Editor’s Note: This post has been updated with new picks for 2017. Last year’ picks can still be found on page two, but some older styles may not be available currently.
We all hold on to it: that faded, ratty, maybe even torn-up cotton t-shirt that we love to wear every time we got out for a run. It’s lasted forever. It’s comfortable. And it was free — awarded for competing in a high school state championship or participating in a 5k charity run. Why would we ever get rid of it?
Because it can’t be worn anywhere but on a run, down a road far enough away from anyone who might actually be able to see through its holes. Because cotton doesn’t wick — once it’s wet it stays wet. Because it smelled in college and it smells now.
Fortunately, when it comes to running apparel, nostalgia has been beat out. The days of neon tights and cotton tees have waned and gone, making room for a new trend that favors style both during and after exercise and performance that extends from the treadmill to the tarmac. Welcome to the new era of active apparel. Here are three kits to get you familiarized.
Boston-based apparel designer Tracksmith has joined New England style cues with technical materials to create a line of running clothing that looks as good as it performs. The Harrier Tee utilizes a soft and breathable merino wool blend in its weave while the Longfellow Shorts are built with Schoeller Dryskin for four-way stretch. Both items look good enough to wear beyond a fitness routine, and when paired with Stance’s moisture-wicking Momentum QTR socks and Roka’s run-optimized Vendée sunglasses, you’ll look more like you’re geared up for brunch than six-mile training run.
Harrier Tee by Tracksmith $70 Longfellow Short by Tracksmith $90 Momentum QTR by Stance $16 Vendée C3 Glass by ROKA $180
Iffley Road is another running brand embracing a heritage aesthetic through technical running threads. The Cambrian Stripe is stylistically simple with a slim cut, slightly longer sleeves and a striped pattern, but features like the polyester dri-release microblend fabric and a hidden stash pocket make it an ideal layer for running. The Hampton Shorts are equal parts stylish and functional, with a flat-front design and a mesh inner. Balega’s ultralight socks and a mesh-backed, run-dedicated cap from Ciele round out the smaller but no-less-important details of this kit.
Cambrian Stripe Shirt by Iffley Road ~$70 Hampton Shorts by Iffley Road ~$84 Hidden Dry 2 by Balega $12 GoCap by Ciele $35+
If you’re going to run far it’s better to wear less, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing style. Satisfy produces a high-quality line of running apparel that pushes the boundary of activewear until it intersects with fashion. The Light Tee and Short Distance Shorts are simple until you notice the bonded hems and flat seams that detail the technical four-way stretch Swiss fabric. Add Feetures! High Performance Cushion No Show socks and CamelBak’s superlight hydration vest, and this becomes a kit with miles of capability.
Light Tee by Satisfy $109 Short Distance Shorts by Satisfy $127 High Performance Cushion No Show Tab by Feetures! $12 Ultra Pro Hydration Vest by CamelBak $120
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