Shape Best In Fitness Awards 2023: Best Activewear Apparel

Sports bras, leggings, running jackets, and more — here are the best of the best in activewear. Plus, everything is size-inclusive.

Outdoor Voices / Bombas / Glamourina.

Rummage through your activewear drawer, and there's a good chance you'll find a stretched-thin pair of leggings, a too-tight sports bra, and sweat-stained running shorts. But sporting these not-so-fresh — or comfortable — clothes to your workout class, gym, or running club meet-up may take a hit to your motivation (seriously, psychologists back this up).

One solution to ensuring you perform your best and feel confident while you train? Refresh your workout wardrobe with some of this year's best activewear, as determined by Shape's panel of experts and editors. Whether you're in the market for a supportive sports bra for large chests or a breathable, sweat-wicking hijab, these picks, all of which are available in at least size 2X and oftentimes up to 3X, will carry you through your movement practice.

Best Workout Underwear: Spanx Under Statements Thong

These seamless thongs are perfect for wearing underneath tight-fitting leggings. They don’t show underneath most fabrics, and they’re made of breathable, quick-drying material.

Under Statements Thong
Spanx Under Statements Thong $20.00

Expert Review: "I'm a runner, and I always reach for these thongs when getting dressed in my exercise gear. They are about as seamless as it gets, and the moisture-wicking material is a must for sweaty workouts." Christie Calucchia, Shape news editor

Best Workout Bike Shorts: Outdoor Voices Warm-Up 5" Shorts

These breathable, sweat-wicking bike shorts offer plenty of stretch, allowing the compressive shorts to move with you. Designed to fit like a second skin, these shorts stay in place during your low- to medium-impact workouts, whether it be Pilates or cycling.

Warm Up Shorts
Outdoor Voices Warm-Up 5" Shorts $48.00

Expert Review: “These bike shorts from Outdoor Voices quickly became my go-to this summer, whether I was heading out for a run, barre class, or a late-afternoon walk. The lightweight material kept me cool despite the high summer temperatures, and I love that I rarely have to adjust these shorts. Often bike shorts roll, or ride up, but these stay in place during stretches and higher-impact movements." — Kaelin Dodge, e-commerce beauty writer at Dotdash Meredith

Best Exercise Dress: Outdoor Voices Exercise Dress

This was basically the original exercise dress that made exercise dresses a thing. After all, it's called The Exercise Dress for a reason. Adjustable straps offer support and styling options. Plus, because of the built-in shorts, those with longer torsos will appreciate the flexibility to add length. Bonus: The shorts have pockets so you can slide in cash or an ID for a quick jaunt.

Exercise Dress
Outdoor Voices Exercise Dress $100.00

Expert Review: “My OV exercises dress has gone everywhere with me — from neighborhood bike rides, errands, and even during travel. I brought it on a hot, muggy trip to Vietnam knowing I'd need something breezy and sweat-wicking that was still cute enough to wear around town. It held up through all of that and more." — Alyssa Sparacino, ACE-certified personal trainer and Shape editorial director

Best Running Shorts: Sweaty Betty On Your Marks 4" Running Shorts

These two-in-one running shorts include a supportive inner short made of Sweaty Betty's signature sweat-wicking fabric and a loose, lightweight outer short. With an elastic waist and zippered pockets, they stay put and offer practical storage for keys, cards, and other small items.

On Your Mark Running Shorts
Sweaty Betty On Your Marks 4" Running Shorts $78.00

Expert Review: "While it's virtually impossible to find athletic shorts that don't ride up at least a little bit while running, these come pretty close. The dual-layered design offers a comfortable and supportive inner lining and a breezier outer short. And the zippered pocket is an absolute game changer." — Calucchia

Best Running Jacket: Lululemon Cross Chill Jacket

With a wind and waterproof exterior and soft fleece interior, you'll stay warm and dry no matter what weather conditions you're brave enough to face. Four large zip pockets hold all the essentials, and the soft knit lining on the thumb holes is comfortable to hold on to as you run. Stretch knit sides, reflective details, and a fleece-lined hood push it into GOAT status.

