Free People Fit. It’s a thing.

Hey.

So. Free People. They’re part of the Urban Outfitters / Anthropologie / BHLDN world. I used to think it was “overpriced boho festival wear that only looks good on skeletons.” Then when I was pregnant, I found their trapeze tops and duster-length cardigans to be quite useful. I pretty much only wore three things, and all three things were from Free People. So I’m no longer a hater. Of course, I only pay attention to like 5% of what they make. But still. If you’ve got something for me, I’m “for” you.

And now they have a fitness fashion line, so obviously, we’re checking that out immediately:

FP Fit = Free People’s fitness line

First thing I notice is this. The Shredded Tee. 1. Because it’s the big trapeze shape I know them for, and 2. Because I can shred my own damn tee shirt. And have. Also, a shirt that shredded is immediately going to get caught in your cardio machine, but whatever. Style points.

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These Turnout Leggings seem to be their iconic item. Pretty in the ballet-type colors. How those laces stay in place when you move…? I dunno.20150917105017

BTW, I love the New Balances in this shot. They have some great new colorways this season. So, props to Free People’s buyer for snapping up some good ones. More on those later.

Now: haterade.

36957264_001_aIf you can workout in this, you can also kiss my ass.

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And this? The “Be More” Knotted Tee? Tee hee. All I see is “Be more…skinny! Be more! But take up less space.” Shut up, $48 tee shirt that can’t be worn without baring abs. Go away now. Buh Bye.

$28 tiny fanny pack. Hilarious.

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And this is the best.

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I shit you not, they’re selling this as a $16 HAIR TIE HOLDER. Sorry, Hair Tie Travel Pod. Yes. When wrists, pockets, and pretty much anything that holds anything doesn’t work anymore, HAIR TIE TRAVEL POD to the rescue. You know what the problem with hair ties is? They take up no space and you can carry them everywhere without carrying anything. Terrible!  Finally. Free People brings you a way to make something that is so small, light, and wearable that it’s practically not an actual physical thing, take up space and have to be placed IN a THING that you have to place in another thing. I fucking love those ballsy assholes over there. Hoo! Always good for a laugh. They make my day.

Pretend Shopping Spree: Olympia Activewear

Olympia Activewear: the coolest sports bras in town by a San Francisco-based designer. Good job, Ms. Kaili Lickle.

Let’s pretend for a second that my boobs aren’t “I have a baby”-sized. And while we’re at it, let’s pretend that my ass isn’t “I have a new baby”-sized either. Here’s what I’d love to wear from Olympia.

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Tough, hardcore and beautiful. Perfect.

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Sporty with a sophisticated softness. Perfect.

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Awesome details on the waistbands and knees.

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Perfect proportions on the trim of the shorts and where the calf fabric starts on the leggings.

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And then this is actually something I could wear IRL.

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Also, cute headband. 🙂

Love love love the Olympia.

Calia by Carrie Underwood

Hey, Aimee, have you heard of Calia by Carrie Underwood?

Yes, of course I have! I pretend-shop for all the workout clothes all the time. Duh. But I haven’t written about it yet because 1. I’ve been busy with the newborn and 2. I checked it out a while back and my take was “Eh. It’s ok. But I’ve seen it all before.” However, it is sort of a big deal: it’s lovely-ish fitness stuff that’s more affordable than Lulu and very accessible. So OK. Fine, Carrie Underwood. Here you go.

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Get it, girl.

Calia by Carrie is a fitness apparel line by Carrie Underwood for Dick’s Sporting Goods. Dick’s is like Sports Authority but nicer. Carrie Underwood is known for American Idol, songs about Jesus and slashing tires, big blonde hair, lots of eye makeup, and really great legs.60553794cd84a631a91fc7988c66827a carrie_underwood2 carrie-underwood-300

She’s a vegetarian and often a vegan. She works out a lot. She tours a lot. (See legs.)  She married some hockey player and just had a baby around the same time I did. And yes, of course, she’s already rocking a mini dress. (LEGS.)

