By Chelsa Skees
For lack of better options, women, including myself, used to workout in old ripped tee shirts and sweatpants which had been cut into shorts. However, the tides have changed in terms of sportswear and workout attire. Just as we have evolved our understanding of our bodies and exercise, workout clothing has changed as well. They have been designed to deliver us the best experience while exercising – from wicking away sweat and keeping us cool to increasing our performance to be the best that we can be.
I was never one to buy clothing to workout in, it all sounded so silly; “you mean, I am supposed to buy this expensive garment just to sweat in?!”. Nonetheless, I quickly realized after becoming a lover of spin classes and running to competing in biathlons and triathlons, that it is important to have the proper gear. That being said, it can be daunting to find suitable gear that you feel good about wearing, especially if you are a beginner to this active world.
Here is a list of curated products tested and approved by yours truly. They will not only provide the best performance but you will feel just as great about wearing them as your workout will make you feel.
First up, sports bras and tops, because whether it’s a high-impact activity like running or low impact activity like yoga there’s nothing more important than having the proper support. Here are a few of my favorites in this category.
1. Nike Victory Adjust X-Back – This one is especially great for running or any high impact sport. It gives great support, made of Dri-FIT material (which helps wick sweat away to keep you cool), but also has adjustable straps in the back to custom fit to your body. One size does not fit all, so I love this adjustable feature. As for looks it’s pretty basic but classic and you’ll never not feel like the cool kid wearing this bad boy.
2. Nike Airborne Shaping Tank – If you love things that are 2-in-1, you’ll love this option. Nike has created a tank that not only looks great on but has a supportive built in bra. Also made with Dri-FIT material to keep you cool, but the best part about this top are the secret pockets in the back where you can stash energy bars or gels for those extended workouts.
3. Adidas Performance Bra – Designed by Stella McCartney and worn by tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, this bra is perhaps my favorite of all, not because it performs any better than the other two I’ve listed above but because it’s beautifully designed and looks great on. You won’t be disappointed with this product.
4. Lululemon Run Chase Me Tank – This tank is perfect for for smaller cups but no need to fear if you happen to be bustier, Lululemon has another tank, Run Tame Me, which is best for fuller cup sizes. Both tanks have so many great features including Lululemon’s very own engineered fabrics which are lightweight, draw sweat away from the body, and have an anti-stink component! Seriously, look it up! You will feel good and look attractive in this top, a satisfying win-win!
Next, I will show you three basic bottoms you will love for your summer fitness plans.
1. Lululemon Run in the Sun – Perfect for a runner, but really these are great for any activity. Besides being cooling, the material is soft and the seams are flat which resist against chafing.
2. Lululemon Run A Marathon Crop – Though crops may be too warm to wear now that the summer months have arrived, these are still great to wear in an air-conditioned gym or in yoga classes. The fit is flawless and flattering and are cropped perfectly just below the knee. The features of this product are similar to other Lululemon products in terms of their custom engineered fabrics, the fit, and the look, all of which are so beautiful no matter your size or where you are in your fitness level. You will always feel great in a Lululemon product.
3. Nike Slim Fit Training Shorts – If you are looking for a slim fit with slight compression, these are your shorts! I love the fit and the feel of these shorts. You can’t go wrong with Nike gear especially if you are a bit more experienced in your fitness level.
What’s more exciting is the interest fashion designers have taken in designing athletic wear. Keep an eye on the 2012 Olympic athletes this year as they will be wearing uniforms created by designers such as Stella McCartney, Ralph Lauren, and Giorgio Armani. We surely won’t be seeing these designs hitting the shelves anytime soon, but their interest alone will surely revamp the view of sportswear attire and show that making them look good is just as important as making them functional.
Until then, find the Jane Fonda fitness buff within and kick into high gear for this summer. With any luck, in the next few years we will no longer have problems finding stylish active clothing that will make us feel great to slip into.
Chelsa Skees is a fashion stylist and writer living in New York City. When not looking her best in her favorite color of grey, she’s training for the 2012 NYC Triathlon and raising money for Camp Interactive. You can find her at StyleByChelsa.com, ChelsaSkees.com, and on Twitter @Chelsa.