Clothes Make the Rower, Part II

You are looking mighty fine on top…let’s get your bottom half in order!

From the Waist Down: For better or worse, pants are no exception to the “wear it tight” rule. Anything loose (think basketball shorts) can catch in the wheels of your boat seat.

In cold weather, running, yoga, or rowing-specific tights reign supreme. In warmer weather, think rowing trou (rhymes with “chow”). These nifty compression shorts are tight around your thigh, are higher in back than in front, wick like mad, and many have double layers of fabric in the seat, making them comfortable even when you are sitting for what could be hours. Check online rowing clothing purveyors for lots of options.

Let’s talk color—black is the new black. Lighter colors show sweat, and when you’ve been sitting in one spot for a long time…well, it can look like you’ve pulled a childish trick. At my boathouse, black rowing trou are de rigueur. Go fancier later if you like, but start with black.

And whatever you choose, be sure your backside is covered. You are bending at the waist at every stroke, and plumber butt can become a real possibility. Do some squats before wearing anything in the boat, and adjust your clothing decision accordingly.

Socks: A truism: socks will get trashed. You’ll be in your stocking feet on wet, slimy, goose poop-laiden docks (if there are docks at all). No soggy cotton for these. Choose tight running socks or snug wool socks to fend off blisters. (Another truism: the shoes attached to your boat won’t fit you.) Tall socks also protect your calves from cuts and bruises.

Shoes: You won’t need them in the boat., but you gotta carry the boat down to the dock somehow. Choose shoes that won’t slip, can get wet and dirty without making your cry, and can be kicked off quickly. (If rowers holding heavy boats are waiting for you to untie your Nikes, you won’t win friends.) Flip-flops are a popular choice. I’m partial to rubber boots (a look popularized by the Oxford and Cambridge rowing teams—see the photo above). These are especially useful if I’m getting into a boat where there isn’t a dock, or walking into the Mississippi to haul out our coaching launch.

Coming next: What to wear to stick out—in good ways and bad.