Before you can attack that fitness resolution, you have to attack that fitness wardrobe (right?). The activewear market has exploded in the past few years with countless new workout and athleisure brands — not to mention that just about every fashion retailer has added or expanded its activewear lineup. Needless to say, there’s a lot to wade through when it comes to sports bras, running tights, and yoga tanks.
Lucky for you, we’ve done the legwork to precede your leg work. Below is our guide to the absolute best places to shop for workout clothes. Here, all 25 of them are broken down by category, including the major brands on the scene (and what to trust them for); the shops to hit for stocking up (without spending much); the best multi-brand boutiques; the brands to turn to when your sport takes you outdoors, and the up-and-comers to turn to when you’re so done with Lulu.
THE BIG DOGS
The “no, duh” activewear giants, and what to rely on them for.
Lulu, how do we introduce you? A huge range of pants, shorts, sports bras, and tanks for runners and yogis is the company’s bread and butter, so they’re a go-to source for nailing down just the right capri-length legging, or the jogging top that’s loose there and fittedthere. This past year they gave their iconic bottoms a redesign with four new pant lengths and silhouettes, but customer-friendly services like complimentary hemming and free in-store classes on the regular keep the girls (and guys) coming back.
This Gap Inc.-owned athletic chain has been expanding at a rapid clip, so you’ve probably noticed one pop up at your local mall. Clothes on offer range in function from studio classes to winter sports, and are available in an agreeable range of hues like black, navy, and coral, with a few seasonally-updated prints thrown in the mix. Check out the”unstinkable” selection, which uses silver salts in the fabric to lend an antimicrobial quality.
Something like Athleta’s little sister in the Gap Inc. family, GapFit has all the essentials for a stylish — but not too showy — run or yoga wardrobe: leggings in solids and prints, breathable tops, low- and medium-impact sports bras, and seasonally-available layers for outdoor exercise. We love the Reserve In Store service, where you can select items online to be ready for you to try on in store without having to put a credit card down.
On top of being obsessive over constant innovation in performance wear, Nike consistently churns out the most on-point colorways. They really can’t be beat for shoesthat are both functional and stylish, but you didn’t need us to tell you that.
THE INEXPENSIVE STOCK-UP SHOPS
When it’s time to amass low-impact bralettes and enough black leggings to get you through marathon-training season, here’s where to take the “more is more” approach.
Of course Forever21 has hopped on the activewear train, ramping up budget offerings to include dozens of variations of leggings hovering around $20 a pop and a ton of workout tops that are a little more interesting than your average (we’re loving this $15 high-impact sports bra and this $35 reflective-paneled hoodie for a night run).
Old Navy Active
The first thing to love here are yoga and run leggings in the $20 to $30 range. Scratch that — even better are the special sizes: they’ve got dedicated active sections for plus, petite, and tall girls, which means those leggings will actually be the right length and fit, and ankle-bunch will be one less thing to worry about while breaking a sweat or holding a pose.
Workout tanks will run you $10 and quick dry leggings are $25, and both are available in standard solids and seasonal prints. Continue to stock your gymbag with colorful accessories, like combination locks and water bottles, headbands, and sport socks.
Highlights here include $29 slim jogging pants (so hard to find good ones that aren’t an inexplicit zillion dollars) and a hoodies and jackets section that spans from popovers to track jackets, all designed with purposeful minimalism.
THE MULTI-BRAND STORES
Boutiques and department stores with tons of brands to shop and only one shopping cart to check out from.
Former music manager Jennifer Bandier sought to reinvent the high-end activewear market when she launched her Southhampton boutique, which nows has an e-comm element. Find a variety of stylish specialty brands from Vimmia to VPL, but check out their exclusive artist collaborations if you’re looking for something a little less traditional. (We’re currently loving this $88 crop top with a quirky print by the New York-based artist Christopher Lee Sauvé and these super cute $175 silk printed leggings created in collaboration with London-based artist Malarko).
Luxury e-tailer Net-a-Porter’s sport division is Net-a-Sporter (cute, guys). Here, shop the most stylish picks from big names like Nike, major designer collabs like Mary Katrantzou for Adidas, emerging lines like Live the Process, and gratuitous sport offerings from high-fashion labels. Their selection is broken down into eight sports — including golf, sail, and equestrian — plus accessories and Aprés (the French word for “after”) which translates to loungewear like oversized Fendi turtlenecks.