Cross Chill Jacket
Lululemon Cross Chill Jacket $198.00

Expert Review: "As an editor in the wellness space, I have tried many running jackets over the years. Some were good, some were just okay, and some blew away the competition. Lululemon Cross Chill sits solidly in the latter category — the waterproof exterior, hood, and host of pockets works in an array of conditions from rain and wind to dipping into cold winter temperatures." Shannon Bauer, Shape and InStyle senior commerce editor

Best Size-Inclusive Activewear Brand: Girlfriend Collective

Girlfriend Collective offers activewear essentials and on-trend pieces in sizes ranging from XXS to 6XL. It also has a roster of celebrity fans, including Brie Larson, Ariana Grande, and Kerry Washington.

Girlfriend Collective
Girlfriend Collective Activewear $42.00

Expert Review: "I've yet to try an item from Girlfriend Collective that hasn't instantly become a new favorite. Not only are their pieces super stylish, but all those fun styles are available in a range of sizes that's wider than many competitors." — Calucchia

Best Matching Set Brand: Glamourina

Whether you prefer a pair of bike shorts with a sports bra or leggings and a hoodie, Glamourina’s matching sets have you covered. Developed by two Black women, the size-inclusive athleisure is made with stretchy, moisture-wicking fabric and will keep you feeling supported no matter how you’re choosing to get active.

Glamourina Matching Set $45.00

Expert Review: “I bought a set right at the beginning of the brand's [launch]. It has lasted five years and still looks amazing — there has been no pilling or tears. All of their sets are interchangeable, and they recently introduced sets that match Black women's skin colors. They also represent the Black Diaspora in Africa with colors and the Africa continent symbol.” — Sonja Herbert, certified Pilates instructor and the founder of Black Girl Pilates

Best Sustainable Activewear Brand: Athleta

To start building a more sustainable activewear wardrobe, the best thing you can do is continue wearing the pieces you already own. The second best? Shop from ethical companies that utilize environmentally friendly materials to create their clothing. Athleta draws on renewable resources, such as wood pulp and organic cotton, as well as reclaimed plastic bottles in many of its fabrics (check out its Down to Earth Edit collection). Plus, the certified B Corp invests in women throughout the supply chain and through its Women + Water Alliance, which works to improve water access in India, as true sustainability also encompasses issues surrounding social welfare.

Athleta Sustainable Activewear $49.00

Expert Review: "If I am looking for new workout gear, the first place I turn is Athleta. The quality and details in their clothes fit the cost, and I feel good knowing they have sustainable measures in place. I've owned pieces for more than five years without signs of wear and tear — clothing that can go the distance is a huge component of combating waste." — Bauer

Best Adaptive Activewear Retailer: Aerie

While the category of adaptive activewear still needs to be developed further, Aerie is taking important strides to make it more mainstream. Aerie is partnering with brands such as Slick Chicks and Liberare to sell cute, functional underwear that's perfect for any ability level (and workout). For example, Slick Chicks' bikini undies have side fasteners to make it easier to get on and off in seated positions, and some of the brand's bralettes (which can double as low-impact sports bras) have criss-cross front panels with Velcro to take away the need to reach behind your back.

Aerie Adaptive Lounge Velcro Bra
Aerie Adaptive Activewear $26.00

Expert Review: "I’m a big fan of Aerie's ruched leggings. They stay really nice and, as a wheelchair user, they’re cut perfectly to tuck your belly in. I have all their sets from the Offline series and there literally has not been one thing I haven’t liked from them.” — Jesi Stracham, an adaptive personal trainer, adaptive CrossFit coach, and the creator of the Wheel With Me Fitness app

Best Budget-Friendly Activewear Brand: Elevate Activewear

With its under-$50 bike shorts, sports bras, and leggings, Elevate Activewear is making workout clothes more accessible. The brand offers flowy tops perfect for gentle stretch sessions, high-impact bras that keep you comfortable during HIIT sessions, matching sets that will take you from the studio to the street, and more.

