Yoga pants, love them or hate them, they’re not going away any time soon. And neither is yoga. In fact it keeps getting more and more popular. So why is an entire group of people completely disregarded when it comes to yoga clothing?
For a while now, many big brands selling yoga pants have more or less ignored anyone over size 12 (for example: Lululemon runs to XL/size 12 – 40″ bust, 32.5″ waist, 43″ hips, meanwhile they have an XXS). When you look at yoga’s predominant image, though, that’s not all that surprising. Quick research to find the “typical yoga practitioner” in America will likely yield a stereotypical majority of slim-bodied white women (try a Google search for yoga, or pick up a yoga magazine). But we know that’s just not true. And yoga wear retailers are getting hip to the fact that they need to be more accommodating, which is a much better response than that loser Abercrombie CEO’s “no fat chicks” policy.
“There’s a huge target market” for plus-size activewear, said Jaime Katz, an analyst at Morningstar. “It’s significant and it shouldn’t really be ignored because it’s getting bigger as a percentage of the total population.”
Because it’s not only skinny people who want to exercise? Er, no.
Analysts say it’s short-sighted for clothing companies to accept the stereotype that overweight people aren’t interested in fitness or exercise. A 2010 Gallup poll found that 53 percent of overweight people and 41 percent of obese people say these exercise three or more days per week.
The question is: Would more plus-sized and curvier people practice yoga if there were more yoga clothes for them? Deborah Christel an assistant professor of design and merchandising at West Virginia University thinks so. Christel studies “plus-size apparel and specifically exercise motivation and the role of clothing in creating an athletic identity for plus size women” and wrote her doctoral dissertation on the subject.
“There’s no clothing available for their figure they feel comfortable in,” she said. “I think plus size women aren’t engaging in exercise or going to the yoga studio because they don’t have the right clothes.”
We don’t know if that’s entirely true, but for a curvy woman’s comfort level entering a yoga class with a sea of other stretchy-clad practitioners it could make a difference.
Typical yoga practitioner? Pfft. We’re glad that keeps getting harder to define. Not that we need yoga pants to validate it (or $100 ones for that matter! good grief), but at least it’s another step toward inclusivity, even if the motivation comes from the already insanely profitable marketing of yoga goods.
Here’s a comparative rundown of some of the largest sizes available in yoga pants from the top retailers:
Athleta (Gap, Inc. owned) – largest size: 2x/size 20
Lululemon – largest size: XL/size 12 – 40″ bust, 32.5″ waist, 43″ hips
Old Navy Women’s Plus (Gap, Inc. owned) – largest size: 4X/size 28-30
Gap – largest size: XL/size 16 (sizes 18-20 are listed on the pants size chart but most of their clothing is hard to find in this size)
American Eagle – largest size: XXL/size 18 (only available online)
Yoga pants are a start, but we know a lot of ladies out there needing more help with the top. There may be hope yet and you may be happy to know it has nothing to do with Gwyneth Paltrow.
If you know of other brands offering a better range of yoga clothing sizes, feel free to share in the comments.
- Project Bendypants: Practicing Yoga While Fat
- On Doing Yoga While Fat and Falling In Love With Yourself
- Gwyneth Paltrow’s New ‘Dream’ Yoga Top Looks Like a Nightmare for the Breast of Us
- Lululemon Sued Over Exec Bonus Pay Increase, Right Before See-Through Pants Recall
- Oakley Goes on Yoga Pants Offensive With New Ad Campaign
Soul flower is great not just for yoga clothes but for hippie boho clothes…they go up to size 18. Their stuff is super cute…Old navy online is the best for plus sized, financially challenged, yogis though.
Lululemon’s XL is not a 40 bust by any means. And if it is a 40 then the cups are maybe a B at most. I tried one of their shirts on and it fit other than my breasts getting squished to death.
This is a HUGE problem, and not just for bottoms. I am a yoga teacher with natural 36G/H chest and it is literally impossible to find a nice-looking yoga-appropriate top that fits and has adequate support. Once upon a time Lululemon carried a full-support top and thankfully I bought three, but now they are getting really ragged and I’m actually considering bringing them to a seamstress to recreate. So disappointing and frustrating.
I find the Old Navy athletic tops to be very supportive and they have good compression to keep the bulk of “the girls” somewhat out of the way.
Some tops for larger chests, and not necessarily larger torsos, would be nice. An XL would fit my top half great, and while my middle is by no means tiny, it’s not an XL apparently. Mean I have to either have my girls and rib cage squeezed uncomfortable (really, who wants to sweat like that??), or wear a top that, while meant to stay put, scoots up when I’m in down dog, etc.
I totally agree! I’m large-chested but otherwise an XS, and the shelf bras in yoga tops are a joke for my body. Many years ago, I did the same as Karen and bought three Lululemon tops that were made for small women with large chests—back when they were just one small location in Vancouver—and had them copied because I didn’t care for the pilly, synthetic fabric. Stonewear Designs does make a few tops that have decent shelf bras. They’re a little squishy for me, but comfortable enough. All their clothes are made in the USA, which makes them doubly attractive to support IMO.
