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Shopping is a big deal for me. It is emotional; I need to have a physical connection with anything that makes me find a credit card at the bottom of my purse. I cannot just take a clothing compliment — I routinely explode into a spiel about how cheap my find was, that it’s still for sale on eBay, and how you wouldn’t believe it’s from J. Crew kids.
Shopping is a big deal for me.
So, for me to recommend something, I need to love it — Tom Cruise-on-a-couch, Gigi-in-Zayn’s-music-video, our-celebrity-nickname-should-have-prosthelytized-our-eventual-demise raging Bennifer kinds of love. I do a lot of exercise for work, and for me to swear by something, it has to be ready for anything: no waistband can slip while doing jumping jacks, no top can underperform in a steamy, sweaty workout room, no underwear can get stuffed between my buttcheeks while cardio dancing. If I’m not fake-holding a plank and am actually going for it, I don’t want my so-tight sports bra prohibiting me from my heroic effort, you know?
My performance level and mood are both swirled into a lil' fro-yo cup of crazy when it comes to workout clothes. I am the most anal; I’ve spent entire classes contemplating if my sneaker-to-ankle-to-legging ratio was ideal. Does it waste more time than any adult woman has to ponder the exact fabric blend, fit, length, design, and seam of elastic capris I’ll wear for a 55 minute workout-slash-daydream session and immediately peel off and throw into a laundry pile? If your answer was "yes" and also possibly "you have a legit problem," then you’ll be simply thrilled to find out that my shopping stress is here to aid you.
My shopping stress is here to aid you.
I spend so much energy seeking out the best of the best fitness items on the regular that, well, I’ve come up with some that are far superior to the rest. And rest assured, this isn’t your everyday athleisure guide — last week I worked out in a cool Nike "streetwear" top and almost fainted because it felt like I was running a marathon in a damn trash bag. For me, it’s less about looking cute than it is about being there to work; if the clothes are adorable, it helps, but it’s most important that they can get the hell out of my way while doing so. If you never want to return running gear again or stuff yourself into a pair of too-tight compression leggings while wondering if they’ll stretch, consider yourself finally taken care of:
Say hello to my #1 favorite workout top. Tracksmith is a Boston-based premium performance running company that is intended for distance athletes and, lol whoops, somehow accidentally won my favor as someone who does the complete opposite. Like everything about their product line, the Harrier tank truly feels heritage, and from the jewel-toned color options to the perfect fit to the baseball tee-esque curved hem that I’m obsessed with, you know a whole hell of a lot of people put time and energy into making this just right.
The uniquely wide-armed, tailored-neck cut magically makes you look like you have red-carpet-ready shoulders while also concealing any kind of sports bra you wear, making it perfect for women with boobs and anyone who despises a cliché racerback tank. The best part is though, it’s high-performance workout wear that makes you look less like an athleisure wannabe and more like an actual athlete when you wear it. (Whether or not it invokes hallucinations, I always feel like a professional soccer player when sporting one — even when running out for coffee.)
I adore it so much that I’ve barely taken it off since I’ve gotten it which, apparently, is kind of their thing. Supposedly their blend of merino wool and tencel is so much better at sweat-wicking and odor-eating than the rest of the junk we’re wearing that it can be worn — gulp — for an entire week without washing. A tank intended for the toughest cardio work that also acknowledges our extreme laziness once a sweat session is through? Dreams!
For those of you that don’t know how good Tory Burch’s fitness line is, prepare for me to fully indoctrinate you. This isn’t another designer hopping on the athleisure bandwagon — her stuff is legit. The material Tory Sport leggings are made out of is somewhere between butter and Rapunzel’s silk with a dash of cartoon clouds; it’s so incomprehensibly, addictively soft that it will ruin all other pants for you. (I plan on commissioning a bodysuit out of it so it can truly function as my second skin.)
They’re ideal for low-impact but can withstand a mid-range class (they’re thin, so wear nude-colored undies; also not ideal for if you’ll be big-time sweating), but honestly, these are the ultimate "I’ll put them on for the entire day and eventually run in them" leggings. I’ve never understood people who wear workout clothes all day long — isn’t that tight? don’t you feel like a fraud? — but these, oh these, I simply cannot take off.
And then there’s the pattern. The navy rainbow is wildly unique, and looks just this side of a World Cup color scheme, which is really all I ever want from my clothing. (It’s even enough to make the detail-oriented monster in me choose to ignore that the lines don’t completely match up on top.) Sure, you can channel Victoria’s Secret models while boxing or jogging in head-to-toe black but when else can you feel like the god damn Fruit Stripe zebra while working out? Never. And oh no, they sell matching slides?! Goodbye, paycheck. Was nice knowing you.
I’ve long heard about Moving Comfort being the go-to sports bra for girls with a serious upstairs situation, but I never felt I had big enough knockers to necessitate one. Ends up it’s pretty dope for all chest sizes, and performs at a Olympian level just when I’m reaching the age where maintaining physical gravity is, um, something worth worrying about.
If you’ve ever worn a regular athletic brand’s high-support bra, you know that putting it on is basically like elbowing your way through basic training, and involves somewhat dislocating your shoulder in order to clasp it in the back. With the Juno though, I feel endlessly supported but in no way like I’m harnessing myself up to dive out of a plane, especially because the heavy duty straps are... Velcro! Yup, instead of backwards-birthing your way into a support top, you just loosen the Velcro, snap the clasp and tighten to your liking. (Pro tip: this is also great for when you try a new treadmill-strength class and need to adjust your bra mid-class as a fake break from that insane uphill climb.)
I still wear cute ~fashion~ bras for barre class, sure, but I’m stocking up on the NASA-level brilliance that went into the design of this one for anytime I’m jogging, jumping or even feeling disdain towards my regular daily set of cups. Even better — two colors are on super sale right now, making the investment so much more worth it.
I’ve long-held a belief that reversible clothing is a farce — the only time I’m flipping pants inside-out is for the washing machine — but Sweaty Betty has created a pair that put equal thought into both sides, and actually looks equally good. Regardless of how you wear ‘em, the silver-y mesh cutouts are super flattering, and the angular panels to-o-o-o-otally give you Taylor Swift legs. (I kept looking in the mirror for the duration of a dance class, confounded by how insanely tall I looked.)
The one downside is that they’re a bit thick for warm climates, but it makes them ideal for dashing to a fitness class in the winter, which is basically the only perk ever for dashing to a fitness class in the winter. And, while some similar leggings will have you baking in a pants oven throughout your class, you won’t overheat while sweating either, since the paneling makes them totally breathable during intense workouts.
But, even with all that, my favorite part of these two-in-ones comes by way of a semi-gross but very real side note: if you’ve ever had a bare-legs-on-patio-furniture situation when it comes to mesh, don’t worry. This one is ultra-thin and won’t leave you with a hashtag imprint. No need to play checkers on your thighs or buy two pairs of fashionable bottoms! A total win-win.
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