An extension of Lady Footlocker, Six:02 was created as its own stand-alone destination for premium athletic apparel and footwear in 2012. Here, you’ll find a wide range of items that include everything from Dancewear to CrossFit-appropriate shoes. Notable perks include free shipping and the chain’s repertoire of activewear giants like Asics, Reebok, and Nike.
From graphic VPL leggings to pastel Lorna Jane tanks, Revolve has a fashion-friendly mix that doesn’t skimp on actual performance details (and most of what they stock is still under $100). The assortment of way-beyond-basic sports bras may even inspire you to workout sans-top.
Shopbop is another great source of fashion brands doing active — like Norma Kamali and Finders Keepers — as well as smaller lines with growing fanbases, like Prismsport, Michi, and Koral. Expect prints, colors, and mesh panels that are equal parts decorative and ventilating.
Notorious for selection, the department store doesn’t disappoint in the activewear department. Here, you can shop everything from Adidas by Stella McCartney “Climatelite” tees to fitness trackers and a well-priced in-house line called Zella. Major props for an extensive special-size section that includes yoga gear for expecting momsand plus sizes, including sports bras in E cup and up from Panache, Elomi, and Wacoal.
Not only do they have a huge assortment of athletic shoes, but Zappos can cover your fitness wardrobe from sport socks to shorts and jackets, too. Brands on offer include Brooks, Nike, Spanx Active, and Under Armour, plus they have super speedy shipping (and returns) so you’ll be set to start that workout routine in, like, two days.
THE ELEMENT-BRAVING BRANDS
Seriously stylish picks for looking good while interfacing with Mother Nature.
Duskii is all about good-looking swimwear designed for being active, so you can paddle, surf, dive, and lay out. One-pieces run $200 to $300 with a wetsuit aesthetic, while mix-and-match separates offer sporty crop tops and bustier styles up top, and everything from cheeky bikinis to surf leggings on the bottom.
Aether takes that “city-to-sport” look to the next level, with well-designed pieces that work for blustery morning commutes and hardcore hikes (they have a section simply called “mountain”). The color palette is agreeably neutral, which sets the goods apart from a lot of other outdoorsy brands. Invest in base layers, snow pants, or studiowear, which are all backed by a lifetime warranty.
Relatively new to the US, this Aussie label uses merino wool — yes, wool — for everything from sports bras and shorts to compression leggings and jackets. “[Merino is] soft, breathable, quick-drying, and naturally regulates temperature,” brand founder Noa Riessays of the material you’re used to seeing in sweaters.
When you’re through twinning with the rest of the barre class.
Outdoor Voices is one of the newer activewear brands taking hold of the fashion world. Launched in 2013 by Tyler Haney, it’s often heralded as sportswear for millennials, with simple sweats, leggings, and crop tops in neutral colors like emerald green and charcoal. For those new to the workout world, check out their 2-piece, 3-piece, and 4-piece kitsthat offer the base essentials of burgeoning activewear collections.
Like Lulu and Athleta, this British brand offers free classes in its US stores. Their vast selection of sports bras, tops, bottoms, and jackets is shoppable by sport, from Pilates to outdoors, and done in punchy colors like royal blue and buttercup yellow (as well as basic black and heathered grey).
From Free People comes a line of pretty, active separates best suited for yoga, barre, Pilates, and the like. Expect strappy-backed sports bras, harem pants, and plenty of leotards.
Super luxe materials and downtown cool collide in this new brand out of NYC. The products, mostly around the $100 mark, stand out with details that are sexy without being over-the-top, like breathable tanks and slimming tights with flattering mesh panels.
Running, yoga, and ski apparel are on offer here. Its White collection is especially elegant, with drapey tops in neutral hues and berry shades, plus performance outerwear you won’t mind wearing in the city, too.
Move by Alternative
Socially-responsible brand Alternative Apparel’s answer to activewear includes lots of interesting, loose-fit tops, cool prints, and refreshing silhouettes. Prices range from $30 to $80 for bottoms that are mostly stretch jersey.
They’re passionate about simple design and direct-to-consumer merchandise (think Warby Parker or Everlane), which keeps prices low compared to other active brands. Sports bras and tanks will run you around $30, while leggings and half-zip hoodies hover around $50.