Activewear for all: Where to find gear for 'plus-size' athletes
By Susanne Johnson
Difficulty in finding well-made, sturdy, yet fashionable activewear has long been a complaint of the plus-sized athlete. After-all, those at the helm of companies like Lululemon have made public their feelings about plus-size bodies: our clothes aren’t for you.
Many women, myself included, find a lack of decent activewear to be a barrier to our pursuit of fitness. Who wants to show up to a personal training session, the gym, or a group run in baggy sweats and an over-sized t-shirt? Just as a great work wardrobe can make you feel like you can conquer anything the board room throws at you, having activewear that is good looking, fits well, and stands up to your workout can have a positive impact on your attitude during any sweat session.
With body-positive athletes, activists, and plus-size fashion bloggers (think Jessamyn Stanley, Tess Holliday, Mirna Valerio, Leah Gilbert, and Krista Henderson) taking social media by storm, there are more options than ever before for the curvy and plus-sized athlete.
Note: most of the featured retailers are accessible online only. Several of the retailers have a robust social media presence on Facebook and/or Instagram which is a great way to see the products “in action” on a variety of bodies.
Katie K Activewear:
Sizes S (2/4) through 3x (24/26)
Founded by entrepreneur Katie Kozloff, Katie K Activewear blends fashion and function with leggings, capris, shorts, tees, and tanks that feature striking colors and bold prints. Her capris and leggings feature compression, high waistbands (no muffin top to see here), side pockets for essentials like cash and your car key, UV 50+ protection, and moisture wicking fabric. The “double-fit” technology ensures that the plus-size offerings are true-to-size and cut to fit a woman who might have larger hips, thighs, and tummy; not just merely “enlarged” copies of smaller sizes. KatieK Activewear holds up to a variety of workouts from running to cross-training to yoga.
Her #definebrave campaign is also inspiring women to share their fitness journeys and to be the best they can be no matter their shape or size.
Sizes XS (0/2) through 5X (28/30)
Founded by entrepreneur Katie Pippin, Lineagewear seeks to spread a message of inclusivity and body positivity by providing fun and funky leggings in bold prints beloved by yoga devotees like Jessamyn Stanley and Dana Falsetti. Her spandex leggings offer compression and feature high waistbands and moisture wicking fabric. I like these leggings best for yoga or cross training (no place for a key or ID or cash) but some women swear by them for every workout from running to spin class to Crossfit.
Sizes XS (0/2) through 3X (22/24)
Lucy Activewear recently extended their size range to include offerings for plus-sized women. So while their initial offerings are limited to a handful of capris, leggings, and tops, the positive feedback to this new line is likely to spur further additions. Lucy Activewear features compression, wide waistbands, and moisture wicking fabrics for their tees, tanks, capris, and leggings are suitable for a wide-range of workouts. They also offer colors and prints beyond basic black.
Sizes 14/16 through 26/28
Lane Bryant has recently partnered with Jessica Simpson to feature her line of tanks, tees, leggings, shorts, and capris called “The Warmup”. This new line provides more technical fabrics that offer moisture wicking, compression, and a zip pocket for essentials in whimsical prints and bright colors. The LB “house brand” Livi Active line is also fairly affordable for the average consumer and one of the only brands that provides offerings in brick-and-mortar stores. If you’re new to the fitness scene and just hitting the gym for the first time, they provide a good, reliable option for lower-impact workouts.
Old Navy and Athleta (stores that are under the same corporate umbrella) also offer options but only online.
Old Navy sizes up to 4X size (28/30) and Athleta sizes up to a 20.
Shop their collections of graphic tops, tights, sports bras and more.
Kohl’s and Torried ofter affordable, brick-and-mortar options as well up to size 26/28.
Khols: Find a location near you at kohls.com or shop Khols' workout gear here.
Torried: Shop online at torried.com or find a location near you.
Susanne Johnson is a Philly native, a Family Nurset Practitioner, and a novice runner. She believes that women can lead a fit and healthy lifestyle at any size and enjoys encouraging other plus size ladies to test their limits. You can follow her on Instagram @purlbeforeswine.
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