How to Pick The Best Workout Clothes

How to Pick The Best Workout Clothes

I used to work out in old shorts, my one pair of bootleg black leggings/pants and whatever baggy tee I had on hand. But how unmotivating is that reflection in the mirror? Lucky for us, athleisure is this major ongoing trend where brands now go beyond the basic with the cutest details ideal for breaking a sweat… or just looking like you did. 😉 Hey, leggings and hooded sweatshirt jackets are comfy.

A few years ago my husband treated me to an outfit from Lululemon for Mother’s Day. It was a definite splurge…. I mean $80ish for a pair of leggings. But then I tried them on. I swear my tush looked more toned, and I loved the reflection in the mirror. I was fully converted, and pumped to get to the gym (note I feel equally pumped for my pjs and cozy cardigan each night!).

How to Pick The Best Workout Clothes


These days there are so many brands that subscribe to the stylish athletic trend and you don’t need a pricey brand to get your fitness on. Two budget-friendly brands worth noting are Old Navy and Forever 21; not only do they perform but both have seriously upped their stylish workout game (confession: I ordered these after seeing a friend look smokin’ in them). Don’t dismiss F21 (because I know you’re thinking it!)… I’ve converted many, and love their stylish leggings & sports bras.

Another favorite quality brand, Athleta, opened by me a year or two ago and I personally love everything & it’s focus on female strength & overall health. I purchased two of its bathing suits this summer, the leggings you see below, as well as this awesome print/mesh pair. Last, while there are a number of smaller brands and bigger ones like Nike and Adidas, another major star is Zella, sold at Nordstrom. Woman are fanatical over their leggings, and you can often find some of the pieces on sale, like I did with this pink tank last year.

Want to score a deal? Try 6pm.com! You’ve heard me mention this site before, and with good reason. I can often find what I’m looking for on this site for less, often for my kids (sneakers). The site is candidly a little overwhelming, so I do best when I have a brand or style in mind.



  1. Never sacrifice quality and comfort for style. I have to be honest here because there are so many brands that do it well that you never want to be uncomfortable while working out. What’s less motivating than feeling like your clothes don’t fit you well or that you’re tugging on something?
  2. Get a good sports bra. This is SO custom to you, and based on your exercise. Of course yoga is lower intensity than running. Plan accordingly. I am candidly due for a sports bra upgrade since my augmentation but I just went sports bra shopping with a beautiful, well-endowed friend. While I typically opt for a small or medium, I highly recommend women with larger busts find a bra based on your specific size. She must have tried 15 bras and this — albeit a little complex to put on — was the clear winner by far (and super flattering).
  3. Stick to a style where you can see your shape, even if only a little. I get it. You don’t want to feel constricted while working out but I promise you’re going to notice your body changing if you can see it! 😉 I love color while working out but I also have a few pairs of black leggings and pants that I pair with a bright top or print. A lot of workout pants have a higher rise, which keeps the tummy sucked in… if that’s a trouble spot, this is a homerun.
  4. Sneakers: find good ones! I love Nike’s for running errands and light exercise but I realized after I visit to a local shop called Tri Bike Run that they didn’t provide a more padded footbed, which was the underlying reason why they had been bothering me. I tested out a handful of sneakers and liked how these Brooks provided the most cushion, came to the perfect height on my ankle and were an ideal width for my foot. Be selective.
  5. Look for moisture-wicking fabrics. Yup, some of the cotton tees are fun but when you majorly sweat it traps the perspiration instead of drawing it away from the surface. They’re typically made of polyester and/or lycra blends. For me, I’ll workout in a moisture wicking top and then sometimes toss on a cuter cotton tank like the Target one below if I need to run an errand or two afterward.

but first coffee, cute tank top from target


A mix of supportive, stylish, quality tops and bottoms to make you look hot while you’re breaking a sweat.


Top: Zella here) // Capris: Athleta (sold out; try these and I have these — pockets! I wear a small) // Sneakers: Brooks  // Bottle: S’well (keeps cold beverages cold, and hot ones hot)

how to find good workout clothes

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  • Reply
    September 21, 2016 at 4:05 PM

    Totally agree with you on Old Navy & Forever 21 – they have held up so well for me & I swear their pants are more flattering than Lululemon!


  • Reply
    September 18, 2016 at 6:32 PM

    Love your outfit. I love f21. They have the best stuff and so affordable.

  • Reply
    September 12, 2016 at 10:21 PM

    Such a great workout look! Great tips.


  • Reply
    September 12, 2016 at 10:15 PM

    Staying hydrated really is key!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

  • Reply
    September 12, 2016 at 6:25 PM

    Thanks for the tips! –Hanna Lei

    Latest Post: Sweater Weather on Campus

  • Reply
    September 12, 2016 at 11:46 AM

    Love this round-up! I actually just picked up some new workout clothes at the Bloomingdales Outlet, and I’m so excited to wear them! For me, the problem is that I go to a gym near work and then I have to ride the subway home, so I don’t want to look like a slob! Definitely checking out your recommendations!

  • Reply
    September 12, 2016 at 10:35 AM

    Love those leggings! So right, when I wear cute workout clothes I feel that much more motivated.


  • Reply
    September 12, 2016 at 6:06 AM

    Love the leggings that you are wearing! Cute workout clothes can be so motivating 🙂

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