Um, sorry to break it to you, but it’s time to retire that stained over-sized t-shirt and baggy jogging shorts. Middle-distance runner Maggie Vessey's running uniforms are changing the game when it comes to athletic fashion. The World Championship runner may not have gotten to the Olympics quite yet, but she’s quickly becoming a fashion icon, just as fast as she can sprint the 800-meter dash.
The 32-year-old California girl recently ended her New Balance sponsorship contract, but Vessey found the silver lining and took the opportunity to explore some fashion flexibility and blend her personal passions. She began a partnership with LA clothing designer Merlin Castell and began designing her own sexy singlets and fashion-forward two-pieces. "I'll sketch my idea, then Merlin will offer his expert perspective," said Vessey in an interview with Runner’s World. "Once we agree on the colors, the shape, the size, everything, he'll create a sample that we draw on and pin to make it as perfect as we can. Then he creates the final product, we do one last fitting, and then usually I’m out the door going to a race," she says, noting the wild patterns and big bows that help her turn the running track into a runway.
I love that women like Vessay can help prove to the world that fit, strong, athletic women can be sexy. The fashion industry notoriously fat-shames heavier body-types, but sometimes the industry, and society alike, can be just as cruel to the muscular female body. Though we're obviously leaning towards more body acceptance, there's still a minuscule line women are often forced to teeter between thin but not lean, athletic but not muscular. Women must be waifish and never strong in effort to maintain feminine qualities that society tends to dictate and avoid adjectives like manly or masculine. It’s women like Vessary that show both the fashion industry and the sporting world that one doesn’t have to be defined by one or the other; that women can be both feminine and strong; that the muscular female body is, in fact, beautiful.
Check out some of Vessey's most fashionable outfits below and be on the lookout for more stylish moments during her upcoming overseas races this fall.
Images: maggievessey/Instagram (3), Getty (2)