5 Surprising Places to Find Ultra-Stylish Workout Clothes

Ditch your threadbare tees once and for all.


Let’s work out. | Photos via Without Walls.

Confession: I spent the bulk of the winter running on a treadmill in a paper-thin drapey gray tee. In November, it was showing signs of wear (holes in the arms, a few by the bottom hem, a crazily stretched out neckline). By January, the holes peppered the entire back. By March, it was barely a shirt. But still I wore it because, truth be told, it made me feel tough, like the Incredible Hulk, splitting seams and wearing out fabric by sheer force of will and the power of blazing-fast 11:30-minute miles.

But now I’ve taken my runs outdoors, and my threadbare tee just won’t cut it out in public, where it feels like everyone is watching (or recording a video!) even if they aren’t. And given my penchant for offbeat dressing, I tend to feel uncomfortable in workout wear, most of which is tight (ick), basic (ick x500) and otherwise forgettable. While I don’t want to run across town in sequins, I do want to feel good — strong and stylish. And with race season in full swing (Broad Street is this Sunday; there are even more great runs and outdoor fitness events happening in May—see them here), there’s never been a better time to up your workout gear game. 

You all know about Lululemon, home of the million-dollar yoga pant, and you also probably know Athleta, City Sports, and more major sports stores. But many more top spots are completely unexpected. Here are my (sometimes surprising!) picks for crazy-stylish workout clothes that don’t cost an arm and a (very toned) leg. See you on the trails?

1. Without Walls
Though most of the apparel in Urban Outfitter’s’ athletic line is geared toward yogis, you can find some great-looking (read: bold) leggings and breezy tops. I love these starry chafe-resistant, antimicrobial leggings ($78, buy here). More serious runners will appreciate these hard-to-find, moisture-wicking Newline leggings, which have a back pocket to store keys or cards ($68, buy here). I’m in love with this open-back hoodie for post-workout stretching ($88, buy here).


2. Old Navy
Our very own health and fitness editor confessed to me that she buys much of her workout apparel at Old Navy — and it’s a smart move. The prices are incredible (a pair of compression capris will run you just $15, way less than the $75-plus price you’ll pay at specialty running stores). And their moisture-wicking tanks are adorable, with a contrasting elastic racerback ($8, buy here).

 3. CALIA by Carrie Underwood
I know, I know, but hear me out: Love her (my husband) or hate her (me), the girl’s got the most amazing legs. Her brand-new workout line for Dick’s is impressive: It’s all very cute without veering into all-pink-everything-cheesy. My picks: The double-strap sports bras ($40, buy here). The collection is available at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

4. Black Milk
Another suggestion from our Be Well Philly girls, this time from BWP assistant editor Adjua Fisher, who turned me on to the Aussie brand’s graphic leggings. Though most of Black Milk’s leggings are polyester (read: not very sweat-friendly), its relatively new Gym collection features some great options, including this sheer-paneled pair ($72, buy here).

5. Lucy
You’ve probably not heard much of this shop since it closed its Ardmore location a few years ago (and since Lululemon took over the world) but it’s worth checking out for cute gear at non-Lulu prices. Head to the online shop for a seriously stocked sale section. I love this post-workout throw-on top (now $14.99, buy here), this super-supportive sports bra ($now $24.99, buy here), this gorgeous workout bra ($45, buy here), and this double-strap headband, which is necessary to keep sweaty wisps away from your face ($10, buy here).