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Women’s Running Outfit (Favorite Picks For 2024)

There’s a popular quote that applies to women’s running clothing. I always think it’s a bit rubbish:

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.

Alfred Wainwright, A Coast To Coast Walk

If you’ve ever run in freezing cold rain battling against a headwind, you’ll find this just isn’t true. Even the best women’s running clothing has its limitations.

Sometimes there’s a choice to be made: embrace the terrible weather or take the easy option. For me, that’s a treadmill in a warm gym, (or staying put on the couch).

Still, it has to be said, some women’s running clothes are now so good Wainwright’s quote is almost correct. This is odd because the quote comes from a guidebook written in the ’70s.

This review is based on my own independent product knowledge and testing. If you like what I do, you can support me through my chosen links. I may earn a commission but it’s at no additional cost to you. Learn more about my product recommendations.

women's running clothing

Women’s Running Clothes Have Improved Drastically

I started running in the mid-’80s. At that stage, even outdoor clothing sucked big time. My walking outfit was breaches fashioned out of a pair of wool Army surplus trousers, a flannel shirt, a wool jumper, and a Cagjac.

The Cagjac was the pinnacle of waterproof jackets back then. A knee-length abomination of stiff neoprene-coated fabric. It sort of kept you dry but only if you didn’t walk very fast. It wasn’t much use for running.

Running clothing for women was embarrassingly short shorts and matching nylon running vests. For running in the hills, we beefed up our gear for bad weather with Helly Hansen’s thermal baselayers. Thermal tights worn under shorts, (nice), and cotton tee-shirts worn over the thermal tops to keep out the wind, (lovely and soggy).

If it rained, (and this was the UK so it rained a lot), you relied on a flimsy nylon waterproof that leaked like a sieve. Stopping wasn’t an option. You needed to keep running to stay warm.

Thankfully these fashion horrors and safety nightmares are now consigned to history. Today there’s an abundance of running clothing for women to choose from.

Running Outfits For Women

The Best Women’s Running Clothing

I’m a typical runner, I’ll go out in all weathers. Now and again I’ll even run in heavy rain – the most challenging conditions for running clothing.

Gradually I’ve built up a running wardrobe that takes me from hot summer runs to running in the rain or snow in winter. It’s all about layers.

Running Baselayer

A thin, wicking baselayer keeps sweat away from my skin. I have short-sleeved baselayers for running in summer and long-sleeved versions for winter. On really hot days I’ll swap my running tee for a running vest but I combine it with SPF 50+ sunscreen on all exposed skin.

The best wicking fabrics are blends of polyester, nylon, and spandex. Merino will appeal to natural fiber lovers but I find it never wicks well enough for a running baselayer. Keep Merino for mid-layers on really cold days or for walking. If it’s hot and humid, all fabrics will get wet from sweat, but the best man-made baselayers dry out quickly.

Never Wear Cotton For Running

This isn’t the ’80s. Keep those cotton T-shirts and vests well away from your running gear. Cotton gets wet easily and once it’s wet stays wet – it will chafe and feel like cardboard next to your skin.

It’s the same for running socks. A pack of cotton sports socks may look like a bargain but you’ll pay for it with blisters.

Next Comes A Mid-layer.

I have a drawer stuffed full of different mid-layer options from thin to thick and in a range of fabrics. Thin mid-layers in polyester or merino wool, and warmer fleecy versions for really cold days. There are even soft-shell layers with wind resistance that doubles as a windproof jacket.

On top, I’ll add a running jacket if it’s raining, maybe a thin windproof jacket for warm, blowy days, or even an insulated jacket if I’m running in the snow.

For my legs, it’s running shorts on sunny days or even a running skort, thin 3/4 length capris, or full-length tights for cooler weather. When the cold wind blows and there’s snow on the ground, I have my ultimate winter tights with a fleecy lining.

