Posts Categorized: reader requests

Reader Request: Wonderful Workout Wear

stylish workout clothes

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Reader Carolyn submitted this question:

How to look good in workout clothes. Whenever I go to one of those classes like zumba, it’s full of these women in their coordinating gear and I just flail around in the back of the room in yoga pants and a t-shirt and feel out of place. How do you style workout clothes without just buying whatever the mannequin is wearing at lululemon?

First, a quick word about spandex, designer gym wear, and peer pressure: People have gotten serious about their workout attire, which is fab. There are some really beautiful designs out there and they can be fun to wear. But just because the people around you are wearing skin-tight $80 wicking tanks doesn’t mean you should feel obliged to do the same. Or that wearing anything less makes you a gym schlub. You can wear anything you damn well please to work out, so long as it isn’t uncomfortable or prone to getting caught in your pedals/jump rope/weight machine.

Also some of these fancy brands size their clothes extremely small and make women who are sized out of them feel unwelcome. Which, as you might imagine, infuriates me. Gyms are intimidating enough as they are – places where people stew in anxiety and feel judged and compare themselves and worry about looking awkward in the studio mirror – and when you add another layer of size-based elitism you’re making it harder for people who want to exercise and get healthy to push past their hesitations.

Lulu is NOT your only option, and the first step toward feeling chic in your gym wear is to expand your search beyond the trendy brands. This post on modest workout tops includes some super stylish size-diverse brand recommendations, but I’ll call them out here, too:

NOW. After broadening your search, look for workout clothes that share design elements you seek in your regular clothes: V necklines, longer length tops, empire waists, cap sleeves. The current standard seems to be a tight tank or tee worn with running tights. I would feel unbearably self-conscious in that combo, and opt for skirt capris and wicking tees instead. I’m most self-conscious about my butt and hips, so skirt capris are a great alternative to both loose pants and tights for me. Since most workout tops are cut super long, I’ve actually had a few of mine shortened at the tailor so they look proportional when worn with the skirt capri. Another alternative is a tunic top worn with running tights – perhaps not ideal for body pump, but totally fine for spin classes, yoga, pilates, weight-lifting, and lots of other activities. Athleta has some cute tunic options.

Next get a couple of coordinated outfits. Part of what makes those other gals look so great is that they’ve taken it a step beyond black pants and something on top. You don’t necessarily have to buy multiple outfits of tops and bottoms, but think about buying a bottom and a few coordinating tops from the same collection so they’ve got some visual unity.

Then take a hard look at your shoes. Even if you don’t want to wear the fancy outfits you see around you, you’ll likely feel a lot more chic if you ditch the puffy, dirty, or outdated shoes. Find a sleek or colorful pair that you love, and incorporate them immediately.

Finally – and this is the biggie – try not to worry about it. You’re there to make your body feel loved and invigorated, to build muscle and to have fun. How you look is not nearly important as how you feel. And so long as you feel great while you’re at the gym – and you should, because you’re in the midst of some fan-freakin-tabulous self-care – wear anything you want.

Except black-soled shoes. No black-soled shoes on the gym floor, please.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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Reader Request: Care and Feeding of Curly Hair

curly hair advice

Reader Portia had this request:

How to style and care for curly hair. Your post about curly hair made me happy, and while I would love to embrace my curls, they are extremely unmanageable.

Steel youselves for the disclaimer to end all disclaimers: Curly hair comes in more varieties than can possibly be classified, and each head of curls will behave and react differently. So while I’m happy to share what’s worked for me, I would never, EVER say that my own preferences are guaranteed to work for everyone else. Or really, for anyone else! But I’ll offer up my favorite practices and products, and we can continue the discussion in the comments. Sound good? Right on.

To recap, the photo above left is what my hair looks like super long … although to get it to look that way, I had to wash it, apply product, and wait about three hours for it to air dry. While sitting perfectly still. Inside the house where there was zero breeze. My curls are natural and lovely, but SO FUSSY. Which is why I ended up going for the look on the right, which is short and curly/messy. Easy to style and maintain, suits my texture, everyone is happy.

Now, of course, I’ve got this going on:


Yet another iteration of short and curly that I’m enjoying.

