My love for fitness and all things active began when I was in college. I was your typical, poor American college student– I would don whatever cotton-y clothes I could find when I exercised, and I would envy those fortunate enough to afford brands like Under Armour and Nike. They looked so sporty. They looked so professional. They just looked so cool. I could only dream about the day when I would be able to afford such pricey clothes to work out in.
Fast forward to a few years later when I graduated college and landed my first full time job. I was a woman with a love for fitness, and I was now equipped with a full-sized paycheck to outfit my workouts. Look out.
At first, I only bought Under Armour brand exercise clothes. My first UA purchase was a purple tank top; I remember being beside myself with excitement whenever I bought it. I’d pick up a piece or two here-and-there whenever I had the extra money. Slowly but surely, I started building up my fitness wardrobe. I may have worn the same UA tank to every 5K, but at least I was wearing UA!!
Eventually my preferences started to migrate towards Nike apparel. I realized that Nike produced clothing of similar quality to Under Armour, but at slightly cheaper prices. I became a proverbial Nike snob. If it wasn’t Nike (or UA, my first love), I wouldn’t wear it. Bottom line.
Nike and Under Armour are still, to this day, my favorite brands when it comes to exercise apparel. My workout drawer is stuffed with their clothing, and I wear it regularly. But let’s face it– sometimes in our modern society where most people don’t have a money-growing tree, it’s not always practical to buy higher-end workout clothes all the time. Maybe buying certain key pieces (such as super-warm tights for winter runs) from higher-end brands is important, but you don’t always have to break the bank to buy effective (and fashionable) workout clothes.
Nowadays, I still buy Nike or Under Armour on occasion– but I keep an open mind and an open eye for high quality workout apparel that’s easier on the budget. I’m a firm believer in quality over quantity– but sometimes you can have both!
It seems like more and more companies are jumping on the tech fabric bandwagon when it comes to their activewear. Here are just a few suggestions based on my experiences to help you build up your running/workout wardrobe without breaking the bank!
- Shop Old Navy. Old Navy has, in my opinion, a pretty impressive activewear selection at pretty impressive prices. They offer compression gear. They offer moisture-wicking fabrics. I personally own two pairs of running capris, two tanks, one half-zip pullover, and one super-cute braided headband from Old Navy’s active department, and I love each and every one of those items. Old Navy’s regular prices are usually reasonable, but an added bonus is that you can often find active wear in their clearance department. I bought my half-zip pullover (with thumb holes, hello) for $10 on clearance! Just some of my current faves:
- Shop Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart sells several brands of workout apparel, but I have a preference for their Danskin line. It seems like recently they’ve been stepping up their selection and quality– just last weekend I found an adorable tank there for $5.96 full price!Take a look at the tank I bought for $5.96…
Now take a look at a similar tank sold by Under Armour for $29.99:
See a huge difference? Me either. And the Danskin tank has a very comfortable, breathable, technical fabric as well. I’d rather buy five Danskin tanks in different colors than one UA tank that looks almost identical for $30.
Here are some of my other faves from Danskin at Wal-Mart:
- Shop Target. Target offers Champion brand clothing at reasonable prices. Their capri pants are my go-to bottoms for spin class! You can also find cheap stuff on clearance there sometimes. Here are a few of my current favorite finds from Target:
- Search for deals on your favorite brands online. Not only do most clothing producers offer their own sale/clearance/liquidation section on their website, but many retailers do as well. Make sure to do a Google search for coupon codes before you buy, too! One of my favorite online stores to buy from is runningwarehouse.com— they always offer FREE 2-day shipping & returns, and you can almost always find a coupon code for their liquidation items. I’ve bought some of my favorite Brooks brand running tanks from this site for under $20. I stocked up on my favorite Saucony Kinvara running shoes when they went on liquidation at Running Warehouse for $55 a pair. “Like” their Facebook page to keep up-to-date with their latest promotions. Check out this Asics shirt that’s on liquidation right now for $19.88 (plus use coupon code FB15D to get 15% off!):
- Make your own workout clothes. If you’re like me, you have gadzooks of T-shirts from running & other events laying around that you’re probably never going to wear. If you don’t mind cutting them up, there are tutorials all over the internet that will show you how to transform them into workout tanks! Check out this super-cute tank I made following a tutorial that I found online. Slip it on with some compression capri pants, and you’re set to hit the gym!
What’s the best deal you’ve found on athletic apparel?? Do you stick with top-name brands, or are you willing to give other brands a try?