Accessorize with caps, hats, gloves, and ear mitts, don’t forget your essential sports bra for support, and invest in several pairs of running socks – yes running socks are worth it!

women's running clothes

Favorite Picks For Running Outfits For Women

My running wardrobe has grown gradually over the years. It’s an investment I keep adding to. Some of these items of women’s running clothes I’ve bought recently and some are similar staples from brands I love.

Essential Sports Bra

After your shoes, a good running bra is the most essential piece of kit for a woman. I find it’s extremely painful running without a good bra and you need a high-impact sports bra to protect Cooper’s ligaments in your breasts from stretching.

Finding the right bra may take a bit of trial and error. More than any other item on this list, it depends on your size and shape. Women with smaller breasts can get away with crop top-style bras. This is one of my go-to bras. I like the way there are no fastenings to rub if you’re wearing a race pack.

For larger breasts, you need a lot more support. A stabilizing bottom band, molded cups, and front fastening – are all features to look out for. Enell has a big reputation for designing running bras for larger cup sizes. This is their most popular front-fastening style.

If you’re looking for a bra that suits most runners, try the Champion Spot Comfort Full-Support Sports Bra. It’s for cup sizes C to DDD and has a massive fan base. Love the way you’re not limited to choosing from black or white.

Baselayers – Ladies Running Tops & Running Vests

Keep cool on the hottest days with this perfect number from Under Armour. This Heat Gear Racer Tank is super breathable and seriously sweat-wicking. Chafing can be a serious issue with some women’s running clothing but not with this tank. It’s made from a soft fabric with flatlock seams plus the stretchy material guarantees an excellent fit.

Under Armour Women's Standard HeatGear Racer Tank, (433) Glacier Blue / / Iridescent, X-Large

If you prefer your tops with sleeves, (I certainly do except on the hottest days), you can’t go far wrong with tops by Under Armour. These Under Armour Heat Gear Short-Sleeve Tees come in a wide range of colors – something to suit everyone.

In 100% polyester, the tees are ultra-soft with a natural feel. I’ve been running in one all summer. It wicks well and it’s the first top I reach for on warm sunny days.

Under Armour Women's Standard HeatGear Short-Sleeve T-Shirt, (174) Fresh Orchid / / Iridescent, Small

For a thin long-sleeve baselayer, these Baleaf tops have some wonderful details – essential thumb loops and even a window to check your watch display. It’s super soft next to the skin and oozes a luxurious feel.

The polyester fabric, with open mesh construction, makes it one of the fastest-drying fabrics I’ve come across. Just what you want from a baselayer.

I’ve been using it as an extra layer all summer over a short-sleeved version, but for winter it will be working hard as a baselayer – keeping me dry on my cold-weather training runs.

BALEAF Women's Running Shirts Quick Dry Lightweight Long Sleeve Pullover UPF50+ Moisture Wicking Hiking Light Blue Size L

Running Shorts & Skorts

When it’s hot it’s time to get those legs out. I love a running skort and Salomon always has some of the best women’s running shirts. Really comfortable, I wore this running skirt around an ultra a few weeks ago. Zero chafing and lots of handy pockets for gels. There’s also a hidden zipped pocket to securely stash your keys

If you’re not a pink lover for your choice of women’s running clothing, it also comes in black. I find the undershorts on some skorts are too short and ride up causing your legs to rub on really long runs. Not so with these beauties!

Salomon Women's Standard Skort, Brick DUST, L

On really hot days I wear my Under Armour Fly By Shorts. Short without being too revealing with a built-in brief just to make sure you’re not flashing too much.

The fabric wicks and dries quickly and I like the comfort of the soft knit waistband. These are so popular there’s a huge range of colors to choose from – but you can’t go wrong with black.

Under Armour Womens Fly By 2.0 Running Shorts , Black (001)/Black , Medium

Even with the best women’s running clothing, it can be hard work finding somewhere to put your phone when running. That’s not a problem with these workout shorts from Baleaf. There’s a deep side pocket plus a hidden pocket in the waistband – room for keys, phone, a gel – everything you need for shorter runs.

