Let’s Talk Yoga Clothes


I’m not super into the whole popular modern yoga look. I don’t wear the neon luon nor the flowy Ganesha shirts and the many layers of malas. But…if I looked and lived like Christy Turlington, I would always do Second Series in a satin jumpsuit. Anyways, that’s besides the point. Despite my dislike of both the hippy-dippy yoga flow look and the obnoxiously bright and sporty spandex route, I don’t do my asana practice naked.

Clothes are part of the deal and having the right clothes for my practice helps. I learned the lesson the hard way. In my naive, pre-Ashtanga days, I bought these two overpriced (but very pretty!) yoga tops that just didn’t cut it when you’re a C cup and actually doing repeated vinyasas. Pop! Yea, that’s a bit distracting. As is the tugging and readjusting of ill-fitting tights or straps in the middle of an asana.

Nowadays, before I buy any new piece of clothing for yoga, I always step out of the dressing room and do a few vinyasas. I feel kind of silly/pretentious doing this, but it’s a good and necessary test for proper fit.

Of course you can wear just about any old pair of stretchy pants and shirt for practice, but everyone has their preferences. For example, I like mid-calf tight leggings, not long flowy pants. I like skinny strap shirts with built-ins, not the top over a sports bra thing. I’m not keen on dropping a fortune on clothes that I’m just going to practice in, but I also believe that since I wear them so frequently, it’s important to buy pieces that will last.

I sometimes go the route of buying inexpensive Uniqlo or American Apparel leggings for practice, but I find that they don’t hold up that well with the beating of repeated wear and wash. In addition, they don’t exactly move in the same way that a specifically-designed yoga pant does. I know that sounds ridiculous but for me, it’s true. Even so, I do have a bright red pair of AA leggings that I consider my “lucky” pants because I was wearing them on the day that I first stood up from my backbends and later on the day that I first dropped back by myself. I adore these leggings, but the elastic has pretty much come unattached. Sadness…

This is rather a mundane topic (my husband is probably rolling his eyes right now as he reads this), but it’s not totally unimportant and it is one that I have a bit too much experience with. This is mostly because of how incredibly lazy I am when it comes to doing laundry. There was a period back in VA when I was teaching 7 yoga classes a week and practicing Mysore in a sweaty studio 6 days a week as well as going to at least one Pilates class. That’s a lot of laundry….so I just kept on “investing” in more clothes to bring my laundry down to 2 days a week.

Because I wear these outfits so much, I don’t mind shelling out a bit of extra dough here and there, which is to say, I do buy some pricier name-brand yoga clothing, like Prana. But, I almost never buy anything at full price because the Lululemon level pricing is a bit absurd, especially since you know their factory laborers aren’t getting squat. I take full advantage of my teacher discounts and I shamelessly accept free clothes from Research and Development or whoever else  wants to clothe me. I do get squeamish feelings in my tummy about the corporate philosophy and some of the policies of Lululemon but I do love my two pairs of Wunder Unders, so . Personally, the Lulu tops aren’t a great fit for me. They seem to be designed for long-waisted, straight-sided, flat girls, not simultaneously tiny and curvy ones like me. My one favorite Lulu top (the only one that fits me properly) has an adjustable bust strap and I had it altered so it wasn’t so incredibly long.

I prefer the feel of cotton, like my Hard Tail tights, rather than the slippery synthetic fabrics that is more ubiquitous in yoga wear. I normally wear capris or mid-calf length pants. I’ve never been into showing that much skin. It rarely ever feels necessary to me. It takes a whole lot of heat and intensity for me to break a sweat (and I do not have the most loving relationship with my thighs) so shorts have never appealed to me. On that note, I am mystified by the whole bandeau top trend. How does that even work!? I guess you have to be utterly flat to pull that off. Halter-top yoga shirts seem like a impractical idea as well. The tie gets in the way in poses like shoulderstand, plus I feel like that tie just creeps up the neck and causes tension. Maybe that’s just me…

One thing that I find challenging when choosing yoga clothes these days is that fact that many popular lines are designed more yoga “lifestyle” clothes than actually appropriate practice attire. I want my clothes for practice to be flexible, comfortable and secure. I don’t feel the need for all the superfluous design stuff, the ruffles, the hidden pockets, the zippers, the bedazzly stuff.

