Ah, comfort. You can't beat it. After a long day at the office -- or anywhere else that requires zippers, snaps, buttons, pantyhose or jewelry fresh from the safe deposit box -- slipping into a pair of yoga pants feels fine. For the uninitiated, yoga pants are exercise pants designed for freedom of movement. That translates to major comfort, too. They're usually outfitted with wide elastic waistbands and made from stretchy, knitted cotton or synthetic materials. They may not be much to look at -- usually -- but who cares, right? There are some exceptions to the Plain Jane rule for yoga pants, though. If you have a very nice body, a snug pair can look like a second skin. In that case, you're supplying the style.
Yoga pants have hit the mainstream in recent years. Workout pants in black stretchy materials may be fine for the gym or for relaxing around the house. But newer styles made from fancy fabrics or sporting interesting embellishments can fit in around town without risking the wrath of the fashion police. They're considered crossover pieces that will look at home in places where your classic workout pants won't.
As a fashion choice, yoga pants are still somewhat controversial, but there's no doubt they've moved out of the gym. Movie starlets pose in them, new moms practically live in them and stylish young things show off their curves in them. Forward-thinking fashion designers want to make the world a more yoga pant-friendly place, which may be ruffling some feathers and putting strain on traditional dress codes for work, school and even dress casual functions in some parts of the country.
On the next page, let's take a look at the future of yoga pants -- and maybe pants in general. With a few modifications or some clever accessorizing, you can still look wonderful without sacrificing comfort.
How to Still Look Chic in Yoga Pants
Love them or hate them, yoga pants are here to stay. Sales are going up and up and up. One classic argument you'll hear a lot to explain (and justify) the trend is that blue jeans had a lowly beginning as a work pant, and in a few tumultuous decades still managed to transform the fashion industry. If you're looking for that kind of acceptance for yoga pants, you might be waiting for a while.
One problem is that form-fitting stretch garments like yoga pants can be, and usually are, revealing. Perform an Internet search on yoga pants and you'll see thread after thread about finding the right undergarments to wear with them. (Seamless panties or thongs seem to be popular for women not willing to go commando.) If you have bumps, dimples, saddle bags or other figure flaws, be prepared to put them on display when you wear this style of pant.
The stretchy comfort and elastic waistband you associate with yoga pants are being adapted by clever designers into more upscale, less revealing, and somewhat more fashionable versions that still feel good on. They're what you'd get if you crossed a yoga pant with a pair of conventional slacks. Lose the zipper, add a little extra fabric for a figure-flattering drape, keep the elastic waistband and throw in traditional styling like piping and pockets. In some cases, the materials have also been upgraded. Think poplin, linen or silk for special occasions. These are next generation yoga pants. You may not want to sleep in them, but you'll definitely feel better about wearing a pair on date night or for lunch with the girls.
If you haven't tried one of the newer styles in yoga pants, you can still look more fashion friendly in the workout classics you're used to:
- Perform a figure assessment -- If you think your pants are too revealing, and what they're revealing isn't you at your best, consider wearing something else or investing in some camouflage in the guise of a longer top.
- Choose the right undergarments -- We've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: If your panty lines are showing through your yoga pants, change your undergarments. Thongs and seamless panties are a good option. Plenty of women wear nothing at all, but that can be a bit too revealing for some. Let your conscience -- and your three-way mirror -- be your guide.
- Include a cover-up -- Create a sleek silhouette with yoga style pants, but wear them under a casual jacket, cardigan or long hoodie.
- Add style with a smart top -- Yoga pants can look pretty minimalist, but adding a flowing or other eye-catching blouse or shirt can rock the look. Consider adding a trapeze top, drop-shouldered shirt or gathered top. Dolman sleeves, cowl necklines and other styles that create fullness and softness also work well.
- Layer it -- A T-shirt with a top over it can look pulled together, too, especially when the necklines of the layering garments create an interesting arrangement of curves and colors.
- Showcase your shoes -- Yoga pants are often tapered, much like skinny jeans, making your feet and what's on them more noticeable. Indulge your shoe obsession with adorable ballet flats or your favorite boots or booties. Oh, and a nice pedicure wouldn't hurt if you're wearing open-toed shoes.
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- Brodesser-Akner, Taffy. "To Stretch or Not to Stretch." New York Times. 3/16/11. (9/3/12). http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/17/fashion/17elastic.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all
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- Von Glinow, Kiki. "Celebrities In Yoga Pants (PHOTOS): Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Megan Fox Sport Workout Gear." 6/4/12. (9/3/12). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/03/celebrities-in-yoga-pants-photos-kim-kardashian_n_1474982.html
- YFE. "How to Rock Yoga Pants." 7/26/11. (9/3/12). http://youngfemaleentrepreneurs.com/2011/fashion/how-to-rock-yoga-pants/