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Post-Baby Carrie

But she’s a celebrity and I’m not, so let’s not compare because I don’t have a staff or a tour or mini dresses to get back into. But lets do be happy that her waist looks (a teeny bit) thicker, as it should, and lets feel better about ourselves (me) that our (my) midsection is still thick four months after baby because 1. I haven’t been able to work out and 2. even Miss Carrie, who can and does, still has it. SWEET!! But lets also give much respect to the legs. THE LEGS. Bless your Barbie-worshiping, singing about Jesus driving metaphorical cars-heart. THE LEGS! Well done, woman.

She built those legs.  She did the “soft teen turns into tiny, ripped, mini-dress rocking super-star” transformation thing that happens a lot with Idol Alumnae (Katharine McPhee, Jennifer Hudson), so I say she is qualified to venture into fitness fashion. And everyone knows country = money, so congratulations, Dick’s Sporting Goods, for jumping on that obvious money train. (Darius Rucker, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, Republicans, etc. etc. etc.)

Calia by Carrie Underwood lives here caliastudio.com and the Dick’s site is here. I have no problem with her #staythepath / work in working out / the gym is where you are-type messaging. Totally authentic to what she does, having to train while touring and all. The ads look nice and the pink wash matches the color pallette of the line. Oh wait, I’m not supposed to be a Creative Director right now, I’m supposed to be a fashion blogger. Sorry, I’m both. Once a MadWoman always a MadWoman.

The Clothes

Calia Tops are $30-50-ish. Sweaters are more like $80. Every single piece is something you can find somewhere else: rouched tanks, cocoon cardigans, batwing sweaters, etc. You know, basic, sort of pretty stuff. Which is why I got that meh feeling back when I first checked it out. It’s nothing innovative. It’s nothing new. It’s just a “you gotta have one of each of these kind of pieces because they sell” kind of a thing. Which is exactly appropriate. I guess. But if I had the opportunity to create a line, I’d want to try and introduce at least one iconic piece that had something interesting or different or risky going on. (Like Stella McCartney for adidas, with the chest straps.) She probably couldn’t, even if she wanted to. Big business. Blah blah blah. But that’s how I feel about it. It’s perfectly safe.

Bottoms are $40ish for shorts, $65ish for tights and capris, and they’re so boring they just put me to sleep scrolling through them. Except these. These are kind of interesting. And props for the proportions and flattering seam-lines and wide waist band (good for muffin tops).

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Calia by Carrie Essential Tight Fit Printed Capris $65

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Calia by Carrie Essential Tight Fit Printed Capris $65

Also, there’s just so much heather grey. I love grey. More than people. But heather grey is the worst color for workout pants because it’s super bump-showy and sweat-showy.

There are also some bras, accessories and panties. The balconette bra is interesting, and the accessories are pretty enough. They’re just not necessary. Does Carrie Underwood need to make a yoga mat and a yoga block and a head band (nay, 5 different kinds of headbands) AND underpants? If I have my branding hat on, I say just do a few new things instead of doing everything. Even if everything is great, it’s too much to absorb right off the bat.

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Calia by Carrie Inner Power Heathered Balconette Bra $41

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Calia by Carrie Inner Power Heathered Balconette Bra $41

That being said, I kind of like the fruit infusion water bottle and would totally try the toeless grip socks for Dailey Method, despite the creepy mannequin foot model. Dailey Method socks always slip off of me. Aaaaand I have tingers. Toeless socks are worth a shot. And shit, two pairs for $10 is great. Imma order some of those right now. Carrie wins again.

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Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 9.22.48 AM Calia by Carrie Fruit Infusion Water Bottle $30 and No-Toe No-Heel Grip Bottom Socks $10 for 2 pairs (!)

Dressing the Fit Bump

WHAT I’VE LEARNED ABOUT BEING PREGNANT, WORKING OUT, AND WHAT TO WEAR

1. Shopping stops being fun.

So, shopping for workout wear is massively less fun when you’re pregnant. There’s no such thing as “man this top makes me feel sleek and powerful.” It’s just “man, I look like a hippo.”

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Couldn’t even zip the damn jacket.

 

2. You’re tired as shit.

Working out when you’re pregnant is massively less fun, also. First trimester I barely did anything because I was so fatigued. I mean, a walk around the block was a win. I’m not kidding. Also, your blood volume increases, which makes you feel instantly like you’ve lost all of your cardiovascular fitness. So while you can still wear your workout clothes, you can’t workout and feel like the laziest piece of shit on earth. Or at least I did.

