When it comes to being fit, healthy and happy, size isn’t a factor. Unfortunately, when it comes to ﬁnding athletic apparel, it can be. All women want clothing that fits, functions well and is flattering. But for female runners with a larger frame, historically, there have been few options. (Keep in mind that this isn’t just a lagging industry in terms of shape but gender too. The first sports bra only debuted in 1975!)
Thankfully, times are changing. “About 10 years ago, I saw a shift towards more technical fabrics, better designs and improved quality,” says Jeanette DePatie, a fitness instructor who blogs at The Fat Chick with the mission to prove “every body can exercise.”
The key is finding a brand that understands the needs of your body. With wicking elements, durability and style as givens, we went in search of the latest run-ready looks to keep you feeling fabulous as you crank out the miles.
Photos: James Farrell
Athleta creates apparel for a number of body types with technical fabrics, edgy looks and bright colors. Designs are created to be flattering and functional, as well as provide the wicking and anti-chafe properties essential for hard workouts. Sizing goes up to 2X. When you find something that works for you, DePatie says you should “buy every piece you can find, everywhere!”
A delicate petal-style split in the back looks beautiful and provides built-in venting in the Iridescent Tulip Back Chi Tank ($44), while the Spiral Bra ($49) delivers comfortable support. The Ready Set Short ($44) keeps essentials handy in the rear zip pocket. All pieces are available at athleta.com.
Shoes: Adidas Ultra Boost ($180, adidas.com)
Whole-family clothier Old Navy opened its fitness apparel market to larger sizes in 2013 in an effort to further serve the needs of its consumers. “We offer functional activewear for all sizes while keeping plus-specific details to fit and flatter our customer, like side shirring, dropped necklines, wider straps on our bras for support and higher rises on our pants,” says Julie Dunn, senior designer for Old Navy. “The bottom line is the product we’re creating will perform, look and ﬁt great no matter what size our customer is.”
With all-over stretch, a bold pattern and a gathered racerback, the Burnout Tank ($27) gives any workout a boost. Pair it with the Sports Bra ($33) and Plus Compression Capris ($33) for long-haul comfort. All items are available at oldnavy.com.
Shoes: New Balance 870v4 ($115, newbalance.com)
Superior seaming is paramount for JunoActive, in addition to having on-point styles. “We work to make sure all our sizes have the best fit and same look in every size,” says company founder Anne Kelly. “A shirt that has a short sleeve that hits just above the elbow should have that same fit in all sizes.” In fact, Kelly worked with the College of Design at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to set national fit standards for “plus-size.”
“No woman wants clothing to distract or hinder her workout; the whole point of being active is feeling good about yourself,” Kelly says. “[I started the company because] I really wanted women to put on our clothes, feel great and be motivated. That’s still what I want, 20 years later.”
A no-chafe neck and soft material are two of the winning features in the SoftWik Heather Basic V-Neck Tee ($55). QuikWik Shirred Edge Capris ($65) add a bit of whimsy to this workout staple, which also features wide elastic in the waist and two lines of stitching to help the band lay flat. This look is available at junonia.com.
According to Lane Bryant Inc. CEO and President Linda Heasley, its “maniacal focus on the right combination of style, technology, function and superior fit” is what makes the brand unique. “Our goal is to make our customers feel fashionable, confident and comfortable for whatever activity she loves,” Heasley says. “It’s time to dispel the myth that ‘her size’ women aren’t active—we have marathoners, surfers, tennis players, yoga instructors, dancers, weight lifters, walkers and more in our stores every week!”
With cute cutouts, runners can sweat in style in the Marble Print Capri Legging ($35), which features a bold print and gentle all-over compression. Your girls will stay secure on the go in the Molded Underwire Sport Bra ($44–$54 based on size), while the Wicking Active Sock ($7) ensures you stay dry all the way to the tips of your toes. All are available at lanebryant.com.
Shoes: Saucony Hurricane ISO ($150, saucony.com)
C9 Champion By Target
In-store availability, fashionable colors and styles, and a full range of sizes are the hallmarks of the C9 Champion activewear line. Plus, the wallet-friendly price points make it fun to experiment with new looks. Fitness instructor DePatie recommends to try before you buy: “I take my time in the dressing room to make sure things ﬁt properly. Sit, squat, jump, turn, run in place— I boogie down!”
Save the comfortably soft Enthusiast Racer Sports Bra ($14–$17 based on size) for low-impact, cross-training days. The wicking, blouse-style Tank With Keyhole ($20) is sassy and stylish enough to wear to the gym or out on the town. All-over compression gives the Capri Tight Leggings ($30) a custom fit. This look is available at target.com.
Shoes: Reebok ZPump Fusion ($110, reebok.com)