The 6 best places to buy women’s workout clothes

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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The right workout clothing helps keep inconveniences like overheating, wet patches, and chafing at bay.
  • The best workout apparel offers a combination of high-performance materials, smart design, and versatile style.
  • We recommend Nike‘s workout gear for women overall, as it’s the best blend of price, performance, and variety.
Best activewear for women 4x3

Working out often forces us to feel discomfort. We’re hot, sweaty, tired, and, though we’re not exactly sure, we think we’re beginning to feel the onset of shin splints.

But the right activewear gear makes all the difference. It inhibits nuisances like chafing, wet spots, heat-trapping, blisters, and sometimes injuries. At a baseline, it reduces the number of unnecessary challenges so we can focus on the task at hand. Ideally, it helps us push ourselves a little further, and perform a little better. But, in general, it should simply make the act of moving a more enjoyable experience.

Below, we’ve ranked the best workout brands to shop based on Insider Reviews’ own testing. Each one excels in gear that’s functional, stylish, and performs well. The individual brands offer a variety of strengths: eco-friendly practices, comfortable athleisure, styles that can transition from yoga to the office, greater size ranges, and more inclusive options to name a few.

Here are the best workout clothes for women in 2020:

The best overall

sportswear windrunner hooded windbreaker qJlX5L

Nike caters to pretty much every sport with a variety of inclusive styles, making it our top pick for high-performance workout gear. 

Nike has the best balance of price, performance, and variety in its workout gear. A pair of leggings can go for upwards of $70, but you can find plenty of $40-$60 options, and the site semi-frequently offers discounts. Nike items also have a good price-per-wear breakdown thanks to an expert handle on performance engineering and technical materials across categories.

There’s something for athletes of pretty much every sport: running, golf, soccer, training, tennis, basketball, softball, skateboarding, swim, and lacrosse — and all different types of gear, from women’s running shoes to swimwear and compression layers. And they’ve expanded their activewear to have more inclusive sizes (from XS to 3X) and styles (for example, high-performance hijab options). 

What to buy:

Read more about Nike:

The best budget-friendly

Athleta UPF

While performance pieces have a reputation for being expensive, Athleta provides quality styles at more wallet-friendly price points.

Gap’s Athleta is a great combination of affordability, style, and functionality. Plus, we liked the company’s leggings quite a bit during testing. It also has a wide variety of activewear. Currently, it stocks gear for the following activities: yoga/studio, hike, commute/travel, and run/train. And you may get lucky with frequent discounts, so it’s always worth checking the sale section first. 

However, head-to-head, Nike’s products have a slight edge when it comes to performance and comfort in our experience. But, it’s worth noting that they’re both excellent options we shop at frequently. Athleta is a B-Corp, so if a business’s ethics and practices are factored into your decision, Athleta may win out over Nike. 

What to buy: 

Read more about Athleta:

The best athleisure gear

Patagonia womens

For pieces that perform and are stylish enough to wear anywhere, you’ll want to check out Patagonia

Aside from creating one of the best pairs of athleisure leggings we’ve ever tested, Patagonia makes one of the mainstream culture’s crown jewels of comfort: the Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover. And whether you’re a fan of the label and what it stands for or you couldn’t care less, the brand’s quality and comfort speak for itself

We trust Patagonia as much for form as we do for function. And while its prices aren’t the least (or most) expensive on the market, you’ll get a wide variety of items, a product that’s built to last, and the security of a generous return policy without a tight time limit. It’s also a big perk that the company is a B Corp, has donated 1% of its profit to environmental organizations since the ’80s, and won the UN’s Champions of the Earth award for entrepreneurial vision.

You may get lucky with a seasonal Patagonia sale, but you’ll probably only see discounts on its bestsellers — like the Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover — in select colorways. 

What to buy: 

Read more about Patagonia:

The best size-inclusive

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With sizes ranging from 00-40, Universal Standard has set the, well, standard for inclusive sizing in workout clothing. 

Universal Standard is the place to go for cool, high-quality closet staples available in sizes 00-40. They also tend to offer items in regular, tall, and petite lengths. We love the company’s clothes because they’re comfortable and high-performing — but we’re equally invested in its commitment to making clothes for more people than the industry currently serves, especially since the average American woman is between size 16 to 18.

