Last year I tried a lot of new activewear brands. I love that there are so many brands out there, giving us so many options with styles and price points. I wanted to share the brands I loved and my favorite pieces and reviews from 2015. I did other reviews in 2014, so just search in the top left search bar if you want to find more reviews. I’m also sharing those that were a miss for me, but remember that what works for one person may not work for another. Just because I didn’t love something doesn’t mean it’s not a good brand–it’s just not a good brand for me.
Here’s what I’m looking for in my activewear and what I use to judge what I buy.
- Performance: I want clothes to keep me cool in summer and warm in winter, to wick sweat away, and not to chafe me or be uncomfortable.
- Functionality: From pockets to hold items I need for activities to a slit for a media cord to a hole for my ponytail so it’s not scrunched in a hat, I want items that make activities easier and more comfortable.
- Versatility: I run, but I don’t want clothes that scream “I’m a runner.” I like multi-purpose pieces that will work on a run, on a hike, when I’m out doing errands, and even at work or on a night out. I pretty much only buy activewear and rarely buy other clothes, so my activewear needs to be versatile.
- Style: My favorite pieces are those with a unique style, whether it’s an interesting detail or a gorgeous color. As I get older, I find myself moving away from wacky prints to more sophisticated and edgy styles.
- Durability: I’m constantly in my activewear, so I’m constantly washing it. I need clothes that stand up to constant wear-and-tear.
- Fit: The more flattering the piece is, the better.
- Customer Service: The cost of shipping and returns, the ease of returns and exchanges, customer rewards, and the overall experience of ordering from a company are all important.
Hits of 2015
I loved these brands! They met some or all of my requirements, and they just make me happy.
As I’ve said before, Michi was my best activewear discovery last year. The edgy, vampy, sexy style is unique, the fit is extremely flattering, the fabric is quick-drying and high-quality, and the waistband stays put on runs. I haven’t washed my pieces too much, so I’ll see how they stand up to time. I haven’t had to return anything, so I can’t speak to customer service.
Favorite: Um, everything! If I had to pick, though, it would be the Hydra Crop Leggings and Venom Tank.
The fabric, style, and attention to detail have made me fall in love with Alala, even though some of their pieces don’t work for my body type. I love Alala most for casual wear. I also like their customer service orientation through their collaboration with the Agent Athletica blog (they offer her readers a permanent discount and did a giveaway).
Favorite: Again, I loved everything! If I had to pick, it would be the Long Sleeve Mesh Tee.
I haven’t tried any bottoms, but the four tops I have from Splits59 I really love. The fabric is ultra soft and lucious, and the style is unique.
Favorite: Geez, I guess I can’t keep saying everything! I’ll go with the Devon Tanks since I wore them the most.
The fabric of the Beyond Yoga leggings is incredibly soft, and I love the details like ruching on the calves.
Favorite: Shimmer Essential Long Legging
For bargain activewear, Fabletics is great. Many of their designs are really cute, and some of their leggings are just as good as much pricier brands. Quality can be a bit hit-or-miss. I have one pair of leggings with unraveling seams, but the same kind of leggings in another color have held up very well. Returns and exchanges are free and easy, and customer rewards include earning points for purchases and posting reviews that can be redeemed for future purchases.
Favoites: Black Slub Salar Capri
Okay, I’m basing this off a single tank, but I love the tank! The fabric of my Yogini Tank is so soft, and I love the flowy style. Plus, I love that Glyder supports animal rescue with this tank. Glyder doesn’t have a ton of offerings so nothing else has caught my eye recently, but I’d be interested in trying other pieces.
The two tops I have from Albion I wear a lot. They were a very good low-cost investment. Albion also doesn’t have a lot of products, but I’ll keep my eye out for more things to try. I will say that one of the tops has some unraveling seams at the hem that I need to stitch, but I’m hoping that’s a one-off and doesn’t speak to overall durability since the other top is holding up well.
I bought one running skirt from Skirt Sports last year and ran in it a lot. While it doesn’t have as many pockets as Lululemon’s running skirts, the two that it does have on the legs of the shorts are big, and there’s a media slit near one of the pockets for media cords. If you don’t like gummy grips on leg hems, these skirts are a good option because they don’t have any. While I found the legs would initially ride up about a half-inch in very hot weather when I got sweaty, they stayed put after that and I never had to adjust the legs. The fabric is very lightweight and quick drying. I wore my skirt for a very hot half marathon last year, and it was comfortable. I would probably not buy another, though, but only because most of the prints are not my style.
The fabric and drape of the single tank I bought from Onzie was enough to land them in my “hits” column. I look forward to trying more!
Onzie Glossy Flow Racerback Tank
While I love trying new brands, Lululemon is still my go-to for functional, stylish running clothes. Their fabrics keep me the coolest in summer and the warmest in winter, and the constant offerings of fresh new styles and colors each week means there’s always something cute that I love. In addition to running gear, I also love their bags, which are stylish, functional, and made of synthetic materials (which is important to me as a vegan). While their casual pieces are also cute and stylish, I’ve found so many good alternatives for casual wear that I don’t usually buy Lulu’s casual pieces any more.
