Active wear, what a term. These days, I’d say that this refers to general clothes, otherwise known as “Athleisure”. Athletic wear has transitioned into everyday clothes! Something you wear regardless of whether you're actually working out or going to the gym. You will see it everywhere you go.
To be honest, I think it has a great power! When you put your tights on and your sneakers you can do anything, like go shopping or run a lap of the park. It’s empowering for sure.
I currently work for a multinational activewear company, we are a super iconic brand whose style is really booming at the moment. It’s incredible to be “on trend”! Being a part of a worldwide brand its super interesting and eye opening about the industry. It’s so fast paced you can often see me wearing runners to work (even though I have a desk job).
There are so many fabulous pieces out there that buying active-wear that is right for you can be really tricky. To make it easier, ask yourself these three questions:
What are you going to be doing?
If you are doing Sirshasana (a head stand) and other yoga/Pilates moves where your body will be upside down, then a loose fit t-shirt or top can be problematic! When it’s falling onto your face while you’re trying to look at the instructor, it can be a big mess. So I can recommend wearing a top that doesn’t move as much or a sports crop.
If you’re doing push ups or planks in a group environment. You don’t want a top that hangs too open over the chest or you will be all out on display. Tops with a higher neckline are less likely to show off your peaches.
Similarly if you are wearing loose shorts can be problematic. Sometimes you can be seen right up to your knickers. So think of your environment.
There are options to still wear loose shorts and tops. Perhaps put a fab sports bra underneath so that when it’s visible it’s just awesome. And for shorts you can get shorts with a tight under-short built in.
If you are running, a spray jacket or quick dry long sleeve tee can be great to get you going if it’s cold in winter, but don’t get too hot once you are all warmed up.
2. What type of garment do I really need and will I wear it?
There are so many different types of clothing when it comes to activewear. To help you choose what you really need, here are some explanations of garments types so you really know what you are buying.
HOT SHORTS - these are the smallest of shorts. You will probably show some cheek when you move about. But if you’re okay with that then go for it! These are brilliant for Bikram Yoga when its 45 degrees and you need to move your body!
BIKE SHORTS - will sit about mid-thigh. Halfway between your crutch and knee. Depending on the brand and the sizing, I can find bike shorts can be uncomfortable and tight on the thigh, but if your find sizing that suits you they can be great to get full booty coverage.
CAPRI’S - will sit just below the knee. They are good in summer to cover your legs and knees from the floor surface and still keep you from getting too hot. There is no problem with restrictions with this length. Occasionally they can bunch behind the knee, but this depending on how tight the leg opening is and your own leg shape. Some people find these quite comfortable.
THREE QUARTERS - these will be half way between your knee and your ankle and take up ¾’s of your leg. These are fab - often they come in great prints! I enjoy these in summer as you get a really good length but still plenty of leg showing for a tan when you can.
7/8’s - as the name suggest they are 7/8’s of the distance from crutch to ankle, which would be halfway between your calf and ankle. This gives full coverage and warmth but allows for ankle movement. These are a super cute length. If you have great sports socks you can wear them and they shouldn’t hit the leg opening of the tight. NO BUNCHING.
FULL LENGTH - also come in fabulous prints. They will end at your ankle, fantastic in winter to keep you warm.
For the top of the body there are also so many options:
SPORTS BRA – the smallest of articles to wear but so important. You want to have good support when moving around no matter the activity. You want to be comfortable and be able to get it on without popping a shoulder. These can come in a bunch of prints and with elastic details. Really there are some amazing ones out there.
CROP TOP – these will usually go to the waist, the smallest part of the body and can be worn with a t-shirt or tank. Good layering piece.
TANK/SINGLET – tanks are great for summer without sleeves. Keeping you cool and full covered through the torso. Your arms can achieve full movement without restrictions. There are some super-hot tanks out there with elastic detail and some active tanks have built in Bra shelfs (which are fine to wear with or without a bra.
SHORT SLEEVE TEE – self-explanatory, more coverage, still good for all weather purposes. Come in a huge range of fabrics. Some have seams along the front for more shape. A seam from the armhole to the hem, with a curve over the bust is a princess seam. They are used to add in shape to a top, very flattering for women.
LONG SLEEVE TEE – these are fantastic in winter. You can get them in a range of fabrics as well and the fabric can be different thicknesses. This can be something to consider. If you are doing something outdoors in winter, you may want something thick, or as a layering piece you may want something thinner.
3. Are you wondering about value for money?
There are a few things to check on your purchase before you commit to buying.
For bottoms, work through this list to know you’re getting the best.
SQUAT TEST – do a squat and have a look in the mirror. If you can see your underwear then you will be less likely to wear them. This will also check that the crutch shape is right for you. No one likes to be continuously pulling them up from the back.
POCKETS – have a feel around on waistband, there might be a pocket on the top opening, or within the waistband. Perhaps a zip pocket on the centre back. These can be great for holding a phone or a few coins if you are out and about and feel like a fresh peppermint tee, or freshly squeezed OJ from your local Café.
MESH PANELS – these can be great for breathability. Behind the knee or down the leg can add in a little breeze as you get active.
TRIMS – reflective taping or prints are a bonus! These are all extra costs to make, but are an easy safety addition. If you are walking out late, or even back to the car after a late Pilates class, cars will be able to see you a little better.
CRACK TEST – when you are putting your tights on, if you hear any cracks then stitching has cracked and after a few washes then there will eventually be a hole at a seam.
For tops there are a similar set of tests you can do to determine a value for money.
STRETCH TEST – when you stretch your arms up, you can see how much the top will rise. If you cross your arms over out in-front of you, you can feel how much resistance the top will give you across the shoulders and chest. If it’s too tight you may need to go up a size or find a top with more stretch in the fabric. The majority of active wear is knitted so you will definitely find garments with stretch.
UNDERARM CHECK – if the armhole drop is too high then you will feel the seam hitting your underarm. This can often get uncomfortable. You may need a bigger size or find a top with a different sleeve. Tank tops/singlets will usually have a lower armhole than a tee.
SPLICING – Mesh panels, multiple colours, reflective trims and different fabrics in one garment make a top more than just a plain tee. A Sport bra with elastic details or a tank with back details are all additions to make it more of a garment. You really do get what you pay for.
Really anything that you put on and you smile, or you feeling fantastic in than go for it! You’ll definitely work out more when you feel great and comfortable in what you wear.
I hope this is somewhat helpful when thinking about what you want when shopping next.