High Street Active Wear | Which Brand Should You Buy?

Is High street Active wear suitable for the gym or are we just paying to look good?

With most high street brands now offering a complete range of active wear in store and online, us girls are completely spoiled for choice when it comes to gym clothes. The high street knows that ladies like to shop and if they offer cute gym clothes, we are most definitely going to buy them! Especially as looking good makes us feel that bit better about ourselves when we are a hot mess after a workout, with no make-up on in a testosterone filled room. However, it is also important that as well as looking good, we have active wear which is supportive, comfortable and beneficial to our exercise routines. 

We know that when we purchase active wear from say Nike, Reebok or some brand in JJB that we are paying for efficient sportswear. However can the same be said for High street brands, whose main focus is to grab our attention with the aesthetics?

Is it suitable for us to be buying or is it just gym wear to make the boys stare? 

This is what todays post is going to get to the bottom of.

Over the past few weeks I have been testing out gym wear from a handful of high-street brands to give you the low down on what each store is offering within their active wear ranges. I purchased one sports bra and one pair of sports leggings from each brand and have been reviewing the overall range, quality, design and performance of each. Let’s see if the high street can match those established sports brands or if we are really just paying for vanity.

Ivy Park At Topshop

Sports Bra: Topshop Ivy Park

Sports Leggings: Topshop Ivy Park

Range & Design

Now you know when Queen B is behind a range that it is going to be pretty unbeatable in style. Ivy Park active range is the most versatile out of all the high street brands, you can easily mix and match with most pieces to create a look that you like and feel most comfortable in. Ivy Parks collections so far have been pretty minimal, heavy on branding and with subtle urban, sports touches. Overall this collection is for the girl who likes gym wear with minimal fuss; something that is stylish but not warranting attention.

Quality

These Black Ivy Park sports leggings I must say were really good quality. The leggings are made of a cotton blend, which was super soft to the touch. The mix was 64% cotton, 31% polyester and 5% elastane, so you are getting fairly good quality leggings for your money in terms of materials used.

The Black Ivy Park sports bra was such a great buy. Their bra collection is made more of synthetic fibres making them more stretchy, waterproof and damage proof. The mix of this bra is 79% polyester and 21% elastane, so the bra is good for keeping dry during workouts.

Each piece seems to be made well, although I cannot comment on durability to much at this point as it is early days, I do have high hopes for this pair.

Fit & Performance

I felt really good wearing these leggings due to the fit. The leggings are mid-rise making you feel held in nicely and the fabric feels like it is supporting your shape rather than just covering you. Each piece was true to size as well which is great! The bra was super supportive, a little hard to get on and off like most sports bras but once in, it was really comfortable. I also liked that it came down quite far so I would feel a bit more comfortable wearing it solely without a top.  

I have tested my Ivy Park gym leggings a few times, especially for running which I did in a video [here]. I must say that overall I am impressed. I didn’t get too hot while running, I was able to move flexibly without any restrictions and both pieces were super comfortable to wear. Nevertheless I think you could find better leggings from a sports brand.

Bra: 9/10

Leggings 7/10

 

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Boohoo

Sports Bra: Boohoo

Sports Leggings: Boohoo

Range & Design

First impressions of the Boohoo Fit range while looking online was that it was super affordable but somewhat chaotic to shop. It was chaotic in that there are so many different, loud designs and also chaotic in that the matching pieces were not in close proximity to their complimenting pieces. Therefore shopping online for a set was kind of difficult. Boohoo active wear is good for anyone who likes a bit of colour and of recent they have adopted lots of mesh details and slogans for that urban, ‘girl with attitude’ vibe. I really liked the design I went for.

Quality

I really had my fingers crossed with Boohoo that they would be the brand to shock me with their quality. However I was a little disappointed. The items were made mostly out of polyester with a little elastane and it just felt very cheap. It didn’t have the softness of Ivy Park. Overall the print I went for looked quite ‘cheap’ too; the colours were not very vivid and I can imagine that they would fade with a few washes.

Fit & Performance

When I tried on the Boohoo active leggings, I instantly realised that the material didn’t have much give. I had to squeeze my legs into them, the crotch area felt like it was being pulled and when on, the waistband was in its correct place at the front but at the back it sat really low. The fit was really weird that it didn’t kind of stretch over the bum enough so it all felt very uncomfortable. The bra fit me ok however it did nothing for support. You would definitely need to wear a bra underneath which kind of defeats the object.

On using these at the gym I found I was constantly pulling the leggings at the back and I felt so restricted when stretching. It felt like they would break. The bra needs to have more elastic to it to feel sucked in as everything felt loose whilst exercising which is not ideal. Overall Boohoo does not match up to sportswear brands but the designs are a welcomed attribute.