If you buy a piece from the core collection and, in the future, it no longer fits due to size fluctuation, the company has a Universal Fit Liberty policy that lets you replace it with your new size, within a year of purchase, free of charge. 

However, Universal Standard doesn’t have the most expansive selection, and sometimes stock can be limited in certain bestsellers. 

What to buy: 

Read more about Universal Standard:

The best for durability

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You won’t have to justify splurging when you buy your workout gear from Lululemon. Its styles are created with longevity in mind, which means you’ll save in the long run.

Lululemon is home to some of the best gear for yoga, running, training, and sweating. Its gear is pricey — a pair of plain black leggings can go for nearly $100 — but the comfort, utility, longevity, and style give it an edge that makes a higher upfront cost justifiable if you can comfortably make the splurge.

We’ve found ourselves wearing every piece on repeat, bringing the cost per wear down to something far more manageable. 

What to buy: 

Read more about Lululemon:

The best eco-friendly

Girlfriend Collective

With its size-inclusive styles and priority toward sustainability, Girlfriend Collective provides workout gear you can feel good about wearing. 

Girlfriend Collective has some of the best leggings we’ve ever worn, and we appreciate the brand’s color variety, relatively low price points, and inclusive size range. We also like that Girlfriend Collective currently offers versatility in its colors — 14 total (five essential, and nine limited-edition) — and sizing (it’s available in three inseam lengths and sizes XXS-6XL) in its bestselling leggings. However, we wouldn’t recommend wearing these leggings to a hot yoga class or HIIT given their thickness. 

Another perk is that the company prioritizes sustainability in its materials and processes. Its packaging is 100% recyclable, its compression leggings are made of 79% recycled polyester from 25 post-consumer water bottles, and its Cupro tees are made from 100% cupro, a fiber made from the waste of the cotton industry. And, while cupro saves a reported 682 gallons of water compared to cotton, the company also pledged to donate 10% of its net profits to Charity Water to offset any water usage that may occur during production.

However, slow fashion that’s also in high demand can lead to stock outages, and Girlfriend Collective doesn’t always have what we want available. We also wish it had a larger selection.

What to buy: 

Read more about Girlfriend Collective:

Brands we also recommend

janji, $64

We also considered the following brands for this guide but, for the reasons listed below, didn’t rank them officially. We still recommend them. 

Outdoor Voices

OutdoorVoices makes a few of our favorite athleisure items, and they’re another example of a company that does a great job of balancing form and function. Its gear transitions seamlessly from lounging on the couch to rushing through the airport.

But, we’ve had a few misses in the past with OV products (we’re not super fans of the popular Spring Leggings), and its prices are comparable to Patagonia, with a less generous — but pretty standard — return policy

Tracksmith

Tracksmith makes exceptional and versatile running gear — including some of the best temperature-regulating leggings and layers that I’ve tested. But, they tend to be pretty expensive (its Singlet is $65, and Turnover Half Zip are $128), and their running-focused inventory isn’t as diverse as other options on this list.

Turn Over Half Zip (small)

2XU

I count 2XU as the creator of the best and most breathable compressive running tights that I’ve ever found, but its prices are high across categories (the tights go for $120 on Amazon) with few sales, and the company has fewer categories and offerings than other generalist brands.  

Janji

Janji also makes some of the best workout gear I’ve ever tested — in particular, its short-sleeve T-shirts and windbreaker running jacket. And while the company is running-specific, its gear transitions well to other activities.

But this also means the company doesn’t have a very diverse range of products (though, it’s line continues to expand with new gear every season). Still, I highly recommend shopping here. The company also has a social mission, and while prices on average are a little high, the price-per-wear has been great in our experience.

Alo Yoga

We loved Alo’s Airlift Leggings in our testing, but we can’t confidently say all of its pieces warrant their relatively high prices — though we’ve already found a handful of standouts. And the company carries less diverse inventory than most of the brands mentioned here.