3. Even if you want to run the whole pregnancy, you might not be able to.

Second trimester, I got my energy back, but my appetite grew. So I’ve just been growing in every way. Working out…eh. I can’t run because it feels like my bladder is going to fall out, and I’m generally pretty lazy. I walk. I’ll do a little Dailey Method. A little lifting. A few 21 day fix videos. Also, I went to spin twice, figuring “hey, no impact, perfect.” One class was fine. But another class, we did a lot of really fast pedaling, which was basically me bouncing (slamming) up and down really fast on a bike seat for an hour. Pretty uncomfortable. Anyway, workout commitment and consistency?…Not even close. Granted, I work from home, so I struggle with structure and routine. You may not be such a worthless slacker.

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This is me after spin.

4. Even though you don’t want to shop, you have to.

As far as workout wear goes: 1st trimester I just bought larger sizes of pants I liked. My Athleta Chaturanga leggings were king. They’re really soft and stretchy, not a compression pant. I also rocked a pair of seamless champion tights that I just bought huge. I didn’t feel comfortable bouncing a ton, so it didn’t matter if they weren’t tight enough to really stay up.

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Athleta Chaturangas.

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Champion seamless yoga capris.

 

 

5. At some point you WILL have to buy maternity pants. And it will change your life. 

So you might think you can save yourself some money buy just buying larger workout pants, that you’ll still need later as you’re coming back down from preggo size. Yeah. You need those. But at some point, that belly is going to grow. And even though pants fit in the butt and legs, they just get more and more uncomfortable on your gut. I went on a road trip in regular jeans before I could bring myself to buy maternity. It was a mistake. I had to lie back with the car seat reclined, pants undone Al Bundy-style, whining the whole time about how I couldn’t breathe. Don’t be vain and stupid like me. Be comfortable and get on with your life.

6. Start with under the belly.

At first you’ll want under-the-belly stuff. These basically have a big elastic waist band and slope down at the front. Very comfortable. I have some jeans and leggings. And I tried the Maternity Straight Up Pant, and Maternity Metro Legging from Athleta. The Straight Up is called that because they’re closer to a straight leg than a bell-bottom yoga style. I didn’t like them because they were tight and compression-y. The Metro Legging is a legging with seams and pockets so it’s styled like a jean. I like them because they’re slightly more pant-like than leggings, but they do tend to slide down when I’m walking.

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Athleta Maternity Straight Up

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Athleta Maternity Metro

 

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Athleta Maternity Metro.

As far as “public pants” go, I found that the J.Crew maternity minnie pants were actually LOWER rise than the regular ones. No bueno. The Old Navy fake Minnie pants (pixie) maternity are a fine substitute. And for anything in the “black stretchy pant” category,Target is fine. I have some Gap and Old Navy maternity jeans. Also fine. You could spend more, but really, you just keep on changing sizes so why? Oh, and Free People is pretty great for big flowy but still edgy-ish tops. I just wear tanks, big cardigans, big flowy tops, and the occasional blazer. I am not a dress person. I am not a baby-doll top person. They look like sad potato sacks and I just won’t go there.

7. Transition to fold over/ full belly. 

Of course I couldn’t be without my Old Navy Yoga Pants, so I ordered those a size bigger, and then quickly realized that that was pointless and ordered the maternity ones. They have a full belly panel. Which I folded over because my gut didn’t quite fill it up yet. (Now it does.) Same thing with full-belly panel jeans. You’ll want to transition, or at least I did, because while I can technically wear the under the belly stuff, my belly looks more like rolls of beer gut when I sit down and it falls over the band. With a full panel, you get a smooth line. And you can fold it to give yourself a “belly band” effect. I might try a belly band with the low panel pants to see if that works too.

As far as full-on, full-panel maternity workout pants go, I have the Chaturanga (great), some Old Navy capris (fine, but not nearly as stretchy and comfy, compression = not fun), and the Old Navy Yoga Pants. Which everyone knows you don’t work out in, (butt sweat), you just wear around the house because you don’t want to wear real pants ever. Speaking of, those fold-over “yoga leggings” that the kids wear as pants (shudder) are SUPER COMFORTABLE for pregnant times. That fold over flap just becomes a belly panel. Thanks, Target! (and no, I do not mean PINK pants. PINK is for little sluts, littler wannabe sluts and old clueless wannabes. You know better. Don’t do it.)

