Girlfriend Collective Activewear Review by an Over-40 Curvy Woman

girlfriend collective activewear review over 40

It seems every other week a Wardrobe Oxygen reader is asking if I have tried Girlfriend Collective, a sustainable and ethical, size-inclusive activewear brand. I have tried Girlfriend Collective and own a few pieces, but realize I never consolidated my Girlfriend Collective reviews into a single post.

I am a fan of Girlfriend Collective, from their materials to their manufacturing, their marketing, you name it. They market to a younger audience than I am, but most brands do. However, when it comes to activewear, does Girlfriend Collective work for the needs of an over-40 body with soft curves?

What is Girlfriend Collective?

girlfriend collective review

Girlfriend Collective was founded by Seattle-based husband and wife team Ellie and Quang Dinh. Ellie wasn't finding the kind of activewear she desired, and at the same time, her husband Quang had found a way to make polyester entirely from recycled water bottles. Together, they created an ethical and sustainable activewear brand that is also fashionable.

Girlfriend Collective is extremely transparent with their sourcing, manufacturing, and labor. You can read it all on their website, but some of the aspects of their business that stood out to me:

  • Girlfriend Collective's textiles are made from recycled materials in their facility in Taiwan that specializes in eco-friendly and high-quality textiles. Garments are then cut-and-sewn in one of their partner facilities carefully chosen for their values and ethics. Their core factory is in Hanoi, Vietnam. The factory is SA8000 certified, guarantees fair wages, safe and healthy conditions, and zero forced or child labor.
  • Their packaging is 100% recycled and recyclable.
  • As for their materials:
    • Girlfriend Collective Compressive Leggings + Bras are made from 79% recycled polyester (or RPET) and 21% spandex. The leggings are made from 25 recycled post-consumer bottles; the bras are made from 11.
    • Their LITE Leggings are made from recycled fishing nets and other waste using ECONYL® yarn. Girlfriend Collective's LITE fabric is made up of 83% recycled nylon and 17% spandex.
    • Girlfriend Collective's tees and tanks are 100% cupro, a delicate fiber made from waste the cotton industry leaves behind. Their cupro yarn is made in a zero-waste, zero-emission facility in Japan, then constructed at their SA8000-certified factory in Hanoi.
    • Girlfriend Collective orders come in a Reusable Pouch that is made with the same RPET as their bras and leggings.
girlfriend collective review

Girlfriend Collective offers their apparel in sizes XXS-6XL; but they also have For Everyone Size. For Everyone Size is numbered 1-12 and matches up to men and women standard sizing to make the clothing for all, regardless of gender. Even Girlfriend Collective's bags and outerwear are gender-neutral and size-inclusive.

Girlfriend Collective has a beautiful range of models of all sizes, skintones, and genders. Not only is this beautiful and empowering, but it makes it far easier to envision how their apparel will work on your specific shape and size. Girlfriend Collective never touches up their photos.

Girlfriend Collective Activewear Review

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Wearing the Girlfriend Collective Paloma Bra over a more supportive sports bra

When my fitness routine consisted of weight training, the occasional jog on an elliptical at the gym, and walks around the neighborhood, my priorities were far different for activewear than now, when my primary methods of working out are riding my Peloton bike and doing on-demand yoga classes in my living room.

For weight training, walks, and occasional cardio activities, I really like Girlfriend Collective activewear. Opaque even for squats, just the right amount of compression, thick enough to blur bumps but a beautiful amount of stretch, I loved the selection of colors offered by Girlfriend Collective and would wear a pair of their leggings with a different brand top, or wear one of their bras over a more supportive sports bra.

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Wearing the Girlfriend Collective Paloma Bra and Leggings

But now, I don't prefer Girlfriend Collective for my ‘demic activities. I find it too tight of a weave, not giving where I need it when on the bike. Also, I get hot so easily when riding, and have come to prefer a lighter-weight legging for the Peloton.

The thing is, with my new activities, I also find my Zella leggings and some of my Athleta leggings to be just as thick and restrictive. We all have different activities we enjoy, and different activities require different activewear. Girlfriend Collective activewear is high quality, it's just not the best for my current exercise activities.

do allbirds fit wide feet
Wearing the Girlfriend Collective Pocket Leggings in Plum, size Large

Girlfriend Collective Leggings Review

That being said, my favorite activewear from Girlfriend Collective is the leggings. If you're like me, someone with soft curves who has a lot of that curvature in her lower belly and bum, you may find that a lot of leggings slide down, roll down, or just do the kind of things leggings do when they're not made to accommodate a body like mine.

It's not my problem, there is nothing wrong with my body, and Girlfriend Collective gets that by making leggings that work with, not against, a body with curves. But what makes Girlfriend Collective leggings so great is they also fit well on those with fewer curves, or curves in different places.

