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When it comes to working out, looking good isn't the main priority. Fitness is about challenging your body to be stronger and better, so worrying about how you look is superficial to your ultimate goal. Your exercise clothes still matter, though, just not for the typical reason. In olden days people worked out in whatever old thing was handy, regardless of what the garment actually was. In the last ten years, however, clothing manufacturers have made surprising strides in creating workout clothes that are not only attractive but functional as well. Rather than getting sweaty in a cotton t-shirt, you can now choose to wear a moisture-wicking shirt that absorbs your body moisture as you work out so your skin stays comfortable. Women no longer have to worry about breast strain during exercise thanks to the sports bras that support and enclose the breasts while absorbing moisture and preventing chafing. The choices for workout clothing now seem approximately endless and it can be difficult to assess which pair of running pants is better than the other. This brief guide will explain a few methods for picking out the perfect workout outfit for you.

Pants/Shorts:Think about your needs first. Do you need a pocket for your keys or identification? If so, many manufacturers make clothes that feature small pockets that zip up to prevent your items from falling out. What about your preferences? Do you like pants that fit your legs closely or loose, sweatpants-type trousers? Think about your own personal likes and dislikes.

The best type of exercise pants and shorts are those with an elastic waist to prevent any mishaps with waistbands. Material should be flexible with an absorbent quality to remove sweat from your skin. If you prefer shorts, the fabric should fit comfortably between your legs so you don't experience any chafing.

Shirts:Plain cotton t-shirts are fine for days when you're not so concerned about moisture remaining near your skin (i.e. hot or chilly days) but the latest offerings of high-tech workout shirts not only sucks the moisture away from you but it works overtime to keep your body properly ventilated. Look for fabrics that have some stretch to enable you maximum comfort during exercise.

Sports bras:The best sports bras being made now are multi-taskers: they wick away moisture, keep your upper body cool, provide comfort and support for breasts and don't dig in or make you uncomfortable. Even better, clothing manufacturers have finally caught on to the fact that women don't come in regular sizes only. Many lines offer half sizes to provide the perfect fit for maximum comfort. Additionally larger sizes are becoming more readily attainable for larger-breasted women.

Underwear:Believe it or not, lines of sports underwear are being marketed to the everyday athlete. The underwear is made from a unique moisture-wicking fabric that has a snug fit and comes in multiple styles. For exercisers who prefer to remain especially dry, this is probably a good choice.

Jackets and windbreakers:Look for styles that zip in the front rather than pulling overhead, which can be difficult to manage while running or walking. Clothing should be made from soft breathable fabric that reduces moisture while providing warmth for the body. The best styles will have both inside and outside pockets for keys, identification and more. Newer jackets have storage pockets on the arms for MP3 players and Ipods. A recent trend in outdoor sportswear and fitness clothing is treating clothes with Scotchgard® to increase the repellence of water and keep the wearer drier than ever before. Most high-end retailers will carry water-repellant workout wear but the trend is filtering down to lower markets as well.

Socks:The right socks are an essential part of any workout. Exercising without a protective layer between your foot and the shoe can lead to irritation and strain on the foot. Newer socks cut down on the amount of moisture on your foot and often have extra padding in strategic places to help support the feet better than ever. Some lines of socks are created to correct specific problems like over-pronation, though these tend to be more expensive. The typical cotton socks are acceptable but they must fit your foot comfortably and not irritate or allow any sliding.

Workout gear has advanced light-years away from the spandex of the eighties and today's exercisers should take advantage of the innovations that can make fitness more comfortable and appealing.