What to Wear to Workout – In Front of Coworkers

what to work out in in front of coworkersReader M has an interesting question that brings us back to that old classic: what do you wear to workout or exercise in front of coworkers?

I am an articling student at a mid sized law firm and I have a “law day fun run” coming up, hosted by the law society. It just occurred to me that my running outfit (mini skort and a skin tight tank top) might not send the right impression even though it’s what I actually wear when I go running. I have seen male lawyers biking and running in skintight and/or revealing outfits before but I am not sure if I can get away with that as a female lawyer.

What should I wear?

I offered my advice on what to wear to the corporate gym way way back in 2008, and I’m curious to hear what readers today have to say about it. More and more companies are offering on-premises gyms for their staffers’ use, and even if they don’t, many people go to the gyms located near the office, where odds are high that you’ll see coworkers. (Pictured: Printed Chase Skort, available at Athleta for $54.)

Runners particularly can get into trouble here. Half of the runners I know rely on old (ollllld) t-shirts and shorts — the other half buy shiny, new, TIGHT clothing — running tights, sports bras-as-tops, and more.

A lot of this depends on your personal modesty. For my $.02, the skort and skintight tank sounds fine to me, if that’s what your comfortable running in. A few notes, though:

a) Whether your shirt is tight or not — please make sure that your sports bra is a good one and actually stops the bounce. If you have a less than stellar sports bra, not only is it bad for the girls, but wow, talk about distracting.  As someone with a larger bust myself I’ve always sworn by Enell bras (such as Enell Maximum Control Wire-Free Sports Bra, available at Bare Necessities for $64.)

b) Wear an opaque shirt. Even though I don’t think twice of passing women on the street wearing nothing but a sports bra, it’s a wee bit different when you know that person in a working capacity. So wear a shirt, and wear an opaque shirt at that.

c) Whatever you wear on the bottom, make sure that it’s something vaguely flattering. Avoid pants that are skintight (and, please, pants that emphasize too-small underwear, as well!).  If it were me, I would also gauge whether my shorts or skorts were overambitious, given the state of my legs.  Don’t get me wrong, I wear a lot of shorts during summer months if I’m working out in the apartment or going for a run near the apartment — but it’s just a different calculus, for me at least, when I consider wearing those shorts to anywhere near the office.  In fact, a friend was just telling me about a line of workout clothes featuring shapewear built into it — Apifeni.

Ladies, what do you think?  Should shorts/skorts be off-limits entirely? Should only loose tops be worn?  And what about hair — would anyone advise a friend to not wear a ponytail or pigtails?


  1. I have to be honest – I frequently run/work out with co-workers during the workday, and not-infrequently shower in our office locker room. I definitely wear my normal running attire to and from the elevator (usually knee-length tights, but occasionally loose shorts) and whatever shirt is appropriate to the weather, and don’t think twice about it. I wouldn’t wear racing shorts or just a sports bra, but I do wear my tights and they are, you know, tight.

    My firm, although it’s biglaw, strongly promotes employee wellness, and there’s a big fitness culture in the PNW. No one seems to bat an eye at it, to be honest. I wouldn’t walk around the office in this getup, but I don’t have a problem being seen in it for 1-2 minutes as I’m leaving/entering the building.

  2. Corporate Tool :

    I’ve participated in a few fun runs, and from what I’ve seen most women wear a t-shirt (loose to fitted, but not skin tight), and knee-length running tights or capris. Very few women were wearing shorts or tanks, and none were from my (mostly business casual) firm.

  3. i think it comes down to your body, honestly. if you have an “athletic” build, aka small chested and thin, then the outfit you described sounds fine. if you’re like me and are curvy with a big chest, or even thin with a big chest, you might want to wear a looser shirt that comes down a bit farther and cropped yoga pants or loose shorts instead. it’s not fair that a workout shirt can look fine on one woman and obscene on me, but that’s the brakes!

  4. Anonymous :

    Anybody here work in the General Counsel’s office in the software industry in Silicon Valley? I am an attorney who is moving from Washington DC to Sillicon Valley to take up a Counsel position at a software startup based in San Jose. I suspect my usual DC getup might make me look like a bit of a hayseed out there. There are currently no other women in the legal dept, so I have no role models to follow. I had lunch one day with my friend and her collegues from Google’s legal dept, and I saw alot of dark jeans, leather jackets, and nice silk blouses. Is this the norm?

    • anonx1000 :

      in my experience – yes, this is what my friends who work in legal departments in the Valley wear. I’m guessing the men in the department aren’t wearing anything fancier than khakis and a button down (no tie), and that’s probably pushing it.

    • Sorry I don’t have an answer for you re: wardrobe, but I am also going in-house after 5 years at a a firm. Do you have any advice for salary range or negotiation? There does not seem to be an industry standard for in-house attorneys like there is in biglaw.

