting tank tops and short shorts. I am not a bodybuilder, mind you. No offense towards bodybuilders, but I have no interest in attaining the bodybuilding physique. I’m not saying it’s a repulsive physique, but your goals are yours, and my goals are mine. But I still work hard in the gym on cardio and heavy weights, and have a fairly lean and toned body to show for it. Different women have different tastes, and just because some women find tank tops and low-cut tee shirts distasteful on men, others DO find them attractive to look at. Also, some women like their men a little on the chubby side and vice versa; if you don’t believe me, just head over to Tonga and see for yourself! Just like some men prefer curly-haired women, some prefer blondes, and others brunettes. Some men like women natural (no make up), while some like them with make up. Also, I think many women would have taken offense on your post on skinny women. While I am sure that your intentions were well, you did not seem to consider how an overweight woman would feel if she read your post. It is true that we should all strive for perfection in all aspects of life, but just because a woman doesn’t have a fitness model/actress/singer/catwalk body certainly does not mean she is unattractive or even unhealthy. I think that people these days have been indoctrinated into hating their bodies, just because they aren’t as slim as society deems ”sexy”. Sometimes, the fitness body may just not be in the individual’s genetic cards; I’m mesomorphic, so I put on muscle easily and burn fat equally easily, but endos and ectos would not have the luxury of good genes, unfortunately. Also, how do you know how a stripper dresses? Some of them dress modestly outside the strip club. Even so, the manner in which one dresses does not dictate what kind of person they are.

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