October 21, 2010

 
By Su Reid-St. John
Ever since I tried my first tech-fabric top and discovered that I didn't have to slog through my spin class weighed down by a soggy cotton T-shirt, I've been hooked on "workout wear." Until recently, though, I was certain that a quality workout top couldn't be found for less than, say, $30. And great yoga pants? Try $70—or more.

But then I heard a couple of friends raving about Champion's C9 line (sold at Target). Cute, quality workout wear that doesn't put a sizable dent in your wallet? I had to check it out.

I wear-tested some of the basics and was quite impressed! For the most part, the styles are cute and the material is of good quality. The pieces are well-made, too—a rarity among low-price workout wear lines.

Here's a quick rundown:

Yoga Cami ($14.99): It's supercute, long enough that it won't ride up, and fits really well. Plus, the fabric's breathable, so it works for both yoga and cardio. One caveat: While it has a built-in shelf bra, anyone over an A cup will need to wear a regular sports bra underneath.

Mesh Capris ($14.99): If you put these side by side with their more expensive Champion brand cousins, you wouldn't be able to see a difference (I know; I tried). They're both cut generously, with cooling mesh fabric (lined) and a drawstring waist. I could feel the difference, though—the C9 pair was a little scratchy at first (they improved after a couple of washes), whereas my regular Champions started out as soft as an old T-shirt.

Long & Lean Fit Tee ($9.99): Can be used for both yoga and cardio, thanks to comfy, breathable fabric. And the length is great—as with the cami, no riding up to worry about. What isn't so great is the cut of the arm holes; they're a bit small, so they restrict arm movement somewhat.

Reversible Premium Pants ($36.00): So nice! The fabric rivals that of cardio/yoga pants twice the price, and they're truly reversible. You can buy ones that are all black or black with a colored waistband showing, and the waistband can either be folded over or left as is. Plus, the fit is flattering.

The surprising verdict: You can score quality exercise togs for a song. Nicely played, Champion.

Product: C9 by Champion

Category: Apparel

Cost: Regular prices range from $7.99 for a tank top to $59.99 for a ski jacket at Target.com.

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