Women's Après-Run Apparel Roundup

An overview of women’s après-run apparel, including reviews of clothes from Lolë, Mountain Hardwear, PrAna, Athleta, and Horny Toad.

By on December 4, 2009 | 5 comments

Psst… hey guys… um, we hate to have to remind you, but the holidays are right around the corner. Perhaps you should think about opening another browser window and picking up something nice for your lady friend. Perhaps something she’ll look cute in after a run this spring. No need to skip a run and head over to the mall at the last minute. We’ve made your job easy by recruiting a woman to pick out some après-running women’s wear. You can think of it as “gear”… that should make the whole process much easier to swallow.

We’re hoping that all the ladies out there will join in by suggesting their favorite après running brands and items… or that hot new number you just can’t live without. Ladies, you never know who might be reading iRunFar with holiday gifts in mind. So get commenting!

To get the ideas and conversation started, below is what iRunFar contributor Meghan Hicks has to offer on the subject of women’s après running apparel.

Women’s Après Run Apparel Roundup by Meghan Hicks
There comes a time in each runner’s life when we must dress, act, and otherwise convince society that we are more than our hobby. Just because we have to put on regular clothes, though, doesn’t mean that they can’t be as functional and comfortable as our running attire. It would also be cool if our post-run clothing were cute and ecologically friendly! I’ve searched far and wide for such clothes and here are some of my favorites.

[You can jump to my reviews of apparel from Lolë, Mountain Hardwear, PrAna, Athleta, and Horny Toad by clicking on their respective names.]

Lolë Dress
Lolë Calm Tunic
Lolë Calm TunicLolëEver been in this confounding after-run situation: you need milk, but don’t want to give a free show to other shoppers by bolting through the grocery store in your compression shorts? The Lolë Calm Tunic solves this problem, as it’s always a shirt, sometimes a dress, and mostly a fabulous ass cover-up.

The Calm Tunic is cotton-based with a hint of stretchy elastine. Over a running shirt and pants, the tunic clings gently at the chest, waist, and hips to give it a bit of shape as it falls to the knees. The neck forms a moderate, mid-chest “v,” and there’s a hefty neckline tie. The fabric edges are raw, curling around themselves a bit. The soft, faded fiber color and tone are like those of the sweatshirt you’ve washed the perfect number of times.

Putting on a post-run cover-up like this tunic has an unexpected, delicious benefit: the added layer holds in the warmth created by your core while running. Sadly, the thick cotton holds in sweat as well as it does heat. Thus, Lolë’s cute, funky Calm Tunic functions best as a cover-up either before or after the sweaty part of your workout. While I tested the tunic as a cover-up for fall runs, I also look forward to wearing this as a shirt with jeans and as a dress when the weather turns warmer.

Mountain Hardwear Sweater and Skirt
Mountain HardwearOutdoorsy folks know Mountain Hardwear as a maker of fine backcountry gear and apparel, but now they have succeeded in creating “mountain chic” frontcountry clothing.

Mountain Hardwear Pumeri Pullover

Mountain Hardwear Pumeri PulloverMountain Hardwear says the Pumeri Pullover is a casual sweater with a “technical pedigree.” The man-made Primaloft and Merino sheep wool fiber inter-weave should theoretically keep you warm and dry in soft comfort no matter where you’re getting your mountain moves on, and a half-zip provides another thermoregulation opportunity. The kangaroo pocket is a yummy place to put chilled hands, and a mock turtleneck could keep your neck happy against a stiff, backcountry breeze.

This sweater has too many “in town” elements that keep me from taking it beyond the trailhead, though. The sweater is long, which adds nice hip/butt insulation, but the sweater rides up when taking long, hiker’s strides. The fiber’s weave is delicate, perfect for wearing to work, but fragile for trailside branches. I tested the Pumeri Pullover in the gorgeous “winter white,” not a choice backcountry color. Finally, the hood looks awesome and warm, but it has no ties so it falls right off your head! In real-life terms, this adorable sweater, with its technical additions, has become a perfect part of my frontcountry wardrobe.

Mountain Hardwear Lofoten Skirt
Mountain Hardwear Lofoten SkirtMountain Hardwear’s Lofoten Skirt is a fashion god’s gift to the tomboy who cares about the planet upon which she lives. This eco-friendly skirt is made of a combination of hemp and recycled polyester. (Hemp tops environmental charts because: 1) the plant grows fast and may be processed from plant to clothing fiber using few resources, 2) the plant cleans the soil in which it grows and has few pests, and 3) the clothing fiber is durable. Recycled polyester used in clothing is generally made from old polyester clothing.) The Lofoten Skirt touches this tomboy’s heart because its high-waisted, pencil skirt-like top yields to a small flare at the knees that lets me walk with a big stride whilst wearing a well-styled clothing piece.

