To move well, you need to feel good in your clothes. And, sometimes, that just doesn't happen with heavily gendered workout garb.
Fortunately, more brands are starting to offer gender-neutral clothing options that help people honor the truth of who they really are and want to show up in the world — and gym, says certified inclusive fitness trainer Lore McSpadden-Walker, CPT.
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After all, working out can be uncomfortable for many people because it places a magnifying glass on their body. And in a June 2020 Psychonomic Bulletin & Review study, researchers found that wearing tight and revealing workout clothes (read: stereotypically feminine) actually decreased the exercise performance of people assigned female at birth (AFAB).
"If your body is tightened up in a defensive or trauma response, it's going to impact everything about a training session," McSpadden-Walker says.
They explain that, when people are experiencing gender dysphoria, this nervous system response can be further heightened. And not having access to gender-neutral workout clothes can be immobilizing.
"Un-gendering clothing doesn't just mean making all clothing androgynous. It means freedom," they say. "What clothes feel like what I want to move in today?"
Here are eight favorites for every body. "If you're a man and you're wearing clothing, that is men's clothing. If you are a woman and you're wearing clothing, that is women's clothing. If you are nonbinary and wearing clothing, then so is the clothing," they say.
How We Chose
We chatted further with McSpadden-Walker to better understand what to look for in gender-neutral clothing and how to find your ideal wardrobe picks. We chose our top recs based on their recommendations and criteria, including:
1. Outplay Tocuyo Leggings
These cropped workout leggings have a 2-inch waistband that sits right below the navel. And with a super-durable and comfortable nylon and Spandex fabric blend, they are fitting and stabilizing without being overly revealing.
They're available sizes XS to XL, and a size guide is available on Outplay's website to help you find the right one for you.
Random fun fact: "Tocuyo" is the name of a popular valley in Venezuela.
Buy it: Outplay.com; Price: $29.50
2. Wildfang Essential Mock Neck Tank
Prior to having gender-neutral clothing options, McSpadden-Walker had to buy oversized, traditionally masculine clothing. "Otherwise my chest would be too visible," they say, "and this was before I had top surgery."
The style of Wildfang's tank accommodates all body types, and the 100-percent cotton and machine washability makes this tank a fan favorite. Customers are really satisfied by the feel of the material. Wildfang encourages you to "wear you, not someone else" and has been "challenging gender norms since 2013."
Check out this top in three colors and sizes XS to XXL.
Buy it: Wildfang.com; Price: $28
3. Nike Sportswear Club Fleece Joggers
Looking for simple sweats to work out in? Consider Nike's fleece joggers. These pants are the epitome of sweat wear and can fit any body. They come in sizes XS to 4XL, and also in tall fits. The tall fits accommodate different body types. Plus, they come with an adjustable drawcord.
In case you haven't checked it out, Nike's website has a gender-neutral section with hoodies, shirts, sweatpants, sneakers and more.
Buy it: Nike.com; Price: $55
4. Origami Customs Bamboo Sports Bra
A great sports bra is hard to come by, but this one from gender-affirming brand Origami Customs won't let you down.
Made out of sustainable bamboo material, it features hidden seams — and reviewers rave about the soft feel and perfect fit. Give it a try in three colors and sizes XXS to 5XL.
Buy it: OrigamiCustoms.com; Price: $47
5. TomboyX Muscle Tank
"Making a shirt gender-neutral comes down to two things: fit and freedom," McSpadden-Walker says.
Tomboy X's tank hits both on the head. It has a snug yet boxy fit and holds everything in place during intense workouts and has slightly oversized arm holes to help you move easy. Bonus: 95 percent of the workout shirt's fabric is made from fibers that are extracted from wood.
Check it out in five prints and colors in sizes XS to 4X.
Buy it: Tomboyx.com; Price: $34
6. Mizuno 1/2 Zip Fleece Volleyball Pullover
This fleece pullover is perfect for running outdoors, thanks to its lightweight fabric and relaxed fit. It's made out of cotton and polyester and has unisex sizing. FYI, Target has a section on their website devoted to gender-neutral workout clothing.
Pro tip: Use the side seam pockets to store your phone and other must-haves. Available in four colors and sizes XXS to XXL
Buy it: ProPlayerSupply.com; Price: $36.99
7. Athleta Mesh Racer Run Short
These stylish shorts fit just above your mid-thigh and are loose enough to move in. Made with a mixture of polyester and Spandex, the fabric is soft and comfortable against your skin. It's also sustainable, made from post-consumer plastic bottles.
While Athleta traditionally makes exercise clothes for people who identify as women, the brand's doing a lot to increase inclusivity in the fitness and apparel industries.
Try these shorts on in sizes XXS to 3X.
Buy it: Athleta.com; Price: $49
8. Origami Customs Swim Hipster Body Bathing Suit
This Origami Customs swimsuit — and the brand's new swimwear collection in general — is the first of its kind to be designed with a truly universal fit.
The bathing suit's hidden seams and flat edges make it comfortable to wear for a long day at the pool or beach, and the recycled fabric moves with you enough to do all your favorite summer activities in but is supportive enough to stay in place.
Try this swimsuit on in sizes XXS to 5XL, or take advantage of the brand's "custom size" option (for no extra charge!), where you can input your own measurements to ensure the swimsuit fits exactly how you want it to.
Buy it: OrigamiCustoms.com; Price: $120