Running in Style – Pearl Izumi Women’s Apparel Review

You can sum up all my running clothes with one word – black. It’s not that I’ve actively tried to coordinate all my running clothes on the dark side; it’s just that I didn’t want to deal with matching all the patterned clothing when what I’m really looking for is comfort, temperature control, and functionality.

So, when I first tried on my new purple, grey, and black colored running outfit made by Pearl Izumi, I was very impressed at the cute factor. Being a long time runner (I think I started when I was 10), styles in the past were not necessarily about being cute. Plus, anybody who has known me for more than a day knows that I’m pretty far from a girly girl.

While I ran in my new outfit throughout this fall season, I came to realize that I can have comfort, temperature control, functionality, AND cute all at the same time.

Stylish running at Vedauwoo, near Laramie, Wyoming

Until a few years ago, I always wore size small women’s clothing. Although my size has not since changed, somehow I now have to wear almost all medium-sized tops or otherwise not be able to freely move my shoulders. Personally, I think the clothing industry mistakenly believes that most women have suddenly lost their muscles, or that all women prefer to dress in the too-tight-and-not-all-too-flattering teenage girl tops.

The author catching some autumn sun on the run

Consequently, imagine my surprise with I tried on my new medium-sized shirt and realized that it was true to size, not at all tight at my shoulders, and possibly even too big for me. Regardless, the shirt was still very comfortable. My arm movements never felt restricted and that’s one of the main things I strive for in a shirt.

Additionally, fabric blend is a huge factor for me. The shirt is part of Pearl Izumi’s Select Series (rather than from their more advanced Elite or P.R.O. Series) and made of 100 percent polyester. The main advantage of the Select Series is lower cost, while still having a performance worthy fabric blend. I never felt clammy while running in this shirt – the wicking properties worked perfectly for me.

I am comfortable in short-sleeved shirts in temperatures down to about 45 degrees. In lower temperatures I prefer to add arm sleeves rather than switching to a long sleeve shirt, because the gap between the arm sleeves and the short sleeves allows some air to circulate and cool me off when I’m running hard.

Switching to the tights, one of the first things I noticed were the pockets. A few years back before all this new fangled vehicle technology, there was a saying that vehicles were sold because of their cup holders. The same may be true about running clothing. Having a place to put your gel , car keys and cell phone can be close to priceless. The tights have a pocket on either hip and a zippered picket in the back, all perfectly sized for any of the above mentioned items.

The next thing I noticed was that the tights did not “ride down.” I didn’t have to pull them up constantly while I was running. In fact, over the course of a 50 km race I needed to pull them up a little exactly twice. The fit was perfect – no saggy tights here.

Pearl Izumi Women’s Ultra 3QTR Tights

The tights were comfortable in temperatures ranging from 35 to 55 degrees, and probably could even go another 5-10 degrees on either side of that range depending if you are a “warm” or “cold” runner. Being 3/4 tights, they allowed my lower legs direct exposure to the elements which aided with temperature control during warmer or variable temperature runs. Ironically, I didn’t feel too cold in cooler weather without the full length. I was surprised that I could run in these tights at temperatures approaching freezing without being uncomfortable.

Another advantage of 3/4 tights is the ability to add full lower leg compression socks without doubling up fabric on your lower legs, and therefore not adding unnecessary heat. Given that compression socks are becoming very popular with runners, I would expect that 3/4 tights are going to become more popular as well during cool season running.Bottom Line: Pearl Izumi has impressed me with a very well-fitting top and tights, constructed of good quality wicking fabric and cute on top of that. The one downfall is the price tag of $80 for the tights. However, if the tights prove to be durable, then the cost may be worth it for many runners.

You may find more information and purchase the tights at this Pearl Izumi link. Tops and other apparel from Pearl Izumi’s Select Series can be found at this Pearl Izumi link. To purchase from Pearl Izumi’s full line of products, click here.

Photography by Bryan Cochran at

About the author

Molly Cochran

Molly is a self-proclaimed adventure addict who participates in a number of sports - ultra running, mountain biking, orienteering, kayaking, snowshoeing, triathlon, nordic skiing, and adventure racing.

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