Everlane

With just four styles, Everlane’s activewear selection is on the smaller side — so we didn’t give them a top spot on this list. That said, the brand’s Perform Leggings rank as some of the most comfortable leggings we’ve ever worn. They’re on the thinner side, which means they aren’t sturdy enough for high-intensity workouts, but the Perform Leggings are great for yoga and pilates.  

ADAY

ADAY used to be our pick for “best workout clothes you can wear all day.” And while we love the brand’s stylish leggings and tops, the lack of performance styles it offers made it tough to keep on this list. We still highly recommend ADAY, though, especially if you’re looking for the best leggings you can buy

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The 6 best men’s workout shirts perfect for running, working out at home, or lifting weights

  • A reliable workout shirt provides plenty of benefits like moisture-wicking technology, stretch fabric, and odor control.
  • It’s also important that a workout shirt fits comfortably and performs well during activities like strength training or running.
  • Our top pick, the Ten Thousand Versatile Shirt, excels in terms of fit and performance, and is my go-to for almost any workout.

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Ask any fitness enthusiast about their preferred workout attire and they’ll likely spend a few minutes talking about moisture-wicking fabric, innovative cooling technology, or sweat-activated fabrics. While these sound like industry buzzwords, the application behind these concepts are staples and, frankly, must-haves in the world of workout apparel.

Brands like Nike, Under Armour, and Reebok remain major players in this market but a few smaller companies burst onto the scene in recent years with innovative workout shirt tech. Be it a unique manufacturing process that makes use of real gold particles or a revolutionary fabric designed to not just wick moisture but to actively cool a wearer’s body temperature, today’s workout shirts are full of inventive and practical variety.

But like so many others, I’ve transitioned to fully working out at home. However, I still feel as though there’s plenty of room in my wardrobe for an array of reliable workout shirts. Not only does variety help reduce how often I have to do laundry but different shirts work better for different workouts.

For example, I prefer a shirt with some sort of stretch design or increased range of motion when lifting weights but grab for a tee that does well to wick moisture before I hop on my bike or go for a run. Though those differences in features may seem small, they have a major impact both on my performance and comfort – and they’re incredibly important considerations when shopping for a workout shirt.

To help find the best currently available, I tested (and continue to test) an array of the latest releases to find those that excel at not just being comfortable, functional, and high quality, but are ultimately worth investing in, too. Though this guide gets updated often, the shirts featured are an accurate snapshot of exactly what I wear when working out each week.

A note on fit

Though the workout shirts featured in this guide have the name “men’s” in them, they’re not strictly for cisgender men. The cut and design of the shirts may differ from similar clothing intended for women but anyone is able to wear whatever shirt they feel comfortable in.

This is especially true in the world of workout apparel where comfort and performance are far higher priorities than what specific gender they’re intended for – and each of the shirts featured below was tested with those features in mind. If you’re looking for workout clothing that more closely identifies with the fit and design of women’s apparel, check out our guide to our favorite women’s workout clothing brands.

Here are the best men’s workout shirts:

The best overall

TTVersatile

Ten Thousand’s Versatile Shirt lives up to its name by being one of our favorite multi-purpose workout shirts — it’s great for anything active, be it cardio, strength training, HIIT exercises, or cycling.

Pros: Comfortable workout shirt that’s good for almost any workout or activity, flatlock seams prevent chafing, doesn’t hold onto odors, sweat-wicking and quick-dry fabric work well

Cons: Fit can differ from what you’re used to but double-check using the brand’s interactive fit guide before buying

Ten Thousand’s workout gear is a staff favorite, and when it comes to workout shirts designed to perform over a variety of exercises, it’s the brand’s Versatile Shirt I grab over and over again. Not only does it fit comfortably but it pulls off being both minimalist and functional, making it great for weight training, running, cycling, and even yoga — there’s a reason it has the word “versatile” in its name.

Made of 84% polyester and 16% spandex, the shirt features a breathable design that, along with its sweat-wicking and quick-drying tech, allows it to remain comfortable no matter how warm or sweaty I’d get. Even when temperatures cooled off, this shirt still performed well, and I especially appreciate its flatlock seams which avoid chafing of any kind (which is a must on my longer runs). 

