If you've found yourself caught in the activewear whirlwind, you're far from alone. In recent months, Instagram has been teeming with one vibrant, spandex-y, monochromatic look after the next, all of which look cozy-chic enough to jump right into — but not so fast. Right now, experts in the field will tell you one thing: The activewear market is oversaturated. While the temptation to tap the latest on-trend set can be overwhelming, there are a few things to consider when buying activewear that you'll want to take into account. This way, you'll get the very most from your investment, ensuring that the set you opt for is tailor-made for you and all the things you'll want to do in them.
To cut through the noise, TZR asked eight activewear experts from all the cult-followed brands of today for their best advice when shopping. Whether playing with colors, hunting for the best-performing silhouettes, or looking for those versatile wear-everywhere pieces, you'll hear it all from the experts at Outdoor Voices, Gymshark, Year of Ours, and so many more. Continue reading for their biggest pro tips, as well as the products they recommend for all your personal preferences.
Things To Consider When Buying Activewear: Overall Functionality
"I think we can all agree that as much as we love fashion, when it comes to activewear, we need our bras to be supportive and our pants to stay up," shares SETActive CEO and founder Lindsey Carter. "Our designs offer a range of support levels for all different bodies and activities, all with our signature SET style." For versatile, reliable wear, Carter suggests the 7/8th Length Leggings, which feature a super thick waistband that's sure to stay in place.
The same is true for Ann Tann, founder and designer of Lanston Sport. "You might like the look of an outfit, but if it's not supporting you during your workouts, then you might need to reconsider. You want to make sure you are able to focus on your workout and not have to constantly be readjusting or fussing about your outfit." For Tann, having a pair of pants that wicks sweat quickly and serves great compression is crucial to staying focused — both of which are guaranteed with the Meditate Legging.
Things To Consider When Buying Activewear: Texture
With summer just around the corner, it's important to take texture and breathability into account. For designers, creating the right fabric can take months, or even years, according to David Helwani from Twenty Montreal. "We took approximately two years to develop a completely unique and revolutionary 3D knit. ... We want to make sure that when [the wearer] touches and tries on our Hyper Reality Knit 3D Activewear, she can confidently say that she has never experienced anything like it. Our 3D Knit offers four-way stretch, custom shape compression, sweat wicking and a proprietary anti-microbial called BeFRESH."
From Koral, the "Lustrous Legging is made from our lightweight Infinity fabric, which still gives you the compression that you need to work out, but also keeps you cool," says Ilana Kugel, co-founder and creative director. The pant happens to also be a versatile alternative to leather pants and is a favorite of celebs like Alessandra Ambrosio.
Things To Consider When Buying Activewear: Type of Activity
Lois Woodcock, Gymshark's head designer, is a firm believer in dressing for what's on your schedule — and that directly applies to leggings. For activities that involve more bending at the hips, like yoga and cycling, a more substantial waistband should be prioritized. "It’s best to consider the desired amount of lower abdominal coverage and support for your activity level — our Energy Seamless has a higher waistband that makes it the most effective tummy-control legging in Gymshark’s entire Seamless range."
Alternatively, for barre and other mid- to low-impact exercises, consider Twenty Montreal's "tank bras that are for medium-impact performance and the 'Tee' workout tops, [which are] available in both long sleeve and short sleeve," says Helwani, the founder and designer behind the brand. “We thrive at medium- to low-impact activity but have been used for higher impact weight training as well."
Things To Consider When Buying Activewear: Colors
Color is a crucial thing to consider, for more reasons than one — if there's a color that you find you tend to sweat in more, be sure to check the details section of the product description for sweat-wicking properties. Once that's out of the way, feel free to play with bold hues.
Year of Ours' summer line is rife with bold colorways, with good reason: "A few years ago, a woman may have been feeling self-conscious and not want to wear a pink legging because she feared her imperfections would show up more, or that they were asking for too much attention," shares Alejandra Hernandez of the brand. "Now, we are feeling more empowered to wear whatever we want." There's also a sort of snowball-effect that happens with color — wearing bright hues intrinsically makes you feel good. "If you feel good and supported in the product you wear, it will naturally radiate even more. We love to play [with] color blocking and color pops — all of which add to how you feel and look, which will ultimately impact your confidence."
Things To Consider When Buying Activewear: Versatility
Whenever making a $100-plus investment, it's important to consider the cost-per-wear, which is inherently lower for pieces that you can wear outside of workout class. Several lines are putting out pieces that seamlessly integrate with your greater wardrobe, such as Outdoor Voices. "[Our] Exercise Dress is a unique piece, because not only is the silhouette super flattering, but you can also do anything in it. That's what we gravitate towards at Outdoor Voices — pieces that can take you to the dog park to the trail and back," says vice president of design Michelle Copelman.
Lindsay Carter of SET agrees. "When I first started SET, there was literally no activewear that made me feel cute. Every time I slipped on another brand, I just felt like I had to workout, and if I didn’t, I felt major guilt for wearing activewear but not making it to the gym," she shares. "I wanted to create an outfit that was self-explanatory (i.e. matching sets) that could serve as the foundation for any look, whether I was going to brunch, Pilates, or even a business meeting."
And, one last takeaway: Don't let trends distract you from quality. "It can be a little overwhelming to find a great activewear set in today's saturated market," shares Copelman of Outdoor Voices. "The most important thing is that you don't prioritize aesthetics over functionality." Happy shopping!