Bra: 3/10

Leggings: 1/10

Missguided

Sports Bra: Missguided

Sports Leggings: Missguided

Range & Design

One quick scroll down the active section on Missguided website is an equivalent to a personal training session, I felt fit just looking at it all ha. Missguided’s branding is so ‘in your face’ with fitness slogans on almost everything ‘Sleep, squat, slay’, on a top making me chuckle. The active range is very ‘sexy,’ with mesh inserts up the thighs and across the chest of some pieces; there is even gym tops with some side boob action! However there are some more slightly demure pieces thrown in the mix too. Overall the range is pretty extensive, very affordable and pretty good for mix and matching to create your own look you are comfortable with. Missguided active is definitely gym wear to make the boys stare and they do it so well.

Quality

I was worried that with all the attention to detail in design that the quality would slip; but Missguided surprised me. Each item I purchased has 90% polyester and 10% elastane, the fabric is that lycra feel. The quality exceeded expectations in comparison to the price, everything was stitched so well and the colours and print looked quite expensive. I can happily say Missguided active is good quality.

Fit & Performance

When  I tried on the bra in my normal size it felt a little bit too small, I would definitely be able to wear it but ideally it would be a little bigger so maybe size up if in Missguided sports bras. The leggings fit me well in the leg but the waist was too big so I would need to size down. Therefore, for me, the sizing of Missguided’s range was a little off. Also the crotch area sat in a bit of an unflattering way with some ruching to the material. In terms of performance, I cannot really complain. The fabric was really breathable and comfortable to wear during exercise and I can tell this set would be super durable after washing. I definitely think Missguided active can match some lower end sports wear brands.

Bra: 7/10

Leggings: 7/10

River Island

Sports Bra: River Island

Sports Leggings: River Island

Range & Design

River Island’s active wear range is more limited in pieces but what they do have is very exciting in terms of design. Firstly shopping their active wear online was one of the best of the high-street, I feel, in production. The images are really cool and make you want to get active! River Island are currently embracing a lot of camo print which is a hit with me however everything is a bit matchy, matchy therefore you have to kind of buy the correct sets. This could be off putting to people who don’t feel comfortable with one of the items; but I loved my set.

Quality

As soon as I put River Island’s gym set on I knew these were the winner for me. The quality was so good! I must say that on first touch I thought the material was really thin, but actually once on this was a great touch as it felt lightweight and ‘free’ to wear. The material was really soft and silky, the fabric is 88% polyester for the bra and 86% polyester for the leggings, with remaining material being elastane. All stitching was done really well and you could tell a lot of thought had gone into making the set durable.

Fit & Performance

River Island active wear for me has been the best high street gym wear in terms of fit. When on the leggings felt like they had moulded to my body like an extra layer of skin almost. Each piece fit me like a glove so they were true to size and the bra again really moulded to the body so I felt really supported. My only criticism is how low cut the bra is as for me I would need to always wear a top over it in the gym to feel comfortable but that is totally ok. Performance wise this set was great! I was able to move without restriction, the set was so breathable so I didn’t get hot and the waterproof material was good for keeping dry when you are a bit sweaty. River Island active can definitely keep up with sports brands although maybe it could have some more support on the bum.

Bra: 9/10

Leggings: 9/10

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Primark

Sports Bra: Primark

Sports Leggings: Primark

Range & Design

I had to include Primark even though they do not have an online presence. In store Primark has quite a big collection of active wear and visually it is pretty good. Their line is a little more basic than other high street brands but there is a good mix of colour and monochrome pieces. The price of course is super affordable and great for anyone on a budget or for someone who is just starting out in their fitness journey and doesn’t want to splash out just yet. I went for an all-black set, super simple in design which I really like; but the bra has a nice crossover strap detail to the back which is a nice little touch.

Quality

I can confidently say that you should definitely not criticise Primark for its quality, for the price you are paying the quality is really impressive. The set I have on is made of 90% polyester and 10% elastane and all stitching is great. I have had this set for quite a while so I can comment on the durability of this set. The sports bra has held out so well and looks just as good after washing with no distortion to the shape, however the leggings have got slightly less elasticated around the lower leg over time. I have had my set for about a year though so at the price you pay for it, replacing them once a year is totally fine.

Fit & Performance

Primark sports bras are really supportive and can definitely keep up with Topshop and River Island, they just don’t look as fancy. The leggings are great too, they suck you in and you feel like everything is held in place pretty well. I would definitely say that Primark active is true to size. Each item performs really well, my only criticism is that the leggings ride up a bit on the leg during exercise which can get annoying but that may be due to the style I went for as they have the slit up the side. I feel like Primark sports bras could easily match budget sports brands but the leggings need a little more improvement.

Bra: 8/10

Leggings: 6/10

Photography by Tia Gardiner

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