      • Alumna-ette :

        In-house has a very different compensation metric than law firm. In general, you need to be thinking much more about the total package than about salary. Your salary will be in most cases substantially lower than in BigLaw (I took a 6 figure cut). But, you will make it back up in fairly large short term/annual bonuses (the terminology varies, but in essence, it’s the bonus you’ll get at the end of the year, usually pegged to how well the company did as well as your personal performance), and in very large stock options/long term compensation packages (usually vest between 2-5 years out, and can be anywhere from 50-100% of your salary over again; may vary due to company’s success and to stock price). Additionally, most companies will provide a 401(k) match which can be substantial. Thus, you will likely take a hit in terms of cash-on-hand for the first couple of years out, but the overall package will be comparable or a bit better down the road.

        When negotiating, you usually only have room to negotiate your salary and any signing bonus – the additional elements are often fixed. Try to push up your title (depends on the company – in some, all counsel are VPs, in Fortune 50 companies, they aren’t), and you may get some room on your salary, but in general, there’s often less room to negotiate and there are sufficient folks applying for these jobs that they can tell you no. AbovetheLaw had a pretty good series on inhouse counsel positions. You should also read Mark Herrman’s column on that website. It’s very helpful and smart about inhouse practice.

      • Google is a little more fashion-forward than many startups. Marissa is to blame:). But that said, you are not going to want to wear the D.C. uniform. Much more casual, albeit not more feminine, in most cases.

      • Wide variety in salary range (even among Fortune 50 companies). Look at total comp (salary, signing bonus, annual bonus, 401(k) match, pension, stock options, benefits). Then decide from there. Do not be surprised if there is not much negotiation room. The job market to go in-house is very tight. I would try to negotiate the title, because the next step up will probably mean a greater salary band. Another thing that is usually pretty easy to get is some time off before you have to start. I took almost 4 weeks between my law firm job and my in-house one.

    • karenpadi :

      I’m at a firm in San Jose but I see a lot of in-house counsel (in the software industry too). There are still a lot of men in-house (it’s called “Man Jose” for a reason) so you aren’t alone in being the only female.

      I usually wear grey or black slacks (or knee-length skirt) and a thin sweater or other top (button downs seem too “formal”). I like to wear good heels and fine jewelry (as opposed to costume or “statement” pieces–which seems too “girly” in the Silicon Valley). I have one or two blazers but if I need a layer, I usually use a cardigan. Work appropriate jeans are very common (and sometimes more appropriate than slacks).

      I see engineers often and one engineer actually said that she knew I was an attorney because I was so “dressed up.” So I sometimes actually “dress down” for meetings.

      • Anonymous :

        Hi, its the woman moving to San Jose again. Are there any organizations in the area for female lawyers in tech. I have been in DC for over 10 years, and while I am excited about my move, I will need to rebuild both my social and professional networks.

        • karenpadi :

          There is WIPLA (Women in IP Law) that meets in Palo Alto regularly. SVIPLA (Silicon Valley IP Lawyers Association) meets closer to San Jose (but is not as female-focused.

        • research lawyer in SV :

          The silicon valley chapter of ACC (http://www.acc.com/) is great and they have a lot of free lunch time CLE events in Palo Alto. If you go to just one a month that would be a good start in meeting people. Join Linked-In if you haven’t already and look around at the groups.

          On the dress code, I’m an IP attorney, in-house at a research firm here in the valley. There are plenty of women lawyers, if you know where to look, and the dress code is business casual, unless you are going to court then it’s a conservative black suit just like everywhere else. I gauge how casual I’m going to be on a given day by what’s on my calendar which is to say if I’m coaxing information out of researchers I may be a little more casual to be more approachable but if I need some authority or their are business meetings involving people outside the company I dress more formally or to match the event. Sometimes it’s a good thing they can tell you are the lawyer because you are well dressed.

          You can gauge things the first week by looking at the other execs and then fit yourself in. There is nothing wrong with wearing nice slacks with a blouse and sweater or blazer the first week.

    • I work for a large tech company. The more junior attorneys (below Director level) tend to wear pants and a button down or blouse. As a manager that works extensively with execs, I add a blazer to that or wear a dress. I almost never wear a full on suit and never a skirt suit. A good idea is to dress to the level of your internal “clients.” We only wear jeans on Fridays, but the other issues often mentioned on this site (boots, peep toes, etc., are not an issue).

      Good luck!

  5. I concur with all of these tips. As far as hair goes, I would definitely wear it up. No one takes a woman who works out with her hair down seriously (just like the women who wear lots of jewelry/make-up to the gym). It just looks silly and you obviously can’t be working out very hard if you’re comfortable like that.

    • soulfusion :

      My thought exactly! Who can run with their hair constantly falling in their face or on their neck? I cannot.

