What she was looking for, however, wasn’t available in stores. “Activewear was getting way bigger, but no one was making anything for women over 30,” says Dobin, of Bethesda, who’s now hoping to fill that gap with Apifeni (pronounced like “epiphany”), her apparel line that launched this month with a Georgetown bash. Her niche is that she’s combined exercise fashions with shapewear (the generic name for those beloved Spanx).
So the $98 Diana pant looks like it has a typical waistband, but extending up from that is a tightfitting sheath that tucks under the bottom of your sports bra. Cover it up with a $45 sporty tank that hugs your hips, and no one will know the secret of your sucked-in stomach.
“You’ll feel self-confident, not self-conscious,” Dobin promised me when I met up with her at Equinox to test out some Apifeni at a cardio sculpt class. Putting on the pants was slightly trickier than normal, but it took just a few seconds to get myself adjusted appropriately. Although the fabric squeezed around my midsection, it wasn’t uncomfortable — it felt more like a constant reminder to keep my core engaged. And I have to admit, I liked the view in the mirror.
Dobin says that simply wearing her clothes around town has already resulted in a number of sales to women who’ve inquired about her threads. Just as she was explaining this to me in the locker room, 35-year-old Julie Rienzo came up to her to compliment her top. “That’s such a pretty color,” she cooed about the turquoise ruffled tank Dobin had pulled out of her bag and asked for info on how to get one. “Workout wear is now all-the-time wear because it’s easy to chase after kids in it, but you want something that looks cute,” said Rienzo, a mother of three, who’d never met Dobin before.
With two little boys of her own, Dobin understands that sentiment. She grabbed her Flow cardigan to show Rienzo how it drapes over her bottom so she can quickly cover up when she needs to go from the gym to pick up the kids at preschool. Having these kinds of conversations is the ultimate in feedback for Dobin, who says they prove the time and money she’s spent over the past three years to learn the business — and finally have her Apifeni — have been worth the investment.
Now it’s time to find out definitively. At the Georgetown launch party, co-hosted by longtime pal Dana Perino, the former White House press secretary, the Apifeni fashions strutted around a club on models. The young women sporting the clothes clearly didn’t have any bulges to hide, but they demonstrated to cocktail-sipping guests (including a few of D.C.’s “Real Housewives” and local TV news personalities) how secure the ShapeTech waist technology is and let them feel the comfortable stretch of the fabric.