Can Cult-Favorite Outdoor Voices Actually Withstand High-Intensity Workouts?
Pushing limits in hot yoga. Sweating like a professional athlete. These are the benchmarks many athleisure brands convince us to buy. If you’re going to reach physical excellence, you’ll need the uniform for it, right?
But over at Outdoor Voices, the brand is pushing a more accessible type of activewear by cultivating a culture that focuses on play, recreation, and the pursuit of not doing the most, but simply, #doingthings. It’s an ethos that can be seen in the heavily-shared hashtag on social media and in its designs (a best-selling exercise dress looks like something as fit for a jaunty trip to the beach as it does a grueling set of tennis), and its imagery (which features models of all shapes and sizes — a powerful choice that helps dispel the myth that fat equals lazy).
Can a fun-loving company also create athleisure gear that can withstand punishing workouts as much as it can doing chores around the house? We put a few of its best-sellers to the test to find out.
We pulled on a pair of the brand’s TechSweat 3/4 Leggings ($85) before going out for a blistering hike in the Santa Monica Mountains, taking on a kickboxing class, and hitting a yoga session. The fabric is so lightweight and has such a luxe, silk-like quality that if it weren't for the wide, compression waistband (which supports and sucks in the stomach) we would have felt like we were wearing nothing at all. The leggings proved a comfortable choice for our hike and a smart one for yoga — that waistband firmly stayed in place through bendy downward dog, navasanas, and halsana positions without digging into our bellies.
Meanwhile, the 50-minute kickboxing class left our face beet red and sticky with sweat virtually everywhere else, particularly at our lower back. We were sure we had sweat through the ultra-thin fabric for everyone else in the gym to see. Maybe it was the dark teal evergreen shade that helped disguise what was going on underneath, but we were shocked to find otherwise. Though the leggings spy pocket (situated in the back center of the waistband) is meant to hold a cellphone and keys, it proved far too small for the task when up against any current-gen smartphone and is at most, better suited for an ID and a few folded bills.
We paired our TechSweat Leggings with the Doing Things Bra ($65) while hitting the trail, studio, and gym. If the pants felt like wearing nothing at all below the belt, this bra’s thick fabric provided the opposite sensation, wrapping us in the coverage of a cozy, but not-too-snug swath that significantly minimized bounce during a trail run. What’s more, the design doesn’t stop at function: a cutout in the back, along with happy patterns and shades make the thing cute enough to show off. The racerback cut not only allows the straps to peek out of a v-neck tee but it does so without chafing the skin near the armpits. Also helpful: The entire back panel is comprised of a stretchy, sweat-wicking mesh, which makes getting the pull-over bra on and off easier, but more importantly, kept our backs cool, even when we were dripping sweat in boxing class.
The unbelievably soft CloudKnit Hoodie ($85, available in both men's and women's sizes) became an instant favorite for dorking around the house and wearing to bed. Thanks to 11 percent spandex, the pullover holds its structure and hugs the body for a slim fit, which kept us from looking too sloppy when making weekend Target runs in the thing. It has built-in thumb cut-outs to help keep hands warm and a handy spy pocket hidden within the larger kangaroo pocket to keep keys from rattling around. But it took just one sweat session to put us off wearing the hoodie for workouts. During a two-hour, mid-day hike in the hills, the soft fabric that we thought could do no wrong started to feel less luxurious and more slimy as it began to cling to our skin. Even less pleasant? It seemed to trap out sweat and BO in the fabric, which only seemed to amplify our stink. But that doesn’t mean it’s not getting any play — after laundering, we’ve kept it in heavy rotation for leisure activities, of which we engage in more than we’d like to admit.
Straight up: Outdoor Voices gear isn’t cheap. As folks who are pretty happy with our $20 sports bras from Amazon and last year’s worn-in hoodie, we’re not sure we need fancier athleisure in our lives. Like a stylish Apple Watch band upgrade or a paid calorie-counting app, we could get by without just fine. But, man, if these fabrics, cuts, and colorways don’t make working out and lounging about that much more comfortable and stylish. So we’ve come to think of our Outdoor Voices gear as the cashmere of our athleisure wear: Worth the splurge and the first pick for wear after laundry day. And if a superior fit and looking cute happen to motivate us to work out more frequently? Well, that’s not bad either.