Updating My Fitness Wardrobe for the New Year

Woman in blue sports bra and leggings posing for the camera

As I shared on Instagram, new year same me.  I have no goals to be a different person in 2020, but continue good habits I've already adopted and each day look for a way to be a bit better than the day prior.  I am continuing to go to the gym almost every weekday morning.  My personal trainer focuses on weight training as my ultimate goal from the sessions is to be strong and keep this body comfortable and functioning.  My usual gym attire is a pair of leggings, a tank or t-shirt, and sneakers.  While I don't make New Year's goals for fitness, I do like to start the year off fresh with some well-fitting, high-performing activewear.  In partnership with Nordstrom, I'm sharing recent purchases I made from one of my favorite retailers to update my fitness wardrobe for the new year.

This post is sponsored by Nordstrom

girlfriend collective 3

I've been hearing about Girlfriend Collective, a line of ethically made activewear, for a while.  I like that the brand offers sizes XXS – 6XL, that their clothing is made from recycled materials like fishing nets and post-consumer water bottles, and that they have transparent fair-pay manufacturing.  I also love the color range and that every color is available in every size. When I see a smaller brand like this at Nordstrom, I feel better about them, knowing one of my favorite retailers sees them as a good partner.  I feel more secure making a first purchase from Nordstrom as I know and trust their shipping and return policies and if I fall in love I often then head to the brand site to see what else is available.  Nordstrom offers a base selection of Girlfriend Collective – two styles of sports bras, three pairs of leggings (one maternity), a pair of bike shorts, and a unitard. I ordered the Paloma Sports Bra thinking it would look great over a functional large-bust sports bra and ordered the matching High Waist 7/8 Leggings as on my 5'3″ self 7/8 leggings are full length.  

over 40 fitness 3

The quality is good, the fit is good.  The bra is multi-layered for modesty and mild support.  However, even with the 7/8 leggings I found them a bit long.  But the fabric is great, I love the extensive size range and the extensive color range. This is the color “Olympia” which I liked the look of with my predominately black activewear wardrobe but also a color that would look great with purple, berry, teal, apple green, gray, and more. 

dagne dover 3

My favorite gym bag is actually a hip bag.  I don't shower at the gym, so all I have with me is a small wallet, earbuds, lip balm, keys, and my lifting gloves.  And going through my archives you know I love the Dagne Dover Ace Fanny Pack.  It's just the right size, lightweight, it's easy to clean, and has a few pockets to help keep things organized.  I can sling it over the handle of the elliptical, wear it in front or back, and often carry it over one shoulder like a traditional purse. Nordstrom has a small selection of the most popular Dagne Dover bags available on their site.

Last January, I purchased a sports bra by Freya at Nordstrom and loved it for the gym.  In fact it's the bra I'm wearing above with the Girlfriend Collective set! I like a sports bra that separates, lifts, but still looks enough like a traditional sports bra that I can wear it alone or with a loose tank and not look undressed.  I also like one with a bit of padding to provide modesty/reduces “headlights.” The one from Freya ticked off all the boxes for me.  I know many of you said you didn't like it as much and I think it's because my workout is relatively low impact.  I do some jogging on the treadmill but in one-minute spurts followed by a minute of brisk walking, I'll do the elliptical, but everything else is walking, hiking, or weight lifting.  I liked it so much, I went back to Nordstrom to buy another and found it was discontinued.  So this month I ordered every sports bra made for large busts available at Nordstrom that fit at least some of my criteria to find a great replacement.  What I ordered:

  • Elomi ‘Energise' Sports Bra: I went with my usual 36 F size, not sure if it would work as I haven't tried Elomi bras for a couple of years. This bra was described as having high-impact support and a compressive fit ideal for running and cross-training. This bra receives great reviews and from my experience, these women are built very differently from me.  This bra didn't account for the fact that my breasts begin practically under my arms causing underarm spillage and breasts being molded into a shape different from what I have.  This seems to be a great bra for high-impact sports but if it doesn't fit know it's not you, it's the bra's shape.
  • New Balance ‘Breakthrough' High Impact Sports Bra: Wow, I couldn't even get this one on, it was so into compression.  If I was a runner, I'd consider going through contortions to get it on, but I know I don't need so much for my workouts so I didn't continue.
  • Wacoal High Impact Underwire Sports Bra: I cheated a bit with this one as I already own this bra in a different color from a different season.  It fits great, it defines my shape, it's comfortable, it launders well, and I have felt confident enough to remove my tank and wear just this as the gym. The only problem with it is that it lacks padding and I get full “highlights” if it's cold.  But this is a great bra and gets rave reviews from other Nordstrom customers that feel the same way.
  • Wacoal Underwire Sports Bra: This is another bra I've owned and worn quite a lot.  I liked it, but not as much as Wacoal's high-impact option.  This would be a great everyday bra for those who find bras to chafe or be uncomfortable as it lifts and separates and has a smooth finish.  My two issues with it is the lack of padding for the “headlights” issue, and the strap adjustment.  The straps are adjusted with a hook that slips into a loop.  I have had more than once a hook slip out of a hoop mid-workout or disconnect when trying to put the bra on.  However, the rave reviews make me think I'm in the minority with my feelings.
  • Freya Dynamic Wireless Soft Cup Sports Bra:  Do you remember the bras your mom or grandma wore that were pieced together satin that were a bit lumpy and visible under clothing?  This bra reminds me of them.  I could see every single seam through my gym tanks and the bra gave me what I felt to be an unnatural shape.  However, it was very comfortable especially for all the compression and support it provides and think it would be a good choice for those who do high-impact activities and have a larger bust.
  • Freya ‘Sonic' Underwire Sports Bra: Winner winner chicken dinner! 

