Let’s face it, no-one’s exactly glamming it up with their workout clothes at the moment. It’s not like you can just pop to the gym, bootcamp or your usual exercise class. Sigh.
Even so, there’s no excuse to throw on your oldest, cheapest tracksuit that’s falling apart at the seams.
Not only is it important to have functional activewear that is made from fabrics that support movement and sweating, but it’s also important for it to be fashionable. After all, when you look good, you feel good — and this often gives you the motivation you need to tackle a workout in the first place. Right?
With that in mind, here are 7 activewear essentials you need all year round. (And spoiler alert, they’re so comfy that they can be worn for exercise, running errands or chilling at home!)
1. A Supportive Workout Bra
Firstly, a sports bra is one of our must-have activewear essentials so that you don’t have to feel restricted while you’re flinging yourself around to a Joe Wicks workout or bending your body into all sorts of yoga poses.
Sports bras today are no longer those weird-looking contraptions that squash your boobs into submission. They’re made with top-quality breathable materials that move with you and offer maximum support.
Here are a couple of our faves:
- Great for value, comfort and comes in two colours with adjustable straps, we love these Marks & Spencer Good Move 2 Pack High Impact Sports Bras (*), giving you the ability to change up the look with a racer back or regular fit. Non-padded with special cool technology, sweat is wicked away from your skin in no time!
- If you’re a sucker for a label then you’ll love the Nike workout bras. This cute Nike Indy option (*) offers light support so it’s ideal for a weight loss workout or for doing nothing. In a stunning pale lime colour (other colours too) and with the famous swoosh, you won’t want to take it off so best buy two. A racer back and breathable mesh make it your workout partner. Oh, and it’s made out of sustainable materials too – win-win!
2. A Sturdy Wind Jacket
One of our favourite activewear essentials you need for all year round is a wind jacket. Especially if you’re exercising outside. No matter the weather, it will keep you cool and make sure that you’re not blown away when the weather isn’t playing ball.
Wear yours over your active essentials in early summer or throw it on with jeans and trainers. Take it wherever you go as a useful piece of clothing when you want to look good hiking!
Here are our top recommendations:
- If you’re going to wear a wind jacket, make it a stylish one! This classic black lightweight TruePace Jacket by Adidas Stella McCartney (*) looks just as good over baggy tracksuit bottoms as it does over workout leggings or your regular comfy leggings.
- M&S might not be at the forefront of fashion but when it comes to high-quality staples, you can’t really go wrong. This waterproof zip Sports Jacket (*) is in the cutest turquoise blue that will see you right through into the summer. Hooded and with loads of zipped pockets, it’s too good to reserve just as one of your activewear essentials.
- Now this Nike Windrunner Trench (*) is fabulous on its own, but it also doubles-up as a windbreaker – clever, huh? You can wear it with your jeans or cargo trousers but just as easily pair it with your workout clothing.
3. Comfy Leggings
Newsflash: there’s no point in wearing leggings unless they’re comfortable. Plus, if you’re working out, they must fit properly and allow plenty of movement.
Our current favourite leggings are suitable for high impact activity as well as low-impact TV-watching:
- We love the detail of these ASOS Hourglass Run Leggings (*). The reflective slate grey colour works with pretty much anything under the sun. Plus, they’re super-elastic so you won’t feel the pinch at just £28.
- Reiss has branched out into an activewear collection and while the price is high (£85), you can expect superb quality and plenty of stretch in their High Waisted Sports Leggings (*). Available in blue, khaki or black, buy all three and you’ll be covered for the whole year.
- For style and performance, you can’t beat these M&S Magic High Waisted Ankle Grazer Leggings (*). Skinny-fit with tummy control, they’re your go-to for comfy leggings that will give you a wonderful shape and act as one of your must-have activewear essentials. At just £19.50, they offer super value for money too.
- One more worthy pair we should mention, the Nike Icon Clash Leggings (*) feature dramatic detailing down the front panels. Silky-soft and lightweight, they’re made from recycled polyester, which also makes them environmentally-friendly.
4. Cool Trainers
No self-respecting woman’s wardrobe is without a pair of trainers, but why buy fashion trainers when the practical versions are just as gorgeous?
Here are our current must-haves:
- Just looking at the NIKE Zoom Air Fire Trainers (*) makes us happy! Available in ice cream colours, this cute pair will give you that extra zing when working out but look divine paired with faded jeans or a pair of shorts when it’s hot. They’re great quality, lightweight and will last through thousands of workouts.
