Our Review Of Girlfriend Collective (A Sustainable Lululemon Alternative)
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I work from home. Most days, I lean toward soft pants, a sports bra, and versatile layering tops. This makes it easy to hop between work, errands, and exercise, which I try to fit into each day as my schedule allows. Cute clothes I can sweat in without being gross are key, so you can imagine how much I love athletic wear. The monochrome trends elevate stinky old workout clothes to legit lewks, and the functionality of features like phone pockets make it possible for this mom (and beverage goblin) to run around the house with her hands free for other things.
So here’s where my needs become more nuanced: I am on the shorter side (just under 5’2”), with a hard-to-find bra size and some wide, juicy hips. I have short, curvy legs and very narrow shoulders. Clothes off the rack generally hit me right in some places and too tight/too big in others, meaning I have had to learn to do my own alterations and make good friends with a local tailor. It took me a long time to accept that the issue isn’t my body, but that most mass-produced clothing lines are made for averages. And, well, nothing about my body is quite average. (My inner diva just shouted “That’s right queen!”)
In looking for workout clothes that are versatile enough to also function as workwear and be worn pretty much all day long, I’ve got some specific criteria: a high quality fabric with the right amount of compression, stretch, and support that doesn’t become constricting after several hours; beautiful colors and styles that fit my body well but also look chic and put together; straps that don’t dig into my shoulders or fall down; bottoms that don’t roll, sag, or require constant readjusting. I could only think of one brand that might check all of these boxes.
“Girlfriend Collective is a sustainable and size-inclusive athleisurewear brand making cute yet functional (and comfortable) workout clothes that can really be worn all day.”
Girlfriend Collective is a sustainable and size-inclusive athleisurewear brand making cute yet functional (and comfortable) workout clothes that can really be worn all day. Their leggings are famous for being “squat-proof,” and were listed as one of Oprah’s favorite things in 2022, and their size inclusivity gives me hope that I’d find something that will work with my measurements. The Seattle-based brand is committed to ethical manufacturing and recycled materials—their ultra soft and high quality fabrics is crafted from a blend of post-consumer plastic (like water bottles, fishing nets, and other waste)—and they go to great lengths to provide transparency for every step of their process, from disclosing their material production process to the certifications that guarantee their factories are fair trade and safe. Even better? Their garments are recyclable themselves, so after a long life in your closet, they can be recycled through ReGirlfriend, giving a new life to your clothes and a shopping discount for you!
Here was my experience with their leggings, sports bra, and unitard.
The Compressive Pocket Legging, Moss ($88)
Available in sizes XXS–6XL, 28.5″ or 23.75″ inseam, eight colors options
Like many women with thicker legs and wider hips, I love a good compression legging, but there is definitely a limit to our relationship. Whether the material is too thin to survive the stretch across my butt for long, or so sturdy and unyielding it causes me to gasp as if I were wearing a corset about an hour in, I’ve never owned a pair of leggings for longer than a couple of years. If they have an inner seam that rubs together as I move, or lose their grip and require me to do the jump-and-yank (not nearly as cute as its cousin, the bend-and-snap), they usually get relegated to the “house projects” pile, which eventually gets donated when I remember that, oh yeah! I don’t really do house projects. 🤷
Girlfriend Collective’s Compressive Pocket Legging is my dream all-day-long pant situation. Buttery soft with just the right amount of all around-squeeze, these babies slide over my skin like a perfect, custom-made glove. I opted for the 23.75″ inseam, which stops just above my ankle in that sweet spot all shorties know magically elongates our legs. The waistline reaches just above my belly button and barely budges at all during my daily work. I do have to pull them up a bit when doing some vinyasa flows, but I put this to a very scientific test: I did a few time lapse videos to compare them with my former favorite leggings and I only caught myself readjusting the GF leggings two times in thirty minutes. I’ll take it!
“One of my favorite features on the GF website is how you can click on a color and view the whole collection, making it easy to mix and match your favorite monochrome looks.”
The color is a beautiful, soft and deep teal that I would call “ocean green.” They call it “moss.” One of my favorite features on the GF website is how you can click on a color and view the whole collection it comes in, making it easy to mix and match your favorite monochrome looks. There is a substantial pocket on both legs for a phone, and they are *chef’s kiss* sheer perfection. Something about the lining in these pants is absolute magic to me; they are thicker than most leggings I own (absolutely no see-through butts here!), but in no way bulky or hot.
10/10, no notes. ✨
The Dylan Tank Bra, Moss ($46)
Available in sizes XXS–6XL, eight color options
About my bra size: Depending on the company, style, and material, I wear anything between a 30F to a 32H. Standard underwires simply aren’t made to wrap around a body from sternum to armpit, which is essentially the real estate of my boobs. When it comes to sports bras, I’m looking for coverage and compression. I want something that straps my boobs down and makes them more or less immoveable, but in like, a comfy way. This is tough for my size: I need an S or XS size band, but these bras usually only offer boob-coverage the size of a single no-show sock. Until the longline bra entered the chat.