Elevate Activewear
Elevate Activewear Activewear $12.00

Expert Review: “What makes Elevate Activewear so special to me is that it is a Black woman-owned activewear company, affordable, and the fit has not changed after three years of washing and drying. The color is still bright and it feels like a second skin while teaching or taking a class.” — Herbert

Best Hijab for Every Workout: Lululemon Women's Scarf-Style Hijab

For a lightweight hijab that doesn't get soaked in sweat, look no further than this option from Lululemon. It has enough length to be worn twisted, tied, or tucked, and features a four-way stretch for extreme comfort.

Women's Scarf-Style Hijab
Lululemon Women's Scarf-Style Hijab $38.00

Expert Review: "The Lululemon hijab comes in a great, breathable fabric, and it can tie in different ways. Plus, it comes in a range of colors." Zehra Allibhai, certified personal trainer and founder of The FitNest

Best Reflective Clothing: Nike Run Division Jacket

Fewer daylight hours means less sunlight for winter running, and gearing up in reflective clothing is a must for safety. The Nike Run Division Jacket has a reflective pattern that lights up in street lights and car headlights, plus it's sweat-wicking and lightweight — perfect for layering.

Dri-Fit Run Division
Nike Run Division Jacket $130.00

Expert Review: "Not only does the reflective pattern make me feel way safer when running in the dark, but I love the smart design of this running jacket. The entire jacket packs into itself via a small pouch when not in use, and the water-repellent fabric is clutch during surprise showers." — Geil

Best High-Impact Sports Bra: Knix Catalyst Sports Bra

With sizes up to 42F, this high-impact sports bra from Knix features molded cups to separate and hug your boobs (read: it reduces movement without squishing). The hooks in the back band make this sports bra easy to get in and out of too.

Catalyst Sports Bra
Knix Catalyst Sports Bra $89.00

Expert Review: "It's super supportive, full coverage, and the wide straps don't dig in. Plus, the nice thick clasps won't move and make this bra easy to put on and take off." — Allibhai

Best Low-Impact Sports Bra: Girlfriend Collective Cleo Halter Bra

From downward dogs to pigeon poses, there's no better brand for low-impact bras than Girlfriend Collective. The Cleo is made from the brand's Float fabric, a buttery soft, stretchy material made from recycled water bottles, and has a U-neck and racerback design. The quick-dry fabric is ideal for hot yoga flows and the longline band won't shift no matter the position you contort yourself into. Many of their bra styles also have rave reviews from those with larger chests. 

Cleo Bra
Girlfriend Collective Cleo Halter Bra $46.00

Expert Review: "I used to always keep those removable cups in my sports bras — I hated the look of my nips joining the party while I was trying to work out. Girlfriend Collective changed the game for me with their double-lined bras that hide the points without being overly thick or flattening my chest. The Cleo style is my go-to for hot yoga classes—the slightly longer design can be worn as a top and it never needs readjustments mid-flow." — Bauer

Best Sports Bra for Small Chests: Year of Ours Ribbed Sports Bra

This ribbed, unpadded sports bra is perfect for folks looking for just enough support to carry them through their low-impact strength workouts or yoga practice. Thanks to the high neckline, you’ll feel comfortable even when you’re in a downward dog or shoulder stand pose.

Ribbed Sports Bra
Year of Ours Ribbed Sports Bra $75.00

Expert Review: “Minimal impact, maximum vibes. I love the cutout that makes this relatively neutral sports bra edgy. The fabric is comfy and sweat-wicking. It’s great for the fashionista who wants to show some modest flair in class.” — Marietta Alessi, Shape social media director

Best Sports Bra for Large Chests/Cups DD+: Brooks Drive Interlace Run Bra

Available in sizes up to 40FF, this high-impact running bra caters to bigger cups with strategic support and compression that minimize bounce. The adjustable back straps and traditional hook-and-eye closure allow for a uniquely custom fit, while the quick-drying, breathable fabric keeps you comfy no matter how much you sweat.

