The best workout clothes are first and foremost ultralight, comfortable, and wick sweat like it's their job (because it is). But they don’t have to look like an astronauts undergarments or a bland military unit. “Athleisure” lines — clothing that functions like performance wear but follows style trends — are on the rise and the choices can be overwhelming. Here are four companies that are doing it best.
Our Favorite in Fit: RYU
RYU Apparel is a one-stop shop for almost everything you need to get you to and from the gym. Perfect to complement your running or CrossFit routine, the Everywear Jogger (above, $125) is made with tough, dense knit nylon fiber that withstands almost any abrasion, from weights at the gym to tree branches on the trail. With 30 percent lycra and strategically designed gussets, the tailored pants are engineered to move wherever you go. Plus, they look good enough to wear around town. RYU offers backpacks, too: the Quick Pack Lux 1.1 ($185) is meant to function like a mobile locker, designed to fit a laptop, plus work stuff and gym gear. The drop-front opening makes for easy access, a top-locker loop makes it easy to hang, and the leather straps keep you street-style ready.
Our Favorite in Technology: Rhone
We’ve talked a lot about Rhone, calling them the “best commuter pants for cyclists.” GoldFusion is the company’s groundbreaking technology of fusing gold particles into high-performance fabrics, which reduces the surface tension of water on clothing. The result is a softer, safer, faster-drying garment, which allows you to get as sweaty as you want at the gym or on your commute while still staying fresh. It stands the test of time, too: the technology stays true for up to 100 washes. For a full kit, try the Commuter Pant ($129) made with Japanese stretch fabric, or the phase 8-inch lined shorts (above, $68), a cross-training short with ample ventilation and GoldFusion compression — they’re anti-odor, sweat-wicking, and quick drying. Pair them with the lightweight, moisture-wicking sentry short sleeve ($68) for a city-approved, gym-ready kit.
Our Favorite in Sustainability: Nau
Hemp, organic cotton, and recycled polyester are just a few of the sustainable fabrics making their way into Nau’s products, and the brand’s Tencel Sun line is ideal for urban athletes. The collection employs fully recycled eucalyptus from sustainably managed forests, and combines UV-blocking functionality with materials like merino wool for increased functionality in odor control, breathability, and drying time. Try the S/S Wander T-Shirt ($60 at Shoes.com), a minimalist tee as classic as it is breathable. Nice enough to wear to work and built with stretch to wear to the gym or on a post-grind jog, this will be your go-to shirt when you don’t feel like hauling extra gear to the office. During the colder fall months, toss on the Urbane Jacket (above, $206 at Shoes.com), a two-layered outer shell that’s waterproof and made of breathable organic cotton. Plus, with every purchase, Nau gives back 2 percent of the sale to one of its partner charities.
Our Favorite All Around: Outdoor Voices
With cult followings in cities like Austin, Denver, and New York City, Outdoor Voices delivers in every aspect, be it functionality, fit, or style. Founded by entrepreneur and Colorado native Tyler Haney, the technical apparel brand is bringing a lightheartedness to athletics. Meaning, you don’t have to be a TRX master or a die-hard marathoner to enjoy the products — it’s more about the joy of doing virtually anything active. With a line made for everywhere you sweat (and even for places you don’t), the collection is focused on interchangeable layers that outlast seasonality, featuring textured compression and fabrics like soft mossed jersey, stretch crepe, and light polyester. For a laid-back Friday office fit, try the Stretch Crepe Runningman Pant (above, $120). With a crisp, clean look complemented by a relaxed fit and four-way stretch, you’re work-out ready — no change required. Pair it with a Merino Tee ($75), and toss on the Printed Forward Jacket ($125 at Spring) in navy confetti in the colder months.