Recently a friend sent me a few pieces from a new line called Steelcore. This company makes a lot of dance/Pilates stuff so it doesn’t have quite the typical yoga look. It moves really nicely and is all made in the USA (hard to come by these days!). I definitely like mixing up my style and trying new brands. It can be a bit blah to feel like you’re just wearing the standard uniform (that’s one more thing that makes me less interested in wearing Lulu!).

Do you have a favorite brand for yoga clothing? Or a favorite “lucky” outfit? I’m always up for learning about other less mainstream companies.

Love Frances


28 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Yoga Clothes

  1. Holy shit let’s talk yoga clothes. Come on what yogi girl doesn’t have something to say on this topic? I Have to admit I’m a short wearer. (Now I’m going to sound pretentious). Leggings mean I get to cut out on using my pelvic floor. A long time ago I realized I was relying on my leggings to help me land in Bakasana so I ditched the leggings and thought shorts might help strengthen mula bandha. It did. And the brand…Shaktiactive wear. I love their wild patterns. I’m also flat chested so I have to go with a bra that makes me look like I have a bit more umph in the upper trunk…Shakti bridge top. Although I will say I’m starting to get a bit more adventurous and bought three pairs of leggins from Teeki. Which has cool designs and they are made from recycled plastic bottles.

    Woah that’s my spill.

    Right now I’m wearing leopart print full length leggings from Hard Tail.

    • Hey Joy.
      You totally rock the shorts. If I was long and spindly like you, I would too! And if I was practicing at DG’s inferno of a shala as well. I’m contemplating getting a pair for this summer and viewing it as an exercise in acceptance to deal with my stupid insecurity about my imperfect thighs 🙂
      I’ve read things from Kino saying pretty much the same thing about how wearing shorts forces her to use her bandhas and strength more actively, especially in arm balances.
      I’ve seen those Teeki leggings. Are they super slippery? I think they are cute but I’ve never tried them. I showed some great blue ones to Thad but he thought they were too loud. I think he’s just used to seeing me in my standard grey/blue/black yoga attire.

  2. Haha! What a fun topic that I end up thinking WAY too much about. I’ve often envied that Tony can do yoga in one single pair of tiny shorts with built-in undies and leave it at that. He’s been buying the same Nike running shorts since high school. But I end up with so much variation — depending on the weather, the point I’m at in my cycle, and now that I’m pregnant I just hope for a shirt that can keep my belly covered and bottoms that are stretchy enough. I haven’t invested in any specialty pregnancy yoga cloths just b/c I’ve balked at the price and it since I won’t be pregnant forever, I’ll just make do.

    But I DO have very specific requirements for yoga shorts — they must be knee-length shorts, but tight and not drapey. They must come to my knee, but not cover my knees (for some reason this makes me overheat). So I usually end up buying inexpensive yoga pants and then cutting them off right where I like them, since I’m so particular.

    Anyway — Thad might roll his eyes, but women have so many more variables to make the right yoga outfit!!

    • Lilah love,
      You are so right about the choices…if I wore the same shorts and practiced shirtless every day, I would probably think this was a silly topic as well 🙂
      I like your strategy for getting the exact length short you need….clever clever.
      And I adore seeing pictures of you and the big baby bump on fb – you look fantastic and so happy!

  3. Why don’t you have a look at Divine Goddess, which is an Australian brand. I had the same trouble as you, and found that an Ashtanga practitioner has designed these clothes. I bought a whole batch and I am so happy with how they feel during practise. I have made them my everyday home practise clothes. Really lovely and worth a look.

    • hi sydney yogini!
      thanks for reading my blog and commenting. you live in pretty much my favorite city in the whole wide world! i adore australia. i’m hoping to make it down under sometime in the next few years to practice with dena k. and visit my bestie who lives in maleny. i spent 2 months there in 2009 and it was heavenly!
      anyways, thanks so much for the recommendation! i just perused the divine goddess website and i dig their designs a lot. it’s always great to learn about new lines and it’s especially cool that these clothes were designed by an asthangi. good stuff!