Similar to how Rhone uses gold particles in its fabric, Ten Thousand infused its Versatile shirt with a silver ion anti-odor treatment. After intentionally wearing it for a 15-mile bike ride followed by an hour resistance band workout, the shirt did well to avoid hanging onto any odors, even if my own self was ready for a full-on shower. 

I do recommend reviewing Ten Thousand’s fit metrics as the medium shirt I tested was just slightly on the shorter side (and I’m roughly 5’8″). The chest, shoulders, and arms all fit properly but I would’ve liked just a bit more length (and may try the Large next time). The site does have a highly useful interactive fit chart that showcases different model body types across each size to give you a good sense of how it’ll fit once you try it on. 

The best for runners

Nike Dri Fit shirt

Yes, it wicks moisture and sports the Nike logo but the Nike Dri-Fit Miler helps runners go the distance, thanks to flat seams to avoid chafing and reflective details to increase visibility.

Pros: Reflective details offer increased visibility, flat seams reduce chafing and feel comfortable on the skin, and the Dri-FIT tech actively wicks moisture

Cons: Despite a reflective pattern, dark colors not recommended for runners who run at night

Based entirely on the amount of constant rubbing and chafing a runner experiences on even short jaunts, the type of athletic apparel they choose needs to satisfy a particularly high standard. Nike, a brand that needs no introduction, knows a thing or two about workout gear and has excelled for decades at manufacturing some of the industry’s best, and most innovative, active clothing.

The story remains the same with its Dri-Fit Miler, an athletic shirt designed specifically for runners.

Led by its patented Dri-Fit technology, the Miler excels at wicking moisture but also proves capable of staying dry no matter the mileage — a feature that dramatically impacts both comfort and performance. With a dropped hem in the back of the shirt, it offers more coverage than most other running shirts and its flat seams help avoid excess chafing while feeling soft on a wearer’s skin.

Perhaps its best and most important feature is the reflective pattern Nike used to keep runners visible throughout their run. Be it morning, afternoon, or dusk, the reflective details shine brightly when hit with headlights or a flashlight, helping alert those passing by to the runner’s position. Though running at night requires an entirely different approach, the shirt still reflects in the dark. However, the dark colors aren’t recommended for those who prefer running when the sun’s gone down.

The best for odor control

Rhone Reign shirt

Rhone’s Reign sets itself apart with GoldFusion technology that wicks moisture, controls odors, and decreases drying time.

Pros: GoldFusion technology is as innovative as anything on the market, odor control that actually works, fast drying time, and a comfortable, stylish fit

Cons: Premium price tag

There are innovative workout shirts and then there’s the Rhone Reign, a shirt that features actual flakes of real gold and uses the company’s GoldFusion technology. Hardly a gimmick, GoldFusion has a three-pronged impact in that it actively wicks away moisture, combats odor, and dramatically decreases drying time.

So, not only does the technology keep you dry and comfortable but it keeps even the worst gym smells at bay — a feature the rest of the people at the gym would surely love, as well.

Though GoldFusion is its rightful claim to fame, the Reign shirt still scores highly in other areas like fit and comfort. Essentially a performance synthetic tee, it’s capable of holding up to almost any workout, activity, or sport and remains comfortable throughout. With raglan sleeves and flatlock stitching, it achieves a better fit throughout without chafing or irritating your skin.

Rhone may have only just come onto the athletic apparel scene in recent years but armed with its GoldFusion technology and a casual, modern fit, the Reign lives up to its name.

The best for hot weather

arctic cool shirt

Powered by HydroFreeze X technology, Arctic Cool’s Crew Neck shirt utilizes an innovative fabric that works to lower your body temperature while also wicking sweat. 

Pros: Innovative HydroFeeze X cools body temperature and actually works, UPF 50+ rating blocks 98% of harmful UV rays, antimicrobial cooling tech is machine-washable and never fades, and it spreads moisture across the shirt as it wicks to improve dry time

Cons: Plain style and color choices

Rhone’s Reign may have gold flakes in its fabric but Arctic Cool’s plainly-named Crew Neck shirt has its own ace up its sleeve: HydroFreeze X technology. Flashy name aside, HyrdoFreeze X is more than just marketing-speak. It’s a type of fabric that, while wicking moisture, dramatically lowers your body temperature.