Oh, OH, how I love a longline. This style, which is more or less a cropped tank on anyone else, is exactly the material coverage I need. The full dome of my breasts, from cleavage to underboobs, are safely secured, no longer spilling, popping, or sneaking out from too-tiny fabric as I move. I was especially excited for the Dylan Tank Bra, with its high neckline and the same luxuriously soft yet compressive fabric of my new favorite leggings. I also opted for the same beautiful color, and instantly felt like a yoga model. They looked beautiful together and revealed the barest slip of skin just along my rib cage in a subtle, sexy way. I came of age during the traumatizing reign of low rise jeans and the midriff-baring Going Out Top, so I never thought I’d actually elect to show off any of my torso skin. And yet here I am, nearing forty, post-baby, and absolutely loving it.
I was able to get this bra over my head without trouble, and even take it off at the end of a hot day without having to ask my husband for help (yep, it’s happened before and no, this is never a problem for him). I did a regular yoga class, with multiple sun salutations and… I forgot about my boobs. This is, honestly, the most showstopping, incredible thing I could have imagined. So I upped the ante: I did an inversion class, where I went upside down multiple times. And reader: I still forgot about my boobs.
I did notice, after going back to work and wearing the bra for the rest of the day, that there was some boob making itself known in the armpit area of the bra’s neckline, which cuts in slightly in a very elegant way along the chest and neck. Some reviews lamented this as “upper side-boob armpit pooch,” but it didn’t personally bother me. I was over the moon that I could go from yoga to work and somehow reach dinner time without once having to panic-remove my bra because the straps were killing my neck (IYKYK).
10/10 with a note that my 32H rack was happy in a size small. 🍈🍈
Available in sizes XXS–6XL, eight color options
My ideal yoga clothes allow me to take a full hour-long yoga class without having to adjust anything, so I had to try a unitard. The Bike Unitard is so cool looking, a garment I would never have conceived of on my own, let alone thought I could want. But the instant I saw it on their site, I started obsessing: bike shorts in an almost 6” inseam, seamless waist and center front, with a scoop neck and a low back, and a built-in shelf bra!? I had to have it.
There’s only one word for how this unitard fits and moves on the body and that is beautifully. It has that same soft-yet-sturdy, like-a-glove fit that made me an instant leggings and sports bra stan, molding easily into every yoga pose I tried. And the short seams did not roll, ride, or otherwise create any of the common most annoying habits lamented by bike short lovers everywhere. They just dutifully hugged my thighs, sliding slightly along as I lunged and twisted, adjusting themselves back into place as I went.
The bodice of the unitard is beyond comfortable, and I was pleasantly surprised that I could more or less trust the built-in bra to keep my boobs in place. I would recommend adding a sports bra for anything that requires higher impact or inversion hops. A sports bra easily layered under the unitard, and didn’t cause any friction or discomfort with the shelf bra. The unitard looks especially cute with a cardigan or jacket, some sneaks and a baseball cap. My only complaint about the piece is that it doesn’t have a phone pocket. Otherwise, I might buy it in every color and make it my WFH uniform.
8/10, but only for the missing pockets. 🤸🏻
- GF Collective is a Seattle-based brand making high quality active wear from recycled plastic. They’ve been around since 2016 and their clothes and packaging are all recyclable too.
- The brand is SA8000 certified, a social accountability standard and certificate developed by Social Accountability International (SAI) & Sustainability that ensures safe working conditions and fair wages for their factories.
- Their clothes come in a select range of beautiful colors and styles that are easily mixed and matched for monochrome or color blocked looks.
- GF is committed to size inclusivity and make clothes for XXS to 6XL.
- The Bike Unitard in Midnight is a versatile activewear piece that looks great styled for errands, brunch, or anything else! Bra support is minimal but it easily layers with a sports bra if needed. The only thing missing is a phone pocket.
- The Dylan Tank Bra in Moss is a high neck longline bra great for full-coverage compression. This is a beautiful style that is also highly functional for larger-breasted women who want to eliminate cleavage spills during workouts.
- The Compressive Pocket Legging in Moss is a high quality, super comfy legging that you can wear all day long. It stays in place and never slips, with two deep pockets for your phone, keys, and even a slim wallet.
Stephanie H. Fallon is a writer originally from Houston, Texas. She has an MFA from the Jackson Center of Creative Writing at Hollins University. She lives with her family in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where she writes about motherhood, artmaking, and work culture. You can find her on Instagram or learn more on her website.