Here at CGR, we’ve been talking a lot about rebooting our health and fitness goals for 2014 so I figured you might need some frugal options to get you started. Let’s face it, sometimes athletic apparel options can be downright expensive! So, you ask, what makes it so expensive? Well, there are a lot of variables including design, materials, seaming, fit, construction, and research. Nevermind all the advertising, marketing, and community participation. There are a few lower cost lines out there that offer many of these types of features but they are either not available in a brick and mortar store or they don’t offer a wide range of sizes. I will not put my hard earned cash towards a brand that only offers small sizes. If you don’t offer up to an XL in both men’s or women’s sizes I simply won’t buy your product. I’m even happier if they have a big and tall or plus size line because good fitness gear should be available for everybody. Remember guys, you vote with your dollar.
My top two lines that give you more bang for your buck are Champion at Target and Old Navy. Both lines have decent technical fabrics, flatlock seams and little thoughtful design details like hidden key pockets or thumb holes that used to be exclusive to high end brands. I’ve never had fit issues with either brand. Quality can sometimes vary though not by so much that you can’t count on these lines to perform. The only problem I’ve had with Champion has been the seaming on their non-technical fabric pants. They aren’t always flatlock seams which can cause chaffing during wear. Simple solution? Don’t buy those types of pants. With Old Navy my running jacket’s arm length is a smidge longer in some colors I own than others. This isn’t really that bad but it makes the thumbhole a bit off where I need it to fall. I just scrunch the wrist up a touch and the problem is solved. I combed through what is currently available at both retailers and picked out what I thought would make good basic workout wardrobe staples. I hope you enjoy my selections and everything with a red price is on sale!
1. Old Navy Seamless Hoodie is available in XS – XXL and I can personally recommend this item because I own it. It’s a great thin layer and the hoodie is deep so it fully covers your head and 1/3 of your face when it’s up. I’ve had it for two months and have worn/washed it a lot and it’s still looking brand new. I don’t dry this hoodie because it’s very stretchy and I don’t want it to shrink. It’s totally true to size and the color is exactly as pictured.
2. Old Navy Cross-Front Yoga Pants come in XS – XXL in regular, tall and petite! I own these pants and I really like them. I am short-waisted so they don’t sit as low on me as the model. This means the waist is a little big but all in all the pants look great and are totally opaque. They are a bit long but I’m also 5′ 5″. They are very slimming and look great at the gym or tucked into boots.
3. Old Navy Active Jackets come in XS – XXL and have tall sizes too! Another piece I own and love! I have this jacket in carbon and black. The carbon offers more compression and a better fit. The black is a lighter stretch fabric, not as tight on my body but cut the same, and the arms are half an inch longer then the carbon. I’ve had these for six months and washed and dried both many times. I wear these jackets everyday and almost all day. These haven’t even been snagged from my cat’s claws so they are pretty durable! I use the carbon one in the gym and on runs since it offers more support. I use the black when doing low impact cardio and for casual wear.
4. Old Navy Compression Capri come in XS – XXL in regular, tall, and petite! I own two pairs. These capris’ fit well for any activity in or out of the gym. They are durable and comfortable. No chaffing while running! I wore these in the summer often but I can’t say they got a lot of washings compared to the jackets.
5. Old Navy Semi-Fitted Tanks are available in XS – XXL. I don’t own one but definitely plan to pick one up soon. I would have bought one already but they didn’t have any in my size when I was refreshing my workout wardrobe. The next size down was too small for my bust but fit okay elsewhere. They were well made, came in an array of colors, and were super popular in the store. They also have rave reviews online. For $8 it doesn’t seem like much a gamble to order one either.
6. Old Navy Cropped Compression Pants come in XS to XXL and have tall sizes too. I have one pair of these and I wish I had bought more. They fit amazing and the pattern is quite fun. This cropped pant seriously makes you look 10 pounds thinner. I didn’t wear these as often as the other two for gym wear, mostly because I only had the one pair and didn’t want to wear them out!
1. Champion V Neck Yoga Cover-Up comes in XS – XXL and I don’t own it. It was $25.99 at the time and I’d just dropped a fat wad of cash at Old Navy on work out gear. It looked great on me though and I may order one now that it’s on sale!
2. Champion Fitted Capri with Drawstring come in XS – XL and I own one pair. These are super slimming and look so cute on me that I wore them exclusively outside the gym. Any activity where I was needing to look casual and cute but be active, these bad boys were worn. They held up beautifully and kept me cool no matter how active I was.
3. Champion Yoga Hooded Wrap comes in XS – XXL and I did not buy it in store. They didn’t have the pink or the black in store in my size. Plus it was a thinner material than the jackets I got at Old Navy and with Fall coming up I wasn’t sure it would be warm enough. I’m now wishing I bought it because it’s been so mild here. I would have enjoyed having a less athletic looking piece to transition from the gym to the street. It fit true to size in the charcoal color and didn’t hang weird even though I’m busty.
4. Champion Seamless Racer Bra comes in XS – XXL and I own one. I wish I’d bought every color they had in my size. This bra is everything the Spanx “Brallelujah” tried to be and failed to achieve. It’s perfect for daytime wear and for low impact activities. I was wholly shocked that it’s largest size would even fit me as I’m a 36 GG bust size! It’s cool, comfy, doesn’t stretch out during wear, and looks smooth under clothes. I’ve washed and dried it at least 75 times since it’s purchase this summer and while the white is a little dull, it still fits great. Normally I would not recommend purchasing a cheap bra to anyone over a b cup in size but this is seriously an item you will kick yourself over if you don’t go out and get it or order it online!
5. Champion 3/4 Sleeve Yoga Top comes in XS – XXL and I didn’t buy it for one reason. For the price at the time I wasn’t sure I’d actually wear the top to the gym. It was so cute and looked great on me but I hate wearing 3/4 leaves in gym clothes. I’d rather wear a short sleeve or tank with a jacket. Because I was shopping for gym clothes specifically and had a limited budget I chose not to buy it. If I’d had an extra $10 in my budget I would have bought it just for a regular shirt. If you don’t mind the sleeve length this would be great for a Zumba or hip hop dance class!
6. Champion Premium Color Block Capri comes in XS – XXL and I didn’t buy it because they didn’t have any when I went shopping. These are a newer item so I have very little info on them. A friend of mine picked up a pair in medium and loves them for running. These look super slimming because of the color blocking and have all the technical features you need in workout gear!
Now you have a great list of athletic apparel to try out that will not bankrupt you and still replace what you have or even stock up on great quality items. These are all cute, functional and worth the cost especially for the high end details they have. If you can’t get to the store these retailers have fast shipping and hassle free returns so there is no excuse not to check them out online too!