As you sweat, the fabric absorbs that moisture and disperses it across the material. As air moves over the surface of the shirt, it creates a cooling effect that can make you feel up to 30 degrees cooler. Once it moves through the shirt and cools down, any excess moisture is then wicked completely from the garment. Better yet, the tech is antimicrobial, meaning it’s able to sustain a lifetime of washes and still perform.

Though the shirt itself is a bit plain, the HydroFreeze X fabric offers a premium fit that’s capable of supporting a variety of exercises and activities. Additionally, each shirt is rated at UPF 50+, so it offers a high level of sun protection, blocking up to 98% of harmful UV rays.

The best for cold weather

under armour shirt

Under Armour’s HeatGear Armour long sleeve shirt makes frigid winter runs a bit more manageable. 

Pros: Second-skin fit allows for layering without sacrificing performance, soft and lightweight, HeatGear fabric stays warm in the coldest temperatures, four-way stretch offers wide range of movement, and Under Armour compression helps improve performance

Cons: Limited to wearing in cold to moderate weather

Under Armour made its name designing and manufacturing some of the best compression athletic gear on the market and its HeatGear Armour long sleeve shirt is the perfect example of the brand’s innovations. Featuring a second skin, compression-style fit and lightweight construction, the HeatGear Armour is a form-fitting shirt that offers comfortable support.

With a four-way stretch design, it not only avoids hindering your performance but also accentuates it by allowing for movement in any direction. The shirt lives up to its HeatGear name by truly shining when temperatures drop as the fabric was built for keeping you warm in frigid weather. It even boasts a UPF 30+ rating, which helps protect against harmful UV rays — something anyone’s capable of being exposed to year-round.   

The long sleeve tee also wicks moisture and dries quickly which is an incredibly welcome feature for those who like to run outside and break a sweat. No more plodding away on an indoor treadmill, Under Armour’s HeatGear Armour allows anyone to enjoy a training session outside of the gym, even in the dead of winter.

The best for casual wear

reebok shirt

With a stylish cut and quick-dry fabric, Reebok’s Supersonic 2.0 fits in at the gym, at home, or the bar after a workout.

Pros: Stylish cut, effective moisture-wicking technology, quick-dry fabric that performs in any environment, and its loose-fitting torso allows for a greater range of motion

Cons: Fitted design may not be suitable for all body types

A company mostly synonymous with sneakers, Reebok’s athletic apparel is just as impressive as its shoes. With the Supersonic 2.0, the Adidas subsidiary takes a stab at offering performance fabric designed to wick sweat, dry quickly, and look good in the process. With an athletic cut and stylish design, not only does this shirt deliver on performance but it’s also capable of being worn all day, every day if you so please. 

Made of 95% polyester and 5% spandex, the Supersonic 2.0 is lightweight and highly breathable and is as capable of wicking away moisture as it is helping avoid excessive sweat spots. That means you can wear it to the gym and, even after an intense workout, still wear it while meeting up with friends or heading back to work.

Featuring a fitted cut to hug a wearer’s upper torso, the bottom flows freely allowing for a wide range of movement. No matter if it’s an afternoon of basketball, an hour of lifting weights, or simply going for a run, the fit stays true throughout and performance is never limited. Reebok’s Supersonic 2.0 is about as functional and versatile of an everyday shirt as it gets. We do recommend washing it regularly, though.

What else I’m testing

The market for workout shirts is broad, which makes it seem like there’s an endless amount of options to choose from. What this also means is that there’s no shortage of workout shirts showing up on my doorstep for testing. While the above shirts are tried, tested, and approved, the following shirts are currently being reviewed to see if they have what it takes to make it into the spotlight. 

Here are the workout shirts I’m currently testing: 

Saxx Aerator: Though Saxx is known mainly for its inventive line of, shall I say, supportive underwear, the brand also makes a selection of workout apparel. One such shirt (which is also available in a long-sleeved version) is called the Aerator, and after wearing it through a few workouts, I’m already a huge fan. It fits extremely well, stays comfortable throughout a variety of workouts, and doesn’t just come in a basic assortment of colors.

