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Top 25 Fitness Fashion Fads: 1985-2009

Legwarmers
Legwarmers

Originally worn by dancers, legwarmers not only helped to keep muscles warm, but they became a hot accessory in and out of the gym among young women in the early ‘80s.

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Unitards
Unitards

This one-piece suit gave gym-goers flexibility in their movement with its non-constricting material which featured long legs, ideal for gymnasts and dancers.

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Leotards
Leotards

Similar to a unitard but lacking the long legs, the leotard was the epitome of the woman’s gym uniform in the 1980’s and into the early ‘90’s. Many wore these suits to simply show off their figures, while others wore the tight-fitting leotard to carefully watch their form while doing aerobics classes.

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Biker Shorts
Biker Shorts

Biker shorts were first worn by cyclists to reduce wind resistance and protect the skin. However, this apparel made its way into gyms everywhere and quickly became part of mainstream gym attire.

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Geometric Prints
Geometric Prints

The 1980’s welcomed bold geometric patterns on all types of workout apparel. Often bright in color, these prints enabled fitness enthusiasts to make a serious statement when hitting the gym.

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Thong Leotard over Biker Shorts
Thong Leotard over Biker Shorts

While not exactly practical, this look became popular among gym “fashionistas” in the ‘80s, who wore thong leotards over Spandex shorts, often mixing patterns and colors for a one-of-a-kind look.

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Braided & Terrycloth Sweatbands
Braided & Terrycloth Sweatbands: Wrist & Headbands

When exercisers in the ‘80s wanted to “get physical” at the gym, these functional yet fashionable accessories - available in a wide variety of bright colors - were all the rage.

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Midriff Cut-off shirts
Midriff Cut-off Shirts (Flashdance Style)

During the ‘80s, gym-goers showed some skin (and six-packs!) with these short shirts cut above the bellybutton.

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Neon Colored Clothing
Neon Colored Clothing

In the ‘90s, men and women looked fashionable at the gym with neon clothing including bright yellow, blue, pink, purple and green. These colors were commonly partnered with other brightly colored clothes or plain black.

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Spandex
Spandex (men’s and women’s)

To showcase one's hard-earned assets, Spandex was worn to fit snuggly around the curves of one's body, highlighting every muscle with its stretchy, thin fabric.

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High-top Sneakers
High-top Sneakers (e.g., Reeboks)

When hitting an aerobics or step class, high-ankled shoes were popular amongst gym-goers in the ‘80s and ‘90s. This transcended to every-day fashion, even out of the gym.

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Slouchy Socks
Slouchy Socks

Worn over pants or alone, these oversized and long socks were pushed down toward the ankles to create a slouchy look that was sure to get noticed.

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Scrunchies
Scrunchies

Bigger was better in the early ‘90s, when women used elaborate and colorful scrunchies to hold their long hair back.

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Converse Sneakers
Converse Sneakers

Converse originally launched in the 1950s but they made a huge comeback in the early 1980s leading to a widespread fashion craze, from the brightly-colored “chucks” to the more classic “pro leather” version made popular by Dr J (Julius Irving). Converse’s shining moment came when the 1984 U.S. men’s basketball team won Olympic gold while all wearing Converse on their feet.

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Short Running Shorts
Short Running Shorts

During the 1980s, running shorts were very short and form fitting. As hip-hop and urban culture gained influence in fashion, athletic apparel followed with shorts becoming looser and longer over time.

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Track Suits
Track Suits

Nylon tracksuits, originally intended as warm up gear for athletes to wear over competition clothing, became popular as club and leisurewear throughout the 1980s.

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Leggings
Leggings

The 1980s aerobics craze caused women to turn Spandex leggings into fitness-inspired street wear, layering leggings under oversized shirts, sweaters, dresses and boots, a trend that resurfaced in the mid-2000s.

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Sports Bras
Sports Bras

Sports bras boomed in popularity in the early 1980s as women everywhere learned of the new bras, first created in 1977 and perfected over the next decade. Sports bras are designed to provide better support and comfort for women performing athletic activities.

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Muscle Shirts
Muscle Shirts

These sleeveless T- shirts were originally created to showcase the physique of the male body. In the late 80s, men even cut their muscle shirts above the bellybutton to show off their stomachs.

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Track Pants
Track Pants

Adidas 3-stripe track pants became a staple for both males and females in the early 90s. The pants were wore both in an out of the gym and often paired with corresponding full-front zip track jacket.

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Cross Trainer Shoes
Cross Trainer Shoes

In 1987, Nike introduced the world’s first cross training shoe, The Nike Air Trainer. Since then, the athletic shoe, designed so one can train for multiple sports using only one sneaker, has become a staple item in every gym junkies’ shoe collection.

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Compression Shirts
Compression Shirts

Compression shirts were once only the choice of serious athletes. Nowadays, these polyester and Spandex undershirts are considered a gym must-have for men.

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Hoodies
Hoodies

The hooded sweatshirt (or “hoodie”) craze began in the late 90s and has remained popular to this day. Full-front zip and over-the-head hoodies are today considered an essential part of both the male and female sporty wardrobe, and convenient for exercising.

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Capri Pants
Capri Pants

As fitness became more fashionable, “capris” were another fad designed to end mid-calf for another look – especially with yoga and running pants. These became a dominant trend during the 2000s.

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Yoga Pants
Yoga Pants

Best described as fashionable, spandex-based leggings, yoga pants have become one of the most popular loungewear and gym attire for women.

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