Last week I received an Athleta apparel catalog in the mail — and I've been lusting after their cute jersey-knit dresses, trendy tribal-print tanks, and travel-ready shorts and shirts ever since it arrived. But while I'd love to replace every item in my wardrobe with something from the catalog, it's simply not practical. With a bit of research, though, I've learned that I can find similar styles and fabrics at other companies, for a fraction of the cost.

Here are some companies to use as substitutes for more pricey fitness and comfort apparel, while still getting exceptional quality and style.

1. Athleta vs. Gap

Athleta and Gap are sister companies (along with Banana Republic, Old Navy, and Piperlime), but Gap provides cheaper options. The GapFit line offers lots of fitness clothes with the same wicking, fast-drying, and non-wrinkle features of many Athleta pieces. So while you might love these $74 Athleta running capris, these Gap foldover capris offer similar performance and features — for less than $35! Gap also posts current coupon codes on its own site. Lots of daily codes were available in March for 15, 20, and 25 percent off a purchase. Additionally, their sales department contains a wealth of Athleta-comparable pieces for half or even three-fourths the cost.

2. The North Face vs. REI

The North Face manufactures incredibly durable, well-made clothes, especially outerwear. But with jackets (even light ones) costing well over $100, their prices are prohibitive for many. You can get the same well-built clothing with a 100 percent performance guarantee just like the North Face from REI.  Additionally, REI offers an online outlet, but the North Face does not. Coupons help you save even more. For instance, recently, REI members could get 20 percent off any item. Pair your coupon with an item on sale for the biggest discount.

3. Sanuk vs. Reef

I admired a friend's new surfer slip-ons from California-cool Sanuk footwear, but, as much as I coveted the comfort and style, I couldn't spend $55 per pair. Reef offers comparable styles and comfort for less.  Get your stripes on with these cuties, just like the Sanuks — and they're around $40 on Amazon. So if you like a specific Sanuk style, you might find a comparable Reef shoe either direct through the site or on Amazon for a lot less.

4. J.Crew vs. Soma

J.Crew maxi dresses would help make any woman's wardrobe warm-weather-ready. But those prices!  Soma offers soft cotton dress styles with the same bit of stretch and durability as many J.Crew items.  Soma also routinely clearances their pieces, like their current sale on dresses starting at just $39. I bought a maxi dress there last year that I get compliments on every time I wear it. So love this colorful sea breeze bandeau style from J.Crew? Get a similar bandeau style from Soma for half the price.

5. Gaiam vs. Green Apple

I love the fabrics and sustainable company philosophy of Gaiam. Their cotton yoga clothing is so cute it almost makes you not want to work out so you don't take the chance of destroying them (I know—sort of defeats the purpose, right?). Green Apple is a company that offers similar eco-conscious active wear, and the availability of the merchandise at various stores makes finding a bargain practical. I've had luck finding Green Apple apparel at closeout stores like Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, and Ross. Look specifically in these stores' women’s fitness sections to find the best selection. My latest Green Apple find was a colorfully-patterned $5 sports bra at T.J. Maxx! Not bad for a $40 product. Green Apple apparel can also be netted online, with some items at a discount, from Amazon and EvolveFitwear. How does $22 off this organic bamboo French terry jacket sound?