When life gives you (Lulu)lemons..

So, some of you might remember that in my recent ramblings, I was in search of a good running tank top. I didn’t feel like I was being that picky; I just wanted a comfortable, nice fitting tank top in a breathable, quick dry fabric. I shopped at all of the usual suspects – REI, Transports, and See Jane Run – over the last couple of months, yet I failed to find anything to my liking. I was sad. Very, very sad.

Then, this morning, I came across Amy‘s post about her cute running outfit for the Chicago Marathon, which she got from Lululemon. Or simply “Lulu,” as their patrons refer to it. This made me think that, “Hm, maybe I should go and check it out.” They have a reputation for making well-fitting, but pricey workout clothes.

Why did I not go to Lulu before?  To be honest, I have an irrational fear/discomfort about shopping there. It goes back to the first time I stepped into the store, about 5 or 6 years ago, and being astonished at the price of their yoga pants. It was a matter of financial principle that led to an informal, one woman boycott. Then, over the years, I became annoyed about their marketing, also for no good reason. (Though this post sorta gets at my general feelings about the brand. Also, some of the comments on that post suggest that the company was founded by a racist libertarian who wholeheartedly supports sweatshops. I have not done any research on this topic and if anyone has any knowledge about this, please leave a comment below. For now, I’m putting my fingers in my ears and ignoring these rumors… la la la)

Anyway, desperate times call for desperate measures! I really wanted to get a tank top soon and try it out a few times before the Healdsburg Half. My afternoon suddenly freed up, and before I knew it, I was walking in to the Lulu store on College Avenue. I headed straight for the tank top section, barely saying hi to the overly friendly sales associates. I picked up the cool racerback in two sizes and headed to the changing rooms. The result? My torso resembled a sausage, except much less appealing. Next!

Cool Racerback *XLong

The Cool Racerback tank in extra long. Good for people with no bulges, rolls, or lumps.

I do have to give props to one of the sales ladies, S., who was totally helpful. She grabbed 4 other styles for me to try on. There were a few unsuccessful attempts, such as:

RUN: Light As Air SL

This is the Light As Air shirt, which might as well be called Big As A Tent.

RUN: Split Singlet

There was also this one, the Split Singlet, that reminded me of negligee. Almost too pretty and delicate (and booby) for running.

The winner? Drum roll please…

Swiftly Tech Racerback

Please ignore the fact that there’s a giant upside down U on my abdomen…

In the end, the Swiftly Tech Racerback fit everything I was looking for, except for the price. At a hefty $48, I hope it’s everything it’s cracked up to be and then some. I was told by 2 different sales associates (after I had already decided on buying the thing) about how it was dipped in silver and so it’s anti-stink. I was even told that I don’t need to wash it very often. Brilliant!

All in all, I felt OK about my Lulu shopping experience this time around, though it freaks me out how peppy and fit all of the sales ladies are. I was afraid to stare into their eyes, for fear of joining the Lulu cult. When the cashier found out I was a runner and invited me to join the weekly running club, I felt uneasy, made a lame excuse, and looked for a quick escape. I know, I’m weird, but I’m just not a fan of that kind of shopping experience. From a local mom and pop store, maybe, but not from a national chain. It just doesn’t feel genuine to me, you know? But maybe it is, and maybe I’m just a cynical jerkface. All I know is that if I want another one of these tank tops, I’m shopping online.


Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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Posted in Gear, random
12 comments on “When life gives you (Lulu)lemons..
  1. Cathryn says:

    I have a thing against LuluLemon as well. Primarily because it’s so ridiculously expensive but also I don’t think their stuff is that nice….the upside down U annoys me as well. But partly because it seems to attract tiny, manicured, highlighted girls who are everything that I dread in life!!! I LOVED that post you linked to, and was so proud to find it was written by a Brit 😉

    • Jen says:

      I know exactly what you mean about the Lulu “type.” Glad I’m not the only one that feels this way! I’m also glad you liked the post. The Hairpin is a great website!

  2. Amy says:

    HA! Well, I’m glad you found something you liked! I like the swiftly line too!

    While I am a self-professed “Lulu” fan, I can definitely understand concerns with the brand, the least of which are the controversial views of the former CEO. BUT for the most part, the products hold up and they tend to be more uniquely (and functionally) designed than any other athletic brand I can find. And while the salesgirls are unusually peppy, they are knowledgeable about the products and the athletic lifestyle, and I am a sucker for attentive customer service!

    I hope the shirt works out for you!

    • Jen says:

      Thanks! I wore it yesterday and it was great.
      I think all of your points are very valid. This is one of those cases of love/hate for me. Obviously, Lulu has to be more than an image/brand if they want to be successful and keep their price points as high as they are. They seem very open to suggestions from their customers too, which I like.

  3. MamaTamTam says:

    This post was hilarious! It was like I was there in the store with you, haha. I too have stayed away from Lulu because of the prices, however I did find a sports bra that was on sale a few months ago since I needed a new one for Zumba. One word: wowwwwww. It was freaking amazing and life changing. I shall stalk the sales rack from now on for more and may splurge from time to time even.

    • Jen says:

      This shopping trip would have been more fun if you were there, Tammy. You are the best shopping companion! Except that you would’ve convinced me to buy at least 3 more things. haha
      Which sports bra did you get? I’m curious about the wowwwww factor.

  4. XLMIC says:

    The first time I went into that store on College Ave. was because I had won a gift certificate. I really like the two sweatshirts that I got, but the prices are INSANE. Nonetheless, I did go in again a month ago. And I, too, purchased a $48 tank top. We are such suckers 😛

    • Jen says:

      Yeah, I know. When I told my boyfriend I had bought a $48 tank top, he was shocked. Hopefully the quality, style, and comfort will trump the “sucker” factor. 😉

  5. Kimra says:

    I have a similar Lulu story — from “hell no, not for me” to “oohhhhhhhkay, maybe I’ll go in” to “whoops, just bought a $48 tank top.” The first shirt I got was a freebie for doing a race they sponsored (so, it wasn’t “free,” but the race entry fee was less than the price of the shirt!). What actually got me to hand over my own credit card was one of their sports bras, which a friend had raved about and was no more expensive (…actually less, shockingly) than my regular one. Then it was a tank top. THEN it was shorts. I feel kind of gross and dirty every time I go in there, and yet I keep going! I have actually gone to the run club in San Francisco and had a good time, though — so that part was less cult-y than I expected.

    • Jen says:

      Are you telling me that this tank top is the gateway drug to all things Lulu? Haha. I’ve heard good things about the run club too (the one on College Ave in Berkeley/Oakland). It was just the crazy cashier lady (who had just been hula hooping prior to helping me, of course) who made it seem questionable.

  6. roserunner says:

    You know, I believe that running in Lululemon clothes may feel better, or last longer, than other running clothes….and I wish I owned some….but it is the principal! So expensive! If I found that my running life was sucking because of my cotton t-shirts, then I’d buck up the $. But so far, running in cheap clothes has been fine enough…

    p.s. I was so out of it this a.m. It was a run fail. See you out there next week!

    • Jen says:

      I wished that cotton worked for me. Do you have a particular brand that you like? I sweat SO much that cotton gets clingy and on the verge of chafing. (TMI?) It’s easy for me to find great tech short sleeve shirts, but tank tops were impossible for some reason.

      Great to see you yesterday morning! I was out of it too, obvs. See you next week! BTW, m

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4/28/19: London Marathon

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