Activewear or Athleisure clothing is now almost available in every store. It is one of the biggest growing fitness trends of 2016 but is it all equal? As with most clothing the price can literally differ by vast amounts. You can get a top for around €8 in Penneys or Lidl and then pay a few hundred Euros in some boutiques or designer stores. Whilst I have never spent ridiculous amounts on my workout wear I do have a large range of activewear, some costing a lot more than others. So the question is does the cheaper stuff work just as well as the more expensive pieces?

There are a few main requirements that I think are important when you are buying activewear.


  • They need to not dig in and give you a muffin top that you may not even have.
  • Paradoxically the waistband needs to be tight enough that they don’t roll down as you are working out.
  • They need to pass the ‘squat test’ so when you bend over, squat down or basically do any move that stretches the backside part they don’t become see through and give you vpl.
  • They need to be machine washable and dry easily enough.
  • At the crotch there needs to be enough material and the seam needs to be in the right place so that you don’t inadvertently get a camel toe that you don’t actually have!
  • Keeps it shape after it is washed.
  • Does not show sweat patches, nobody wants an obviously sweaty crotch!!


  • If it has a built in bra it shouldn’t give you either the pancake monoboob look or the 4 boob look either.
  • If there are straps they need to stay up on your shoulders, constantly falling down will annoy you.
  • Keeps its shape after it is washed.
  • As wickable as possible so the sweat doesn’t show that much or at all if possible.
  • Has to be machine washable and dry quickly.
  • Doesn’t constantly ride up and expose your stomach, unless you want it to and it’s a crop top style of course.
  • Not too tight at the back that it gives you back boobs.


  • Not too tight on your back to give you back boobs.
  • Bra straps don’t dig in so much that you end up with a mark on your shoulder and it gives you a headache.
  • Not so tight that they give you a pancake/monoboob, side boob or the four boob look.
  • Come off you easily no matter how sweaty you are, nothing worse than being stuck in your bra.
  • Have a hem band that stays in place.
  • Breathable so you don’t sweat too much. (although I have to admit to sweating a lot in my cleavage!!)
ElleBelle Fit Bottoms, Lululemon Top

Lululemon Top, ElleBelle Fit Bottoms, Nike Socks

When I opened PPD in 2007 you were hard pressed to get anything other than the big brands like Nike, Adidas etc in Ireland and as my parents lived in the US and I had spent a lot of time there I had bought a lot of Lululemon. I literally had one client who also had Lululemon as she had just moved back from San Francisco, but that changed pretty quickly, a lot of my clients had asked me about it and they either went online and got some or they had American trips planned and sought out the stores and of course Lulus brand was growing exponentially, fast forward 9 years and Lulu is almost slightly passé now with the influx of so many other activewear brands. Lululemon clothing is not cheap but I can absolutely attest to it lasting, certainly the older stuff I have. Some of it I literally just don’t wear as it is completely out of fashion but the quality has lasted!

Square with Sarah

Lorna Jane Top ElleBelle Fit, Lululemon Bottoms

The thing about activewear is even within a brand you know the sizing can vary somewhat with the styles but once you have a general idea you can purchase online. I have two online stores that I love, one is ElleBelle Fit it is a fab website catering for Ireland in particular with amazing Australian brands such as Lorna Jane Active that is very hard to get otherwise. I go these fab Aura Corestability leggings from them and they tick the boxes of my requirements from workout bottoms. Your order arrives so quickly too. I love that it is owned and run by two Irish sisters.

Another website is Bandier they literally have clothes ranging from mid range to super high end but the clothes are gorgeous, their buyers know what they are doing! They also ship internationally to Ireland.

Oysho bottoms

Underarmour Top & Oysho Bottoms

HM skechers and underarmour

H&M Bottoms, Underarmour Top, Skechers

I have bought the cheaper workout clothes in Penneys, Lidl, Missguided and H&M and I find the tops tend to be a lot better than the bottoms although I do have one or two pairs that I like. Oysho is the Zara workout range and it is great value but sizing can be strange so you sort of need to try them on which is hard as you can’t get it here apart from online. Another option is checking it out if you are in Spain. Tops will tend to stick to regular sizing more than bottoms I have found.



nike elverys

Nike Bottoms, Lidl Top & Missguided Bra

Rhianna Adidas

Rhianna for Adidas from Elverys Jacket and Bottoms, TK Maxx Bra

I did stop buying Nike and Adidas for a while not for any other reason than for a few years it was all you could buy but I have gone back to it and Elverys have a great range, they also have the new Adidas and Reebok ranges. Well worth a visit and I got these purple bottoms there recently and love them. I also got the grey top & bottom on the right from the Rhianna for Adidas range.


I do have a few luxe pieces from Seagreen and if you want to treat yourself they stock the Bodyism range which is really lovely. If you wear your activewear a lot it is worth investing in some better pieces, just calculate the price per wear and you can do it 🙂

TK Maxx tops

TK Maxx Tops

TK Maxx can be the best of both worlds but it is hit and miss. You can get expensive brands at a cheaper price if you are not too caught up on wearing only this seasons clothing, which I am not. I love this three top combo that I got from TK Maxx. you just have to be willing to search a little bit.

I have to admit that whilst I wish the cheaper stuff was just as good when you wear your workout clothes a lot and you actually workout in them sometimes it just does not cut the mustard. I have bought a lot of the cheaper pieces and I end up not getting a lot of wear out of them so I am probably better off mostly sticking to the mid to slightly higher end ranges that tend to last so much longer, fit better and usually look that little bit better. So for me all activewear is not quite equal unfortunately.

Emma Forsyth, Founder Pilates Plus Dublin