Favorites from 2015:
|What the Sport Singlet & Hit Your Stride Skirt|
- Tracker Shorts in all colors I got–the shorts that made me start wearing shorts for the first time as an adult! (See Review of Lululemon Running Shorts)
- What the Sport Singlet I and II–The ultra lightweight, stinkproof material of both the first and second version was my go-to for hot-weather runs. The fit was also very flattering on me, and I wore these tops for many other summer activities. These tops don’t ride up. (See Performance
Review: What the
- Sculpt Tank–My pick for runs in the heat and sun. The UPF fabric protected the sensitive area of my chest, and the loose, airy fit and open detail on the back helped keep me cool. These also don’t ride up. (SeeWhat I Wore Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend)
- Hit Your Stride Skirt–Even though this doesn’t come in a tall, the regular length isn’t too short for me, and I prefer it over the Pace Rival skirts in tall. The style is cute without being too cutesy, and the four pockets are very functional. I wore my skirt that I got in white all summer long, for both running and in general on hot days. (See Comparison: Lululemon Pace Rival Skirt and Hit Your Stride Skirt and Performance
Review: Lululemon Hit Your Stride Skirt)
- Beat the Sleet Pants–These pants continue to be my secret weapon on very cold runs. Rain-proof and wind-proof, they keep out the elements and keep me dry and comfortable when I layer them over my Tech Speed Tights or Toasty Tech Tights. (See Review: Lululemon Beat the Sleet Pants)
- Scuba Hoodie II–This is as warm as a winter jacket, and I’ve been wearing it on every cool day, even down to just below freezing, on all non-running walks and activities (it would be too hot to run in). I’m sad Lulu replaced this version with the III version since I heard the III isn’t as warm. (See Lululemon Boxing Day Haul)
- Miss Misty Jacket–I know like 99% of people hated this jacket, and I agree that the fit isn’t ideal. But I’ve gotten so much use out of this jacket year-round–from light rain in cool temps to a windbreak layer on frigid runs. I love the high neck that keeps my neck warm, that it doesn’t flop around when I unzip it when I heat up, and that it doesn’t ride up against my slick Speed Tights. This was perhaps my best buy when it hit markdown! (See Review: Lululemon Miss Misty Jacket)
Misses of 2015
Again, I can’t emphasize enough that these brands didn’t work for me–it doesn’t mean they’re not good brands. In some cases it can seem unfair that I’m basing a miss on only trying one thing. After all, I’ve tried things from Alala and Lululemon I haven’t liked. But there are other reasons I won’t buy from these companies again, which I list.
I debated which category to put Athleta in. I considered putting it in the “hits” category because they have the best customer service, with the ability to return anything anytime for any reason, and because of their generous sales and rewards program. But in 2015 at least, they were a miss for me. I really like their Relay line of run bottoms, which has a unique, flattering knit fabric, and have crops and skirts that are several years old. But they scaled back on that line and only currently offer a single pair of run tights in that fabric. I also used to love their running skirts, many of which were offered in a tall length and had mesh shorts that were great for summer runs. But they also scaled back on those. I do like their Chi line of tanks and tops, but several of the Chi Tanks I wore for running have some pilling. I only bought a single thing for running in 2015–a pair of the Be Free Knickers I like in another color. Everything else I tried I returned. I also used to love Athleta for casual wear. I still have many pieces from several years ago I wear a lot for casual wear. But again, every piece I tried I didn’t like except for the Cozy Karma Hoodie and the Pose Wrap. I’ll keep an eye on Athleta, but they just aren’t putting out things I want right now.
No reviews in 2015.
I have two tanks and bras from 2014 that I really like, but when I placed a big order last year, nothing worked for me. The sizing of the tops I ordered was all over the place, and nothing looked the same. The main reason they’re in my “miss” list, though, is that all sale items are final. If the clothes fit more consistently, this might not be a problem. But considering the inconsistency of fit in the same size, it’s a huge gamble to try their clothes and the reason I won’t be buying from them again unless it’s through a retailer like Nordstrom where I can return the items.
I so want to love Oiselle. The company was founded by a woman runner, all the gear is for running, and the styles are cute. But I have had to return most of what I bought because it just didn’t fit me right. Plus, the Lesley Tight, which I was gifted because they had a problem with my order, got significant pilling after just a few wears. Because neither shipping nor returns are free, I won’t be trying these pieces again.
Long Roga Short (buried at the bottom of this post)
Crane & Lion
I was drawn to the beautiful styles and colors of this new brand, but I didn’t like the fit or fabric of the pieces.
I only tried one thing–a pair of running tights– but the poor quality has forever scared me off.
While I like the colorful designs of Trina Turk, the prints really aren’t my style. I tried a tank in a neutral and didn’t like the fit or fabric.
Recreation Draped Jersey Tank
I was very underwhelmed with a run legging I bought. I’d be interested in trying tops, but everything sells out quickly, and I’m not willing to pay the high prices to get the cute colors and prints before they sell out. Plus, I think the styles are cute but not really for me.
What were your hits and misses from last year? What brand do I absolutely have to try next?