Hey, guess who else has a new fitness wear line. Express. Yep, that Express. It’s called EXP Core Performance, and they sent me an outfit to review, so I happily shall. Someone wants to send me clothes? YAASSS!
Hello, EXP Core Performance.
What they have: Workout Clothes for Women. A whole line of workout leggings, workout tops, sports bras, and jackets.They say they’re “sexy, stylish, and built for maximum performance.” Oh. You wanna go after VSX Victoria’s Secret Sport? Ok. I hear you. Go for it.
They let me pick out from a selection of a few different pants and tops, and I chose these leggings because 1. I have too many crops right now and 2. HOLY SHIT CRAZY BUTTERFLY PATTERN I LOVE IT. And I chose the black top, obviously, because that’s what I wear. Black tops. And the lovely folks at EXP Core Performance sent me a sports bra to wear under it, too. Sweet!
The workout leggings kind of rule. Ombre Animal Print EXP Core Compression Legging $69.90. And I’m not just saying that because I didn’t have to pay for them. The pattern is really fun, and it’s the first big, all-over pattern like this that has been flattering on my shape. ( Pear / T-Rex / Thunder-thighs.) The white at the bottom definitely helps because white looks bigger, so the effect is almost the same as if I were wearing bootcut/flared yoga pants. They balance out the thunder thighs. And the pattern at the top (read: the pattern across my ass) is dark and keeps the eye moving, so we’re good there, too. The only drawback is that this fabric is white with a print on it, so the inside of the pants are white, which means when the fabric stretches, it gets lighter because you’re seeing a little bit of that white come through. The black becomes dark grey when it is stretched across my thighs. So. Shopping tip: pay attention to the color of the inside of your workout pants. It’s not a deal breaker in this case, though. I think they still look good.
But more importantly, they make me feel good. I feel like an olympic skier in them. They are edgy and obnoxious and you can’t really wear them and sit on the couch, because look at them! They are ACTION PANTS MADE FOR ACTION! Right?
The tech and specs:
Fabric: They’re a slippery, almost bathing suit-type material, like Onzie leggings. Which means they wick well, and you could probably use them for bikram yoga or even swimming if you wanted to. Surfing? Maybe. But only if you get them really tight. There’s no drawstring. The fabric is not thick, and that’s usually a deal breaker for me, because: cellulite. But the pattern does the camouflaging that I usually count on a thicker fabric to do, so NBD.
Fit: They have a high rise with a wide waistband, so that’s perfect. Everybody seems to be catching on to that now. As they should be. There’s no reason for anybody to have to have a muffin top. Hooray progress! Also, there’s a waistband key pocket, which is mandatory. I’m between sizes right now, so I ordered the higher size. So they’re not “performance” tight on me. (Except for on the thighs because everything is.) But despite that, they didn’t slide down during a long walk, and they stayed in place pretty well during burpees and bouncing in a HIIT workout.
I’m impressed, Express. These are thoughtfully designed. Respect.
The workout top is a soft, drapey cotton. Black EXP Core Strappy Tank $34.90. It’s loose enough and long enough, with some showy interest in the back. What more could you want? You might think “eh, it’s fine” when you look at it online, but it’s the kind of easy-to-wear piece you (I) will probably reach for first again and again. No brainer.
The sports bra looks basic at first sight, too. (Mesh Back EXP Core Sports Bra $49) But the material actually has an almost shiny, leather-look, so it’s different and edgy, without being slutty. The scoop of the neck and the width of the straps are flattering. It’s not too low cut, and it covers the upper boob/ armpit fat. They know what they’re doing over there. And you know I don’t say that shit lightly. Of course, this is a “for looks” bra, not a “for running” bra. There’s no padding, and no special support structure. But it’s pretty slick looking. Oh yeah, and the back has mesh panels, too.
EVERYTHING I got was thoughtfully designed. I’m pleasantly surprised, and actually pretty stoked. This EXP stuff is really flattering. For real.
Seriously, you guys. When I saw Express in my email, I thought “I have not even looked in the window of that store since college.” And I’m 38. I shouldn’t be in there. But workout wear is for everybody, and EXP Core is a nice find. And you can order online so you don’t have to go in there and stand next to a size 00 seventeen year-old who hasn’t even put on her beer weight yet.
Thumbs up for EXP Core.
Yes. Of course I know there’s a Derek Lam / Athleta collab. Of course I do!!!!
And I was super excited because I buy tons of Athleta. SUPER EXCITED I SAY!!!
Until I saw it.
Here, you can judge for yourself: http://athleta.gap.com/browse/category.do?cid=1038258&mlink=46650,10188358,HP_DL_Main_9_9&clink=10188358
But I think it’s a little basic and boring. And it sometimes makes the model look like a court jester or a character on Star Trek or someone from a really old Old Navy shoot. Not simple and chic. Sigh. These here are the pieces I do like (below). But you’ve been able to find leather joggers (If you wanted to) for a few years now, so…*yawn*. Maybe they’ll do it again and the next collection will be better. Sorry Derek Lam. Love you. But not this. 😦
This is the good….
