It's January 2. That means you should be over your New Year's hangover by now and the Christmas cookies are long gone. If you have fitness resolutions for 2013, now's the time to get moving.
But that old sorority t-shirt is not going to cut it. We're big believers in the concept of form + function--so your workout gear doesn't need to be ugly while you're practicing side plank. With that in mind, we looked off the beaten path for the cutest workout gear out there. While we love Lululemon, Nike, and Gap's body line, sometimes you just want to look unique. We found some brands that will definitely fit the bill.
Click through to see 10 brands worth checking out before you check into your gym or studio this month.
What: Sweaty Betty is the Lululemon of the UK, though not quite as culty and a little cheekier. The brand, founded by fitness fanatic Tamara Hill-Norton, has a perfect fashion/fitness pedigree. Hill-Norton has a background in textile design, has been featured in Vogue UK, and attended the British Fashion Awards. The yoga mannequins in the store are even based on Christy Turlington. The cross-over comes through in the clothes--think funky florals, cool down pants that can easily go from gym to lunch with friends, and yoga tanks that you'll want everyone to see.
The Merch: From a practical perspective, Sweaty Betty has tons of specialty gear for every sport from triathlon to studio yoga and everything in between. We particularly love the huge variety of running pants.
Price and Logistics: It's definitely high-end gear--think $70 for their signature marathon shorts. Sweaty Betty ships to the US, but expect to wait a week or so for your order.
What: This Portland, Oregon based chain came on the scene in 1999, a year after Lululemon was founded. While Lulu and now Gap-owned Athleta are getting all the attention lately, we're loyal Lucy customers. The brand was founded by a group of women who wanted high-performance but stylish workout wear made specifically for women. (No guy gear here, sorry.)
The Merch: They have a strong yoga and studio collection. New additions we saw while stocking up at the Lucy store this holiday season? Barre class sticky socks. (Their running socks are fantastic--my triathlon-ing sister swears by them.) Lucy also offers its signature pants in different lengths. And the warm-up gear--like jackets and slouchy shirts--is so stinking cute.
Prices and Logistics: It's middle of the road, price-wise. Yoga tanks go for $49 and they have a generous return policy. The in-store sales are frequent and we've snagged countless bargains over the years.
What: Body Rock is not for the bashful (case in point: they made a $20,000 sports bra for Britney Spears.) Founder Kelly Dooley really embraces her LA roots and it shows in the flashy designs. You have to admire the sheer ballsiness of her pieces.
The Merch: Besides metallic pleather sports bras (want one!) and all sorts of sparkly embellishment, Body Rock is offering a "bespoke" service now, allowing shoppers to customize their own bras. You get to choose the style (the bras have names like "Dim Your Headlights" and "Show 'Em Off,"), fabric (including sequins and velvet), and zipper style--not to mention embellishments like studs and Swarovski crystals. Perfect for that candid shot in US Weekly of you leaving your SoulCycle class!
Prices and Logistics: We put together an imaginary bespoke bra (silver snakeskin print with fuchsia lining and black studs) and it rang up at $226. Less adorned off-the-rack bras are a bit more fiscal cliff-friendly, running $37-$75.
What: Zella is Nordstrom's house brand of cute workout gear. There's been much intrigue surrounding the brand on the fitness blogs, with speculation that Zella was started by a former Lululemon designer. We reached out to Nordstrom for clarification, and they told us there's no connection. But Zella does have a Lulu vibe to it--think wide waisted pants, hefty fabrics, and lots of colorways. (We're fans of the camel-toe-free 'Move' pants.) And if you're into mommy/daughter dressing, Zella has a kids' line, too.
The Merch: While aesthetically similar to Lululemon, it's much more affordable. Running capris go for about $32 and we found a long cross-back tank for $35.
Prices and Logistics: It's only available at Nordstrom stores and online, and the prices are really reasonable.
What: A perennial fave of fitness magazines (and celebs like Katie Holmes and Kim Kardashian have been snapped wearing it), NUX is serious performance wear with a stylish twist. Many designs are seamless and the fabric is magically moisture wicking. They're also one of the only brands we've seen that categorizes their pieces by how much compression/support they provide.
The Merch: For bikram fans, there's a hot yoga collection, featuring teeny tiny shorts and bra tops. You'll also find the usual variety of tanks, bra tops, and pants, but everything is fairly bodycon--all the better for showing off all that hard work. There's also a cute assortment of girly skort/skirts if you're into that.
Prices and Logistics: Pants range from $49-$69 and tops are about $40.
What: The name of this South Beach-born company is based on the lyre, the muse of dance in Greek mythology. And it's definitely heavy on Miami-influenced dance wear.
The Merch: True to its South Beach roots, the collections are colorful with lots of little sexy (not trashy!) details, like keyhole backs and racer back tanks. The wide waistband capris and little sleeveless hoodies to pop on after a workout are standouts.
Prices and Logistics: The most expensive thing we spotted was a pair of high tech leggings for $80. There are tons of bras less than $40.
What: We're classifying this as hip yoga wear--even the models on the website are wearing runway-worthy makeup. Forget about finding airbrushed lotus flower motifs here. The line is designed by Michelle Bohbot, who's also designed her Bisou Bisou line for the past 20 years.
The Merch: The prints are graphic and the colors are bright. The quilted warm up jackets and vests are stand-outs. Electric Yoga also offers an "anti-slip" yoga pant, which is essentially a legging with a rubberized foot stirrup--no mat necessary.
Prices and Logistics: Prices range from $54 for a bra top to $198 for a quilted trench.
What: The Girls is a fairly stripped down, basic line, but with a lot of fit options.
The Merch: They have styles for 'tall girls' and 'full figured girls' and the tummy control pieces are effective without being too squeezy. We love the Criss Cross Capri.
Prices and Logistics: Prices are super reasonable. We found a pair of bermuda short length pants for less than $25.
What: Alo is primarily a yoga/studio brand with a focus on eco-friendly and sustainable design. Their design house in LA is even solar-powered. They make collections for both women and men.
The Merch: Alo is less flashy and "design-y" than Lululemon--we'd call it legit yogawear. There are tons of pant styles from shorts to long, tight to loose. There are plenty of flowier styles for those who don't quite have a yoga butt yet. The sports bras are super cute--don't wear anything over them.
Prices and Logistics: Tanks range from $26-$56. Prices are pretty reasonable.
What: This one was a recommendation from a friend who owns a barre studio in Charleston, SC. (Go check out Barre Evolution if you're ever there!) It's a small, edited line of tops and bottoms.
The Merch: 15 Love's gimmick is its "Switch-Fit Straps." You can buy patterned straps with your tank and make them into racer back, halter, or whatever style you like.
Prices and Logistics: A tank goes for about $58, and extra straps are $12. They'll give you a set of free straps if you buy two tanks.