The best women's activewear that looks great wherever you go, tested and approved by an avid gym rat

The best women's active clothes that looks great wherever you go, tested and approved

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Activewear that looks great, fits well, and doesn't leave you fussing with straps while you're trying to take care of your body is crucial. As someone who recently started the StrongLifts 5x5 program (and is having a lot of success with it!), this is clearer to me than ever. I've run through my fair share of cheap, sheer, and fall-apart garbage when it comes to gym clothes, and I know feeling great in what I have on is vital to my workout enjoyment.

Below you'll find different pieces I've added to my wardrobe over the course of the past few months and tried out during HIIT cardio, long walks, dancing, brunching, shopping, and, obviously, weightlifting. Each has proven a valuable asset in my gym rat closet for a multitude of reasons, and as I continue my fitness journey, expect more pieces to pop up on this list! For now, here are my faves to wear while I sweat.

RELATED: We rounded up nearly 100 of our favorite women's online clothing stores so you have an all-in-one stop for browsing.

Sportbody The Dress - Onyx

Set Active

Sportbody The Dress - Onyx

Made from thick but breathable fabric that hugs tightly in all the right places, this Set Active tennis dress is one of the most flattering pieces of workout clothing I've ever had on my body.

I was between sizes and hesitantly went down knowing it was a stretchy item, and it was the right choice! Thought I'm large-chested, the built-in bra provided great lift and support exactly where I needed it. The shorts underneath prevented chafing and offered plenty of coverage, and the criss-crossed straps were flattering and stylish.

I wear this piece to the gym regularly and enjoy the sweat-wicking performance of the fabric, but I also love how great it looks when paired with my platform sneakers and some simple jewelry for running errands – I even wore it to dinner and received several compliments from strangers!

While black is the universally flattering, much-loved version (at least by this New Yorker), there are plenty of other color variants as well. Click through to the Set Active site to find your perfect shade.

Set Active
$98

Flawless Luxury Bra - Forest

Livelite Athletica

Flawless Luxury Bra - Forest

While I chose the black version of this bra-and-legging set, I didn't want to exclude the more colorful dressers reading this from checking out one of my favorite new sportswear brands!

The Livelite Athletica Flawless Luxury Bra is the best example of hot girl gym clothing imaginable. The ultra-flattering four-way stretch is very firm and supportive while offering plenty of room to move, and the keyhole between the bottom band and cups gives just a hint of reverse cleavage that feels super sexy without exposing too much while you're trying to lift or run. Definitely size up if you're going for more coverage, but honestly I enjoy the "extra lifted" look and find myself happier with the mirror results at the end of each workout...what could be better motivation to keep going than that?

Make sure to pair the sports bra with the matching leggings, too, as they're some of the softest I've ever felt. They're high rise and hold in all the bits you might not want on display at the gym, but they're also supremely stretchy and won't make you feel tightly bound. They're also quite flattering on the booty, which is something we all want while squatting, right?

Livelite Athletica
$37.33

Active Seamless Biker Shorts

Forever 21

Active Seamless Biker Shorts

Forever 21 is somewhere I tend to think of as a place to browse when I'm looking for decent basics or night-out clothes that I want to be trendy and fun, but surprisingly, their activewear is some of the nicest I've found on a tight budget!

These shorts are thick and sturdy, with an expertly crafted waistband and elasticity level that holds all my jiggly bits in for even the most intense cardio sessions. They're high rise enough to provide good coverage without looking dated or too high, plus the legs stay in place to prevent thigh chafing and riding up. I also appreciate they're on the shorter side, as the bicycle shorts that nearly reach my knees are terribly unflattering on my body type – plus the air on your thighs feels nice while working up a sweat.

My only gripe with these particular shorts is some of the seams have a couple of loose threads that I fear could turn to holes eventually, but at $12.99, they're easy to replace or buy multiples of to prevent over-use and quick wear-and-tear. You can also size up to prevent added stress on the thread, but otherwise they fit true to size.

Forever 21
$12.99

Knockout High Impact Front-Close Sports Bra

Victoria's Secret

Knockout High Impact Front-Close Sports Bra

With molded, lightly padded cups and a fabric that feels ultra-smooth and cool to the touch, this sports bra is a joy to wear on days when I know I need extra hold.

Having a large chest means searching high and low for something that really locks you in, and I bought this because the elastic felt strong and the cups held strong without any uncomfortable stiffness. The band fits on the tighter side, so make sure you're measuring your rib cage and ordering the appropriate size to avoid any bulges, but also trust the smoothing material.

Another bonus is the front zipper – anyone who wears a bra knows the intrinsic annoyance of trying to snap a bra clasp behind your back. The zip has a semi-auto locking mechanism to protect you from popping out at inopportune times, thus providing the mental safety net you need to really go hard while jogging, jumping rope, working out on the elliptical, or any other strenuous activity that involves a lot of bouncing. It goes up to cup size DDD (F) and a band size of 40, which could be better but will still help out a fairly broad range of women.

Victoria's Secret
$54.95

Women's UA Playback Fleece Shorts

Under Armour

Women's UA Playback Fleece Shorts

While I'm not usually one for sweats, these caught my eye the second I went perusing my local sporting goods store recently. The perfectly autumnal shade was the immediate draw for me, as the resident queen of Halloween and all things fall here at Wishlist.

Upon picking them up, I realized how supple and soft they truly were – ideal for a crisp morning walk to my current weight lifting routine at the gym. The inside is fleece-lined for the ultimate cozy feeling, and the slouchy fit is flattering and cute, more streetwear-minded than your average locker room sweats.

The thick, high-rise waistband has totally enclosed elastic, so you don't have to worry about any pinching. The hoodie has the perfectly sized hood, and if you know anything about sweatshirts, you know it has to be in the ideal Goldilocks zone or it's a bust.

You can easily wear this straight to brunch or errands, too, or just for having a casual day out with friends. The shade might be called copper penny, but to me this is simply the ideal pumpkin spice two-piece I need for almost any occasion.

Under Armour
$45

4 Pairs Compression Socks

Aoliks

4 Pairs Compression Socks

I didn't realize how beneficial working out with compression socks could be, but if you have ever experienced excessive swelling or soreness after a rough workout, you need these!

They're basic, cheap, and they keep the blood pumping in your legs while you're on them and moving around. The constriction isn't painful or even mildly uncomfortable, but feels more supportive than a standard knee sock. You'll see the difference post-workout if you're prone to swelling – I was shocked to realize my ankles actually aren't that big after all!

This multi-pack also means you don't have to worry so much about losing a single sock and ruining a whole pair, and at under $4 a pair, they're a total steal.

Aoklis
$13.79
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