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Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 11.11.43 AM Athleta Full-panel Chaturanga with the fold over trick.

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Old Navy Maternity Compression Capris

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Fold over “yoga” (yeah right) leggings from Target.

 

7. Tops are depressing.

You can totally hide for a while. I just layered tanks and high-low tops and it was totally fine for the first bit. I have been able to wear regular tank tops so far. (I am a pear, though. Apples, maybe not. We get what we get.) But I’m at 26 weeks now, and I don’t think I can really wear my regular ribbed tanks anymore.  I have a stash of maternity tanks (rouched sides, extra material) ready to go. You’d think you’d want to wear baggy tops, but with me it’s kind of the opposite. Because my beloved tunics don’t flow and hide. Now they kind of almost…fit. It’s not a fun feeling.

I bought one new top at LuluLemon  (black friday weekend clearance). The Run Times Tank. They don’t have it on the site anymore. It’s another bra and breezy over-tank kind of a top, but the over-tank has a little more coverage, the bra has wider straps, and a higher neckline, and the bottom of the bra extends down further so only a teeny little bit of rib skin shows. I look like a marshmallow in it. It bums me out. But it will be a cute feminine thing for after baby. Oh, and special fun note on that top in particular: I posted a picture of me in it on instagram, and some really charming fellow who has an instagram account that posts only pictures of women with bubble butts (in thongs, and yoga pants and volleyball shorts) said, and I quote: “hahaha absolutely disgusting. :)” How did he know how I felt? He must be a real empath. Some lucky girl is going to get to marry him. Or some sex doll with a bubble butt will get to marry him. Because apparently that’s all women’s bodies are to him. Parts. Yay internet!

So anyway, to me, tighter tops are less depressing because at least you’re not adding more volume up there. And for your budget, that’s good. Because you only need a few tank tops. And the Breathe tank from Athleta is great.

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Athleta Breathe Tank

 

Speaking of breathing…good luck with that because…

8. You can’t breathe so good. 

My out of breath-ness comes and goes. But blood volume + baby taking up more and more of your body cavity = less lung capacity. It doesn’t feel that way all the time. But…it’s only going to keep getting more crowded in there.

9. Your baby squishes your stomach. So full is REALLY FULL.

And yet, I keep on eating more than I need to, every single time I eat. What’s up with that? Oh yeah, I’m an idiot with a compulsive eating problem. And hormones. Good times.

10. Your boobs get HUGE. And they hurt. Like. Hell. But not all the time.

I never wanted big boobs. My boobs were fine. Neither here nor there. Never bothered me. Now, they’re big, and it has taken some getting used to. I won’t even go from bed to the bathroom without some support. I basically live in bralettes now. My jog bras don’t fit. I bought bigger ones, but they’re still pretty damn uncomfortable. I can’t do bouncy jumpy run-y things anyway, so it doesn’t matter. I don’t need sport-level support. I bought bra band extenders for my real bras. Which kind of work. But I broke down and bought some real bras in the right size yesterday at soma. Yeah. the kind that pretty much have fabric up to your neck and stick out ABOVE your tank top neck lines? Those. Real woman bras. Not very exciting. But the holidays are coming and I will have to go out in public more often. So. Support is probably a good thing to have.

11. You can’t work out for more than 5 minutes because you have to pee every 3 minutes.

Seriously. I mean, I pee more than a puppy when I’m not pregnant. Pregnant, I pee more than I thought was humanly possible. I can’t take a walk that’s longer than 20 minutes, because, no way. And now my dog is getting fat. Even when I walk on the treadmill at home, I have to hop off every five minutes. I’m not joking. It’s ridiculous. I took a “fit 4 baby” fitness class…had to pee before, during, and after. In second trimester came the “double pee.” I’d go upstairs, walk down half a flight of stairs, and have to turn back around and go again. And now that I’m almost in third trimester, the triple pee has started. I will, I shit you not, I sweat to fucking whatever, have to pee three times in five minutes. So yeah, that’s another reason why workouts are tough. You either have to pee, or are stopping to pee. Jumping Jacks? Not gonna happen. I peed twice while trying to write this paragraph.

