Fabletics: chic or ...?

Like most women (I think) I feel better working out when I feel good, and part of that is liking the the clothes I wear. They obviously need to be functional and I do geek out a bit over the techier fabrics and new designs of great sportswear, but I also like pretty things and justify an overly large workout wardrobe through its motivational factor in getting me out the door/on the mat/to the gym.

I'm also a big fan of Kate Hudson (hello, Almost Famous and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Gorgeous, funny, all-around smarty-pants. How could you not be?) so when I started seeing ads for her new workout wear, Fabletics, a few months ago, I knew they were going to tempt me sooner or later.

Cue last week and a promo email about a 70%-off sale. When they promise a cute workout outfit for £44 and then offer a ridiculous discount, I mean, just TAKE MY MONEY already!

So I toddled on over to the site and browsed around. I was in the market for a tank top and shorts and found a bright and funky pair of (Moro) shorts with a plain white (Berlin) tank that I liked the look of. I probably could have tossed in a bra but I just recently did a clear-out and even I have my limits on how much workout wear is acceptable before I cross the line to being featured on Crazy Fitness Hoarders (BTW, totally trademarked. ITV: call me).

£22 and a very quick delivery later, I was ripping open my Fabletics envelope.

(Images from Fabletics web site)

Love at first sight?

My first reaction was pleasant surprise. Given the price of their stuff, I was really worried that it would feel cheap, plastic-y and Urban Outfitter-thin. Both pieces felt substantial, comfortable against my skin and the seams and fabrics were all well-made. Both items looked quite fitted on the models (see image above) and the top particularly was described as a 'fitted' style, so I was also worried how the sizes would come up. I'm normally a small on top and medium on the bottom (or 10 and 12 UK sizes) so I ordered my standard sizes and was pleasantly surprised. The top was a great fit and actually had a little bit of a 'flow' between bust and hip, with a semi-seethrough mesh lower back, which made it quite flattering. The shorts weren't as nice in colour as I thought they looked in the photo on the web site and are a little on the big side, but the quality was still good and the comfort level was great on first try.

Performance under pressure

How did they stand up in a workout situation, though? I put them to the test in an energetic vinyasa yoga session and I loved the top. It has a bit of stretch to it and moves nicely but doesn't sag in the chest so it keeps you pretty well covered (with just a little bit of cleavage in some bending poses -- nothing embarrassing though!). The shorts were just okay. Because they were a little large/less fitted than I expected, they shifted around a bit which I found distracting and the legs started to roll up a little at the hem in a lot of poses. For the yoga it was tolerable but if I was trying to do a HIIT workout in these the rolling and moving would drive me absolutely crazy.

The VIP treatment

The only other thing I would say about Fabletics is that their VIP program is annoying in the very politest term I can come up with. When you make your first purchase you're auto-enrolled into the VIP program to get the 'discount' on the outfits (you can opt out but it pretty much doubles the price). Then, every month they email you five outfits they recommend--or you can choose from anything on the site--but if you don't do anything by the 5th of the month, they charge your card £44. Every month. It's pretty easy to skip a month by logging into the site but if you forget, that's £44 of your money they've got. It goes into credit on your account but it doesn't seem like there's any way of getting a refund, it just forces you to use that money to buy more product from them.

In the small print, you can un-enroll from the VIP membership but only by calling their phone number. Super annoying.

The verdict

Looking purely at the clothes, I would definitely give a positive 4-star review to the Berlin tank top. Great fit, comfortable, good quality and flattering. For the price, the Moro shorts were functional and decent quality, but because of the irritating level of movement I can't really give them more than 3 stars, sadly. If I were to buy from Fabletics again I might go down a size in the shorts to see if that improved the fit and function but that's a big 'if'.

For Fabletics as a whole, given the selection, good speed of shipping and ease of use of the web site I'll give them 4 stars on that side of things BUT, due to the hassle of the VIP system as it currently works, that part earns a zero star rating.

Overall: 2.5 stars

The cute styles and average quality probably aren't worth the hassle of potentially being docked £44 a month if you're not quick on the opt-out button or have the time to call their call centre. My advice? Check out TKMaxx for deals on Reebok or Nike instead.

Have you shopped with Fabletics? What did you think? Are there any other online or fitness fashion retailers worth checking out?

#review #fashion #healthfitness

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