Should you add workout underwear to your fitness wardrobe?

Dear Kate, a fashion-forward collection of lined, sweat-wicking skivvies, is addressing a range of workout bloopers that go way beyond visible panty line.
Dear Kate
Emily Cook Harris modeling Dear Kate’s Sport Collection (Photo: Dear Kate)


You’ve got the coolest leggings in class, but do you really want to sweat through your undies during dance cardio? Enter the growing genre of workout underwear.

While big-name athletic brands like Asics and UnderArmour have been selling a small selection of fitness skivvies for a while, New York-based Dear Kate is taking the concept to a new level. Its panties are made with sweat-wicking fabric and a built-in liner that acts like a pantiliner, and they’re actually fashionable—from sporty briefs to retro hipskimmers and, yes, lacey thongs.

Founder Julie Sygiel’s original model focused more on helping women deal with PPP, Period Leak Paranoia (a phenomena that we felt deserved capitalization). But when she launched a sport collection with an Olympic runner last fall, she realized fitness enthusiasts had a real need for the product. “We actually sold out,” she says. “We’re becoming more of a sport company than we expected.”

So why are active women eager to add specialized underwear to their workout wardrobes?

Not necessarily, as you might expect, for reasons of eliminating panty lines (Dear Kate’s collections differ on that point). “Some people just wear them for sweat,” Sygiel says, because no matter how sweat-wicking your leggings, capris, or running shorts are, if the fabric underneath is not technical, moisture is going to just keep accumulating as you lunge and squat. It’s an issue that’s mainly just uncomfortable but can also lead to an embarrassing sweaty-crotch stain (especially, have you noticed?, if you’re wearing light-colored leggings) that spreads across your pelvis and leads to the hurried wrapping of your hoodie around your waist. (Not that we’ve ever…)

Dear Kate
A little lace for barre class? (Photo: Dear Kate)


And while women don’t like to admit to them, “leaks” are the other issue. A degree of urinary incontinence is very common among women who are pregnant or have had children. Add in repetitive jumping, and it’s a bigger problem.

Underwear that can handle little spills is speaking to “a ton of women in their 30s who had their first child and are really fashionable and really active,” Sygiel says, but it’s not limited to moms. “Double Unders in CrossFit with a jump rope are a huge one, and also long-distance runners who do marathons. It’s that constant motion that’s really stressful on your body—and bladder,” she adds. (Another company, JustGoGirl, debuted this year with a special pad designed to address the same issue.)

And, of course, the aforementioned period leaks are a problem whether you’re at the office or in yoga. But when you’re wearing Spandex and sticking your butt in the air, being in “constantly checking mode” is really not okay. —Lisa Elaine Held

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