large bust sports bra 3

This is the Freya ‘Sonic' bra in Coral.  If you prefer a subtler color, it also comes in a dark gray. This bra has everything I was looking for.  It looks cute on its own, it lifts and separates, and it has a bit of padding for modesty.  I've worn it for weight training, hiking, and the elliptical and it washed up just fine. Reading the reviews on Nordstrom, I am not the only fan and some say it's so comfy they like it as their everyday bra! I have washed the bra five times prior to this shoot; it has held up well and done me well.

freya sports bra 3

While my old Freya bra I liked with standard straps, I find this Freya bra much more supportive and comfortable using the built-in hooks to turn it into a racerback bra.  t has a hook on the back straps to turn it into a racerback bra which not only keeps the straps from peeking out of my activewear, it offers more support and stops straps from slipping during certain workouts. Some reviews say it's hard to clasp it into a racerback; I clip it a bit higher up but I've also clipped it before putting it on making it easier, especially if you want the connection closer to your shoulder blades.  The black leggings I'm wearing are the Zella Live-in Leggings (link for plus sizes). As for the sneakers, they are Asics GT-2000.  I also got them from Nordstrom but last year; these look to be the current version of them.  They have great arch support and foot support in general.  While I've worn them to the gym, I also wear them on long walks because they keep my feet happy even after many miles!

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29 Comments

  1. Zaeobu
    February 25, 2020 / 9:30 am

    I wish I could be back at the gym again! Unfortunately the Coronavirus means having to stay indoors & away from crowds (especially sweaty ones not wearing masks, like at the gym!) but maybe I should treat myself to new fitness gear for my home workouts? Here’s to trying to stay fit & healthy even in self-imposed quarantine, lol!

  2. Linda B
    February 3, 2020 / 9:39 am

    I have loved my Girlfriend Collective pieces this past few years. I got my original black leggings when they did their introductory campaign–for a mere $20 for shipping and handling. I later ordered a pair of teal colored capris, and a Paloma bra. I wear all of these pieces constantly, and probably would be happy to order more. The fabric is both compressive and yet so soft and comfy!

    For other’s information, I am fairly small busted and I can even run with the support of the Paloma bra without another bra underneath. I can totally imagine if one had bigger breasts, this would not be possible.

  3. Allison
    January 30, 2020 / 7:03 pm

    Any thoughts on doing a FB poll on “headlights”? I’m trying to be open to this, Jennifer Anniston rocks this look. Can the rest of us?

    • Allison again
      January 30, 2020 / 7:20 pm

      Maybe like do headlights

      At work yes/no
      At the gym yes/no
      Date night yes/no
      Girls night out yes/no
      Weekend brunch yes/no
      Other scenario?

      • Sonia
        February 9, 2020 / 12:58 pm

        For me, because my nipples are very prominent and I have large breasts, the answer is no, no, no, no, no and NO! At the gym, the look eventually goes away during a good sweaty workout, but in the office, it’s always inappropriate. It’s distracting to both my male and female coworkers. I have even resorted to carrying nipple covers in my gym backpack and work backpack just in case of an emergency. I’d love to hear your opinion on this, Allie. Thank you.

      • Zaeobi
        February 25, 2020 / 9:24 am

        Yes please! I also ‘suffer’ from this, in that even my husband will tell me to cover up with a scarf if we’re going for a quick walk outside & I’m still wearing a pyjamas top. Makes me sad because I love to be bra free (because I thankfully am not big chested enough to get back pains from them) but I feel like people in East Asia in particular will judge you for having breasts (V neck tops that I see people wearing in the west for work would be scandalous here – unless you’re lucky enough to have no cleavage line in one).

        Anyway, slight tangent but I really need to find some good nipple pasties in the meanwhile!

  4. Bette
    January 30, 2020 / 4:40 pm

    The Freya bras have one of my pet peeves — soft, wide, cushioned straps on the front of the bra, but that end as they go over your shoulder and turn into skinny, non-supportive, uncomfortable straps. What a ridiculous design. The soft, wide part needs to go over your shoulders!

    I don’t understand the Wacoal sizing. Why are the bras called 36D, 36DD, and 36DDD, rather than 36D, 36E, and 36F? Is a 36DDD a 36F? If so, why don’t they just all it that??

  5. Gayle Fish
    January 30, 2020 / 2:59 pm

    How tall are you? I am short but I like longer pants – if I buy mid-calf length, they often fit to my ankle which works fine.