- The Adidas Ozweego Trainers (*) are smart-looking, eye-catching and will boost your workout or at least give you that “look how fit I am” feeling when you’re rushing round the supermarket in your trendiest gym gear. They’ll be right at home with jeans or leggings too and the splashes of colour give them extra style appeal.
- Sometimes monochrome is essential because it goes with literally everything. These Columbia Vent Aero Trainers (*) will see you through your training and rock your weekend wear too. Padded, breathable and not too pricey, they’re superb value.
For an inexpensive but still great-looking pair, we also love these from good old M&S(*).
5. A Sweat-Wicking Tank Top
Sure, almost all of us sweat. However, even though it shows dedication, it’s not always a good look! Ergo, if you’re using your workout wear for, well, working out, you need that extra protection.
That said, here are our top sweat-wicking tank tops:
- The Lululemon Ebb to Street Tank (*) has light support so you don’t need that bra! Designed to be worn for yoga, working out or as streetwear, you can run from your class to the shops without any signs of sweat. Also ribbed and available in a rainbow of hues, it’s got real fashion appeal!
- Lots of pretty colours and a great, seamless cut make the Sweaty Betty Athlete Seamless Gym Vest (*) a stylish wardrobe staple you can wear for working out or meeting friends for coffee (with a pair of ripped jeans of course). And it costs just £38.
- Probably our favourite, not only does the Under Armour Women’s HeatGear Tank (*) look good, it’s practical too! It wicks away sweat, is breathable and has four-way stretch. Plus, it’s got a racer back – all for a respectable £15.97.
6. Oversized Sweatshirt
For comfort, nothing beats a cosy, oversized sweatshirt that you can bundle up in on the sofa or throw over your weekend jeans.
An oversized sweatshirt is your best friend when you go for a street-run or to wear over your workout gear to the gym. In fact, there’s every reason why you need a few in your wardrobe! Here are a couple that are swoon-worthy:
- We just love the camouflage print and extra depth of this Sweaty Betty After Class Sweatshirt (*). It’s too good looking to reserve for working out so wear it with your skin-tight khaki combat trousers for the weekend and turn some heads!
- The Nasty Gal Word on the Street Tie-Dye Lounge Set (*) comes with matching joggers if you’re a lover of the cutesy co-ord. The tie-dye is bang on trend so you can wear this with your workout leggings or pair it with faded jeans for weekend style.
- The Urban Outfitters Celestial Hoodie (*) is technically a dress but really it’s an oversized sweatshirt. Still, if you’ve got the legs, you’ll have two outfits in one for £49. We love the deep marine blue and the hood that makes it even more gym-friendly. That said, it works just as well for casual wear or throwing over a T-shirt on a chilly day.
7. The Ultimate Hair Ties
Lastly, hair gets in the way when you’re training and it makes you hotter if it’s hanging down your back. Even short hair can add to that sweaty feeling.
In other words, you need some good hair ties. Look for non-snagging options that don’t damage your hair. Here are a few of the best:
- For those of you that remember old telephones, that’s what these Invisibobble (*) hair ties look like and they’re great. They’re even good on wet hair, don’t snag, don’t kink and feel super-comfy. A pack of three will only set you back £4.99.
- Of course, hair ties don’t need to be boring. We like these Popband (*) hair ties because they come in a multitude of colours and designs so they make tying hair back fun! Promising no kinks, super-soft and kind to hair, they make a cute little bracelet too. Grab a pack of five for just £8.
- If you’ve got the cash to splash then Slipskinnies (*) are absolutely worth it. They’re really soft silk, won’t snag or break your hair and they come in an array of gorgeous colours too. However, at £39, you won’t want to lose one!
Of course if you’re like us and forever losing your hair ties, we recommend Amazon’s H&S 100 Hair Bands (*) for only £4.99. They even have a colour to match every outfit.
Activewear Essentials for Everybody
The turbulence of the last year means that we all want to feel as supported as possible.
These activewear essentials will help you to work out in style, improve your physical health and ultimately look after your mental health until normality returns.
Emma Crossick is a writer, mum-of-two, wife-of-one living in London. Emma spent 13 years working at Head Office for a very well-known high street retailer and regularly contributes to many online lifestyle magazines on a multitude of subjects. Find out more at http://writeminded.co.uk/.