With an 8-inch inseam, these are great shorts for the transition to autumnal weather. Those days when it’s not quite cold enough for leggings but too cold for short running shorts.

BALEAF Biker Shorts Women with Pockets Workout Gym Spandex Shorts Tummy Control Yoga Running Compression Shorts 8" Black L

Running Midlayers For Women

Midlayer can mean anything for women’s running clothing from something little more than a baselayer in thickness to a substantial pull-on for sub-zero temperatures. The idea is you’re trapping air between your baselayer and midlayer. This trapped air warms up as you run helping you to stay warm.

The Under Armour Tech Team Midlayer is just the sort of item you need when the weather starts to get colder. It’s soft, stretchy, lightweight, and ever so breathable.

A snug layer for hitting those trails.

Under Armour Women's Standard Tech Twist ½ Zip Long Sleeve Pullover, (419) Capri/Fuse Teal/Metallic Silver, Medium

For really cold weather, it’s time to reach for some seriously warm running gear. Those pieces of kit you can rely on for running in when less hardy souls stay tucked up warm in bed.

First up is the Craft ADV Charge Warm Jacket. There’s little to say here except if you live somewhere cold, buy one. You won’t regret it.

Craft Sportswear Women's ADV Charge Warm Jacket, Roxo, Small
women's running clothing

Running Leggings & Tights For Women

Putting off reaching for leggings or running tights when the weather turns is a mistake. As much as it’s tempting to keep your women’s running clothing to skimpy tops and shorts for as long as possible, it’s hard to train properly when you’re cold.

Running capris will help make the transition to winter running. These Under Armour Fly Fast Running Capris are stretchy and super lightweight providing just enough warmth to see you through the Fall.

Under Armour Women's Fly Fast 3.0 Speed Capri , Black (001)/Neptune , Medium

Sooner or later, as winter sets in full-length running tights become the only sensible option for running in cold weather. The question then becomes “How thick do your running tights need to be?”

Women’s running tights range from thin, lightweight fabrics to tights in brushed fleecy fabrics where the best ones are even windproof.

The Under Armour Heat Gear Tights are one of my favorites for cool weather running. I have 3 pairs to get me through a week of running. Lightweight, with a terrific fit, plus a very handy side pocket.

Under Armour Women's HeatGear Armour High No-Slip Waistband Pocketed Leggings , Black (001)/White , Small

Cold weather running is so much nicer when you have warm legs. I beef up the warmth factor of my leggings on really cold days Sugoi SubZero Tights. Just right for running in snow!

SUGOi - Women's SubZero Tight, Black, Medium

Outer Layers For Running In Summer

When you’re running in summer, your outer layers need to be easily packable. Lightweight, waterproof, and windproof protection you can pull on in an emergency.

If you’re a road runner, a windproof, showerproof jacket is often sufficient. Anything else and you’re just going to overheat. I also carry a windproof jacket while running on the trails. Some of these jackets are so lightweight it’s no effort to carry one alongside your emergency waterproof.

This lightweight jacket from Adidas is a good option for most running needs. It will keep you mainly dry in light showers and you can pack it away when you no longer need it.

adidas Women's Marathon Translucent Jacket, Black/Black, Medium

You can reproof it with Nikwax TD Direct Spray-On but I don’t tend to bother. For me, a windproof jacket is purely about blocking the wind. It can make a big difference to warmth and comfort running on a breezy day.

If you run in the mountains, even in summer the weather can change quickly. Never head into the hills without packing a full set of waterproofs. It’s always better to play safe even on the hottest days.

My favorite waterproof jacket by far is the Arc’teryx Norvan SL Hoody and you can find out more in my rundown of the Best Rain Jacket For Running. Team with some waterproof pants for full protection in the hills. A good budget option is the Marmot Women’s Precip Pants.

