How important is women’s fitted kit to you?

For a woman in sport, one of the most difficult tasks is often finding sports wear that not only fits, but makes you look and feel professional. Walk into any mainstream sports store, and you have a choice between the women’s section filled with short shorts, tight lycra and crop tops, or head over to the mens’ section and whilst findings an array of suitable tracksuits, the fit is often too baggy, unflattering and uncomfortable.

It might seem like a trivial discussion, but as we all know feeling and looking the part (in this situation feeling and looking professional) is an important aspect of performing to ones highest standards. And as female coaches, we already have a difficult time in being taken seriously, and therefore, the importance of looking the part is ever more essential. Impressions count.

So, for one of our weekly social media discussions #WomensWednesday, we posed the question, ‘Is women’s fitted kit important to you?’, to our network of coaches, to find out the experiences and solutions that female coaches implement when faced with the dilemma of choosing the right coaching kit.

Here is a selection of the responses – feel free to add your comments below!

Chloe Brown: So hard to find nice kit. I’ve worked for organisations where XS still drowned me, other organisations have got the women’s fit and the t shirts and shorts are so short. It’s tough to be taken seriously when you don’t look professional, and not by your own fault.

Caoimhe Morris: As long as it fits, but you’re relying on organisations to have junior sizes in order to get a T-shirt that doesn’t fit like a dress! And some places think women’s fit = pink. Nothing wrong with pink but not everyone likes to wear it!

Caroline Ames: Don’t think it has to be women’s fitted but just a good fit. This tends to vary by brand, have Nike kit this year and the small men’s tops are fitted anyway. It’s usually the tracksuit bottoms that are tricky to get right. I always go medium in shorts though incase too tight

Mrs P: Incredibly! I’m 5’3” and get given mens kit and I just look daft!!

Angie Cottie: Agree…I always have comments like..”are you growing in to your jacket?” I don’t think I own a female coaching jacket?

Anita Broad: I don’t have so much problem with tops, but tracksuit bottoms are the biggest problem. I don’t like figure hugging lycra legging style. Trying to find ‘ traditional’ tracky bottoms that aren’t men’s or youths is hard. I currently wear Adidas bottoms that are too big & too long.

HH: I, conversely, have a problem with tops: broad back, big boobs but short from shoulder to hip. If the tops fit around me, they’re always too long in the arms and too voluminous around the waist & hips.

Hannah Duncan: Had “women’s fit” kit at uni and it was awful. Basically wearing hotpants which restricted movement and felt very self-conscious in the shorter shirt, which also had a deep, wide neckline. Awful. Men’s small kit is perfect, comfy and not restrictive. It’s football, not fashion.

Donna B: Never had kit that fits properly. Women’s is always too tight or too low waisted. Mens is always too long. I always look like I’m wearing by big brothers hand me downs.

Leslie Tischler: Generally the women’s sizes are terrible. Not made for athletes shapes and muscles.

Elaine Cahill: Yes it’s important to me! When I returned to coaching rugby this year, the STRUGGLE to get good fitting tracksuit bottoms was frustrating and let’s not start on the shorts debate!

Erin Walters-Williams: MUCH prefer men’s. Women’s cut too short, dont fit boobs, too tight, restrictive. I need shirts that won’t ride up underneath GK protection. Am a M in fashion shops but a XL+ in sports clothes and many brands don’t do XL+ Would rather sizes were ‘baggy’ or ‘tight’ not gendered.

Mary: Yea it is important us women have different shape than men even teenage girls need separate kits. Unisex sometimes is okay

Shelli Sayers: Related… directors, head coaches, etc must purchase polos and other furnished coaching attire with input from female coaches. I can’t count how many men’s polos I wore that never fit. When my boss bought me a women’s fit, I almost cried. Didn’t even know those existed!

Kerry Gaffney: Not sure if it’s better now but when I played rugby in ’00s the women’s kit was ordered in the same sizes as the men’s. So as a prop I wore a XXXL shirt. I’m not elfin but it was still huge on me and meant I was dragging round extra material, all the better to soak up the mud.

Julie Eyre: Not necessarily women’s – just one that fits, instead of getting the leftovers after everyone else has picked through. Sorry, I don’t fit into men’s M pants or L jackets, nor do they make me feel good.

Sara: A number of years ago i was tasked ordering my netball clubs playing dresses. In the 30+ order there was 5x16s and 3x18s. The manufacturer told me “we dont go that big as fat women dont play netball”lets just say ive refused to buy or order any of their kit again

Stephanie Savino: This is extremely important to me. As a female coach, I want to look, feel and be taken seriously in the part – and that means – I want my coaching gear to fit so referees know who “coach” is on the sidelines. Wearing men’s attire doesn’t work for me. When gear is ordered, gender apparel and proper sizing must be accounted for. We work hard to have a voice on the sideline, getting our size right should be the easy part.

Carol Jackson: I have women’s fit too. Not flattering to the older body! Too short and not wide enough pmtmd the hips.

Dr Kendra Quinn: Oh Lordy. Stuff that fits is important for everyone who’s trying to do something in it!! (And please remember, kit makers, that just because we are athletes doesn’t mean we won’t have big boobs!

Isi Schneider: to be honest, I hate women’s kit. it never fits the way it’s supposed to and makes me look like a sausage in fancy colours. for men’s kit, I know my size, most of the time I don’t even have to try things on and everything feels really comfy.

Carolyn Lee: You can extend this to pretty much all athletic gear. Tennis for example. Men’s shorts have pockets…do you know how hard it is to find women’s shorts with pockets? Because you’re expected to wear a short skort with the ball pocket up underneath the skirt. Absurd and sexist.