I'm Fussy About Workout Clothes, But These 13 Legging-and-Top Sets Are Great

Whether you fancy yourself as a bit of a sporty spice, work from home or are a new mum and (like me) love the support you get from a pair of high-waisted leggings, activewear has been taking up a large chunk of space in our wardrobes for some time now, even long before COVID-related lockdowns began.

This has meant an increase in the number of brands designing activewear and a wider variety of styles. Long gone are the days of purely functional workout clothes with unflattering seams and eye-watering prints. The rise of stylish athleisure brands means replacing our favourite jeans with a pair of leggings has become the norm. There has also been a huge rise in eco-friendly brands investing in innovative manufacturing processes and fabrics as we all grow more aware of what we wear and how its made. So how do you know which sets are right for you?

I tried on some of the most popular activewear brands available right now, so read on to find out how they fit and what activities they are best to wear for.

1. FREE PEOPLE'S FP MOVEMENT

leggings sets: Free People

Photo:

Lily Russo-Bah / WHO WHAT WEAR

I’ve been meaning to try Free People's activewear for a while now, as I’m always drawn to its extensive offering of brights. Wearing sunny shades always put a spring in my step. As expected, its knitted fabrics have the comfort and ample stretch a regular yogi would need. It’s sold as a bundle of three, including a pair of cycling shorts too, but you can mix and match by buying the pieces separately.

2. GIRLFRIEND COLLECTIVE

leggings sets: Girlfriend Collective

Photo:

Lily Russo-Bah / WHO WHAT WEAR

Girlfriend is hands down my favourite activewear brand right now, and I always recommend it to my friends. For me, it ticks all the boxes: compressive yet breathable fabrics, high-waisted leggings in various lengths that don’t fall down and a full range of inclusive sizing. The pieces are made from recycled plastic bottles and come in a variety of colours, from classic back to softer shades, and its style range is ever-growing. Are you sold?

3. MARYSIA

leggings sets: Marysia

Photo:

Lily Russo-Bah / WHO WHAT WEAR

You will probably be familiar with Marysia swimwear, and it's no surprise given the brand’s dedicated customer following that it has now added cute tennis dresses and leggings to its offering. Using the same fabric as the swimwear, the racerback sport bra holds well, and the leggings have pockets to hold tennis balls for any pros out there. I’m no tennis expert, but these are definitely the elevated activewear pieces I would choose to take me from the Pilates mat to lunch with my friends. Just add some white trainers and a sweatshirt à la Lady Di circa 1992. 

4. SWEATY BETTY

leggings sets: Sweaty Betty

Photo:

Lily Russo-Bah / WHO WHAT WEAR

If you’re new to the activewear scene and the thought of wearing Lycra out of the house doesn’t fill you with excitement, this set is the perfect way to opt for a print without going for anything too shouty. The navy-and-black camo print is fun without being too in your face, and this longer-line sports bra is actually one of my favourites. You get the same support as a sports bra without the fuss of buying a top to go over it too. 

5. WAT THE BRAND

leggings sets: WAT the brand

Photo:

Lily Russo-Bah / WHO WHAT WEAR

Philippa and Sarah of We Are Twinset recently launched their own clothing line that includes activewear sets. As two busy working mums, they have created stylish activewear in muted shades that easily work their way into your daily wardrobe when you’re on the go. The fabric they have chosen is super soft, despite the sports bra being incredibly supportive. If you like Lululemon leggings with the comfort of the wide-panel waistband, then this is the set for you. 

6. ALEXANDRA MIRO

leggings sets:  Alexandra Miro

Photo:

Lily Russo-Bah / WHO WHAT WEAR

London-based Alexandra Miro is fast becoming one of the jet set’s favourite resortwear labels, so I was interested to try her new activewear sets. Using her signature colour-block panelling that creates a super-flattering optical illusion, this set is perfect for low-impact activities such as Pilates or if you’re looking for daily comfort without compromising on style. 

7. DEBENHAMS

leggings sets: Debenhams

Photo:

Lily Russo-Bah / WHO WHAT WEAR

Debenhams recently launched its own affordable activewear, and it’s great if you’re looking to enhance your curves or add some shape to more athletic figures. The low-impact bra is perfect if you prefer not to feel too restricted when doing weights or an ab workout at home. 

Shop more matching activewear sets…

8. PANGAIA

The cult leisurewear brand known worldwide for its colourful tracksuits has created an eco-friendly activewear range made from caster oil, believe it or not. The nylon used is a non-food crop that doesn’t disrupt the food chain or the environment. 

The fabric is super breathable and coated in BioWick, which is a plant-based treatment that helps absorb sweat with peppermint oil to keep you smelling fresh too. Pretty neat and perfect for days you don’t want to get changed out of your sports gear.

9. M&S

It was recently reported that Marks and Spencer sells 1.6 million items of activewear a year, including 500 pairs of its Go Move leggings a month. 

With a great selection of affordable tops and leggings, it even caters for pregnancy bumps and a size range up to UK 24 but also has my favourite long-sleeve crop tops that are very flattering and sit nicely over high-waisted leggings too. 

10. ADANOLA

Andanola’s cool and understated sweats and baseball caps are an influencer favourite, and its activewear is pretty good too.

These leggings feature seamless edging that moves with you and super-soft fabric perfect for early morning yoga classes, or you can throw on the matching hoodie for the school run. The brand’s muted colour palette easily works its way into your wardrobe too.

11. EYO

I love the one-shoulder detail too, which makes a nice change from the classic racerback style. 

British activewear label EYO is one of a host of new brands putting sustainability at the forefront of its designs. Using regenerated nylon made with plastic waste rescued from the ocean, biodegradable packaging and transparency over where its garments are made, this is definitely a brand to make you feel good from the inside out.

12. BEACH RIOT

This Beach Riot set is one of its signature activewear designs that it produces every season in different colours and prints.

The twist-front crop top adds a rare touch of detail to the typical sports bra shapes and works well on smaller and larger busts alike (I recently spotted my favourite, Tracee Ellis Ross, looking fantastic in Beach Riot) and is great if you’re looking for fun prints and brights. 

13. OH POLLY

Now, Bo+Tee is the sportswear division of cult online retailer Oh Polly. I tried its leggings back during the first COVID lockdown, as I was looking for more colourful and higher-waisted activewear, and I became hooked. 

They’re all about contouring, so there’s no hiding in its signature knitted leggings, but they’re super compressive, high-waisted and by far one of the most comfortable and supportive sets I own.  

Next up, Lily's edit of classic items you'll love forever.

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