My Activewear Capsule Wardrobe: An Update

Box fresh and ready to sweat

Good activewear means that you don’t even think about what you’re wearing when you’re working out. You don’t have to worry about sweat patches. Your top doesn’t flap in your face when you’re huffing and puffing in downward dog. You aren’t worried you’re flashing your ‘Friday’ branded pants to the gym floor when you’re doing a squat. It can up your confidence levels and give you a bit of much-needed motivation; plus it just helps you to feel prepared for the workout ahead. That’s why when I began working out more solidly five years or so ago, I invested in some top-notch pieces and built a workout-wear wardrobe that I’ve been pretty happy with since. However, all these years later after multiple sweat sessions things aren’t as fresh as they once were, and that’s just the nature of the beast.

Activewear takes a real battering compared to everything else in your wardrobe, so it’s only natural that their lifecycle isn’t going to be as long as our everyday clothing and that’s what’s happened to me over the past few months. Seams have burst and every time we’ve stuck our legs out to the sides I’ve worried that I’m showing the teacher what I had for breakfast. It was time for an update, so today I thought I’d share with you what I’ve picked up, my new brand crushes and what I look for when it comes to making solid purchases in this category…

So what did I pick up well? Well thanks to a ‘Oooh this look nice!‘ purchase that I threw in with one Net-A-Porter order I’m now a huge fan of WE/ME. I’m now the proud owner of the Synergy Colour-Block Stretch Jersey Leggings and the Universal Reversible Stretch Jersey Sports Bra. Not exactly the cheapest of things I’ve ever bought, but these have already become the first things that I reach for when they come straight back out the wash. Being so damn soft I wasn’t sure that they’d feel the same after I threw them in the machine, but if anything they’re even softer now and I’ve been wowed by the quality and fit of them (I take a medium across the board). Obviously the leggings are a winner for me (they’re the ones that I’m wearing in the photos in this post), but it’s the bra that’s impressed me the most. I’ve never really found ‘the one‘ when it came to sports bras, but not only are these reversible which is a nice touch, they fit perfectly and being so simple they’re just so comfy to wear. I’m now desperately seeking out one in every colour they do.

Seeing as it was my leggings that were falling apart at the crotch – NICE! – I headed to Lululemon to re-stock in the bottom half department, because no one does leggings like they do. All the black leggings that I own have stood the test of the time, so I thought I’d invest in some more grey ones, which bizarrely have become my favourite colour to wear. Back in the day I wouldn’t dream of such a thing because you’d be guaranteed for a sweat party in your crotch, however the fabrics available now have got you covered. HOW DO THEY DO IT? I can confirm that both the Wunder Under Pant Hi-Rise 7/8 Tight in ‘Nimbus Battleship’ and ‘Heathered Black’ fit beautifully and don’t show a bead of sweat.

When it comes to making a purchase you have to think about what workouts you primarily take part in. If you’re running, you’re going to be looking for qualities that will be different from those who do barre. If you do a bit of both high impact and low impact sports then you’ll be looking for multi-tasking items that can cover both bases and perhaps treat yourself to a bra or two that’s specific to both levels as to keep your boobs supported at the correct level at all times. If you’re looking to sweat a lot then look for sweat-wicking fabrics for both your upper and lower halves (they will usually say this on the label or in the product description), with a waistband that doesn’t feel too clingy. Anything that involves jumping or intense movement requires a decent over the shoulder boulder holder so look for something with high levels of support, decent cup coverage, adjustable straps so you can get the perfect fit and maybe even one that fastens at the front so it’s easy to get on and off (I have almost dislocated a shoulder attempting to remove a sweaty stuck-on bra before I swear).

Across the board you just want items that are comfortable, so don’t be afraid to test them out a bit before you commit to your purchase. Do some squats to check for the ‘OMG CAN YOU SEE MY PANTS?’ test. Move your arms around and mimic running to make sure there are no seams that are rubbing. Do a crunch and make sure you’re not feeling too cut in on the belly. Do a downward dog and make sure that your top doesn’t fall down. Comfort is key and clothing that you don’t even think about when you workout is worth the investment. Promise.


WE/ME. A new discovery for me, this is the offshoot brand from the U.S website Bandier (WARNING: YOU WILL WANT TO BUY STUFF IF YOU LOOK ON THERE). I initially eyed up the range because it was a small and edited capsule – you’re speaking my language – and when the first item arrived and it felt as soft as the bunny I had back in Junior school I was sold. Seriously I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything softer on my skin. The fabrics are sweat-wicking too and everything just feels and fits so top notch. V. impressed.

Outdoor Voices. Previously available to ship internationally and now only available in the U.S (boo!), it’s one to pick up the next time you head stateside. Activewear doesn’t get chicer than this. When I did Pilates classes in New York EVERYONE was wearing their leggings and rightly so. They never show sweat (trust me I’ve tested them well for that), sit comfortably on the waist and are some of the comfiest I own, whilst being an almost compression fit and sucking the butt in and up. Top marks.

Lululemon. It’s classic and we all know that it’s not the cheapest of workout-wear brands out there, but boy do their pieces stand the test of the time and the customer service is also top notch. They offer free alterations on items in-store, which means you can get the perfect fit every time. Do yourself a favour and pick up a pair of the Align Pants. I’ve made pretty much every woman in my life buy a pair and if you don’t end up wearing them to sweat in, you will definitely be grateful for them next time you head on a long haul flight.

Adidas & Nike. To me these two are so, so, so similar and offer great items designed to put to the test at a price tag that won’t make you gasp as loudly as my other recommendations might. Both are available to buy from a wide range of places (although hello ASOS with your next day delivery!) and I’ve never been disappointed with anything that I’ve picked up from either of them. I have a Nike Bra Top that is the longest standing item in my activewear drawer and is still going strong seven years after I purchased it.

Photos by Emma Croman

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