23 May 2014

To Wear Or Not To Wear… On The Street

Paris - Vicki Archer


Chatting yesterday… about exercise… about diet… and in general about our healthy lifestyle regimes… I was reminded that looking the part is best when we are acting the part.

A question was raised… the difference between European women and other women when it comes to wearing fitness attire.

I have noticed in Europe, particularly France, that leggings and lycra are for sport only… with trainers being the exception… it’s fashion all the way with the active footwear.

Women don’t wear their yoga comfort as their dress up. They might wear it to and fro but not all day.


When I walk to the gym I cover up my gear with my trench coat and a scarf… even my new pretties from Zella… because I would feel self-conscious pounding the pavements in sports attire… I would feel undressed.

In other places, I would think nothing of it. Women don’t dress up as often and casual/sport clothes are easily worn all day.

Truthfully, I love the European way… probably because I enjoy dressing up.

If I am going to lounge around all day I prefer to hide away in my PJs… where no one can see me.


French women appear to enjoy being well dressed and certainly care greatly about their appearance.

These days sportswear is so much better looking than it once was… but even so I don’t see it worn out on the streets without purpose.

Leisure wear is almost too relaxed… there is a formality to life in Europe that isn’t the same as elsewhere… and I don’t think I have seen a tracksuit out and about for years…

When European women do sport up… it’s a sleek and flattering style du jour… no baggy, terry towelling monsters that add an extra dimension to the derriere.


Is it a question of taste? A matter of style?

I believe it’s more to do with a pride in personal appearance… wanting to look your best, despite the occasion… it’s about appearing to have made an effort.

Sports gear has connotations of “lazy” dressing despite their reason for being.


Sports clothes… Are they acceptable as street clothes or is that a big no, no?


 Underneath The Trench

if you missed my favourites from yesterday

zella ‘rev me up’ jacket  //  under armour scoop neck tank  //  zella streamline live-in capri leggings  // zella perfect run tights


athleta forerunner tee  //  nike stripe tank  //  nike free 5.0  training shoe


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Morning Vicki,

I’d never go to bed in the comfies n wellies I’d throw on for mucking out the horses neither would I hit the gym in a cocktail dress so, you can pretty much guess Im part of the gym gear for the gym brigade.

This is interesting one and a topic I was having with friends and our daughters at the weekend. We were split: mums = right attire for the right occassion vs offspring = comfy easy gym wear to zip around the day in (but our girls all do it with perfect pony tails lol)

My confession is I dont really own gym wear – the shame I know!. Im a swimmer, I rack up about 20 miles a week. I wouldnt dream of wearing my costume for popping to the shops or going for a bite to eat. And the world should be thankful for that!!

You have a lovely weekend.

Ruthie x

Heather in Arles

I saw “une femme d’un certain age” here in Arles yesterday wearing a terry Juicy Couture style tracksuit and I had to do a double take!! Because honestly? I don’t think that I have ever seen a grown woman walking around in sport attire in the nearly thirteen years that I have lived in France. True, she had on Ferragamo ballet flats and jewelry but still…quelle surprise! :o


It’s a different way of thinking. In the U.S., at least when I was young, wearing “nice” or new clothes to work out was a sign of not being serious. Real athletes abuse their clothes, so having something too nice on means you’re more interested in how you look than what you’re doing to exercise. This idea of not trying too hard is very French, really. Of course, back then, wearing ripped workout clothes if not working out was also a sign that you’re trying to prove something and inherently uncool.
It is similar to the different approaches to doggie bags. In the U.S. I never felt it was so much about greediness as about the terrible shame of throwing away food. It is a different mindset.

Karen in VA

Another timely subject. Ii just returned from Northern California … In S.F. you don’t see much yoga wear on the street. In Mill Valley I seriously looked “out of place” in street clothes. It’s a way of life up there. And it looks pretty good in that environment.

At one time I would have had a different take on this topic, but now I think you could just blend in if this clothing looks good on you.

In Rome one is out of place if they are not well dressed on the street. Heck, you could be arrested!

Have a great weekend.

Karen in VA


I live near Orlando, FL. I see work out clothes on women at our local grocery store as the gym is in the same plaza. I see moms in tennis clothes meeting for lunch. Me? I have run in quickly for a grocery item in workout clothes if I know it will take less than 5 min. and I always pray I don’t see someone. I was just telling my mom that the older I get, the more dressed I want to be.


My husband used to say that he would not be surprised if people just rolled out of bed and went to the market in their pajamas … he ( and I ) both had very strong opinions on how to look when you go out in public. Let’s just say, combed hair, washed face and no pajamas were among the items on the list.
One of the reasons we loved living in Buenos Aires .. it was like Europe/old fashioned/more formal, maybe .. but people combed their hair, put on outdoor clothing .. wore proper shoes .. they would have been stared at and frowned upon most likely if they went down the street the way we see so many here in NY.
I have never been so tired of a “look” as I am of people going everywhere in track suits.

Gina Diamond

I work out most everyday. It is the first thing I do. I do run errands after my workout and many days if I am at home, keep these comfortable babies on. I do get “dressed” at some point of the day, but nothing (except for my PJ’s) can beat the comfort of my workout gear…it is really cute but also very functional while working out. It is totally acceptable to run errands in workout clothes in my neck of the woods. I think it makes dressing up more fun. My friends and neighbors are all pretty much like me. When it is time to dress up, we all know how to do it right.

Really fun post and a most interesting topic to ponder.

Piaf Vintage French

This is a really interesting topic. I remember an American friend who had recently arrived in Paris told me a funny story. She had an appointment with her landlord in her apartment and she was wearing sweatpants, which she considered normal street wear. During the meeting, her landlord was extremely rude and inflexible and ended the conversation by saying “why should i make concessions for you, you didn’t even bother to change out of your pyjamas!”

Hata Trbonja

Here in France…a big non!
I thought I would buck the fashion system recently and went to the farmer’s market with yoga pants and a t shirt.
Oh boy. Not a good idea.
I felt extremely out of place and I think this one older man stopped in mid sentence as I neared him. He just stared.
I like the French way too. It has made me appreciate fashion a bit more.
Plus, it helps keep my weight in check.


I think it is a BIG NO … to me it is lack of respect: not only self-respect but also lack of respect towards the people around; when ever I see people at the grocery store in what looks like their pj, I wonder: did they even wash their faces or brush their teeth… too much comfort


I am a believer in sport gear for sport only and am rarely seen shopping in my runners. Being from the country it was always important to dress properly for town and my mother would turn in her nursing home bed if she thought I was wearing gym gear in the local town or worse, in Melbourne. You see women in Melbourne all the time wandering around in the lycra uniform. I just couldn’t do it. I have been seen, however, on emergency farm-related trips to town in my home/farm/garden clothes and boots…just occasionally there isn’t time to change!


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