When I was a young girl, sailmakers Ratsey & Lapthorn gave me a gift. It was the official patch that they affixed to all of their classic sails for yachts (our sailboat had Ratsey & Lapthorn sails, too). I took the patch, and put in on a Lands End canvas sail bag tote that I used for weekend trips, and ever since then, Lands End has held a special place in my heart .
When 9/11 happened, my husband was at the World Trade Center. He was carrying a Lands End briefcase. When the twin towers collapsed, he fled (and survived) but his briefcase was buried under the rubble. Lands End replaced it at no cost, without any questions or issues, just to make life a little bit easier for him. Another reason why lands End has a special place in my heart.
But I am also a fan of Lands End quality and customer service. So I was really excited when I attended a Spring preview for Lands End and discovered their new line of Performance Active Wear This is something that I wanted to review for early 2014, because many of us are trying to get back into shape. But the new line of clothing isn’t just for the gym. These mix and match items are great for casual wear, lounging, shopping, travel, and any time you need a versatile wardrobe of pants, shorts, tops and jackets that literally “work” for your busy lifestyle, as well as when you want to work out.
The active wear collection comes in basic black, and with a couple of basic, flattering core colors and prints, mainly in teal and coral, and with additional pieces in Lands End’s regular line of tees and tops that work with everything in the Active Wear line. Since we only have one column in which to write about this lovely line, I’ve picked a few pieces, and am sharing them with you, but you can shop the entire collection online, or in the Lands End Catalogues.
The first thing I usually do when I am building an outfit, is start with the bottom piece. I selected that Slim Leg Control Performance Pant. This performance pant offers interior mesh control panels that help smooth the hips and waist for a slimming look. While there are crop styles and also boot leg styles, this pant looks like you could dress it up with heels and a smart top and jacket, and wear it for travel, or even to dinner or a meeting in a pinch (yes, really)! But if you want to wear it for the intended active purpose, the wicking fabric keeps you cool and dry, spandex is woven into it to give you ease of movement with stretch for comfort (but not so much that the pants bag and sag). There is a wide waistband that won’t bulge but fits nicely against your body (there’s a tiny pocket in it to put a key, or a hotel room key). Mesh panels in the waist and hips smooth but don’t restrict. As a petite woman, I like the idea that these pants aren’t super long. The pants (in a regular size–you can order petite or tall, too) are pre-hemmed at 30 1/2″ which means a woman who is under 5’4″ can wear them as full length pants with heels without having to hem them, and you can still wear them with your running shoes. This was an unexpected bonus for me, since petite styles are always a bit too short and end up looking like they shrunk in the wash, and the regulars always pool around my ankles if I don’t hem them. But an average women will be able to wear these with running shoes, just perfectly, too. 87% nylon, 13% spandex. Machine wash. Imported. A great buy at $55.00 TIP: Lands End clothing tends to run generously sized for the most part. If you order the pants as per your regular size, you’ll find that these pants fit nicely, but comfortably. I would suggest ordering a size down if you want a more snug fit for the gym.
I like to wear a tank top with a sports bra when I work out, but when I’m “out and about” I don’t generally wear a tank by itself. But as a layering piece the $25.00 Capri Tank Top in the Aqua Print (there also a water-color-y stripe pink top in this collection, too), might be my new activewear choice. It’s long enough to cover your hips, and it’s luxurious silky. The top in the back is solid teal on this one, but the front is all print. The wicking fabric keeps you cool and dry (Upper Shell: 96% Polyester, 4% spandex; Lower Shell: 90% Polyester, 10% spandex). The information on the website says there is UV protection knit into the fabric, but it doesn’t say how much UPF there is, so I’m discounting it (but nice to know). The scoop neckline is very flattering. Sizing Tip: Since this is primarily a layering piece for active workouts, you may need to wear a workout bra or a brandeau under it if you wear it without a jacket outside of a gym, because the armholes are generously cut for movement (Sizes S-XL).
For more coverage, a classic tee such as the Women’s Regular Short Sleeve Print Performance Crewneck Tee ($29.00) is made modern and perfect for workouts, with 90% polyester and 10% spandex fabric both silky and non cling-y (with wicking to keep you cool and dry and uv protection knit in), in a flattering, hip grazing style. An active girl’s best friend. One of the things that I like about this entire collection is that there are flattering seams that give the tops shape so they don’t just hang there, but they are not so shape conscious that those of us not in bikini-ready bodies would be calling attention to that fact. In other words, the seams are flattering but do not make the tees “skimpy.” This printed tee also comes in a purple (“Iris) and in two water-color-y striped prints of pink or blue and for $25.00 you can get this tee in a similar version (Women’s Regular Short Sleeve Solid Performance Crewneck Tee) in a solid color (96% polyester, 4% spandex) in black, lilac, yellow cream and white.
If you are looking for a truly multi-tasking piece, the Women’s Regular Long Sleeve Solid Performance Crewneck Tee ($29.00) is a fantastic travel tee that is 96% polyester and 4% spandex, so it drapes nicely, feels silky and luxurious, can be washed and dried quickly, and dresses up (think pearls or a gold choker) but of course, can be worn for the gym or any other activity, too. I selected the large, thinking that a tee should be loose, and the Large really fits a 14-16 (wish I’d selected the medium), But this hip-grazing tee is “tee-riffic” for so many things, I wish it was available in more colors than just teal, black and white because I’d buy them all! In terms of wearing this for active purposes, the wicking fabric keeps you cool and dry, and the fabric won’t cling. There’s UV protection knit in (again, since I can’t tell you how much protection there is, I’m discounting it). The tee has shape-flattering accent seams on the sides so it doesn’t hang like a man’s, and the flatlocked seams inside won’t chafe.
A great jacket is an active wear must-have, and Lands End has some really great ones. I chose the Women’s Regular Colorblock Performance Sport Jacket ($69.00 –other sizes available) because it is so attractive and has so many bells and whistles for the price. For starters, the jacket comes in deep pink and navy or tel and gray (I a, showing you both colors because I love them)! The jacket has a drawstring hood (I only wish you could fold it up into a zippered pocket).
The first thing I look for in a jacket like this, after the fabric, (88% polyester and 12% spandex) is the zipper. This one is rugged and easy to zip. Then, I look at the pockets. This jacket has several zippered ones (also with nice, rugged zippers) including a generously sized inside pocket that will hold phone, keys and a small wallet, so you don’t have to worry about these falling out when you’re running or jogging, and the inside pocket keeps your valuables close to your body when you are traveling, too. There is also an inside pocket that is just a pouch. A nice touch is a little MP3 port that goes from the inside zippered pocket to the outside zippered pocket, to keep your phone or Mp3 player, safe. The raglan shoulders, the wide waist grazing band at the bottom of the jacket, and the side seams, are all nicely done and flattering. There are even thumb holes in the cuffs keep sleeves in place, although I’ve never actually used these. While this is hardly a dress up jacket, it’s perfect for women who have an active, casual lifestyle outside of the gym. You can even toss it in the washing machine. Of course, the two jackets have color combos that mix and match with the other pieces in this Lands End Performance Active Wear Collection, and probably with most of the other things you own.
It’s a new year and time for making positive changes in your life and your image. When you add up the cost of an entire ensemble, it can start to get a bit pricey, but these are “investment” multi-tasking pieces that can take you where you need to go, day and night, home and travel. If you aren’t able to buy the entire collection at once, start with a piece or two, and add more as you love them and need them. Visit http://www.landsend.com/ to learn more and to order.