      As far as attire, I won’t wear my shortest running shorts to a work-related run but I don’t shy away from wearing shorts because that is what I’m most comfortable running in in the summer when I’ve taken part of this type of event. On top my firm usually has a t-shirt made which is the bigger challenge if it is really humid because cotton isn’t as comfortable as my tech shirts but having a matching tee solves the problem of what to wear on top.

  6. I’ve done a number of charity 5k walk/runs with my company. I wear yoga type crop pants (making sure they are neither skin tight, nor sloppy/baggy/pajama-like), a sports bra, and the official event tshirt. I’m not a runner, so performance isn’t an issue for me when selecting what I’m going to wear, and this type of outfit has always been comfortable & blends in.

  7. I am now grateful that our legal community “fun run” each year is in April, so everyone arrives in sweat pants and jackets!

    For a 5K that you’re doing as a work social event, you really don’t need the “performance” features of specialized running clothes like you would for a longer or more intense race. I wear any pants that don’t chafe (tighter shorts or tights, sometimes with running shorts over them), a tank top with built in bra (or long johns with a sports bra if it’s cold), and whatever shirt the organizers are giving out.

  8. anonx1000 :

    I go to yoga with one of the partners in my office and while we both wear Lululemon, I am always making sure mine is clean, fits properly, and doesn’t show inappropriate cleavage. And we both wear t-shirts (long or short sleeved depending on the weather) and/or jackets to/from class.

    If you are wearing anything stretchy and fitted, I would just make sure that your rear view checks out – i.e., when you bend over, does the material become so thin that underwear is visible?

    • THIS. Please make sure that your undergarments aren’t completely visible when you go into that forward lunge stretch. Wish the girl in front of me in yoga class had done this check – she wasn’t wearing anything under her transparent “leggings,” so my view of her from behind going into downward dog was not pleasant.

      • I just finished grad school. At the university gym, there was an undergrad girl wearing loose-fit short shorts to afternoon yoga. I could see her parts quite directly – lucky you for having the benefit of at least a semi-opaque fabric to shield your eyes!

        How do you have THAT difficult conversation?

  9. Ooh, let’s play “what is our favorite sports bra?” I just purchased the Moving Comfort Fiona for running and I’m in LOVE (although with all the seaming I know I’ll need to break out the bodyglide or a seamless under-bra once the miles start adding up.) I’m a 32D but sized down to a 32C in this baby because I like to be uncomfortably “strapped in.”

    • North Shore :

      I’ve switched from Moving Comfort to Under Armour for pretty much everything (shorts, shirts, bra, etc.). I love Under Armour.

      • soulfusion :

        I’m an Under Armour fan as well!
        And I’ll go off topic and add I recently discovered skirtsports – LOVE their cute running skirts – did not like Under Armour’s running skirt as it felt really bulky. I have a winter tights version as well I used for running and under snow pants snowboarding this winter.


    • The Fiona was the first Moving Comfort bra that I owned, and I still have it (and still love it!). I’ve worn the bra over the last 200 miles or so and I just participated in a ten mile race–there was no chafing whatsoever from the seaming. I hope your experience is as good as mine has been!

      • goirishkj :

        I’m a big fan of Fiona as well. No chafing and mine have lasted many many miles also. I also like Moving Comfort’s Juno bra. Nothing moves and it is racerback so I can still wear a racerback tank. I’m a 34D.

    • I agree on the Enell bra. Lululemon ta-ta tamer is suprisingly good (I saw “surprisingly” b/c I have it in a 34DD and didn’t expect much support). I just got the Freya Firm Control. It works…but isn’t super comfortable. I’m concerned about chafing on longer runs. The Anita Maximum Control Extreme doesn’t feel like it would be supportive b/c its too unrestrictive, but I haven’t had any problems wearing it during runs (and I’m really a 32F or G, not a 34DD). Basically, I have lots of options, so if I’m chafed somewhere I can wear a bra that doesn’t chafe in that same spot.

      • I am a 38DDD, and I have been in love with Moving Comfort’s Fiona bra for years. The seam construction and the padded adjustable straps are to die for. I went from wearing THREE bras every time I did high-impact exercise to only having to wear this one bra. I have them in 38DD and 40DD, and I wear the smaller ones for running and the larger ones for hiking, yoga, etc.

        They retail for around $44, so I buy one or two every time I see them on sale. If you have a Title Nine near you, they probably have an annual warehouse sale (get on their mailing list!), and I always find them there for $20.

        • You can also check Amazon–surprisingly I can regularly find a large selection of Moving Comfort on there for only about $25!

        • I’m concerned about them fitting right. There are so few bras that go up to an F or G….

