With so much focus on finding the right sneakers, the perfect sports bra, and the best leggings, it can be all too easy to overlook the shirt you’re wearing until you’re regretting your choice mid-workout. Having the right top really does make a difference and can make your workout considerably more enjoyable.
That’s why we took our time scouring more than 370 new tees, tanks, and shirts for our 2023 Activewear Awards, ending up with our top 10 picks below. They’re perfect for everything from your longest runs to days you just want to do a little stretching before bed. Short, long, tight, or loose—we know there’s something for you on this list.
What to Look for When Shopping for Tees, Tanks, and Shirts
When selecting the best tops, we considered factors like fabric, fit, and length. With that in mind, we measured each top against its claims: Was it intended to be body-hugging or loose? Should it help keep you warm or wick sweat away in hot temps? Above all, we looked for tops that were comfortable to wear. That often (but not always) meant looking for apparel with bonded or flat-lying seams, or tops that were almost entirely seamless (like the Lululemon option on our list below).
We also considered fabric quality and whether it seemed like the shirt or tank would hold up season after season—looking just as good as the first time you threw it in the washing machine. Several of the winning options on this list also include antimicrobial fabrics—which prevent fungi and bacteria growth and, in turn, may help your tops smell fresher, longer, as SELF previously reported.
How We Picked the Best Tees, Tanks, and Shirts
The tees, tanks, and shirts considered for the 2023 SELF Activewear Awards had to meet our submission guidelines, which you can read more about here. After brands submitted almost 500 items, a group of 45 testers (consisting of SELF staffers, fitness professionals, and exercise enthusiasts) got to work testing. Testers had two months to wear an item several times and in a number of ways, judging its performance against the standards set in SELF’s Activewear Buying Guide (a summary of which you can read above!). The tees, tanks, and shirts that came out on top are listed below.
During our selection process, we were met once again with the disheartening reality that plus-size activewear options are not nearly as numerous as they should be, nor are they offered in the same quality as many straight sized lines. For that reason, we decided to include items that went up to a size 2X on the winners list, while instituting a new extended sizing badge system so you can easily tell at a glance which products are made for you (or not, as the case may be). For items that do only go up to 2X, we’ve mentioned comparable options from brands we trust that weren’t part of the testing process but are available in additional sizes. We hope that these awards, the badge system, and SELF as a whole will continue to push the industry forward when it comes to size inclusivity and fat acceptance.