This hemp/polyester interbreed is thick and heavy; this combined with the skirt’s narrow line creates a striking, curvy drape. The material has been brushed to a soft, almost shiny finish that makes it feel comfortable while looking dressy. The top of the skirt is accessorized with a drawstring and a few pockets that, in my opinion, are present more for looks than function. The fitted skirt needs no additional drawstring and its skinny line dissuades you from adding any bulk to the pockets.

PrAna Vest and Capri
pranaPrAna clothing has long been loved by yogis for its functionality, comfort, and attractiveness, the same things we runners seek in our post-run clothes. Also, as of late, prAna has been infusing green clothing pieces into its wardrobe. I looked to prAna to test a few sporty clothing pieces.

PrAna Sadi Vest
The Sadi Vest is a semi-fitted, polyester-insulated, reversible, hooded vest. One side of the vest sports a brown nylon decorated with horizontal baffle stitching, two hand pockets, and a zipper pocket at the small of the back. The other side of the vest is brown and off-white herringbone wool with embroidered brown flowers and two hand pockets. Under the Sadi Vest, I wore a thick, insulating shirt and this pair kept me cozy on some cold days. I loved both the freedom of movement afforded by a sleeveless vest and the core warmth collected by it. The pockets were comfy places to hide hands, and I stored lip balm in the back zipper pocket. I sure wish the hood was functional, though. It’s small and has no ties, so the hood doesn’t stay on your head!

PrAna Paige Capri
The Paige Capri looks like it’s going to be a winner in all après-run clothing categories, and it almost is. Take a look:

  • Functionality: The polyester/spandex fabric cradles my tired running legs, wicks remaining sweat, and a gusseted crotch and fabric elasticity allow me to stretch out after a run.
  • Comfort: Oh yeah, these pants feel nice! There’s one literal catch, though. If you haven’t shaved your legs just before putting these pants on, the material gets snagged on stubble as you pull them up. This has never happened to me before!
  • Attractiveness: Delectable is the word I use to describe the Paige Capri. I love the wide, low riding, fitted waistband and the flare the pants make just below the knee.
  • Environmental friendliness: An eco-friendly clothing piece must be easy on the earth to produce (grow or manufacture) and process (turn plant materials or human-created materials to fiber for clothes-making), and it has to be long-lasting (so it doesn’t get thrown in the garbage next year). The Paige Capri is 90% recycled polyester, which means it’s mostly made of old clothes. However, the material is already pilling and thinning in the inner thigh and crotch at only 3 months of age. I’m sorry to say that I can’t rank the Paige Capri high in the category of environmental friendliness because of this questionable durability.

Athleta Pants (2 Pairs), Bra Top, Sleeveless Shirt, and Wrap Around Shirt
AthletaI used to like Athleta a lot, when they were a small, start-up company. They put hand written notes in their packages to me, and the same attention to detail carried over into their products. According to women who buy sport-specific clothing, a large part of that disappeared a few years ago when Athleta was bought out by box store-occupying, suburb-catering Gap Inc. With hesitation, I decided to test some of their après run clothes, to see what things were like around Athleta these days. While I haven’t had a perfect experience with these clothes, the fact that I’m wearing Athleta clothes as I write these reviews right now should indicate that I enjoy them.

Athleta Tech Stretch Bettona Pant and the Cornice Pant
Athleta Tech Stretch Bettona PantI tested two pairs of pants, the Tech Stretch Bettona Pant (right) and the Cornice Pant (below right). They are similar winter pants, made of a thick polyester and spandex blend that’s fleecy on the inside and smooth on the outside.

The Tech Stretch Bettona Pant has a slew of contrast stitching that mimics that of jeans. The stitching outlines real pockets, but the stitched fly is false; it’s a pull-on pant! The Cornice Pant has just a bit of visible stitching here and there around the pant. A zipper pocket in the small of the back as well as an angled zipper pocket on the right shin highlight the unusual pocketry of the Cornice Pant. These are odd, but oddly effective places to put pockets; I loved them!

Athleta Cornice PantBoth pants are lightly fitted at the waist and hips before falling into wide, long legs. In addition, the Cornice Pant legs flare a bit below the knees. The pants’ rise is what Athleta calls the “peace rise,” which lands at the belly button. This is a little bit high and awkward for me, the woman with the freakishly short torso. (I imagine others of you would find the peace rise quite nice, though.) Also, I tested these pants each in a size small, and the Tech Stretch Bettona Pant was both bigger around the waist and longer than the Cornice Pant’s size small. I wish sizing was standardized within a single company!

While I’m not in love with the fit of these pants, I tolerate it because of the love I’ve developed for the material. It’s thick; it’s warm; it’s like a little bit of ecstasy for run-weary and fall-chilled legs. With little deviation in the last two months, my evenings have ended on a yoga mat with tea or a glass of wine, stretching and foam rolling muscles, whilst wearing one of these two pants. They are a fine piece of post-run heaven, ‘nuff said.

