SF's Top Style Gurus Talk Gym Fashion and Shopping Tips

Sometimes a workout can feel more like a fashion show and if you live in the Bay Area a nice dinner out can look more like a SoulCycle class. Fashion and fitness are becoming increasingly intertwined as luxury athletic wear and “fit fashion” are dominating not just the gym but also the streets, our favorite restaurants, airplanes and even the office. I asked three of the San Francisco’s most fashionable style gurus their thoughts on this growing trend, their “go to” gym styles and how those of us on a budget can look current and appropriate without breaking the break.  

The Panel

Courtney Lake
Principle, Monogram Decor

Jessie Garza
Creative Director, Visual Therapy

Tricia Lahren
Fashion Stylist and Editor

Q: Depending on where you live and what gym, boutique fitness studio or group fitness chain you workout in sometimes a workout can feel more like a fashion show. Can those of us who can't afford Chanel sneakers or Prada track pants find an affordable workout style that won't break the bank?

I recently was swayed to look at some “designer” gym wear and upon reading the label, I saw that it said dry clean only. Seriously. Dry clean? Gym clothes are not meant to be coddled—they are meant to handle sweat. I will continue to stick with my tried and true favorites from Amazon Essentials (seriously the best running shirts) along with Menlo House for tights and Old Navy for shorts. If I am feeling fancy, I will splurge and hit up the Nike Outlet to see what they have on sale. But again, spend those coins on a trainer, not a designer sweatshirt.
— CL
As long as you feel comfortable and confident and it’s flattering—that’s the most important. I like to mix Nike and Adidas with workout pieces from Uniqulo, a mix and match of high and low.
— JG
I have a love-hate relationship with gym fashion.  I love because it’s comfy and cozy but hate it because people watching isn’t as fun as it used to be. I miss the creativity.
— TL

Q: The late and great Karl Lagerfeld famously said sweatpants were "a sign of defeat". What do you think of gym fashion permeating outside the gym into the streets, offices, airplanes--essentially everywhere?

As much as I loved the late Karl Lagerfeld, I also take his quotes with a grain of salt since the man had an affinity for starched collars and powdered hair. For me, it is less about the cut of a sweat pant than the fleece/jersey they are made from, so when the idea of joggers came about several seasons ago, I will admit I was the first to jump on the bandwagon. I own several pair in lightweight wool which I pair with cashmere sweaters, denim jackets and sneakers. It is a look I can wear on a red eye and feel okay with rolling into a meeting if need be.
— CL
I think athleisure has become a huge trend. Before, people were saving their nicer clothes for evening, but the fact that you can now add a tennis shoe or a sweatshirt to a look is a brilliant way to wear special things more often. There’s more wearability with your high end pieces.
— JG
I’m obsessed with RealReal right now.  I love the idea of getting a bargain on a gently used designer piece.  Even if I’m not buying, I enjoy the plethora of fashion it has brought to my fingertips.  Late night browsing is best. Crazy!
— TL

Q: What is your "go to" look, style or brand this season that is both practical and fashionable?

I am a fan of Todd Snyder – he continues to refine American sportswear for men in a way that is accessible and fun.  At the moment, I am mixing Greats sneakers with Uniqlo slim denim (they hem for free in less than an hour in store!) with Todd Snyder cashmere tees and a great blazer from either JCrew or if feeling extra fancy, Thom Browne.
— CL
I am obsessed with Uniqulo jeans and t-shirts and I mix them with high end accessories. They are great basics in the right colors and silhouettes. To be head to toe in designer these days reads “trying to hard”, it doesn’t look modern.
— JG
I’ve currently been seeking brands that care about ethically sourced fabrics and are locally made. Two of my favorites right now are Bryr and Reformation.  I also decided it was time to Marie Kondo my closet and pull out some items that weren’t getting the love they deserve. I don’t have a “go to” look —I’ve always been a jeans and t-shirt girl with a cool pair of vintage boots.  Every now and then, you’ll see me dolled up but it’s not often.
— TL