  10. Sorry, threadjack —
    This question is about underpants. (Don’t laugh! I tried to pick the least moderation provoking word) I just pulled another bunch of them out of the dryer with all the elastics scrunched up and looking generally crappy. I feel like I’ve tried 6 different brands from Hanes to Victoria’s Secret and they either 1. don’t survive the dryer, 2. Are uncomfortable, or 3. stretch out everywhere.
    Could anyone recommend some brands? TIA.

    • If you are looking for cotton, try Gap. Seriously! Lasts forever. And I wash on hot, tumble dry, so I know from clothes that hold up to the laundry process!

      • LinLondon :

        Second this! The Gap cotton hiphuggers are my default daily and the low-rise thongs are my default thongs. Plain cotton. Love ’em!

    • The dryer really kills elastic of any sort. Can you air dry? It doesn’t take much longer- just hang them up on a clip rack in the bathroom and they’re done in a few hours.

    • Have you tried aerie? It’s an American Eagle sub-brand for pj’s and underwear. They’re cut well and made of nicer cotton than the Hanes ones.
      I use to be a big fan of VS PINK cotton bikini briefs and hiphuggers, but since VS redid the way their PINK line is cut, I find the newer ones tend to, shall we say, ride up way more than before. (The regular VS Cotton pairs are made with thinner cotton than the PINK ones, hence that preference.)

      Regarding your laundering technique, do you dry them on ‘high’ heat? This could explain pairs not surviving. Perhaps use the ‘medium’ setting and just extend the time or lessen the load volume if they don’t end up completely dry. Hope this helped!

    • I used to wear the VS Cotton bikinis all the time, but they changed the fit a few years back and now a pair is a one-way ticket to Wedgieville. I now swear by Hanky Panky, and I never, ever put undies in the dryer.

    • Maidenform :

      I buy these online:


      And the matching bra:


      They go in the washer and dryer no problem. (I hook the bras closed before washing.) I think I just passed two years with this set, and they are all still fine.

      • lawtalkinggirl :

        The Smooth undies are the best, hands down. No VPL, ever. And they have been holding up pretty well in the dryer on medium heat.

    • SF Bay Associate :

      I wear microfiber Calvin Klein, Natori, and DKNY. I also never put my undies in the dryer – just hang them overnight on a bathroom towel bar.

    • Many thanks, all. I have been using dryer on high. It sounds like I need to try airdrying, which I was afraid would be the answer. I’ll also plan to check out a few of the ones people mentioned putting through the dryer and will report back if I find a favorite.

      • Or “low.”

        (Doesn’t everything you have say “Tumble Dry Low”? You are on the fast track to ruining a lot of your clothes if you’re using “high.”)

        • I kind of thought — less time, more heat = less heat, more time…but I see this is probably not the case. Ehh – I know that sounds bad, but sometimes I auto-pilot through housekeeping stuff.

      • Another fan of air drying here. Actually I air dry everything except for linens and towels. Saves me from an extra trip to the laundry room and doesn’t add all that much work to the overall process.

      • Whoa–I don’t think there’s anything I’ve ever dried on “high.” Not even sheets and towels. The maximum I’ll do is medium. I dry almost everything on low and have never had an issue with undies, bras, what have you, including the super cheap Hanes that I bought for my expanded size during pregnancy. Drop your dryer back a click or two and you’ll probably see immediate improvement in all your garments’ longevity.

    • Interesting, I wear the VS low rise bikinis (I liked them more before the style-changeover but I’ve gotten used to the new ones) and throw them in the dryer all the time and haven’t had any problems.

    • SOMA (google it) They have stores and sell online. I seriously never wear anything else.

    • Honey Bear :

      Ses – do not put the underpants in the dryer! Always air dry. I do that for all my undergarments and it works just fine for me.

  11. Business, not Law :

    I would advise the person who asked the question to also dress for the weather/climate. As someone who is modest and goes out of her way not to be seen in her workout clothes by (most) colleagues…I actually change in the bathroom of a nearby fast food restaurant rather than in my actual office building when I go for a run downtown after work…I would want to make sure my outfit reflected the weather, regardless.

    For instance, I live in the south and wearing pants or capris to a fun run in May would be brutally hot and would likely look out of place. So I would probably opt for some of my more modest running shorts and a non-fitted tech tee (or the company event tee). I wouldn’t think twice about a pony tail but I wouldn’t do pig tails or anything like that!

  12. Serious question – can someone explain to me the running “skort”? I get skirts for tennis (historical uniform), but for running?

    • I think people like them because they think they’re cute.

      no other reason I can think of.

    • The skort is full coverage. I don’t wear them for running b/c I don’t really run.

      But I wear a skort and Athena bra cup tunics (my favorite isn’t sold anymore, but I got 3 back in December). I take killer total body conditioning classes with both men and women. The skort is like shorts, but there’s less risk of falling out or accidentally exposing myself.

