Should you add workout underwear to your fitness wardrobe?

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

For more information, visit www.dearkates.com

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6 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. March 16th, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    I’m SO glad brands are finally picking up on this!! Technical undies are a must for avid exercisers- especially post natal moms! Many of my clients run into this issue, certainly with dance cardio, it’s more common than people think! Happy it’s finally being recognized!!

  2. March 17th, 2014 at 1:57 am

    Our female bodies are beautiful!
    Why can’t we just be naked?

  3. March 17th, 2014 at 8:46 am

    Not sure what fibers/fabrics are being used but most fabrics that wick are made from a synthetic fiber (poly or nylon) and many times involve a chemical finish that wicks or spreads the moisture helping it to dry faster.
    If the wicking is from a natural source without chems it sounds good.
    Chemicals next to my vjj…uhhh NO. I would rather have the sweat :)

  4. Tess @ Tips on Healthy Living
    March 18th, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    This is interesting. I can’t say I’d workout in “workout underwear.” I think I’ll stick to my sweats.

  5. March 19th, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Veronica, did you read the article? To be blunt, menstrual blood stains, visible butt crack and jiggling labia are more than distracting in the gym. Speaking as an aerobics teacher and the wife of a personal trainer, I say hooray for functional workout undies!

  6. March 26th, 2014 at 10:27 am

    YES! I love my Dear Kates for yoga or spin- makes me feel way more comfortable- esp. during that time of the month!

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