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What are the Different Types of Athletic Apparel?

By Vicki Hogue-Davies
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

Athletic apparel is clothing that is designed to be worn while working out. Specialized athletic apparel is made for a variety of sports and physical activities for men, women and children. Tops, bottoms, shoes and more are made to enhance the comfort and performance of wearers during workouts. Apparel is made for individual sports such as running and swimming and for team sports like soccer and baseball. Whatever the particular athletic endeavor, there is clothing available to wear while pursuing it.

Clothes for running include shorts and tops made of light, non-chafing materials. Running pants and jackets that keep the body warm in cooler weather also are available. Shoes for both road running and trail running are designed to support the body and lessen impact on joints and muscles.

Apparel for workouts in the water includes one-piece bathing suits for women designed with straps that stay in place. For men, swim briefs hug the body for a streamlined fit. Swim caps made of Lycra®, silicone or latex keep hair dry and chlorine-free and help reduce drag when swimming.

For team sports such as soccer, baseball and others, athletic apparel typically is customized to the specific colors and designs of the teams. Athletic apparel for soccer includes jerseys, shorts, shin guards and socks. Shoes with cleats on the bottom for traction on the field are worn in soccer and baseball. Other athletic apparel worn by baseball players includes jerseys, baseball pants and ball caps to keep the sun out of their eyes.

Athletic apparel also is designed for cyclists, basketball players, weightlifters, tennis players and athletes in a myriad of other activities. Cyclists wear specialized shorts with padded seats to stay comfortable on short and long rides. Basketball players typically wear sleeveless jerseys to allow easy movement of the arms. Athletic apparel for weightlifters allows for comfort and free range of motion while also showing off the body. Tennis apparel includes shorts and skirts with pockets large enough to hold tennis balls.

Clothes for working out typically are made of fabrics designed to wick moisture away from the skin, which helps keep the body cool and dry. Nonbinding materials that allow the body to move and bend in different directions easily also are important in athletic apparel. Considerations for the particular activity are a key factor. For example, athletic apparel for the gym includes pants and shorts made of fabrics such as spandex that fit closely to the body so as not to become caught in gym machines.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By LisaLou — On Sep 04, 2011

I like to wear athletic apparel when I am working out, but don't always like to pay the high prices for some of the clothes.

I have found that if I shop the clearance sales at many retail stores, I can get some really good deals.

There are a lot of stores that offer discount athletic apparel. Most of them are name brand, and they are either having a sale or getting in new merchandise and marking down what they already have.

By SarahSon — On Sep 03, 2011

When I first began working out, I would just wear any old t-shirt and pair of shorts I could find. I didn't think I needed to spend any extra money on special womens athletic apparel.

While it isn't necessary to do so, I know that I actually enjoy my work out more if I have on some good athletic apparel.

I like wearing fabric that will help wick away the moisture from my skin when I work up a sweat. A good pair of athletic shorts and shirt are also much more comfortable than regular clothes.

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