      And, fwiw, the gym I belong to (BSC) is in my company’s building (the BSC pays rent). So at least 30% of the people there are from my company and the rest are from other financial district companies.

      • Bunkster – is that the BSC by South Station? I’ve been thinking about switching from my current gym to there since I moved to an office around the corner. What class do you take? I’ve been looking for something killer.

        • That’s the one. I take Total Body Conditioning. The classes are at 1:15 on Monday, Thursday, and Friday. I usually just go to the Monday and Friday classes, but if I can’t make it to one of those (like this week), I’ll add the Thursday class in as well.

          The teacher, Danielle, is awesome and the class is killer. I really enjoy it.

    • Business, not Law :

      I am runner and have one running skirt/skort but mostly wear shorts or capris for my workouts. However, I have to say the running skirt is extremely comfortable and the compression shorts underneath actually STAY PUT so there is full coverage AND no riding/bunching that even my favorite running shorts might do over a period of time.

    • I think that they’re cute and I imagine that they “breath” better than shorts.

      BUT, if you’re going to wear a skirt to run, for goodness’s sakes, please make sure it doesn’t ride up- saw a woman running in a mini-running skirt the other day, and it had ridden up so far that her entire underside and baggy cotton underwear was exposed. Not what you want to see!

    • soulfusion :

      I commented above about the SkirtSports running shorts – I love them! It is both about the look and the feel. As most women on this blog would probably agree, style is important to them and this is a style I really like. I have most of my height in my legs and most running shorts are uber-short on me but running skirts give enough extra coverage that I’m more comfortable in them. And as others have said, there is less rise or movement – they stay put while running. A functional plus.

    • I have several of the patagonia running skorts and I love them. They are so comfortable. With the compression shorts underneath I don’t get rubbing in inappropriate places, but the skort over the shorts is much more modest than spandex. Plus they look cute.

    • In-House Mouse :

      My favorite running outfit used to be a woven cotton tank-type dress. It kept me much cooler than a tank top and shorts because there was no waistband to trap the heat. I stopped wearing it because it was nearly impossible to stretch in public places without being indecent. So I transitioned into skorts.

      All of my skorts now are cheap ones from Target. The undershorts on these are tight but not “compression”-type.

      I like wearing tight shorts to avoid baggy fabric between my legs, and the skirt provides modesty. Also, the Target skorts are very thin, so I don’t get too hot.

      However, I notice a lot more cat-calls in certain neighborhoods when I run in a skort, even though the hemline is a lot longer than most running shorts. My guy friend says it’s because a skirt is inherently more suggestive. (?) So I used to wear shorts when I had to run through those neighborhoods. Now I avoid running there altogether.

      Maybe it’s because I live in a dry climate, but thin cotton is so much cooler and more comfortable to run in than “wicking” tech fabric, even on 10+ mile runs in the heat.

    • goirishkj :

      I bought my first skort because it was cute. Sad but true. The next three I bought because I like them better than shorts. It may be all in my head, but I think the skorts don’t accentuate how stocky my thighs are. I’m sensitive about that because I joke that I have East German swimmer thighs. I don’t know why I think the skort provides more coverage as it is just as short as my shorts. Overall, the skorts are really comfortable and I’d really suggest trying one–I have seen them at Target and I got my first at a Nike outlet near me so there are less-expensive options out there.

    • Running skirts give me more coverage than shorts and are more comfortable. I don’t mind the added cute factor, but my overall running look is sweaty and spitting and unladylike, so it’s not like I’m going to look terribly attractive while running no matter what I wear.

    • For me it’s a modesty thing. I like to have things a little more covered up, and I find that loose shorts bunch up between my thighs, so the skort is perfect for both coverage and mobility.

      I’m not a runner, but a walker/hiker.

  13. I work in BigLaw now, and while I don’t parade around the building in my workout clothes, I have no problem walking from the bathroom to my office and then to the lobby. I typically wear a technical tee (usually somewhat fitted) and tights or capris. I try to make everything look “nice” before I go walking around.

    I used to work at a very small firm though and it was kind of a thing to let the managing partner of the office know you were a runner. It got you a little extra respect for better or for worse. Running into him in your workout clothes on the way in/out was not a bad thing.

  14. This question and answer is so depressing. Men can “get away” with form fitting clothes but women can’t? You should only reveal your legs if they look nice? I’m not saying these things aren’t true or that women won’t be punished in some way if they choose to disobey these rules, but, wow, it is sad how women are *still* defined by our bodies first.

    • To be honest, I would be kind of horrified if any man in my office showed up for an office 5K wearing skin tight exercise clothes. And it would probably go down in office legend for years.

    • It’s not punishment, it’s biology- our bodies serve different purposes in certain undeniable ways, including the visual ones. And I agree with Fiona- I’ve seen men in law firms wearing the skin-tight biking outfits, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it as a career move!

