Betty Says: So I Wear Skirts

Betty, rocking a skirt in the 1930s.

Those who know me will know that my conversion to running skirts is less than a year old, when fellow tall girls Dimity and Sara convinced me to ditch my capri tights. I wore capris in all weather, even my hottest summer workouts, because I’ve never been comfortable in shorts.

When I buy pants, I look for a 36″ inseam. While those cute little running shorts with the 2.5″ inseam are adorable, and will probably cover my butt, they leave a lot of exposed leg. I prefer the feel of compression shorts, but again, they tend to look like they shrunk in the wash: the proportions are all wrong.

Skirts — particularly those from Skirt Sports — may not be much longer, but because of the overskirt they give me a much more proportional, balanced look. And they have convenient pockets! And they don’t ride up!

But aren’t skirts so… girly?

I’ve never been much of a girly girl. When I was a kid, my mother made me wear skirts to school every day, regardless of the weather. I hated them. Hated them passionately. So to think that I’d willingly wear a skirt to exercise… wasn’t that weird?

Lord knows that the “fastinista” naysayers would say yes. They would say that it makes me less of a runner, that it means that I take everything less seriously, that I’m more concerned with looking pretty than being fit and strong. A recent New York Times article ran under the title, “Running Skirts Go Girly.” I guess that’s to distinguish them from the manly skirts of yesteryear?

But as Dimity pointed out in a recent post for Skirt Sports, being a feminine athlete is about finding your particular strength, which for the 6’+ club isn’t necessarily about being cute and petite and girly, no matter what we wear.

I bought my first skirt and wore it last June for Chicago’s Proud to Run 5k last June. I was shocked to learn that I loved it. I wanted more. But part of me still held back, not sure where I fit into this fitness fashion trend.

"You look like Betty."

After Nike, I sent out thank-you notes to all of my donors. On the card, I used a photo from my Angel Island 12k trail run earlier that summer (the photos from Nike were atrocious). When I talked to my 93-year-old Nana on the phone, she couldn’t stop talking about the picture.

“You’re wearing a skirt! Oh, that’s so… what’s the word the kids use? Retro. Oh my goodness, that’s something that we would have worn back when I was in school. Goodness, your grandmother was a runner, too, wasn’t she? You look just like Betty.”

And at that moment, I was 100% sold on running skirts. It’s not for comfort, or for fashion, or for pretty. It’s for Betty. Betty would run in a skirt. Betty did run in a skirt. And if she could win medals like that, then it’s good enough for me.

Do you wear a skirt? (No, not you, @delfuego or @gogarrio.)

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2 Responses

  1. I’ve been considering giving a running skirt a try. I also prefer capris, though I certainly don’t have any long-leggedness issues (when I buy pants, I look for a 28″ inseam.) But I hate the way shorts ride up. So maybe I’ll give it a whirl the next time I buy any running gear. Just not the sparkly purple ones we saw at the expo last weekend. Yikes.

  2. Alisa says:

    As you might imagine, I can’t quite make the leap to sparkly purple.

    So far — and I admit, I haven’t tried every brand out there yet — the only ones I’ve found that don’t have a riding-up problem are from Skirt Sports. The compression undershorts are less stretchy, more stay-put.

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