Hylete Calavera Tri-Blend Crew: One of my favorite parts of Hylete’s Calavera is that it looks like a normal tri-blend shirt I’d throw on with a pair of jeans yet it performs just as well as some of the workout shirts featured in the main guide. I was originally skeptical that it’d just feel like wearing a cotton shirt (and come with all the same drawbacks) but I was quickly convinced otherwise after wearing it through a particularly sweaty home boxing session. Hylete offers a wide variety of similar shirts, too, each with fun graphics and colorways. 

Janji Runterra TeeThe Insider Reviews team has written at length and often about the quality of Janji’s workout apparel, and it remains one of our favorite brands to wear when breaking a sweat. One of its shirts I’ve been wearing recently is the Runterra Tee, a technical cotton blend shirt that’s highly comfortable, blocks odor, and that uses volcanic ash to thermoregulate the body. That’s a mouthful to just simply say this shirt is an active person’s dream. I wear it often for just about any activity and never feel I’ve made a bad choice.

Tracksmith Harrier TeeTracksmith’s Harrier quickly became one of my go-to running shirts after wearing it just once while on a run. Featuring a classic design, the shirt wicks moisture, dries quickly, and blocks odors, which is essentially everything a quality running shirt should offer — and it does it all thanks to a Merino wool blend. 

Workout shirt glossary

Just as there’s variety in the available options, there’s also variety in a wearer’s desired application or workout style. Perhaps a runner wants a more lightweight option or a fitness buff desires something that looks good every day, no matter the activity.

Regardless of intent, there’s a suitable workout shirt designed specifically for everyone. A great workout shirt doesn’t just get the job done but does so without sacrificing performance, comfort, or style. 

Here are some of the most popular styles and features of men’s workout shirts:

Sweat-wicking: Sweat-wicking shirts work to remove moisture from your skin. They also don’t soak up any of that moisture (like a cotton tee might), allowing them to avoid feeling overly heavy as you work out. 

Odor control: Fabrics with odor-control technology help minimize lingering odors. There are several ways manufacturers are able to do this, either constructing the shirt of merino wool, having it feature a highly-breathable design, or, in the case of Rhone, use gold particles infused into the fabric. 

Quick-dry fabric: Workout shirts with quick-dry fabrics are often made from merino wool, polyester, or nylon (or a blend) and are designed to be highly breathable. 

Four-way stretch: This type of fabric allows for greater freedom of motion, helping the wearer feel less hindered while running, lifting weights, or doing moves like lunges or burpees. 

How we test workout shirts

Each shirt featured in this buying guide went through several rounds of testing across a variety of workouts and activities. These workouts include weight training sessions with resistance bands, medicine balls, and dumbbells, 30-minute cardio sessions of either an outdoor run, outdoor bike ride, or an indoor stationary bike ride, and indoor interval training routines. 

No workout shirt is the perfect, one-style-fits-all, so each selection also lists a few drawbacks to consider, be it sizing and fit issues, an expensive price tag, or lack of color choice. New product styles and releases are always being considered for future updates, as well. 

Here are the four categories we judged each shirt on during testing:

Fit: An ill-fitting workout shirt won’t exactly motivate you or push you through to the end of your workout, no matter if you’re out for a run or using resistance bands at home. When testing, we looked at everything from how stretchy it was and how well it moved along with us, if the armholes allowed for proper range of motion, and if there was enough coverage through the bottom. 

Performance: Performance is essentially the execution of a workout shirt’s fabric tech, especially today. How well does it wick sweat or control odor? Is it breathable and does it avoid chafing? A workout shirt’s performance is one of the most important factors we considered because the last thing you want to be thinking about while working out is why your shirt feels like a hundred pounds drenched in sweat or what the foul smell might be. 

Fabric tech: Innovative fabric tech is now the norm in every manner of workout gear as brands have adopted everything from gold-infused materials and multi-stretch fabric to active cooling and UPF protection. Since these are now standard practice, it raises the bar in terms of judging how well a workout shirt applies the tech. 

Value: The value of a quality workout shirt is less about how much it costs and more about the combination of the three categories before it, as well as what its final price is. We often say it’s better to spend more on a premium product than to spend less, more often on something that’s shoddily designed and won’t last. 

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