      • Unless you take baby girls and raise them in a laboratory where they’re constantly bombarded by sexualized images of men in skin tight or scanty clothing, while simultaneously teaching them all sorts of mixed messages about the obligation of men to be decorative at all costs, and also about their own role as sexual conquerors/agressors, I don’t really know that you can definitively say it’s a biological issue rather than a cultural one.

      • “It’s not punishment, it’s biology- our bodies serve different purposes in certain undeniable ways, including the visual ones.”

        What? Isn’t that also the rationale behind burkas or other restrictive clothing codes for women? Men might not be able to restrain themselves on seeing a female form, so women must do what they can to hide it. And how does “biology” explain why a woman’s legs must look nice in order to be shown?

        • Anne Shirley :

          Um seriously Lyssa? My reaction to Brad Pitt in Troy seems to serve the same visual biological purpose as, say, my ex’s reaction to Angelina anytime.

    • CaribbeanGirl :

      I’m having flashbacks of that hilarious Modern Family episode where Cam walks around Mitchell’s office in biking shorts and someone finally has to call him out on the “over exposure” of his private parts. This surely must apply to both men and women, though I agree men can get away with a lot worse in terms of looking sloppy and out of shape. I think there was even an article of Corporette on how overweight men aren’t hindered nearly as much as overweight women in attaining leadership roles…

      • I always think of the Friends episode where they all agonize over how to let (Chandler? one of their bfs? ) know that the shorts he was wearing were too revealing. Then gunther comes along and casually says “Hey man, this is a family place, put the mouse back in the house.” Problem solved. lol.

    • I would not say that men can get away with much more than women. I used to work at a company where a group of men would go running together at lunch. This was in the day when men wore those teeny tiny Dolphin shorts and nothing else, and there was a lot of …. uh… information available in those shorts. Most of the women in our department felt quite uncomfortable when a basically naked coworker would try to strike up a conversation in the elevator.

    • Runnin' for it :

      I think it is true that men tend to notice women’s bodies more than women notice men’s or men notice men’s. But when it comes to wearing inappropriate workout wear around co-workers, I think that men cannot get away with it either. I’m still having nightmares about running into a more senior male attorney in the elevator when he was on his way for a run around the Capitol. He was wearing a see-through men’s under shirt and old tight pants that looked like they had been washed far too many times and were faded in all the wrong places and skin tight, leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination. The funny thing is that he is an award-winning and well respected lawyer at my agency, and he must have had no idea about what he was wearing.

      • That’s just it though! He wore that stuff and annoyed you – but it didn’t impact his respect or ability to win awards. That means he got away with it.

  15. I often work out when I travel, and there are usually a few co-workers staying at my hotel. I usually wear running tights/capris (the material is thick, so not see-through, shiny or magnifying every bump) and a fitted (but not tight) technical shirt. Rarely do I wear a sleeveless top or short shorts (that is reserved for outdoor exercise in the middle of summer). The only time I have ever felt uncomfortable was in a cold hotel lobby with a thin sports bra and technical top on, if you catch my drift. I went out and bought some sports bras with thicker material to solve this problem!

    • Any one know of brands of sports bra has thicker material?

      • AnonInfinity :

        I usually wear Nike DriFit, and I feel like those have thicker material (at least, they have a few layers of material)

  16. I love the Nike Tempo Track Shorts. They are those ubiquitous Nike running shorts with the stripe down the side. What’s nice about them is that they are a little bit loose and a little longer than your average running shorts (read: more modest when hanging out with co-workers), but still very comfortable and light for running. I would wear shorts like that with a technical T-shirt that was not too tight. (Marshalls/TJ Maxx often have good technical T-shirts for pretty cheap, too).

    • Seriously, every woman runner I know has a pair of those. I like to count how many I see when I go to races!

  17. Anonymous :

    I really hope this “And what about hair — would anyone advise a friend to not wear a ponytail or pigtails?” was just thoughtless writing and not a serious question. The idea that someone would advise against wearing a ponytail while WORKING OUT is just deranged.

    • Runnin' for it :

      Ponytails- OK. But pigtails look a little juvenile.

    • Equity's Darling :

      Definitely no pigtails. I speak from experience. Wearing pigtails to a firm event, I was asked something along the lines of ‘when did we start hiring high school students’- at the time I had just finished 2L. It was a cowboy-themed event, in my defence.

  18. I have no hesitation about leaving my office in workout gear. I run 30+ miles per week, so for sake of having time, I have to change into my gear prior to leaving work. Typically this will consist of a slightly loose tech tee and mid-thigh shorts or capris. On very hot days when I opt for a tight tank I just toss a t-shirt over it. I never work out in sloppy t-shirts or sweats.

