I remember reading an article in the WSJ a few months ago about how the sales of yoga wear have zoomed, but the number of people actually doing yoga has stayed more or less stagnant (the article was called “Yoga Poseurs”). I thought it was pretty funny, but I can see how that has happened. In the US, it has become acceptable to wear activewear pretty much anywhere. When I travel, I can always recognize Americans because they’ll be the only ones at breakfast in a 5-star hotel wearing sneakers and Lululemon! That said, activewear certainly isn’t cheap and while some brands are worth their price tags (I’m obsessed with Michi and Alala…I mean how hot is that Michi bodysuit above?!), not all brands live up their hype, which can be troublesome given how expensive many activewear brands are. I will say, though, it’s boring to go to the gym every day and work out in the same outfit. Feeling good about what I’m wearing has such a huge impact when it comes to my performance and I bet most of you feel the same way. With that in mind, I chatted with Sean Scott, the founder of Levitation Activewear, and asked him about what four things he thinks are important to look for before purchasing activewear. Let us know if you agree!
Color: If the main color of the garment is not black or dark blue, DO NOT purchase it. Black is definitely preferred; it hides sweat, matches with anything, and is just classic. My ideal color palette is black with a pop of neon. Neon is exciting, energizing, and motivating. Please note, I recommend a POP of neon, not head-to-toe highlighter.
Fit: Personally, I prefer fitted clothing when working out, no matter the form of physical activity. I fully understand the word “fitted” may be incredibly intimidating for some, especially after a long weekend…or week…or month of cheat meals. It’s okay. We’ve all been there; I don’t judge. Trust me when I tell you that baggy clothes will only make you look large and frumpy. Non-form fitting clothing gets in the way, it looks bad, and it can distract from the task at hand. Your activewear should help embrace your workout, not hinder it. Plus, baggy is so ’90s, and I’d like to think we’re all over that phase in our lives. Throw on some dark, fitted activewear, and leave your pager and Velcro wallet at home.
Fabric/Price: I grouped these two together and you’ll see why in a second. Good activewear is usually made from synthetic fabric that should be sweat-wicking, stretchy, machine washable, quick-drying, wrinkle-free, lightweight, and durable. Fabrics that obtain such qualities are not grown from a seed in the ground. There is technology behind these fabrics, and technology costs money, therefore your tank top that pushes sweat away from the body will be more expensive than your cotton t-shirt. Be prepared for a price boost, but personally I’d never spend over $150 on a pair of sweatpants…unless they burn the calories for me while I’m sitting on the couch watching Housewives. Even $150 for a pair of sweatpants is high, but remember what mom always says,“You get what you pay for.”
Style: Before I spend money on activewear, I always ask myself, Where can I wear this? I’m not just talking about to the gym or spin class. Our lives are so busy; we don’t always have time to go home, take a hot bubble bath, dry off, and find a new outfit. We want to go to the gym, take the kids to school, run some errands, make it to work on time (you might want to bring a change for that), meet friends for lunch, etc. You should be able to dress up your activewear for almost any occasion short of a black tie event or certain occupations. Your activewear is for an ACTIVE lifestyle; this does not limit you to the gym. We are active and constantly “on the go;” invest money in clothes that enhance that lifestyle.
Speaking with Scott further about specific brands, he has this to say:
If you’re a diehard sports kind of guy, of course, I’d recommend the usual Nike and Under Armour. Both brands are very technology-based, but have started incorporating more “style” in their designs. I’d recommend Lululemon for more mature, laid-back style. The brand isn’t just for yogis anymore; they offer some really great active lifestyle pieces. Surprisingly, American Eagle offers some good activewear with cool colors and designs. I will say AE is definitely for a younger customer, so be careful.