10 Smartest Ways to Buy Workout Clothes on a Budget

Get quality for half the price!

Is it that time of the year again? Whether you’re new to exercise or you’re just looking to replace some old gear, the time for buying workout clothes can be a bit stressful. You start grabbing some pieces you like and suddenly your sales total is way over what you wanted to spend. It can be hard to buy workout clothes when you feel like you’re being overcharged for every little bit of spandex. Learn how to buy workout clothes on a budget now!

Nevertheless, getting some new workout clothes doesn’t have to mean condemning your bank account. Don’t let fancy advertisement fool you! You can find good quality workout gear at affordable prices.

Before you head out to buy workout clothes and fancy sports gear, check out these 10 smart ways to shop on a budget.

1. Shop stores that don’t specialize in sports gear.

Surprisingly, one of the best ways to shop smart is to stay away from specialty stores that only sell workout clothes (think Lululemon, Nike, Puma, or specialty running stores). These stores tend to carry more expensive brand names and often hike up the prices since they attract enthusiasts willing to pay more.

Instead, shop at stores that sell all kinds of apparel. Old Navy, Gap, Target, and even Forever 21 stock stylish, quality workout gear for half the price. They tend to have a lot of options for women at decent prices.

Additionally, off-price department stores such as Marshalls and TJ Max are a great option for workout clothes. They sell brand name items for a fraction of the price.

2. Try online shopping.

With quick shippings and simplified return options, online shopping has become a viable alternative in recent years. Most respectable stores will have their own online stores. When online shopping, it can be easier to browse available styles, colors, and sizes, and you get the option of checking rating and reviews.

You also have the option of going to an online retailer that stocks different brands. That way you get to browse more then one label at the time. The biggest online retailer is Amazon, which tends to provide reliable customer service and flexible return policies.

When shopping online, don’t forget to scour the comments for information on fit and quality. People will let you know if it’s a worthy buy, and if you should size up or down.

3. Don’t focus on name brands.

People love name brands for their exclusive designs and reliable quality, yet they are not always worth the price. Other labels will often sell clothing of similar value, at a much more affordable cost.

Yes, Lululemon does make some really stylish workout clothes, but their prices can unfortunately blow any budget. Thankfully, you can find similar styles online. It won’t have the logo, but otherwise you won’t even be able to tell the difference.

Search for bargain brands that focus on style. Just because it’s affordable doesn’t mean it has to be frumpy. Stay on trend by looking for cuts and patterns that you like. For example, mesh has recently made an appearance on a lot of brand name designs. These long yoga leggings have cooling mesh cut outs that add a little peek-a-boo sexiness, and they’re under $16!

4. Identify the trends you love in brand names and use them to find bargain goods.

If you find you love the strappy push-up sports bras from Victoria’s Secret, try using “strappy” or “push up” in your online searches. This makes it extra-easy to find bargain pieces that look like they’re brand name, so you’ll never have to settle.

Amazon’s search engine and filter options make it easy to narrow down results. You can find all kinds of trendy treasures. This padded sports bra by Yianna has the look of an expensive brand, but starts at just $12.99. You’ll get the look without the price!

5. Sign up for newsletters.

If there’s a more expensive brand you absolutely can’t give up, you should sign up for their newsletters to find out about big sales. Most companies will hold sales around the same time of the year (we’ll talk about seasonal sales in a little bit), but there are exceptions, so it’s important to get the scoop for the brands you love.

Newsletters will usually highlight storewide sales as well as special deals. They’ll let you know what discounts to expect for bid sales such as Black Friday and labor day weekend. You’ll also find out about new items, which means you can keep an eye on the ones you love and snag them when they go on sale.

6. Buy pieces you can layer and wear throughout the year.

A good workout top can be worn year round, through both summer and winter. The trick is layering. A decent long sleeve, high neck sports jacket allows you to layer up and use any workout shirt during colder months. Think of something like this jacket by icyzone. It features a high neck to protect against wind, thumb holes to keep the sleeves from riding up, and a full zipper that makes it easy to layer up or down.

Underneath, you can wear any tank top or camisole. For really cold days, you can do a long sleeve workout shirt.

A pair of lightweight leggings is also a versatile workout layer. Wear them on their own during the summer and under a pair of sweatpants in the winter. We love these leggings from ODODOS, which come in a variety of fun prints.

A flexible wardrobe means you can save money by buying fewer pieces. It also gives you the freedom to invest a little more in quality clothes.

7. Shop last season’s colors.

Styles don’t change much from one year to the other when it comes to workout gear. Pants can feature more mesh panels and tops can have more intricate backs, but the overall concept stays the same. Comfort and practicality come first. Fabric should still be breathable and fits should be comfortable.

Since styles remain pretty similar, shopping from last season’s picks saves you money with little to no compromise. You can find previous seasons at outlet stores, sales sections, clearance racks, or online.

8. Shop outlets for shoes.

It’s hard to compromise when it comes to running shoes. A good quality shoe with proper support makes all the difference during a workout, especially for runners. They brace your ankles, cushion your soles, support your arches, and even help balance your stride. A lot goes into choosing the proper running shoe (check out this article with just the top things to consider), and it’s hard to settle for an off-brand shoe when you’re not sure of the quality.

This is why one of the smartest ways to shop for running shoes is to go to an outlet store. Nike has a good reputation for their outlet stores. They provide a wide variety of merchandise with impressive discounts. Nevertheless, they are not the only option. Footlocker, Rebook, and others also have outlet stores.

At outlet stores you can often get an excellent running shoe for nearly half the cost. To save even more, ask if they have your chosen model in last season’s colors. These tend to have an additional discount.

9. Stock up during seasonal sales.

Most stores (especially brand name stores) hold seasonal sales to get rid of old stock. Discounts during these sales can be as high as 50% off! And the styles won’t be out of date since most items will be from their outgoing collection (just a few months old, usually).

Look for sales right after Christmas and at the end of summer. According to Consumer Reports, January and February are the best months to shop for winter sports gear, and June is the best for summer gear.

10. Buy basic pieces in packs.

No matter your style, there are usually basic pieces such as leggings and camisoles that you wear over and over again. You can buy these in bulk to save you some serious money.

These versatile tank tops come in packs of 1, 4, or 6. You have a variety of colors to choose from and they go great with nearly any gym outfit.

Those are our top ten tips for buying workout clothes on a budget! Quality clothes that you love can help you stay motivated in the gym, leading to better, more impressive results. But it’s also good to know that you don’t need to empty your bank account to get great fitness gear. Spend your money where it counts and keep these tips in mind. Happy buying!

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Sofia Lopez

Sofia received her BA from Cornell University and her MFA from San Francisco State University. She creates workouts and fitness challenges. Her hobbies include running, hiking, and listening to audiobooks from the exercise bike.

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