Or maybe this look will come back in style…
The other night, a guy on the train caught my eye. Wearing appropriately-baggy black mesh shorts (not too short, not swinging around the shins), a white t-shirt and basketball shoes, he looked to be on his way home from a workout on the court. Pulling away from the station, he turned in my direction as he shifted his gym bag behind his hip. Unfortunately, he caught me checking him out about two seconds after I’d read the now-visible logo on his basketball shorts – NBA Store New York City.
Poor guy. Instead of showing mild interest, my face was now screwed up in twisted disappointment. “But he’s…cute, and in shape…so why does he buy his workout gear at the NBA Store?”
Any guy who wentto a school with team sports has the opportunity to own workout gear bearing a legitimate program affiliation. We’re talking high school, college, vocational plumbing school. Even if your extracurricular engagement was limited to cheering in the bleachers, you could still purchase clothes with your school’s name on it. “St. Mary’s Prep.” “Ohio State.” “Taxi Driving School of Queens.”
Beyond school sports, simply hailing from a state – really, almost any state at all – means you have no excuse for not aligning yourself with a pro team and its workout wares.
Everything you wear – even just to work out – says something about your personality. When you’re grunting through your last rep of squats at the gym, or huffing as you hustle down the basketball court at the park, what you’re wearing does all the talking for you. This guy’s team-less shorts said, “My boss invited me to play on his pick-up team so I bought this whole outfit in midtown on my lunch break.” It says, “Name a professional basketball player? Hmm, is Shaq still in the league?”
Is there anything intrinsically wrong with NBA Store basketball shorts? No, of course not. I’m sure they’re perfectly functional, bestowing the wearer with breathability and ease of movement. That’s not my point. If this guy cares enough about basketball to play it in his spare time, why rep such a generic affiliation? Wearing shorts that extend your affection for the sport only as far as the league itself is like saying you like ice cream but not being able to name a favorite flavor. It’s like wearing the baseball cap the bank gives you when you open a new checking account. Like buying a sweatshirt at Six Flags because it was cold that day, and then wearing it unironically to lunch the next weekend. Like wearing a tee from Hollister with the word “HOLLISTER” in huge letters across the front.
What about high-performance activewear from brands like Nike or UnderArmour, you may ask. To that I would argue that a small, subtle swoosh is different than a “JUST DO IT” tagline splashed across your chest or thigh (a look no one’s still wearing, hopefully).
So while I’m not a big fan of vintage, in the case of athletic wear, I make an exception. The older the better. Pledge allegiance with your workout wear to your alma mater or your hometown’s pro team, not to consumerism. And hey, if shorts from high school glory days still fit, you must be doing something right in your workouts.