Always a minefield, activewear should strike a balance between style and function. There’s no use in a sports bra looking amazing if it’s not up to the job of keeping your bouncy bits in place! The principles are very much like those of shapewear! Since back, shoulder and pelvic pain can all be linked to how our weight is supported, everyone should be even more conscious of support when being active. With brands like Nike and Adidas launching high profile plus-size activewear ranges, there’s never been more choice. So how do you choose well?
What’s it for?
The first question to ask is – what’s my activewear for? Tennis, running, yoga, cycling, walking are a handful of examples. Or any of the myriad other activities you may be doing! The garments that you need will depend on the impact and surroundings of that sport or activity. How long you’re wearing it for, how many layers you’ll be wearing and how bouncy you’ll be are all factors.
Dressing for lower impact activities like walking, cycling and yoga are all about the layers. These activities, although lower impact, tend to have you in your activewear for longer. With a sturdy base layer, you’ll look for looser fitting outer layers that are all about comfort for the longer wear. There’s no need for extra underwiring in your sports bra; comfort is key here so look for wide and stretchy straps. To keep your waistband in place for these long periods of activity, look for high waisted leggings and capri pants.
If you’re a gym regular or recreation sports enthusiast, you’re used to mixing up your impact while you work out. A game of tennis or mixed activity on gym equipment will bring with them moments of high, and not so high impact activity. Always dress for the highest impact and you’ll avoid sustaining injuries.
If you’re running or doing something that involves running (think tennis, football and netball) then you’ll be looking to the higher impact activewear out there. We’re not just talking about additional support in your bra, although this is at the top of the list! Look for wide and padded shoulder straps and additional support. You can get this either from extra silicon underwiring in your bra, or layer up with a supportive sports vest over your sports bra. Leggings should be panelled and with a wide elasticated waistband (avoid drawstrings) to give you the most support. Or choose shorts with supportive long-leg underwear as a base layer.
So, as a general rule what features should you look for when you’re browsing through plus size activewear? Firstly, everything should be breathable and wicking. You’ll be infinitely more comfortable than in cotton fabrics. Helpfully, most brands have decent design research so you’ll find that a lot of activewear is conscientiously designed.
Sports bras and cropped tops perform best with wide shoulder bands. Padded straps are even better and help to support the shoulder. Go for longer tops or a fitted bodysuit as an overlayer to make sure that your activewear stays put the whole time you’re wearing it.
Whether you prefer leggings, capri pants, shorts or lose-fit yoga pants, always look for a high waist. This makes sure your bottoms are well anchored and won’t budge. For enduring comfort, a wide waistband will provide support to your core whilst remaining secure.
Support starts here. The more supportive the better. Choose long shorts to help to prevent thigh chafing, and wide waist banded briefs to avoid shifting underwear.
If you’re an outdoors activewear user, make sure you’re prepared for when the weather turns. Keep your base layers the same, but add breathable and looser fit long layers.
In short, stick to shapewear principles when choosing activewear and you’ll have a great result. Size well, build layers and go for wide anchor bands at your waist, breast and shoulder. Then all that’s left is to settle on your favourite colours and patterns!