Since my hair is naturally wavy/curly, I was using curly hair products on it even when I was flat-ironing it. For starters, I do love the Deva Curl line of products for washing and conditioning. They leave absolutely zero buildup, and keep my hair happy and resilient. I’ve used the Deva styling products in the past on my shorter hairstyle, and they were among the only products I found that didn’t leave flaky white residue in my hair. (Not dandruff or scalp-related, believe me. I asked my dermatologist.) Right now I’m sad to report that I’m using the Oribe line, which is amazing but wildly expensive. My stylist used one of the products on me after a cut, created the softest waves my hair has ever had, and I was sold. I use the Supershine leave-in conditioner and the Curl-shaping Mousse. I’ve used and loved Oribe products in the past, too. (I occasionally nab them on eBay for cheaper.)

When it was shorter, I washed every other day. Now I try for three or four days between shampooings. My stylist has told me that letting the natural sebum penetrate for as long as possible will allow the strands to curl more easily. As I continue to grow the front out, I have notices that it keeps its curl better and longer if I leave it alone.

At age 38, I have finally purchased a diffuser … but I haven’t really needed it yet. I dry the back of my hair fully and the front about half. Allowing my curls/waves to air dry – at least partially – seems to work better for me. In my 20s, I would wash my hair each morning and go to work with it completely wet and full of product, allowing it to air dry over the course of the morning. Great for my hair, but in retrospect not the most professional move on my part. Half dry tends to look mostly dry to observers, though, so I let it go. Once the front is longer, I may end up using the diffuser more.

I never use brushes or combs. Ever. My hair is short enough to style without them, and I’ve read that brushes in particular can cause flyaways and frizz in curly hair.

I have tried many different products and techniques over time, and will continue to experiment, I’m quite sure. I know many women who are far more hardcore about the Deva Curl system than I, using the Deva diffuser and special supersoft towels for drying. If my curls were longer, I might try that out myself, but for now my system works well.

Portia, if your curls are unmanageable – I know I felt mine were – here are a few things I’d suggest:

  • Touch your hair as little as you can. Mine always looks better if I don’t futz with it too much.
  • Try mousse if you haven’t yet. It won’t weigh your hair down, but has decent hold and tends to create shapely curls.
  • Ask your stylist to thin your hair if part of the problem is weight or thickness. But request a thinning technique other than thinning shears, which will create bulk when your hair begins to grow out again.
  • Investigate flyaway solutions. People swear by dryer sheets for this purpose, but I’d be more inclined to try this John Freida touch-up cream myself.
  • Make sure you’re using moisture-rich products designed for curls. And heat protectant if you blow dry or heat style.
  • Read Hair Romance, especially this post and all of her curly hair posts. Christina knows far more about hair and curls than I ever will!

And that’s all I’ve got. What other tips would you all share for the care and feeding of curly hair? What are your go-to products? Do you blow dry or air dry? Help us out by sharing your input!

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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Reader Request: Comfortable Belts

comfortable belts

Reader Brenna had this request:

I love the look of a belt adding a waist to a shapeless outfit, but I hate the feeling of a belt squeezing me. I can’t stand the feeling of spanx or pantyhose either! What kind of belts would you suggest?

Totally understand, Brenna. Nothing like a squeezy belt to cramp your style. No pun intended. (I think that was a pun. And if it was, I definitely didn’t intend it.)

Squeezing can come in many forms, but if part of the issue is that your belts are thick or stiff, try out a few wrap belts. Wide, obi-style wrap belts like the one above from Elizabeth Kelly can work, but do take up quite a bit of torso real-estate. So if you’re worried about shortening your torso, you’re better served to find narrower wraps. Look for something made from soft, supple leather or faux leather – this one from Anthropologie looks promising.

For an even softer option, consider sashes. You can use long scarves as belts, but there are also pre-made cloth sashes to be found. or made. Or if you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can make one yourself.

My guess is this is not the direction Brenna would like to head, but since my own squeezy discomfort is most noticeable when I’m sitting and my midsection expands somewhat, elastic belts could be another solution. They will be snug at all times, of course, but they move with you and flex when you flex. You can look for woven elastics like this one, flat elastics, or styles with elastic panels like these guys.

Finally, if you want waist definition without a belt, here are some other ways to achieve it!

Image courtesy Elizabeth Kelly London.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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