Athleta Manipura Bra Top, Warrior Tank, and Wrap Cardigan
Athleta Warrior TankI tested three Athleta tops, the Manipura Bra Top (not pictured), the Warrior Tank (right), and the Wrap Cardigan (below right), and they all work in lovely tandem. The Manipura Bra Top and Warrior Tank are a seamless blend of nylon, polyester, and spandex. They are supportive through their seamless construction without being constrictive. That said, I think the weave of this material is a little too loose. After a few months of use, each of these tops have a spot or two where the fabric fibers have caught and pulled. The Manipura Bra Top has adjustable straps and boasts low impact support for A-C cup sizes. (I haven’t tested this top in an impacting exercise situation.) There’s a neat little detail attention that I appreciate: when I wear the Warrior Top atop the Manipura Bra Top, the bra rises to just above the top’s v-neckline, into view.

Athleta Wrap CardiganThe Warp Cardigan is a mix of modal, cotton, and spandex. It can function as a post-workout cover-up or as a real world outfit piece. Perhaps its best quality is that any wrinkles it develops disappear somewhere between the gym bag and one’s body. It’s short-waisted, even for this short torsoed woman. Wearing a top underneath is mandatory unless you like showing several midriff inches; a matching Warrior Top is an awesome addition underneath the Wrap Cardigan. The semi-fitted 3/4 sleeves are best pulled up to the elbow.

I’ve worn these tops over the Tech Stretch Bettona and Cornice Pants, as a post run casual outfit. I’ve also dressed the Warrior Tank and Warp Cardigan atop a pair of jeans to go out to a bar, and with a pair of dress pants for work.

Horny Toad Sweater and Pant
Horny ToadIf you don’t know much about Horny Toad, have a gander at their website and notice that they do the right thing in the social and environmental spheres of business operation. Listen to this: Horny Toad’s stuff is packaged for mailing by developmentally disabled adults, and the company partially funds annual vacations to the outdoors for these same folks. This is freaking cool and uncommon; my brother has a mental disability and I’ve often seen society (intentionally and unintentionally) marginalize him. Thus, I hardily believe in Horny Toad’s ethics, and wanted to see what their après run clothes were like. I picked a sweater and pant outfit, something that I could wear out to eat or to work on casual days.

Horny Toad Chandler Sweater
Horny Toad Chandler SweaterThe Chandler Sweater (I chose it in the “meadow/mint” color) has become affectionately known in my household as the “Where’s Waldo In Green” sweater. This sweater, made of Merino sheep wool, woven into thin horizontal stripes, and detailed with stitching across the chest, somehow still resembles a modern polo shirt. The sweater fits through the shoulders and arms, but it hangs on my body with less fit than it does on the website photo to the right, kind of box-like and square. Despite this, the woolly warmth and cute details make this a pleasure to climb into after a morning trail run.

Horny Toad Pixie Pant
Horny Toad Pixie PantLet me preface my discussion of the Pixie Pant by saying that I really don’t care for ordinary khaki pants, and that I adore these pants. Thus, these are no ordinary khakis! It’s hard to believe that these pants are 23% polyester, isn’t it? Within 24 hours, I wore them for dinner at a microbrewery and on a 90-minute desert power walk. How about that for versatility in function? Also, these pants sat folded in bag for 10 days, and they came out perfectly wearable!

If versatility and anti-wrinkle qualities haven’t convinced you of the Pixie Pant’s special khaki status, then consider these details. Look close, real close; notice the tiny pinstripes, the contrasted pocket stitching, and the metal buttons. Now that I’ve experienced the delight that is the Pixie Pant, I’m happy to report that I don’t have to buy a pair of ordinary khaki pants again!

If you’re still reading, perhaps you’re interesting in picking up one of the items in the preceding review. If that’s the case, please support iRunFar by using the following links when purchasing these or any item off Backcountry.com or Amazon.com. Every Mountain Hardwear, PrAna, and Horny Toad item featured above is available on Backcountry.com, while all of the Athleta items can be found on Amazon.com.

[Disclosure: The items reviewed were provided by their respective companies for testing. Also, links above to Amazon.com and Backcountry.com are part of an affiliate program that helps support iRunFar.com.]

Bryon Powell

Bryon Powell is the Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar. He’s been writing about trail running, ultrarunning, and running gear for 15 years. Aside from iRunFar, he’s authored the books Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running, been a contributing editor at Trail Runner magazine, written for publications including Outside, Sierra, and Running Times, and coached ultrarunners of all abilities. Based in Silverton, Colorado, Bryon is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner who competes in events from the Hardrock 100 Mile just out his front door to races long and short around the world, that is, when he’s not fly fishing or tending to his garden.