Arc'teryx Norvan LT Hoody Women's | Lightweight Gore-Tex Trail Run Shell | Black, X-Small

Outer Layers For Running In Winter

Sometimes anything goes when it comes to running in winter, especially on the trails. I’ve had top brands look at me in wonder on the buying circuit when I’ve pulled jackets out of their alpine climbing ranges and announced “That would be good for winter running”.

Sugoi of course understands where I’m coming from. Their Firewall Jacket is a testament to all the hardy souls who venture out in the worst of weather. Wainwright would have loved it.

It’s designed for medium to high-intensity workouts in winter conditions. Layer it up with a base and midlayer, top off with your waterproof if it starts to rain and you’re ready for anything.

SUGOi Firewall Jacket - Women's Black Medium

The Arc’teryx Atom Hoody is one of those pieces everyone should own. No, it’s not designed for running but its lightweight insulation will make all the difference if you’re out in bad weather.

If it’s cold enough to pull this hoody out of your pack, you’re running in some serious conditions. For full-on winter days, I like to have it in my pack just in case.

Arc'teryx Atom Heavyweight Hoody Women's | Warm Synthetic Insulation Hoody for All Round Use | Boxcar, Small

Don’t Forget Hats, Gloves and Running Socks

For summer running, I like to use a cap to keep the sun off my race and carry some lightweight gloves, mainly because I always suffer from cold hands!

Nike Women's Dry Element Running Gloves (Black, Small)
TrailHeads Women's Race Day Performance Running Cap, Lightweight & Quick Drying Mesh Sports Hat with Reflective Trim - White

A big plus with this cap is it’s deep if you have a lot of hair and works well with a ponytail.

In winter I have a constant battle to keep my hands warm. I know I’m not the only one. It was the top complaint amongst female runners in my outdoor store.

I’ve tried a lot of gloves. After a lot of trial and error, I’ve ended up with an earlier version of the Sugoi RS Zero Gloves.

So far they’ve never failed to keep my hands warm. The only issue I have is stopping other family members from borrowing them!

Sugoi Rs Zero Gloves, Medium, Black

Socks are the other essential accessory. I find they’re so important I’ve written a separate post about the Best Socks For Runners.

If you’re a runner dedicated to trail running in all conditions, there’s another item to add to your list: waterproof socks.

Of course, you can get Gore-Tex versions of trail running shoes. These can help keep your feet dry until the moment the water goes over the top of your shoes. Then you’re stuck for the rest of your run with wet feet sloshing around in water trapped inside your shoes.

It’s far better to have waterproof socks with a hydrostop seal around the top of your ankle to prevent water ingress. I’ve been using Sealskinz All Weather Waterproof Socks for years.

SEALSKINZ Unisex Waterproof All Weather Ankle Length Sock, Grey/Grey Marl, Small

Last of all – never forget your hat. Keeping your head warm protects against heat loss and just feels so much nicer if you’re running in cold weather. Smartwool have some of my favorites:

Smartwool Popcorn Cable Merino Wool Beanie For Men and Women, Natural Donegal, One Size
Smartwool Thermal Merino Colorblock Merino Wool Beanie For Men and Women, Festive Fuchsia Heather, One Size

Building Your Women’s Running Clothing Wardrobe

Your running clothing is unique to you. This post will give you ideas but it’s best to work out the type of runner you are, road or trail, someone who’s happy to go out in all weathers, or someone who heads for a treadmill when bad weather hits.

I find it’s better to buy items from brands I trust, saving up for the pieces I really want instead of making do with inferior products. When I find garments I love they get a lot of use!

Women’s running clothes are seasonal so if you buy wisely at the end of the Summer or Winter, you can often pick up the pieces you need at good prices. I’ve had some great buys this way – running wardrobe staples at knock-down prices. What’s not to love!

women's clothing for runners
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