    • January 30, 2020 / 3:00 pm

      I’m 5’3″ and usually need petite for pants.

  6. JC
    January 30, 2020 / 2:03 pm

    Thank you for the post.

    For the Freya bra, “it’s hard to clasp it into a racerback; I clip it a bit higher up but I’ve also clipped it before putting it on…” How? Do you clip the bra into a racerback, put your head through the resulting hole, then when the bra is on adjust your girls, clasp the band and then adjust the straps again? Please describe how you put it on and take it off.

    My girls and I have tried convertible racerback bras. We don’t like them because we feel like contortionists trying to put them on. It would be embarrassing if anyone ever saw us. I always need supportive sports bras. If taking off a Freya bra is not difficult or uncomfortable I may make a purchase. Thanks

    • January 30, 2020 / 2:07 pm

      Yep, I clip it as a racerback and then put my head through the resulting hole. And the same when I remove it. I can NOT do this with my previous Freya bra, it wasn’t stretchy enough and I’d pull a muscle or practically tear off a breast trying to get it on! But this one, it works.

  7. Alyssa Novak Jones
    January 30, 2020 / 11:45 am

    I have the girlfriend collective leggings too from their social media campaign and they are one of my favorite pairs!

    • January 30, 2020 / 2:07 pm

      I am highly impressed! And they have an even larger size range on their website! So great!

      • Jax
        January 30, 2020 / 8:46 pm

        How was the fabric great, btw?
        I like the feel of high cotton content leggings (the almost brushed cotton feel) for low impact activities. But it’s difficult to find now.

        Thanks for the detailed rundown on sports bras. I’ve liked the Brooks medium and high impact wireless bras and also the wired Wacoal bras.

  8. margaret
    January 30, 2020 / 11:44 am

    what size did you get in the girlfriend collective leggings? I love them!

  9. joannawnyc
    January 30, 2020 / 10:37 am

    I have a discontinued colorway of that Freya bra and love it! I also have Girlfriend Collective leggings when they did the free pair offer through social media. I should get another pair!

    • January 30, 2020 / 2:09 pm

      I love how they switch up some of the colors each season so there’s always something new!

  10. Lynn Nielson
    January 30, 2020 / 10:31 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for keeping it real, not using Photoshop, and creating body positive posts! Kudos to you!

  11. Anne
    January 30, 2020 / 10:13 am

    In regards to the comment above, do you have any recommendations for good moisture-wicking underwear?? I don’t love what I’m currently wearing but am having a hard time finding a decent replacement.

    Also, just wanted to pop in to say how much I love seeing posts like this. It’s so refreshing to see a real woman who looks more “like me” modeling workout clothes and sports bras. You’re doing such a great job at promoting body positivity, strength and fitness with these posts 🙂

    • January 30, 2020 / 2:13 pm

      My favorite are the Fruit of the Loom Breathables. They’re not cute but they don’t ride, don’t show over my leggings, and kept me swamp-free even at a music festival in June: https://amzn.to/2S1Dk3A

      For a lighterweight pair that isn’t so bad with the panty lines, their CoolBlend ones are good. I just haven’t found a pair that is the perfect rise for me, they’re too high or too low for my belly but I don’t mind them under tight leggings https://amzn.to/2S2L0Cz

    • Zaeobi
      February 25, 2020 / 9:28 am

      I’ve honestly resorted to men’s underwear for my workouts – I buy the ‘tighter’ fitting shorts (so they’re longer like boxer shorts but are similar texture to tighty whiteys without being too constricting) & I find them to do the job well. I bought mine from a local shop but you may have similar luck with the men’s offerings in your area – they’re usually much more practical without giving VPL. Good luck!

  12. Elizabeth
    January 30, 2020 / 9:24 am

    I also upped my workout wardrobe to start 2020 and I am obsessed with Day Won! Produced in NY to order (so no waste from extra inventory), size inclusive, and so darn cute. The one downside is slow production and shipping but great customer service via email, so overall I highly recommend.

    • January 30, 2020 / 2:14 pm

      I keep hearing about this brand, I need to try it!

  13. Briana Ruhl
    January 30, 2020 / 8:52 am

    I bought the other Freya bra on your recommendation last year and it’s my Go To. As I’m in the market for a new one now (this review couldn’t be more timely), I’m planning to try the Freya Sonic. I do have fitness goals for 2020 – to develop better habits and focus on my own health. I’m planning to get a Dagne Dover backpack (again based on your recommendation and will use your link to shop) as my “reward” for keeping up my routine with a trainer through Q1. It may have taken me over a year, but your honesty about your health journey has truly inspired me. Thanks, as always, Alison!

    • January 30, 2020 / 2:14 pm

      My pleasure and my best to you with your fitness goals, Briana!

  14. Ann Marie
    January 30, 2020 / 7:22 am

    Note that one downside to colored pants, like blue pants, is that it shows crotch and butt sweat stains. That is why I stick to black. But otherwise they are cute!

    • January 30, 2020 / 8:27 am

      Oh my gosh yes the sweat is real! I only wear black when I’m doing a cardio day or leg day! Also three cheers for moisture-wicking skivvies!

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