Photo by Bruce Mars on Unsplash

By Angie Harrison

Fitness takes so many forms today, and everyone’s routine is different. One thing anyone can apply to their fitness regimen is dressing the part. Many department store fashion lines offer incredible activewear selections, making the transition from gym/studio/trail to everyday life seem easier. These pieces are designed to hold up during your toughest workout while looking chic enough to wear as a causal outfit. Activewear garments and accessories have come a long way from boxy t-shirts and floppy duffle bags. Fitness gear is one of the fastest-growing markets with celebrities like Beyoncé, Kate Hudson, and Khloe Kardashian creating their own activewear companies, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. I’m highlighting some of my fave picks that you can feel confident and comfortable in, while keeping it functional and fashionable.  

Bras, Tops, and Crops

    There’s no wrong way to wear a top when it comes to activewear. Tops are showcased in all types of styles: strappy sports bra as a top, mesh tank, split-back tank, high-neck crop top, long sleeve dri-fit—anything goes when it comes to your workout. Sports bras have become more advanced, evolving from the minimal support, cotton-spandex slip-on style. Stores are now offering bras specifically designed for high impact training, and the styles have drastically changed. Gone are the days of a smashed chest in a tight, tube-like bra; so many bra lines are creating incredible underwire and underwire-free sports bras with breathable fabrics, extra-wide straps, and full-coverage cup designs. This new approach to active undergarments takes your mid-workout tugging and adjusting out of the equation, leaving you free to focus and feel good while you move.

Just as a good-fitting bra is essential to your daily wardrobe, the same goes for what you work out in. Once you find the right support and style sports bra for your level of activity, choosing tops will be a breeze.

Bottoms and Matching Sets

Matching sets are big trend in activewear, creating a clean, strong look by using the same color or pattern for tops and bottoms. These sets are fun while having a cool look and feeling almost like a fitness uniform. Celebrities can be seen in the latest matching sets from Adidas or Nike, setting trends for members at your local gym or yoga studio.

Leggings are always a fitness staple, and the design details behind them have come a long way from cotton spandex blends. The favorite activewear leggings today are coming from companies like Lululemon, Athleta, Alo, and Nike, with the draw of their fabric quality and designs. Thick, stretchy, performance material that washes well, smoothes out the legs and torso, lifts the butt, isn’t see-through, and has a high waist is what women are after. And they’ll pay top dollar at that. Quality matters when it comes to performance bottoms; no one wants to be worrying about pilling fabric or seams stretching apart after two months of wear. There’s also so many choices outside of the legging craze as well, like wide-leg yoga pants, flare styles, running shorts, bike shorts, and joggers.

Layering and Cool Down

Who doesn’t love a good layer? An interesting layering piece can really take a look from regular to effortlessly styled in two seconds. Open-wrap cardigans and long sweaters are great options to pair with your fitness look if you’re wanting a softer, more athleisure feel. Perfect for turning your workout clothes into a makeshift outfit for the rest of your day. Nylon track jackets and half-zips are great for pieces you want to keep on during a warm-up, or stay warm for a run outside. Cropped sweaters and fitted knits help keep your muscles warm without the bulk of a full-length top, and also pair perfectly with high-waisted leggings. The crossover of wraps and dusters into the activewear space is genius, and allows for your clothes to have more opportunities to mix and match.

Bags and Gym Essentials

Bye bye disgusting duffle bags! (Sorry to duffle bag supporters out there.) It’s all about the gym tote right now. Unless you’re hauling a lot to and fro, the bulkiness of a duffle bag is just unnecessary. It’s easy to find the perfect size bag for all of your gym needs, and a lot of brands are making it fun to have a gym bag. With pockets for your phone, pouches for shoes or damp items, loops for extra hair ties, gym totes are kinda awesome now. And these fab bags can also double as a shopping tote for post-workout errands and running around. They also make great carry-on bags for flights (guilty!).

A few other must-haves for your gym bag are a reusable water bottle, towel, and a lightweight pair of shoes or sandals. With society becoming more environmentally conscious, reusable water bottles have turned into a trend all their own. In fact, you most likely use one already. Popular styles are a stainless steel design, offered in multiple sizes, as well as glass bottles with silicone sleeves. Sandals or slides are great for your bag and help keep your gym shoes clean. It also makes it easy if you have a quick lunch date with a friend and want to transition your look into more of an athleisure vibe.     

No matter what your fitness world looks like, there are so many ways to feel fabulous, confident, comfortable, and powerful while you take on your goals. There are pieces out there for every body type, every size, every style, every woman, and it’s really empowering to know there’s nothing stopping you. Find your perfect sports bra, discover an activewear line you love, try a bold print you wouldn’t wear anywhere but during a workout. Most importantly, ditch your disgusting, dirty, dumpy, duffle bag! Take the time to make your sessions feel special—like you.


Angie Harrison received her BS degree in fashion merchandising from Western Michigan University. After merchandising for a large retailer, she went on to start Angela Harrison Style: a personal, print, and film wardrobe styling service. Her experience has led her to style wardrobe on local and national TV commercials as well as freelance in visual merchandising for luxury retailers.