I remember just a few years ago, if I wanted to buy workout clothes, I was going to be wearing a pair of leggings that was cheap, mostly made of cotton, and that came in one color – black. It probably started pilling within 2 washes, and I would quickly wear out the inner thighs. And forget finding cute athletic tops at all.

Photo from Manifesta.com showing a wide variety of body types - women in handstands and standing in a line

Photo from Manifesta.com

Y’all, it’s a good time to be a plus size woman buying workout clothes. There are some amazing brands coming out with a wide range of sizes and really cute, fashion forward designs. I’m happy today to introduce you to a brand I think you’ll be big fans of: Manifesta. Manifesta has capri pants, full length pants and several tops in sizes 0-24 (with new items up to size 28). They design for a curvy fit, and have details that help the clothes stay put through your workout. Learn more about their design process and the company here.

Sore Not Sorry Capri (top is from Athleta)

Sore Not Sorry Capri (top is from Athleta)

Rachel, Manifesta’s founder, was kind enough to send me some of their clothes to try out in exchange for an honest review, and I put them through their paces.

Me in side angle pose wearing Sore Not Sorry Capri (top is from Athleta)

Sore Not Sorry Capri (top is from Athleta)

The capris – I tried 3 different capri pants: the Sore Not Sorry Capri, Leave Your Mark Crop, and Drop It Like A Squat Capri. Each of these has a different swirl of color design element in the waistband and lower legs, but the fit is similar with all three. They are mid-rise (come just below my belly button), and have a reinforced double waistband that keeps them from slipping. I’m also a big fan of the flatlock stitching, so the seams are completely flat.

Drop It Like A Squat Capri

Drop It Like A Squat Capri

The fabric is moisture-wicking and also not shiny, which is a quality I appreciate in a yoga pant.The size chart on their site is accurate to my measurements, but the fabric is not as stretchy as some other pants I own (Athleta or Lineage as examples), and for that reason, I’d go a size up next time I order a pair.

Sore Not Sorry Capri (top is from Athleta)

Sore Not Sorry Capri (top is from Athleta)

I really like the designs and the colors chosen. These pants could be awesome workout staples in just about any closet.

Drop It Like A Squat Capri

Drop It Like A Squat Capri

The tops – I tried 3 tops: the Ladies First Tank, Sweat Angel Tank, and All The Right Moves Tank. From the photos on their website, I thought I’d like the first two more because of the design elements, but I was actually surprised that the only one that worked for me was the All The Right Moves tank.

The Ladies First tank and Sweat Angel tank both have built in bras, and I had the same fit issues that I have with most athletic tops, which is to say I am 2 sizes bigger on my bottom half – so anything that fits my hips is going to be too big in the boobs. The tops looked fine on, but once I hit a down dog, I wasn’t really confident about my boobs not falling out. I have friends with larger chests who have tried these tanks though, and they said they worked great for them. So my advice is if you’re pear shaped, go for the All The Right Moves tank.

Leave Your Mark Crop & All The Right Moves Tank

Leave Your Mark Crop & All The Right Moves Tank

The All The Right Moves tank was pretty awesome. It has a tie on the side so you can adjust where the bottom edge hits you, as well as tighten or loosen the top. It adds or takes away ruching depending on how you want to style it. I liked that option. It fit me well, and I could also wear my own bra under it, which I liked. This was my favorite top, hands down.

Overall, I really like this brand. The colors are vibrant, the designs are cute, and I love their body-positive message, and how responsive they are to their customers.

Behind the scenes info from Rachel, Manifesta’s Founder & CEO

Leave Your Mark Crop & All The Right Moves Tank

Leave Your Mark Crop & All The Right Moves Tank

I asked Rachel a few questions about the future of Manifesta, as well as cool current stuff they have going on:

Do you have anything coming out soon that you’d like to tell us about?
We do have super cute stuff that just came out – a long-sleeve hooded shirt and wine colored capris. We also have an all-black tank with a mesh panel in the back we are working on, and after that we’ll develop tshirts similar to our ladies first tank (with ruching at the bottom).

Do you have plans to expand your size range (I am at the very top of it, and i know it’s us larger plus gals that have trouble finding stuff)?

I REALLY want to expand sizes, but we polled our Facebookers asking them to email us if they wanted sizes larger than 24 because we would make the hoodie and capris in them, but we only got one email. On the other hand, we got about 20 requests for size 0, which we are making this round, but if more people asked us for larger sizes (28 and up), we would absolutely do it. The problem is, every run we need to make 300 of each item of each color, so we can’t do a small run of just one size.  We need to get it in with the original order.

Tell us about all the other awesome stuff I saw about your company (fair wages, etc.)

We do fair wages etc because we produce in America (in Philly, to be exact). We know all of our seamstresses and we love them and they know and love the product. I am not into overseas production because of the sweatshops and child labor and terrible working conditions, but you also lose quality control. So yes, it costs more to produce here, but it’s produced ethically and it’s produced well. I know because I’m at the factory all the time checking on stuff. And sometimes the seamstresses bring me gifts, like white sweet potatoes hahaha. And we send them gifts when they stay late to work really hard on things for us because they’re not just our employees – they’re a huge part of our team. We’ve even had some of them come see our popup shops on weekends just because they’re so proud of their work!

We also donate a portion of profits to charities each month, which so far we’ve picked because they’re charities I love, but I’m sure we’ll take nominations as we move on.

Tell us about your size exchange program!

Me standing, wearing All The Right Moves tank & Sore Not Sorry capri

All The Right Moves tank & Sore Not Sorry capri

Within 6 months of a purchase, if you need a new size for whatever reason, you can exchange your clothing (if it’s in good condition) for a comparable item in your new size at 25% off the new garment’s price. Your used clothing will be donated to the Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative, a group of non-profit organizations that encourages physical health and teaches valuable life skills to under-privileged youth.

The clothing exchange was an idea I had when I was thinking that people might not want to invest in well-made workout gear if they feel like they’ll only wear it for a month or so if they lose or gain weight, so we thought an exchange program would help alleviate that concern. And ya know, what are we going to do with used stuff? There are a ton of programs supporting fitness in urban youths, especially in Philly, so we’ll donate our clothes so the teenagers in those programs have awesome stuff to wear so they can learn about fitness at a young age and be comfortable doing it!

All photos by Jimmy Karnes.