And this is the bad and the ugly…I mean, I get that the color blocking on the tanks is meant to follow that of a sports bra, and that’s good and flattering, and I get that the vertical stripe is there so it’s not just a baby doll color blocking situation. But something about it just falls really frat boy from the 80s-flat. I wish I didn’t feel that way. It’s much better on the tighter tops.(see below).
And I’m not sure how I feel about these. The location of the bust line feels fresher on these… And the cut is good ….
But still, grey and white are kind of the two worst colors to use for active wear because white will show your nip-nips and grey shows sweat in less than one second. Hey, Athleta! I know things! Maybe we should do a collab… 🙂
…or lack thereof, if we’re being honest here.
Here are my IG posts of workoutfits/ workout days from today back to when I was 36 month preggo. IG = @iamaimeeschewe Starting with today’s pic.
I haven’t posted a ton of pics because 1. I haven’t been working out a ton and 2. I don’t fit into much. I basically have three pairs of leggings that I rotate and two big baggy black tunics. That’s what’s comfortable and flowy and makes me the least sad when I look in the mirror. Your body changes a lot when you’re pregnant, and then again after you have a baby (and are breast feeding), and then again as time goes on, and then again when you stop breast feeding. (I hope.)
During pregnancy my waist got thicker before the baby bump showed up. And my boobs got bigger and hurt like hell. I am a pear / T-Rex (little in the middle but she got much back) with a medium-small upper body, so this was not fun for me. Me no likey big booby. And I gained some cushioning all around. But it wasn’t too incredibly grotesque. Not as freakish as it could have been. I think the baby just took up organ space before growing out toward the world. Sure fucking felt like it. But not as bad as it could have been. I mean. I was still pregnant. It was gross and weird and a total alien parasite situation. But it could have been worse. So I’m thankful for that.
I walked a fair bit, but couldn’t do much more. I had no energy and bouncing was NOT an option. I stopped running pretty early on. It just felt like my organs were going to fall out. So…nope! I guess I didn’t do enough pelvic floor work before and during pregnancy. (be warned!)
Afterward, I wore a belly wrap corset thing and a hip minimizer (highly recommend, more on those later). And after six weeks I started walking again. And I’ve done some barre workouts, but I’ve been taking it very slowly and gradually because I’m still in pelvic floor rehab. (Long story. I’ll write a thing on that soon. I’m not “injured” any more than anyone else who’s ever carried a baby, but it’s important to rehab those muscles first so you don’t pee your pants your whole life. Other countries know this. America apparently doesn’t. Probably not a coincidence that my Physical Therapists are from New Zealand and India. )
Anyway, I’m just trying to give you an idea of what happens to your shape after pregnancy, even without workout out or watching what you eat too much. (me.) My waist is getting smaller on its own/ returning back to a more “me” shape. What isn’t changing is the boobs and upper body weight. Like the fat arms and armpits and upper back and whatnot. That’s still disorienting because it’s not my natural body shape and all of my clothes fit differently/ don’t fit because of the damn boobs. Everything is a crop top all of a sudden. It’s ridiculous. But that should change soon enough, when I stop with the breast feeding. I look forward to that.
I also don’t want you to think that not working out for 6 months is normal. (Or that I just said “Fuck it, I’m a mom!” I didn’t.) You can totally work out. And I could have gotten to this point quicker if I had been more religious about doing my physical therapy. But I wasn’t. (I will be now, though. Promise. I’m sick of this.) So it’s taking a long time to get to the point where I can do all the fun high impact/ plank/ quick movement/ boot camp/ real exercise stuff again. And to be able to wear my ninety seven different pairs of black workout pants.
Also, I should note that I’m finally realizing how much of this shit it is out of my control. Hormones tell your body to store fat because it’s going to use it or baby stuff and baby feeding stuff. Hormones tell your body you don’t need some of that anymore. Hormones tell you to lay the fuck down because your body needs all the energy for other functions you don’t even know are happening. I never went totally nuts food-wise or workout-wise while pregnant or after. I’ve just been normal, up and down, sometimes a total pig, sometimes not -me. Watching my waist get thicker and thinner despite my intake and output has taken some pressure off and given me a little faith in my body actually maybe deciding it wants to be smaller one day and it all happening pretty naturally. Maybe. I mean. That would be cool, right? Is that how normal people think and live? Huh. Must be nice.
But I’m for sure going to get more serious about my PT and keep on working in more working out.
And at least for a little while longer I’ll still be in tunics and leggings town. Hope you like purple tie dye and Punky Brewster…
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.
Tough, hardcore and beautiful. Perfect.
Sporty with a sophisticated softness. Perfect.
Awesome details on the waistbands and knees.
Perfect proportions on the trim of the shorts and where the calf fabric starts on the leggings.
And then this is actually something I could wear IRL.
Also, cute headband. 🙂
Love love love the Olympia.