Girlfriend Collective Topanga Bra review large bust
Wearing the Girlfriend Collective High Rise Compression Legging in Large and 23 3/4″ inseam and the Girlfriend Collective Topanga Bra in XL.

They're durable, they pass the squat test, they're high rise on me but not so high rise that I can tuck them into my sports bra. Do note that while Girlfriend Collective offers their leggings in three lengths, they do not offer petite or tall cuts. As a 5'3″ woman I find the 23 3/4″ length a great full-length legging on me, but the waist is at a not-quite-perfect height which causes them to sometimes roll down a bit.

Girlfriend Collective Sports Bra Review

The models for Girlfriend Collective are so good. Girlfriend Collective does a great job of showing diversity, with models in a range of sizes, heights, genders, races, and abilities. This makes me feel like this 40-something mom can also look fabulous in their apparel… and it makes me think I can rock one of their bras.

Girlfriend Collective Dylan Bra review large bust
The Girlfriend Collective bras do not offer enough support or coverage for my over-40 large bust but they make a gorgeous matched set over a second more supportive sports bra.

Nope. The difference between me and a Girlfriend Collective model is about 20 years and that age difference, in my opinion, is most seen in the bust.

I am a 36 F. I have been a size 2 and a size 16 as an adult and continue to fluctuate, I nursed my child for over two years, and I am 46 years old. And I went from doing no fitness to weight training five days a week for two years and then switching to cycling and yoga. Put all that together and the elasticity on my breasts and other parts of my torso has declined.

My sports bra doesn't need to have my breasts to my chin, but without enough support and coverage, I will have breasts spilling into my armpits, out of a neckline, and the whole bra will be stretched down to almost my belly button after one jumping jack.

Girlfriend Collective Topanga Bra review large bust
The back of the Girlfriend Collective Topanga Bra

I considered shooting this bra with another bra underneath, as I did with the photos of me in teal (the teal look above is from a 2020 shoot). But I wanted to show what this bra really does on its own so you can get a better gauge for your body and needs.

The bras are made of multiple layers so you get support and compression just from that fact, but I have now tried every style of bra from Girlfriend Collective and none of them are made for my body. They may be for you, and they do look beautiful paired with matching Girlfriend Collective bottoms, whether alone or over another sports bra.

Girlfriend Collective Activewear Color Range

Girlfriend carries an amazing range of apparel – shorts, skorts, unitards, sweats, fleeces, outerwear, and more. I have a feeling I'd like them… but I just can't deal with the colors currently available.

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Back when Girlfriend Collective offered a riot color

Girlfriend Collective initially caught my eye because they had such gorgeous colors which aren't readily available in quality plus-size activewear. However, in the past year, Girlfriend Collective's color selection has changed and was one of the inspirations for my blog post about all the bland colors featured at retailers.

Girlfriend Collective leggings review
Wearing Girlfriend Collective in the color Moss

When looking for a new set of Girlfriend Collective this year, I struggled with the colors available. The most cheerful colors I could find were Moss and Plum (see my Allbirds review to see Girlfriend Collective leggings in Plum). They are dreamy and very on-trend, but for a color lover, not the energy I desire for my fitness routine or my wardrobe.

Girlfriend Collective Belt Bag

While I have belt bags from other brands, I find with a 33″/size 14 waist I don't have a lot of strap leftover. I was happy to see that Girlfriend Collective added a belt bag to their collection.

Available in five colors, the Girlfriend Collective belt bag has a 56 1/2″ long adjustable strap so it will work for more bodies, while also making the bag more versatile (can be a crossbody or shoulder bag).

tips on styling a jumpsuit

The bag is nice. While it's not a stylized and polished as others I own, it is subtle, a good size, and well designed with plenty of pockets. It is also water-resistant and made from recycled plastic bottles!

The zippers are sturdy, the pocket placement makes it easy to access anything even with one hand. The only issue is the loop that holds the excess strap against the waistband is a little loose and IMO a bit too narrow so the excess moves around and sometimes hangs out/down like a tail. However, for the size, strap length, design, and sustainability aspect it's not a dealbreaker and this bag is used regularly by me.

Is Girlfriend Collective Activewear for Women over 40?

Woman in blue sports bra and leggings posing for the camera

If you have been curious about Girlfriend Collective they're worth a try, no matter your size and no matter your age. Just be aware that they are on the thicker side, and their bras, especially if you have a C or larger bust, are for fashion, not for function. Also keep in mind that while their leggings come in lengths, they are not cut petite or tall.

Their collection is well made, sustainable, and of-the-moment colors and silhouettes. I am a fan, Girlfriend Collective, and I hope next season you add a few pops of cheer to your current color palette!

