When I had my first spell of going to the gym in late 2000 I wore a heavy navy collared ‘le coq sportif’ t-shirt. It had three raised red lines down the sleeves, which came down to just above my elbows. It had previously been the top I wore to my nights out as a 14 year old- the monthly disco where you wondered around in the dark inquiring of groups of girls ‘would they see your mate’? yelling over chart dance music. When I first got it I had laid it out on my bed and just stood over it taking it in, buzzing with excitement at owning such a cool top. I possibly was also doing some ocd-ish little stroking actions on the top and quiet ‘yeah!’-type noises to kind of get a better grip on the whole phenomenon before me, as was my wont at the time. With the top I wore navy and white shorts and thick rugby-type socks which I wore scrunched down at the ankle in an attempt to create the illusion of thicker legs. I still had puppy fat on me at that point so my legs weren’t terribly skinny in any case.
At another point in this period I wore navy tracksuit bottoms and an oversize white t-shirt with a faded fosters beer logo on it. I felt that this t-shirt hung nicely on me but it was too long. I wasn’t totally comfortable with doing it but I tucked it into my tracksuit bottoms and pulled it out a bit so it looked loosely tucked in. Like a handyman.
Next I remember wearing shorts with a busy check pattern of oranges and reds. I wore them with a plain black t-shirt. I had wanted and felt justified in having a ‘put together’ gym outfit. It was unquestionably awful though. Just poor taste. Hopefully poor taste isn’t for life. Maybe it is, but I think I’ve become better at myself over the years. I’m at least not interested in trying to make a big obvious impact with my clothes anymore. I’ve adapted to the disability of poor taste perhaps.
For the periods when I went to the gym at university I wore navy tracksuit bottoms and a pale blue t-shirt in a fine material. And my casual trainers- ‘tiger’s’- rather than proper trainers which I hadn’t got round to buying. The outfit was in contrast to the type of clothes worn by the Indian guys who dominated the place. They wore big cargo shorts and huge t-shirts which were filled out with unhealthy looking bulk. I knew that I was quite visible as ‘that little cock’ and frequently got slightly scornful reactions when I asked to have a turn on a machine or that kind of thing. I didn’t realise just how unhappy I had made the big dudes though. They were incensed. I was one of many students stood outside the library one afternoon and could see a group of them sitting in their car parked up the hill slightly. I was talking to my housemate when they started blaring the horn on the car and screaming at the top of their voices ‘SEXY BILLY FROM THE GYM!’. They just kept screaming that and blaring the horn without pause. I think my flatmate knew it was aimed at me but didn’t want to embarrass me by bringing it up. He just said ‘I wish they’d fucking stop that’. They kept it up at the same pitch at least until I had walked back into the library with my flatmate. I felt intense hatred towards those bastards and still do.
I think I had emerged from the period of wanting to look just so for stuff like the gym by the time of my next gym outfit which was a white t-shirt and black Nike shorts. I did worry about my socks with this one. White t-shirt with black shorts is OK but with white socks I’m then conspicuously not wearing any colour. From this I moved on to grey no brand shorts and a navy t-shirt. I wore this for a while with thick brown socks and then with no socks showing in that kind of athletic looking way, which my body doesn’t actually justify. I achieved the no socks effect initially by rolling my black socks down below the tongue of my running shoes and then finally after weeks or possibly months I got round to buying ankle socks. I felt self-conscious rolling down my socks in the changing rooms. But my desire to not be a person wearing black socks with his gym clothes was stronger than my desire to not do that/ not be seen doing that.
I returned to the black Nike shorts after that and wore them with a navy collared h and m t-shirt and thick brown socks. Then back to the grey shorts with an nicely fitting white t-shirt I found (advertising beer again).
And for the last year I’ve been wearing navy tracksuit bottoms and a plain brown t-shirt. The sleeves are long enough to cover my arms down to my elbows and the material and cut seems to mask my chest a bit.