Runner Wardrobe Staples–timeless essentials for your sweaty closet

I’m not sure if a Flirting with 30 Crisis is a thing, but my Facebook feed suggests there’re some mini-meltdowns happening amongst my (admittedly heavily filtered – they wouldn’t have made that ‘hide’ feature if they didn’t intend us to use it) late-20’s pals. One after another,

30+ Things Every Woman Should Know Before She’s 30

20 Things You Need To Let Go Of To Be Happy

What to Ask Your Financial Advisor in Your 20s

Luckily I’ve curated a fine mix of un-hidden friends so there’s a healthy balance of roller coaster photos, inner beauty shockers, pigtailed engineer’ettes, and Myers Briggs animals in there, too. (<— I’m an octopus)

Surely worse ways to spend your time online  than some “oh you woke up today and realized you’re getting old and need to do more with your life?” self-help’y articles, and truly, some of them are pretty beneficial. I learned how to roll over my old employer 401k after landing on a finance-for-dummies post during a heavy “next article” click trance. My future retired self thanks you, internet.

But after all this, the single Grown-Up List post that will forever live in helpful infamy is:

smp wardrobe

Timeless Wardrobe Essentials (source)

That’s some advice you’re a fool if you don’t follow. Granted now that I finally have a completed set of adult-approved closet staples I have little use for them since I work from home and rarely dress in “real clothes”, but it’s comforting knowing they’re all there should a surprise, adult’y occasion beckon.

It got me thinking though, as I flipped through the slideshow wearing the running shorts and sports bra I intend to put to use at some point today, that my workout wardrobe took nearly as long to perfect, and nobody gave me a shopping list for that! What gives? From cutoff cotton tees and rolled waistband mesh shorts, slowly adding “necessity pieces” as I discovered a need for them, I now have a solid rotation of pieces that look good, feel good, and perform good well. But it wasn’t easy coming to it.

I took inspiration from this Style Me Pretty post and created an all-season guide for runners, including some of my recommendations. Because no one needs to stumble through such an important and arduous task alone. (admittedly looks a bit like a Oiselle catalog, but that’s only because those are the items I use, love, and genuinely suggest)

runner wardrobe staples

12 Staples for Every Runner’s Sweat Wardrobe

[ “Real Clothes” = Runners’ Equivalent. (“OUaL Likes” recommendation) ]

Good Denim = everyday shorts you can dress up or dress down (roga, distance)

Nude Pump = basic everyday trainer (launch)

Cozy Scarf = arm warmers for season transitions and an insta-badass look (oiselle)

Fab Clutch = sparkly headband for some bling bling (bic bands)

Fitted Blazer = 1/4 zip long sleeve, means business (green layer)

Riding Boot = “fast” shoes for speed workouts and races (kinvara)

White Tee = basic tech tops, throw-and-go (winona, lesko shimmel, c9)

Statement Jewels = jewelry you can sweat in (page 10-11)

Great Bra = reliable, non-chaffing sports bra (strappy)

LBD = tried-and-true, great-booty-making black compression (stride, filament capri)

Timeless Tote = durable drawstring bag (spike bag)

Classic Trech = mid-weight full zip jacket w pockets (onyx)

– Other suggestions not listed: spanx = compression sports bra tank; umbrella = sweat-wicking, water-repellant jacket; opaque black tights = blisterless socks; nice sunglasses = nice, anti-fog sunglasses.

* * * * *

Any other must-haves you’d suggest? Seasonal/regional items my small-minded SoCal runner brain didn’t think of? WTF are those gaiter turtleneck things you cold-weather people talk about?

Sarah OUaL


14 thoughts on “Runner Wardrobe Staples–timeless essentials for your sweaty closet

  1. Cold weather runner here! My two winter running must haves (other than the obvious long warm tights and gloves) are a Buff (protect your neck, wear as a headband, make into a balaclava when the weather hits ‘dead god where’s that dog with the whiskey bottle around it’s neck?’) and a running vest. The vest is for when it’s too cold to wear just a long sleeve, but if you wear a jacket you’ll be sweating like you are in a sauna 10 minutes into your run. The vest gives you core warmth while still leaving your arms cool. I probably wear my vest more in the winter than my jacket.


  2. – Warm hat (for sub-freezing temps) and ear-covering headband (for slightly warmer runs). I favor the style with a hole in the back – the ponytail needs to have somewhere to go, threading the pony through it helps keep it in place, and if you have to take it off, you can thread your waistband strap through the hole.
    – Baseball cap for UV and rain-in-eyes protection.
    – I have a light quarter-zip with a hood, which I find to be extremely useful on chilly-but-not-cold mornings… I start out with the hood zipped all the way up, keeping my head and neck warm, and slowly unzip as I thaw.


  3. Minnesota runnner here:
    – Buff, for use as a hat, headband and/or neck gaiter. I like the merino ones.
    – Wool hats of varying weights, depending on temperature. Even on really cold (subzero) days, I usually take it off once I’m warmed up.
    – Windproof gloves. My go-to ones, down to about 10 degrees, are leather with shearling lining.
    – Calf compression sleeves. Reduced fatigue, faster recovery.
    – Trail gaiters (i.e. Dirty Girl) — keep crap out of your shoes.
    – YakTrax, for running on packed snow, but this winter I’m going to try screw shoes instead ( — they’re supposed to be good on ice.
    – For summer running, a bandana for wiping sweat, my nose, etc. In the winter, gloves and/or armwarmers serve this purpose.


  4. Am I the only one who needs an “anti-vest”? My core gets HOT and my arms are still cold! That’s why I use armwarmers all winter — put them over my long sleeve baselayer, and more long sleeve layers over that if needed.


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