Drive Interlace Run Bra
Brooks Drive Interlace Run Bra $50.00

Expert Review: "As a size 34DD, I've learned the hard way that just because a bra comes in your size, doesn't mean it was properly made for it — so believe me when I say that this Brooks bra is the whole package. Comfortable compression and high-intensity support keep your breasts in place without so much as a mid-set tug, while an adjustable, strappy back and flattering V-neck front will make you want one in all seven colors (I know I do)." — Zarah Kavarana, beauty e-commerce editor at Dotdash Meredith

Best High-Waisted Leggings: Spanx Booty Boost Active 7/8 Leggings

These leggings not only sit comfortably above your belly button, but they’re also equipped with a phone-sized hidden pocket in the waistband, which is contoured to make your booty look plump and lifted. The sweat-wicking fabric will keep you feeling dry during your most intense workouts.

Booty Boost Active 7/8 Leggings
Spanx Booty Boost Active 7/8 Leggings $98.00

Expert Review: “This legging is a staple amongst Spanx groupies and it's no surprise why: The leggings don't slip, and they make you feel confident and ready to take on whatever workout (or chores) you have coming your way.” — Alessi

Best Yoga or Low-Impact Leggings: Under Armour Meredian Leggings

These breathable, soft leggings are built with a stretchy knit fabric that’s neither too tight nor too loose, so they’re ideal for low-intensity movement practices. The cherry on top: The pants include not one, but two pockets on the sides.

Meredian Leggings
Under Armour Meredian Leggings $70.00

Expert Review: “These babies got me through quarantine at-home fitness classes, working from home, grocery runs, and everything in between. They're low-impact but so comfortable, I never wanted to take them off. I ended up buying three pairs!” — Alessi

Best High-Impact Leggings: Fabletics Define PowerHold High-Waisted Legging

These high-waisted leggings will keep you feeling supported as you tackle plyometrics, sprints, and kickboxing workouts. The leggings are made with a chafe-resistant, moisture-wicking fabric, offer UPF protection, and provide maximum compression, so you won't have to pull up your pants after every set.

Define PowerHold High-Waisted Legging
Fabletics Define PowerHold High-Waisted Legging $70.00

Expert Review: "I’m a devoted Fabletics shopper thanks to the many colors and limited-edition collabs the brand carries, but the product I’ll buy again and again is the Fabletics Define Power-Hold High-Waisted Leggings. These sweat-wicking leggings never lose their shape, and after many washes won’t gap at the waist or start to pill. But the real winning factor is the strong compression fabric that makes me feel held in and supported." — Hayley Mason, Shape and InStyle general manager

Best Running Leggings: Sweaty Betty Power 7/8 Workout Leggings

These are the leggings that you hear one runner wax poetically about and you'll purchase immediately. The waistband never rolls down or rides up, and the continuous inner loop customizes the fit to your waist size. The sweat-wicking, quick-dry fabric keeps you cool and comfortable even on scorching-hot runs. Plus, the seams lift and sculpt your booty like no other. 

Power Leggings
Sweaty Betty Power 7/8 Workout Leggings $100.00

Expert Review: "The clothes you run long distances in need to be perfect, and I chose these leggings to run a full marathon. It had all the necessary features: The fabric is compressive but not too tight, and the adjustable strings came in clutch mid-race when marathon bloating caused some discomfort and I needed a bit more room. The side pocket is large enough for a phone and the back pocket held three energy gels. And I won't lie, the flattering seaming made my race photos look even better." — Bauer

Best Leggings with Pockets: Athleta Salutation Stash Tight

For leggings that feel supportive but not constricting during all-day wear, look no further than the Salutation Stash Tight. They're not quite seamless, with a yoke waistband and center seam, but the fabric sits on your body like a second skin — moving and contorting with you. The super-wide waistband sits at nearly rib-height for any high-waist leggings fans and the deep pockets fit your phone, keys, IDs, or energy gels for long runs. 