I could go on about all the other things I’ve learned, but there’s an entire universe of mommy bloggers for that shit. I’ll just keep it to the workout clothes and fitness stuff.

Here are some of my pregnant WorkOutFits: And yes, I had pink hair for a bit. It was leftover from Halloween.

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Athleta breathe top and maternity Chaturanga leggings.  23 weeks.

 

 

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Lululemon Run Times Tank, Old Navy Yoga pants, 25 weeks

 

 

 

 

 

Why so ‘spensive? (The rise of $100 yoga pants.)

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Oh, workout clothes. You so silly. The really good pants can cost $100. And the nice tops can cost $70ish. You only wear the stuff for an hour at a time. And then it’s going to smell like butt. Literally. Where do they get off charging that much for smell-like-butt clothes?

Well. Back in the day I would have thought it was just branding and luxury marketing and all that seventh grade stuff. Charge more and people will think it’s better. Then every yoga mom has to have a Lulu logo on her butt.  But now that I actually design and manufacture stuff myself (paper goods, not clothes. bsandrs.com) and have a friend who designs and manufactures jeans (tallwaterjeans.com), I understand the work that goes into production and development and how much quality costs. And also, the more workouts I try, and the more laundry I do, the more I appreciate high-functioning stuff.

So. Why do they charge that much for smell-like-butt clothes? I’ll tell ya.

1. Quality of fabric. The fabric matters a ton. The fabric is what determines sheerness, wicking, longevity, fit, whether or not your cellulite shows, whether or not they keep their shape or stretch out, how easy they are to get in and out of, and whether or not the pants will slide down when you get sweaty. That’s why LuluLemon got big. Not just because they were design leaders, but also because of Luon fabric.

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LuluLemon

 

2. Technology. Not only do they have to be the right thickness and all of that, these fabrics have to breathe and wick and stretch both ways.  They have breathable panels in body-mapped places. And those silver seams? Those actually cool you down and don’t absorb your stink. (I worked on adidas for years. Trust me. I know things.) F-yeah, science.

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Athleta

3. Design. Designing fitted things is hard. Designing fitted things that stay in place while flexing to and fro is hard. Figuring out how wide to make a waist band and how tight or high it needs to be to keep your poppin fresh dough from spilling out is hard. Placing the seams in a way that draws the eye around your leg, cutting the strap so you don’t get armpit boob, adding a key pocket without actually adding a pocket is hard. (It adds material, complicates pattern, takes longer to manufacture…) These are the things that make good pieces good. And they’re what make you keep on choosing to wear that one top or those certain pants instead of all the others.

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Splits59 Spinning Crops

 

 

4. Engineering. If you have more than a B cup you know you need a real jog bra, and you understand what a feat of engineering that those suckers are. (Bounce. Moving Comfort.) And some workout pants even have built in spanx-y panels and butt lifters and stuff (Lucy). Compression patterns support your muscles and help you work longer. It’s way more complex then sewing two halves of a pattern together.

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Moving Comfort

 

So you see, a quality piece of fitness apparel takes a lot of work and design and R&D. It’s made with stuff that costs a lot more than cotton because it has to do a lot more than cotton. And the benefit you get out of that piece (comfort, support, confidence, performance) is directly related to how much work went into creating it.

I still have my first pairs of Athleta and LuluLemon capris. They’re at least 5 years old. And I still pick those guys from my drawer before all of the rest. Meanwhile, the Old Navy Active yoga crops I just bought for less than the cost of my lunch are thin and scratchy, don’t have stretchy thread, and will be busted in a matter of months. There’s cost per wear. And there’s just wasting time churning through cheap stuff when one great piece will remove “shop for gym pants” from your to-do list for years.

I am absolutely not trying to peer pressure you into buying something you can’t afford. (Hello, I wear old navy tank tops 90% of the time.)  But I am for sure telling you that there IS a difference and you will get A LOT of use out of the good stuff for a LONG time.

And yeah. It’s way cuter.

LuLuLemon