Wednesday, September 10, 2014

School of Thought: Workout Apparel

When it comes to purchasing workout gear, there are a few schools of thought. For instance there is the less is more principle, where an active athlete will buy fewer quality items at a heftier price tag. Then there is the more is more principle, where someone will buy more items of lesser quality. And then there's me. I subscribe to my own school of bought thought when it comes to the workout gear I wear.

First and foremost, I am a THE bargain hunter. Just ask my roommate who [begin tangent] witnessed me spaz out during a Saturday evening trip to Target upon noticing the 3-pack of pocket tissues in the dollar section were marked down 70% AND on top of that, there was a Cartwheel offer for 20% off items from The One Spot. You do the math. Just kidding, I'll do it for you (because I'm cheap and I'm proud of it...on occasion): $1 * .30 = $0.30 * .8 = $0.24. So basically, that's $0.08 for each individual tissue pack. I scooped up all five that I saw. And then I saw more. So I picked up an armful, which equated to 14 of the 3-packs when all was said and done. I may be considering going back for more since I have a return to make anyway... The allergy-stricken boyfriend will be so happy to know that I will at least have one tissue on me for the next decade few months. [End tangent.]

So yes, I am a bargain hunter each and every time I shop. I couldn't tell you the last time I paid full-price for something. I was going to say my Cannondale, but I even got a discount on that through my brother's affiliation with one of the local bike shops. Connections are key. I am that person that subscribes to store emails just so I can get that initial "Welcome to the Email Family!" discount. Then, unless I truly don't shop at the store, I stay subscribed for a few weeks at the least. Usually, those subscriptions trickle off, and of course there are some stores that I have never shopped at but keep the subscriptions because I constantly do the online window shopping bit. If you don't know what that is, it's when you browse, occasionally adding items to your cart, but usually without an intention of buying a single thing. Sometimes you are swayed. Sometimes you buy things on a whim (but only if the return process is easy-- bonus points if there is free shipping both ways or if there is a brick & mortar store nearby). About 80% of the time you are stricken with buyers remorse, even if the item is necessary. Let me stop a moment to point out that the bf does not like these non-consumers. Putting items in a cart without hitting the "Place Order" button does nothing for sales numbers. Whoops-- I'm a terrible consumer.

Regardless of my online window shopping habit, there are times when I do make a purchase, for whatever reason-- want, need, somewhere in between. After I've racked up a cart full of items (now don't get me wrong, cart-full can be two items or it can be 10), I adjust accordingly. Is there free shipping? Do I have to hit a minimum to get free shipping? What can I add to my cart to send me over that threshold? Have I significantly surpassed the free shipping limit? If so, do I need everything in my cart? Do I already own similar items? What promo codes are going on now? What do you mean there are no promo codes?! (Note: if there are no promo codes available, that significantly decreases my desire to go through with my purchase, and 9 times out of 10 I walk away.)

Clearly, you can see that I over-think everything the online checkout process. There is no stone unturned. Why? Because I've made some regrettable online purchases, especially with workout gear. I've been lured by the hype of an up-and-coming company or trendy apparel only to be disappointed at the quality after having shelled out $20-$25 for A tank top! A tank top that I'm going to SWEAT in! Sure, I do look for certain materials for certain items-- I don't want an all-cotton sports bra or compression leggings-- but that doesn't guarantee that they are actually made well. And to be honest, most of my favorite (i.e., durable, cute, breathable) workout apparel has come from one of the following stores:

  • Target-- C9 for the win! And an honorable mention for the clearance racks.
    C9 sports bras are perfect for my flat chest!
  • Walmart-- ever since they started carrying the Danskin line, I've been pleasantly surprised...and so has my bank account.
    Danskin steals (2013)
  • Old Navy-- the compression gear here is good quality for the price, but I usually wait until sales hit before pulling the trigger. 
  • Aeropotale-- formerly still known as a teenybopper store, they ramped up their active selection by introducing a "Live Love Dream" line full of yoga, active, and lounge wear. Paired with their constant but rotating promo codes, and you can score some major gear here. Bonus points that it's cute since it's marketed towards teens, who clearly know everything about fashion.
I've tried the mass retailers for workout clothing before, such as Dick's Sporting Goods, Sports Authority, and Finish Line, but those are usually hit or miss. That being said, Finish Line tends to have some great deals/clearance items which, in addition to promo codes, can score you Nike, Under Armour, and the likes for mad cheap. About a year and a half ago, I ordered several (yes, several) pairs of running and training shoes there for next to nothing. And they always have promo codes. Always. Forewarning: if you do shop in their clearance section, they charge shipping PER item, but if you factor that into your overall cost, it's still well worth it.
Some Finish Line finds (2013)
And of course there are outlets, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls. Love me some outlets. I don't think I need to elaborate here (although beware of some stores-- cough, Nike, cough-- that don't mark down items but rather carry post-season items.

Let's discuss my ideal price points for individual items before getting into pet peeves. I am willing to spend the following amount for the following items (because once again, I do like decent quality but I also spend a good amount of time staying active, so quantity is nice too):
  • Sports bras: $15
  • Tanks/tops: $10 - $15
  • Shorts: $15
  • Compression capris/tights: $20 - maybe $25 (add a bit more if it's thermal gear)
  • Long-sleeve tops or quarter-zips: $15 - $20
  • Shoes: practically MSRP (I will invest in shoes because those are essentials-- good shoes can make or break ankles a workout.)
Mizunos and Brooks Pure = Foot love (Spring 2013)

And pet peeves:
  • Drawstrings-- why do these exist? The waist is already elastic. I'm not going to be wearing baggy diapers when I run. And compression gear definitely does not need these. Ever.
  • Skewed seams-- I didn't dole out $X just so I can wear a tank who's seam now resides in the middle of my abdomen.
    So many things wrong with tops from this company:
    Skewed seams, poor/skewed screen print, etc.
  • Skewed screen print-- I notice everything. And unless it is intentional, I really don't want to be thinking about how the screen print is 1/2 inch off-center when I'm doing squats.
  • Poor-quality screen print-- Screen print should not fade when you wash your clothing properly (and inside-out). It also should not pill or get linty.
    The company is a culprit of the
    poor screen printing.
  • Poorly sewn seams-- There's nothing worse than trailing threads.
  • Socks with poor elastic-- If I'm wearing ankle socks, I don't want them to slip off my heals during cardio. Talk about disrupting.
There you have it folks. My over-analysis of workout apparel and some tricks of the trade to score some great deals. What it comes down to is really wearing what you're comfortable in that won't hinder your workouts. Too tight? Stay away! Too loose? No way, Jose!

Where do you shop for workout gear? In-store or online? I'm a hefty mix of both. If I buy online, I over-purchase with the intent of returning something(s) that ultimately won't work out.

Any tricks of the trade? I don't have any other secrets to share with you at the moment. 

Pet peeves?

Now go forth and shop.

1 comment:

  1. I am bargain hunter too! I am learning to "work" for sales (like at Ross & TJ Maxx)