  4. i have a lot of issues buying yoga clothes because i’m short and curvy too. try squeezing 34DDD into a top!!! lately, i’ve bought a few pieces from beyond yoga. their clothes are made in the US, and the fabric is super soft and stretchy. i like that it has wicking properties too because i sweat SO MUCH – ashtanga, vinyasa, it doesn’t matter which class. i’ll be following this thread to see what others suggest. i hate feeling like i’m giving the ashtangis across from me a show.

  5. i have a lot of issues buying yoga clothes because i’m short and curvy too. thanks to breastfeeding, try squeezing 34DDD into a top!!! lately, i’ve bought a few pieces from beyond yoga. their clothes are made in the US, and the fabric is super soft and stretchy. i like that it has wicking properties too because i sweat SO MUCH – ashtanga, vinyasa, it doesn’t matter which class. i’ll be following this thread to see what others suggest. i hate feeling like i’m giving the ashtangis across from me a show.

  6. dear Frances.
    i had a very similar problem. worked many years in fashion. am an advent yogi and i also teach. i have created a new line of clothing called grace, that will launch with an ecommerce shop in september. the site is up now but the new version (launching in sept) is more in tune with the new collection. not hippie, not ethnic.
    clothes for the practice and also every day life. besides being comfortable and durable for the practice, the clothes are inspired by ancient yogic teachings and eastern thought. have a look http://www.weargrace.com. and by the way you look a bit like christy turlington, compliments! karen

    • hi karen.
      compliments indeed – thanks! 🙂
      grateful to have you here on lila, reading and commenting. i have to say, your site is hands down the most elegant yoga-related website i’ve ever seen. it is simply gorgeous, as is your collection. the alchemy top – downright dreamy.
      i look forward to seeing your new collection come september.

  7. If I had all the money back I’ve spent on yoga clothes over the years, it would be a very large pile. Ridiculous! I have generally worn Lulu and also shelled it out for Prana and Hard Tail. On the subject of cheaper clothes and also trying shorts – I stumbled across this brand Onzie online somewhere and I have purchased 4 pairs of the shorts (they look like the SA / Kino shorts but less expensive; they also have a style that is not ruched on the sides). I’m loving them. I practice in them every day now after ten plus years of practicing in full length pants. It feels good. I practice at home so I don’t really care how they look; when visiting a studio or teaching class, I still don pants. I recently got some Wunder Under crops and do like them. Practice tops: I’ve always struggled with tops that are comfortable and don’t ride up, so I resigned myself to a sports bra and undershirt long ago. I bought one of the Onzie practice tops (criss-cross straps in back) and it is supportive and comfortable. The website pics are a little cheesy, in my opinion, but I’ve enjoyed the clothes.

    • hi there,
      thanks for your comment and for the website recommendation. i’ve never seen that one before. i enjoyed perusing your blog and reading about your time in india. i’ve added you to my blogroll.

    • P.S. Oh I meant to add, I love your sari pics. I’ve become a bit obsessed with them myself and have been finding all sorts of excuses to wear them.

  8. The Steelcore stuff looks very interesting! I might have to give that a shot. I agree that the money some of these companies charge is out of hand for yoga wear. Of course there’s always new technology coming out that supposedly helps wick more moisture (i’m a huge sweater….not the kind you wear either :)) I definitely don’t believe in spending lulu prices for clothing and recently found a site that sells a variety of brands and supports nice social causes. I’ve tried the Green Apple and Jala items and have found them pretty decent. Take a look here: http://www.karmicfit.com

    I was chatting with one of their customer service folks and it sounds like they are working on adding a bunch more brands in the coming months!

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  12. I also am not into looking like a spandex superhero, I do mysore and teach so I like to have clothes that work for practice and let me move about the day in a style I am comfortable in. Coming from a design background I started Zen Nomad http://www.zennomad.ca/shop so just thought I would share with you. My favourite pieces for mysore practice are either the 3/4 capri, the warrior legging or the high waist legging, with the Origin tank top or the ruch front tux top (confident everything is always safe and distraction free 😉 and they are made with a super high quality bamboo spandex), and for teaching I like to throw on a linen delphine top over. or the rhythm capri.

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