We tried it: Beyonce's Ivy Park line
"We Tried It" is a column where stylist and novice athlete Megan Ann Wilson tries new, innovative or weird fitness products. Have a product you want her to test before you buy? Let us know at @shegotgame and @espnW.
When Beyonce announces a new line of workout wear, it's a must-try. Queen B's debut Ivy Park collection (a collaboration with Top Shop) is described as "modern essentials for both on and off the field." It launched last Thursday and features 200 pieces, ranging from Beyonce's signature bodysuits to casual sweatpants and honeycomb-patterned jackets, as well as leggings, crop tops and very short-shorts.
I was most curious about the fit. I'm short (5-foot-2), and I carry more weight in my lower half. That means that for me, pants tend to be tight in the thighs and bottom and loose in the waist and knees. The Ivy Park leggings come in three styles -- high-cut, mid-cut, and low-cut -- and three lengths -- full, three-quarters and cropped -- ranging from sizes XXS to XL. Would this mean those of us who are built curvy like Beyonce rather than thin like Kate Moss would finally have better-fitting athletic wear at a reasonable price?
On launch day, I tried on as many pieces as possible to mixed results. The fit claims to offer "silhouette contouring," but I had difficulty getting the leggings over my thighs. I found them to be too narrow through the thigh with an inseam that was too long for me. The performance pieces have a snug cut, so I needed to size up. The casual pieces, like the bomber and sweats, are cut more generously.
The mesh insert 7/8 leggings ($70) felt overstretched no matter what size I tried and again were too long. I tried doing squats and lunges and felt restricted. I was excited about the print mid-rise V-shape leggings ($75) and matching printed cross-back crop ($52) but both gaped at the back and flattened my bottom and chest rather hugging my curves. Granted, my store didn't receive the full collection so I didn't get to try on every piece (like the seamless full bodysuit!) but I found a few gems. I bought the V-back mesh insert vest tank ($40) with "inner mesh bra support," of a wicking, quick-drying fabric and with a reflective Ivy Park logo.
I tested my Ivy Park tank through a variety of workouts -- yoga in the park, high-intensity interval training at home, a 5K run in the rain and, of course, dancing in the mirror. The tank itself is flattering with a scoop neck, stretchy but snug, and comfortable. I wore the tank without a sports bra to see how well the built-in bra performed in comparison to other built-in style tops that I own.
Verdict: For anything other than an Instagram pic or light yoga, you'll need a separate sports bra. The mesh material is thin and not supportive. During inverted yoga poses, like handstands or bends, I was constantly checking on wardrobe malfunctions. Alas, the tank is not cartwheel safe. Proceed with caution if you're above an A cup.
On the plus side, the Ivy Park tank didn't ride up. The straps didn't budge or dig into my shoulders, no matter the activity. On my rainy run, I layered the tank under a jacket and it absorbed more moisture and sweat than other sweat-wicking pieces I've tried, and it didn't leave me chilled during my run. It also hasn't stretched out of shape and thankfully, is machine washable.
Worth the money?
It all depends on how you plan to wear the pieces. If you're looking for activewear for running or sweating, my answer is no. If you're a member of the Beyhive and think of Ivy Park as athleisure, my answer is yes. I recommend trying on before buying, especially if you have a curvy or athletic build. The coolest pieces are the least practical -- like the hexagon mesh bomber jacket ($82) and sleeveless logo bodysuit ($50). I'll wear the tank with a separate sports bra for low-impact workouts or to keep cozy during travel.