  19. Anonymous :

    If I were you, I’d wear a tshirt that isn’t skintight, sports bra, compression shorts for modesty, and mid-thigh to knee length shorts over those (or loose fitting pants if that is more your style). Hair away from face. No makeup.

  20. If I were going to go on a run with co-workers that’d be fine. Definitely wear a smoosher bra, no pink, look like you mean it.

  21. Runnin' for it :

    Does anyone have any tips for where to get non-skin tight tops for running? I went shopping for run wear this weekend and was very disappointed that all the options in the Sports Authority were either skin tight or racer back. I do a lot of running on the treadmill at my office’s gym. Thanks.

    • Anonymous :

      I like under armour heat gear – I always find a colorful selection at REI.

    • I’ve had good luck at Target (and they often have technical shirts with pockets!!!). And Kohl’s often has cheap running wear.

    • I really enjoy the “Boyfriend Gym Tee” from Lucy – it’s lightweight, soft cotton with microfiber, washes well and is good and long, so no worries about any mid-section gaps.

    • Are you looking for short-sleeve tops or sleeveless tops? For short-sleeved tops, I like the Under Armour technical t-shirts that are not the “compression” kind. I also like Nike’s technical running t-shirts. I buy both of these tees at Sports Authority. You can also try a local running store. They typically carry a wide range of technical material t-shirts and sleeveless tops that are not skin tight. Personally, I hate wearing skin-tight tees and shorts for running – I find that they don’t “breathe” as well as technical running tees.

      I ran a marathon in this t-shirt (http://tinyurl.com/3ev8erl). It was super comfortable and there was no chafing!

      • Runnin' for it :

        You are right- I should have been more specific. I am looking for sleeveless tops that I can wear the Enell underneath without it showing but are not tight.

    • I wonder if a cycling jersey might work? The sleeveless style is pretty common, and you can find jerseys that have a more relaxed fit. I have a long-sleeve jersey that I wear running all the time – I like that I can unzip it if I get hot, and also like the pockets in the back!

  22. I think the outfit you mentioned seems fine. The one thing I would also caution you to take a look at is how low does the neckline of your “skin-tight” tank run? I think tight is fine for an office exercise event, but be careful how much cleavage you present to your coworkers and bosses.

  23. THREADJACK – I am struggling to decide whether to come out in my mid-sized firm and I am hoping to get some frank advice from the ladies here at corporette. I am a bisexual first year associate. When I summered with my firm, I was in a serious relationship with a man and he attended several summer events with me. We ended our relationship shortly thereafter, but the firm is small enough that people remember that I was with someone.

    I have been dating a woman for about five months. Although we’re not at the point that I would bring her to firm functions, it’s awkward for me to socialize with coworkers or discuss my life without including my girlfriend. I also feel really hypocritical sitting on my firm’s diversity committee while I’m hiding my sexual orientation. No one at the firm knows that I am bisexual and there are no openly LGBT attorneys (according to NALP and the rumor mill). Obviously if things become very serious, I will have to come out. Right now, however, I’m not ruling out the possibility that I will eventually date a man.

    I am concerned that my sexual orientation will eclipse my work and handicap my career. The stereotypes associated with bi women – we’re just sluts, or we can’t make up our minds, or don’t know what we want – don’t exactly mesh with the professional image that I want to portray. What do you think, ladies? Should I come out bi?

    • This is not a comment on your proclivities or preferences, but rather, I will say that the NALP stats about your firm are telling. Beware. I would caution you against being the “guinea pig” for your firm. Once folks know, seemingly open-minded co-workers may start treating you differently.

      And for all of the chorus of law students-types on here that are going to write in and say, “That’s illegal!” well, welcome to the real world. If anyone’s lived through the downturn, then they no that law firms can gin up ANYTHING about you or your work product to clean house. It doesn’t make it right. It’s just…you’re gambling by going where no woman has gone before at your firm. You may take that as challenge, and want to educate your firm/open their eyes. Or you may want to realize that this might not be the most LGBT-friendly workplace.

      Good luck either way. I have tons of friends that have struggled with this (living in the Bay Area), and it’s never easy, no matter how LGBT-friendly your workplace is…there’s a lot of awkwardness and questions. Some are harmless, and some are downright ridiculous. Keep us posted.

      • lawtalkinggirl :

        Sadly, it is NOT illegal to discriminate against a person because of her sexual orientation in my city or state (and in many others, I would guess). No advice here, but good luck to you whatever you decide to do.

    • I would go for it.

      I’m someone who dodged answering this question by marrying a man in my second year at the firm but had given this some thought previously when seeing a woman in law school. So I’m a bit of a hypocrite since I’ll definitely not be mentioning my orientation at work though I do sometimes to friends (do I call it an orientation? lack of discrimination? whatever) and everyone can be relied upon to assume I’m strictly hetero. In part I won’t mention it at work because people will invariably think I’m making it up or otherwise trying to get attention since I’m not currently dating a woman and am unlikely to ever do so in the future – just a lose lose.

