Before I started working in the fitness industry, I would scroll through countless Instagrams and websites dreaming of owning quality athletic apparel. I would dream about slipping on a pair of Port-de-Bras leggings almost as if owning them would make me look as sleek, lean and empowered as their models. But, I never bought anything. Why? Well because now a days, it costs anywhere from $90-$200 to own a piece of “quality” athletic gear, and I just was too hesitant to invest so much money in something I would get pounds of sweat on day after day. Since I was (and am) a distance runner, all my athletic gear would deteriorate drastically upon wearing, and I just wasn’t convinced that spandex could be durable enough to cost that much.
Fast forward to four years later and here I am, absolutely in love with everything about quality gear. Why? Well there are many reasons to buy good workout clothes (as if you needed any more), but the main ones are as follows:
Views - Vagina sweat does not show in quality pants (or any sweat for the most part).
Comfort - tired of your tights sliding or rolling down? This plays an important role in how your workout will feel and how you will perform. Breathable material is also major key.
Reduced Risk of Injury - Performance-based workout gear actually supports your body where it needs to be supported to help prevent injury.
Motivation - When you look amazing in your new compression tights, you want to keep working to compress the hell out of your bod. Also, have you heard of mesh? I literally have a pair of workout pants that look like fish nets but that’s okay because they still workout pants – right?
So I, the girl who is very picky about what workout gear she wears, did some research for you guys. Before we get started, I wanted to let you know that I have been gifted by a few of these brands, but I am not sponsored by any of these brands besides Carbon38. For that reason, I will still give you guys an amazing and honest review of Carbon38 because I have nothing bad to say about them. I am going to list brands in alphabetical order and designate a title to them based on my personal experience with the limited products I have tried, in hopes of helping narrow down your shopping and maybe taking away some fears of investing in quality gear.
2XU: The performance expert
If you are looking for clothing to improve your performance, support your muscles, facilitate recovery and support your extremely athletic lifestyle, look no further. 2XU is one of the few brands that actually offer targeted compression in their tights to help assist your muscles while they work. They also offer compression tights to help promote blood flow and support your lactic-acid-filled legs post workout. The recovery tights literally saved my life after my long runs. Nothing feels better than slapping on a pair of compression tights, putting your feet up and resting after 20 miles. 2XU gets that. I would definitely advise going a size up in their gear as it is real compression and it runs small.
Alo Yoga: Good for just looking good
I personally would probably go with another brand if I had to spend as much money on leggings as ALO costs. Why? Because of the fit. Surprisingly enough, the tights run big. I had to get an XS because the waist in the small sizes was loose (these are high waisted), and they would loosen if I tried to clip my mic pack on it. I know this isn’t a typical issue other people have, but that’s a part of the comfort-performance relationship. If my pants are falling, I'm busy pulling them up rather than working out. I am not the only one that has had a sizing issue, multiple friends have mentioned that theirs have loosened over time. The colored pair that I got in a smaller size were gray and they showed ALL the crotch sweat. The up-side to all of this is that they do look very good once you have them on and you are in the right size. They are fashionable but not too practical for athletes.
Carbon38: Quality gear that fits like a glove and makes a statement
Carbon 38 is an online retailer that filters the world’s most famous athletic retail and positions it in one platform. For this purpose, I am going to ignore the other brands that they carry, and will focus solely on their proprietary brand Carbon38. I have tried multiple sports bras, leggings, shirts and outerwear from the brand and not only does it fit like a glove and is true to size, but every time I have a piece on, multiple people will compliment and sometimes even bid for an article (not kidding). It’s fashionable, notable and on trend – yes, that means athleisure wear with holes in it. My favorite item from them is the Takara leggings, they make my body look sleek, tight and sexy, and I feel like a queen when I wear them.
Fabletics: Cheap gear to get ruined
I’ve personally had multiple bad experiences with Fabletics customer service reps. I wore my Lisette leggings to teach my cycling classes (I bought them as a 2 for $24 deal of course) and slowly began to realize that they were wearing out right where the seat would hit my butt. Before that I actually really liked the pants. They fit well, the compression was more than good and they were much better than any other workout pant I had owned before (they were my first real pair of tights). I exchanged the leggings but it took Fabletics like 3 months to finalize the entire transaction because the leggings I wanted to replace them with kept going “out of stock.” It seems as if they were over-selling the stock, or just giving priority to other customers. I had to get on the phone twice with two different supervisors and write a shitty yelp review for this to get fixed, but it finally did. These leggings are not the best quality but if you get them with the 2 for $24 deal, then you wouldn’t mind going for a trail run/ outdoor workout in the dirt in them, would you? That’s what I use my Fabletics leggings for. My “no chafe 20 mile run pants that I don’t mind if they deteriorate from the friction in my thighs.”
Lululemon: Something for everyone that never disappoints
I’ve secretly had a vendetta against lulu because I always said that I would never spend so much money on basic workout gear. I can say I have now changed my mind but to date, I have not purchased anything from them. I was given an $80 long sleeve at one of their last activations and the material is amazing. Other than that I have yet to try a pair of the infamous lulu leggings. I decided to include this brand because friends that I trust have told me amazing things, and the quality of the gear seems impeccable. Long-lasting gear with amazing customer service – they hem your leggings and your shirts if they are too long. Even if you don’t like working out but you enjoy comfort, most of their gear is totally versatile and can be used for other occasions.
Michi NY: The luxury one you should definitely invest in
I used to go to barre classes and watch these beautifully outfitted and toned women come into class with their lovely sports bras and mesh designed leggings with a beautiful label on the back that read “Michi.” One Day. Naturally, when I was invited to a sample sale, I gravitated directly towards the Michi and let me tell you, I will forever do the same for the rest of my life. It doesn’t fit like a glove, it fits like second skin; it doesn’t just have a beautiful design, it accentuates your body in places you never knew would benefit from being accentuated. There is mesh, lots of mesh. There is compression but no place that pops out from being compressed too hard. If you want to invest on a pair of nice leggings to wear for special fitness outings or low impact classes that won’t get destroyed, Michi is the way to go.
Outdoor Voices: Comfortable outdoor gear
There is a reason why the name has the word “outdoor” in it. I was given a green matching set of top and leggings from OV and based on my experience with it and the material, I would say it is best for wearing outdoors (go figure). I am normally between a small and a medium bottom (yay thighs), and I can tell you that this gear runs a bit on the smaller side. It also made my butt a bit on the flatter side, but I think that’s a sizing issue. The colors are spectacular. I actually have never seen gear have such unique and earthy texture, which is probably attributed to the type of compression material that they use. I also saw much of the gear that my co-workers received, and I can tell you it has an absolutely precious design with comfort and layering in mind.
Varley: Looking hot is only for skinny people
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE my Varley leggings. They are sexy, have mesh all over, and are so nice and sleek. The seams that run across the leg connecting the mesh to the rest of the fabric, however, are extremely tight around my quad-dominant latina thighs. It’s not something other people would just up-and-notice, but I do, and it honestly takes down the comfort level a tad. It’s fine when I’m standing and working out, but when I sit in the car and my thighs go into pancake mode – woo girl.
These are the brands that I have worked with so far and have something substantial to say about them. If you are interested in hearing about other brands, I would more than gladly do some research for you and give you an honest review. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and help us help you.