Salutation Stash Tight
Athleta Salutation Stash Tight $109.00

Expert Review: "Obsessed is an understatement: I own every color of the Salutation Stash shorts and I am slowly growing my collection of full-length styles as my older leggings wear out. The fit is versatile enough for all types of workouts from boxing to Pilates." — Bauer

Best Running Socks: TAVI Taylor Cushion Sport Socks

Available in neutral and colorful options, Tavi Taylor Cushion Sport Socks are designed for a budge-proof fit. Each pair is made with quick-dry fabric and features lightly-cushioned soles, ankle tabs, compression arch bands, and venting for breathability.

Taylor Cushion Sport Socks
TAVI Taylor Cushion Sport Socks $16.00

Expert Review: “While other socks I’ve tried have stretched out over time, these still fit like the first time I wore them, despite many washes. They’re thick enough that they’re substantial without feeling I’m cramming a heavy sock into my sneakers” Renee Cherry, Shape associate editor

Best Grippy Socks: Bombas Women's Performance Gripper Ankle Sock

Built for yoga, Pilates, and barre workouts, these socks have slip-free grips on the bottom of the entire foot to keep you grounded while you move. The seamless toe ensures supreme comfort, and the air vents will keep your feet cool no matter how hot the studio becomes.

Women's Performance Gripper Ankle Sock
Bombas Women's Performance Gripper Ankle Sock $19.00

Expert Review: “Hands down, these socks are amazingly comfortable and long-lasting. The fact that for every pair of socks you buy, another pair is given to those who are homeless [is an added benefit]. They come in all the bright colors I love and are the best gift you could give a Pilates instructor.” — Herbert

Best Full-Coverage Activewear: Gymshark Vital Seamless Longline Top

For full-coverage activewear without excessive material or uncomfortable rubbing, look to Gym Shark's Vital Seamless Longline Top. The seamless design prevents chafing, and the sweat-wicking material keeps you cool and dry.

Vital Seamless Longline Top
Gymshark Vital Seamless Longline Top $46.00

Expert Review: "This top is long but still stylish. It's a great fabric, breathable, and well-made — and I love the fit." — Allibhai

Best Joggers: Vuori Performance Jogger

These aren't your run-of-the-mill sweatpants; a slightly cropped, tapered leg is flattering and provides a more put-together appearance than traditional sweats. You're going to want a pair in every color — luckily, there are 14 options to choose from. One note: These are slim-cut and you may want to size up for the most comfortable fit — especially if you prefer more space in the butt or hips. 

Performance Jogger
Vuori Performance Jogger $94.00

Expert Review: "I was targeted by an Instagram ad that finally chased me down enough to purchase — and I was not disappointed. These are the softest, most flattering joggers I've ever worn. They show off your shape through the legs and butt without being constricting and the fabric is the dreamiest brushed knit — one year in and there is no bagginess or pilling. These are my go-to airport pants as well as my favorites for running errands." — Bauer

Best Skort: Outdoor Voices The Exercise 3" Skort

Made with lightweight performance fabric, this medium-coverage skort takes comfort to a whole new level. The built-in shorts have two side pockets that are roomy enough to hold your phone and a zip pocket for the small items you absolutely cannot lose (see: credit cards, house key).

Outdoor Voices The Exercise 3" Skort
Outdoor Voices The Exercise 3" Skort $68.00

Expert Review: "The Exercise 3" Skort has become a part of my uniform in spring and summer. I love that it's polished enough to wear with a non-workout top — and I can go straight from dog walking to the tennis courts. It's honestly as comfy as wearing pajama shorts." — Geil

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