      But, I think chances for outright discrimination are slight – and probably balanced by chances that the firm will be less likely to fire you because you’ll be more valuable to them (NALP etc. – cynical but like MJ said we have to acknowledge the realities). And the feeling of not hiding will be worth it IMO. You have to feel good about yourself IMO – that’s worth a lot.

    • Also a bi woman, but I ended up marrying a man early in my professional career. I’m not “out” to anyone except a few close friends because I am very much monogamous and the issue doesn’t come up. I have no experience or advice to offer, but just want to wish you luck. You are completely right about the stereotypes of bi women; I’ve heard seemingly “open-minded” colleagues make statements to that effect. I wish you the best of luck, whatever you decide to do.

    • Makeup Junkie :

      How about just casually mentioning your girlfriend in conversations? “My girlfriend and I loved that restaurant” or “my girlfriend and I are going to the movies tonight, has anyone seen ?” or maybe something dropping in ‘she’ and ‘her’ when talking about your romantic life.
      They might think you’re talking about a buddy, but if/when you do bring her around it wouldn’t be such a surprise.

      good luck!

    • I think for your personal happiness and well being, you need to be open about your relationship with your girlfriend. If you currently feel awkward and like a hypocrite, then you should be more open so that you can feel better. If that means that your work environment becomes hostile, then you’ll have to move on to a new work environment. It’s far more likely that no one will care at all, and you’ll wonder why you ever felt like you had to keep it a secret.

      Being open about the fact that you have a girlfriend also doesn’t mean you need to tell everyone you’re bi, or be a crusader for GLBT rights, or join the GLBT law association, whatever. It just means that you can be yourself and not hide crucial parts of your life from your colleagues.

    • Wow – this is a huge decision. I think part of it is knowing your firm, and knowing your city.

      One way to transition your co-workers is to refer to your “partner.” I think some more conservative people would assume that your “girlfriend” is just a close platonic friend. “Partner” tends to have a same-sex connotation anyway.

      Other than that, I don’t have any advice except for lots of hugs. Coming out is a very brave thing to do, even if everyone you know has a positive reaction. Unfortunately, like you say, there are a lot of preconceived notions about bisexuality that you will have to overcome.

      Good luck, and keep us updated!

    • I work in a pretty conservative area where single women over about 27 regardless of sexual orientation are viewed as being slutty, unable to make up their minds, etc. I think it’s best to keep secret about any non-serious relationship to avoid gossip. The reality is that your romantic life really isn’t anyone at your work’s business regardless of sexual orientation. I tend to be a very private person in general and don’t really discuss my romantic life with many people except a few close friends. It is awkward at first, but once people get used to it, it’s not really a bother anymore.

      I think when you get to the point where you’re serious enough to want to bring your significant other to work functions, that’s the time you want to start mentioning her in conversations.

    • Anonymous :

      As someone who doesn’t care about sexual orientation, etc. I want to point out that if I was out with collegaues and one lady said “my girlfriend” or introduced me to their girlfriend I would think nothing of it, not judge you, etc.

      However, if you made some declaration to me as in some “I want you all to know that I’m a lesbian” type of speech then it would be awkward. Most professional people are professional and would not bat an eye to the first. The second just makes it awkward because we’re collegaues, I’m not your family you have to “come out” to.

    • Thanks for your support, everyone. I will be sure to let you know how it goes!

  24. Margin Fades :

    Going back to bras – are there any that can actually double as a standard and athletic bra? I seem to have heard mention of such bras years ago, perhaps sold through Fig Leaf. Thanks.

  25. As a curvy woman, I have to say that I really love and recommend running skirts. They are super comfortable, and I get the ease of spandex without my buns waving out in front of everyone.

    Go to an actual running store, try on the bras they have there, and jump up and down in the dressing room. That’s how I found my brand. I don’t even know what the brand is!

    I compete in a lot of events with photographers, so I’m generally aware of the “cuteness factor” and how flattering my workout gear looks in action. That carries over into the gym in the office building, for sure.

    Now, how to manage seeing female coworkers in the lockerroom showers? *sigh* I just keep my eyes closed and hope they do the same for me.

  26. i gotta tell you. the apifeni pants are the best thing since sliced bread. i always wished i could jump around without my belly jiggling like santa (exaggerating a little) and when/if my shirt pops up, no one sees a bare stomach. i am under 35 and work in a predominantly older male (55-60) office. i am very conscious about what i wear in that environment, but its a free gym and a great one. if you like what spanx do, you must get these. i have diana pant and the capris. i don’t think the leggings are for working out.

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