9 Comments

  1. Liz
    May 16, 2021 / 6:18 am

    I’m only twenty-six but the bras don’t work for me either. I’m a 38 F and the band is SO loose but I’m spilling out the sides of the cups. I still own a Paloma bra that I wear occasionally under things (or over another less pretty bra) because it’s such a pretty color, but it has almost no support and I find it hurts my neck after about an hour of wear. It makes a good sleep bra if I’m camping or something like that, but otherwise it doesn’t work at all. It’s too bad because it’s gorgeous/high quality and I love what GC stand for.

  2. Jax
    March 4, 2021 / 12:34 am

    I’ve been interested in the Girlfriend Collective leggings because of their sustainability, though the price point is higher than my usual Old Navy purchases. I know ON is considered fast fashion, but I have now been using many of my leggings for 5+ years now, so I think I’m getting a good sustainability record via average use. Funnily enough, the older leggings are holding up far better than the newer ones. The other deterrent to trying GC was the lack of petite sizes. However, I see now that the mid-rise compressive comes in both 28.5″ and 23 3/4″ (funny that they did both decimals and fractions there), so I would definitely pick the 23 3/4″. I also like that their leggings don’t look as shiny/plasticky as many other workout leggings. When they were still available, I used to buy the ON or Gap leggings with a hefty amount of thick cotton mixed in with the synthetic. Just found them more breathable, yet nice and warm.
    Re: the color ways, I’m actually a fan! I love their colors — perfect for my color palette and my style preference (I tend to wear warm, muted colors more befitting a dark or deep autumn, or else, some of the darker jewel colors for a dark winter). These are the colors I wish I could see more of in other brands. BTW, the moss looks fantastic against your skin and hair. I love brunettes in green. In fact, your pictures of the moss look more enticing that GC’s own pics of moss. Guess, I like that dark backdrop.
    Thank you for reviewing and modeling the belt bag! I’ve been thinking of getting it for a while and I’m actually quite torn on the colors — thorn, fawn and slate. Love what you’re saying about the belt length.

    Re: the bra, wondering, if it might be an ok lounge/work-from-home/yoga bra, even if it definitely doesn’t work as a sports bra for C-and-up cups?

    Also random rant, but while I love their picture galleries, I hate their site’s UX — esp. how you can’t scroll down the left menu nav bar to see more legging and other product categories until most of the legging products in the grid have been swiped up.

    • Jamie
      March 4, 2021 / 8:15 pm

      I am around 36GG these days – I have tried on a few bras – and they all just sucked! Basically since they are assuming a less busty person for the fit model, you are kinda just squished out to the side. You may not even find a size that gives you enough coverage and support in the band. I was spilling over, but a larger size would have been too loose in the band. It is a a hard fit. I tried on some of the longer ones and various high and low strap configurations. Nothing worked really, and it made me feel like my breasts were in the way since they became so splayed in the bra.

  3. Chloe
    March 3, 2021 / 10:22 pm

    I got the Topanga in moss as well because it’s just gorgeous and with the pandemic, I don’t wear underwires all the time anymore. Also in my 40s, I was either nursing or pregnant for 7(!) years at some point and normally wear a size 32F.

    No go. While the band fits fine, the bra managed to thoroughly flatten my breasts into a uniboob with a large helping of side boob spillage. I don’t have time for that, I gave it to one of my kids.

    I wanted to like it but it wasn’t meant to be.

  4. Joy Anzalone
    March 3, 2021 / 10:13 pm

    Great and detailed review! I have a few pairs of their original leggings. You’ve inspired me to look at their additional offerings. I love the sustainability.

    • Jax
      March 4, 2021 / 12:38 am

      How long do their leggings generally last?

      • Joy
        March 4, 2021 / 11:02 pm

        I’ve had mine for several years and they still look new. No fading, no pilling.

        • Jax
          March 6, 2021 / 3:44 pm

          Thanks!

  5. Linda B
    March 3, 2021 / 9:19 am

    I have been a Girlfriend Collective customer since their start (when you could get a trial pair of leggings for $20!) I am still loving and wearing those original black leggings , ever since they arrived in December of 2016–they have worn like iron! And unlike iron, they are so incredibly comfortable. I wear them for walking, running and some hiking. Like you, Allie, I find they are too thick to be comfortable in warm weather, but then I switch to lighter weight leggings or shorts.

    I will note that I have had great success also with the Girlfriend Collective Paloma bra, but I am only a B cup, though as a 63 year old woman, my slightly sagging “girls” need more support than they used to, lol. But the compressive fabric works for small breasted women like me.

    Lastly, I agree with you about some of their new colorways–not my cup of tea. But I love some of the earth tones.

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