Swim leggings. Wait, what? Yes. Swim leggings. Leggings you wear while swimming. AKA Swim Tights. AKA Surf Leggings. These are a thing. I guess surfers wear them (makes sense) and now you can get them at more and more places like Urban Outfitters, Athleta, Prana, even Land’s End. Nordstrom carries Onzie, which makes RIDICULOUSLY obnoxious-cute patterns and started as a bikram yoga brand. Their fabric is kind of slippery and weird, but that’s because its meant to get wet and also to dry quickly. Bikram. According to their website “Onzie yoga gear is perfect for hot yoga, but can also be used for pilates, spinning, swimming, surfing, running or hooping. Our clothes can be worn as everyday wear or into chlorine and salt water environments.”
What? Sweet. Because I just had a baby and I haven’t really been able to start working out for real yet and I’m NOT trying to wear a bathing suit. In fact, I’m NEVER trying to wear a bathing suit. Who is? Shit. Swim leggings? I’m fucking sold. I’m never wearing a stupid, make me feel terrible about myself and miserable while I should be enjoying playing in the water, bathing suit again! Score one for freedom!!!! FUCKING SWIM TIGHTS, MOTHER BITCHES!!! HOORAY!!!!
(These are from Salt Gypsy, available through Without Walls/ Urban Outfitters.)
Also…If there’s ever a time to take a step back to a more modest approach to swimwear, maybe it’s now. For me, 100%. But also, maybe, for America. #justsayin #merica #hotdogpizza #highfructosecornsyrup #processedfood #healthcrisis #obesityepidemic
These three are all Onzie. Silly funs. I mean. There’s a tiger on your butt. A BUTT TIGER.
And Land’s End. Keeping it real. This is how most of us should probably dress for public swimming. Their shirts don’t go straight up and down as if they’re built for little boys. Crazy concept, huh?
I ordered these two (Thank you, Nordstrom anniversary sale.) The city print ones are a fail because, yes, of course that print is not the best for the thighs. I knew that would happen but had to try anyway. Second pair’s not here yet. We’ll see. BTW, there are more sizes on the Onzie site than Nordstrom’s.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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).
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.
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.
Zella is Nordstrom’s fitness apparel brand and they make good stuff for a good price. Also, they make plus sizes. No excuses for anybody! Here are some new cutes I’d like to order. If I weren’t 8.5 months pregnant…
PULSE TANK $64 // Love the racer front styling. Great if you’re proud of your shoulders.
SPA OPEN BACK SLUB KNIT TEE $54 // Easy breezy version of a sweatshirt.
LIVE IN 2 SPACE DYE CAPRIS $52 // Space Dye = Sweat Camo.
BOMBER JACKET $158 // Look for lots of laser cut details this spring.
Yep. Still pregnant. So I’m just going to keep on fantasy shopping. Enjoy.
This stuff is what Victoria’s Secret models probably actually wear to workout.
Caliber Hoodie: $190
Sexy / Edgy / Badassness MichiNY.com
And of course, a half a year or so after I get my Jawbone UP24, they come out with a cuter one: UP3 by Jawbone $179 coming soon. Jawbone.com Self Magazine is showing one in grey. GREY! I love grey more than people. Definitely like this better than the really bracelet-y Tory Burch type thingies that other trackers are making. Keep it sporty, y’all.
HEROINE SPORT heroinesport.com
This is a new “hybrid activewear collection” from NY designer Nima Taherzadeh of NIMA. Most of the stuff is OK, sure, but I’ve seen it. But the bras are quite interesting. You know. If you’re a skinny little thing who can go topless when you work out. Bless your heart.
Performance Bra: $75
Sexy slim pants and stuff favored by Dailey Method instructors. splits59.com
So, you know I have over 20 pairs of workout tights/capris/pants/leggings whatever you want to call ’ems. Anything dark, knee length, and thick enough not to show my cottage cheese, and high enough to hold in the muffin top, I like. But I think I just realized I have a favorite.
I just got a fresh pair of Chaturanga capris from Athleta. I already have a full-length pair that I wear in the winter, which I love. And I just pulled these on and they’re just…so easy. So stretchy and forgiving and comfortable. I guess most of my capris are “performance fit” which means tight as hell so they squeeze you in and support your muscles and jiggly bits. So it is such a treat to pull on a pair and not feel like a sausage for once. I love you Chaturanga.
Already had Chaturanga Odyssey Tights (looks like space dye in real life)…..Just got Chaturanga Stardust Capris. (looks like cheetah/snow leopard in real life)
Note: they are NOT thick, which I usually would not recommend. And they’re probably not great for running because they’re not performance-tight (which means they’ll probably slide down as you run). So I can’t recommend them for running. BUT I can recommend them for pretty much everything else. As long as you get a dark pair, preferably a pattern, you should be comfortable and camoflauged. Just like Imma be all friggin day in these puppies. Ahhh. Chaturanga.
They come in every length: shorties (tiny for you obnoxiously fit skinny minnies), shorts (not sure who, but if that’s your gig go for it) jammers (ditto. maybe under a skirt or something? it’s a mystery to me. but to each her own), capris and tights. In whatever pattern you could want, even crackly faux-leather and stripes. Bazam.