Dear Lil’ Devas’ Dream Pants (http://www.dearlildevas.com/) are great — airy and loose, made of cotton and not spandex. I also like their bamboo shirts. $60 Canadian for the pants is a whole lot better than those ridiculously overpriced Lululemons.
Hells yes on getting better fitting yoga tops for the perennially busty!
It’s a problem for all fitness wear, not just yoga clothes. I also have a really hard time finding affordable, flattering yoga tops that will cover *and support* my not-at-all-unusual size 36 C chest. Layering yoga tops over workout bras can get restrictive.
I emailed LULU asking for an explanation. According to them, they will respond with larger sizes when there is more customer demand. Whatever. I boycotted them–my size 12/14 solidarity with my curvier sisters.
The fact that Lululemon calls their size 12 an XL says it all really. Also, to suggest that anyone over a size 12 is plus size or overweight is pretty unbelievable too. It’s bad enough walking into a class full of slightly over-aerobicised (sp) beauties without the yoga clothing retailers telling you “you’re fat!” before you even get there 😉 I’m with you Laurie… I am more than happy with my curves and will always go with whatever fits and feels comfortable rather than the latest (and tightest) fashion 😉
How about skirt sports (http://www.skirtsports.com/) which makes actual human sized athletic clothing. Fit bodies come in all shapes and sizes.
Larger women want to dress cute too! I wear a 12 top and a 10/8 bottom. I also have big shoulders and big breasts. Nothing from Lulu fits me, even at those sizes. And someone suggested Hard Tail. Forget the tops! I felt like a sausage in a casing! But at least their bottoms fit me well, so kudos for that.
I’ve bought capri pants from Gordmans (like TJ Maxx) and most of my tops are from my yoga studio or from Hunki Dori. Their black tanks fit great!!
I have basic black yoga pants by Moving Comfort in XXL and they fit like a real XXL. I went back and bought a 2nd pair because I like them so much.
Yes, I was going to suggest Moving Comfort as well. http://www.movingcomfort.com/
I agree about the problem with yoga tops. Ideally, I’d like a nice looking cami-style top that I could wear my own bra under without having to do crazy manipulations to straps. I have one–by Green Apple–that didn’t have a shelf in it and had the perfect straps. I can manage Beyond Yoga double-strap tops, but just barely. The problem isn’t solved by getting a larger top because then the rest of the top is too wide. (I’m usually size S, but am a 36D) I may have a large chest, but I still want the freedom of narrow straps and a nice cut.
Ojai Yoga Wear- 100% organic turkish cotton- http://www.hatchorganics.net
Some of the tops at Lands End are really nice for us generous women. I like their high waisted compression capris for all kinds of activities, from yoga to spin.
Fleece-pants from Walmart : $ 9
T-shirt from Walmart : $ 8
There, all kitted-out for Yoga.
Yoga-class, here I come !
Exactly! I am in two yoga classes, one for curvy women in which most of us wear sweats or yoga pants from target/walmart/wherever and T-shirts, the other class is more “traditional”(has some thinner people as well as those of us of the larger persuasion) but attire ranges from sweats and T-shirts, to a few women in more close fitting yoga gear. I’m afraid I have never noticed actual brands. So anyway, we all feel pretty comfortable wearing whatever works for us (without spending WAY too much money for clothes to sweat in).
I have been quite satisfied with these chakra pants that I got from Amazon and they are organic cotton as well. http://www.amazon.com/BNatyam-Womens-Organic-Cotton-Chakra/dp/B00BOUULT0
Sizes in America have gone up a lot in the last few decades. Sure, the models and James Bond girls now are WAY scary skinnier than they were in the ‘70s, but the average american has blown up.
My mom was born in the ‘50s. She naturally has a slight frame, and she’s done yoga everyday for 37 years, and she eats a healthy vegetarian diet. She’s about 5’4” and 108 pounds.
She was shopping recently, and she heard someone (astonishingly overweight) woman exclaim from the changing room, “Size 14 fits! I haven’t worn a size 14 in 6 years, I have to buy it!” Maybe this woman has worked out, changed her diet for the better, and lost a lot of weight. However, the marketing Gurus know this reaction will happen. So, while it’s probably an exaggeration to say that what used to be a size 8 is now a size double zero, it’s hard for my mom to find clothes that fit her. Everything in the entire store is too big for her – it’s like she’s being punished for not being unhealthy. Don’t get me started on how health insurance companies punish healthy, fit people :/
We’ve accepted unhealthy, fat, body conditions as the norm. Self love is great. Being overweight is super unhealthy, it leads to low back pain, arthritis in the knees, flat feet, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease stroke, and many many more fun things.. Self love is an important part of self care. But I feel that this article is, albeit indirectly, criticizing companies like lulu-lemon, that specialize in clothes for healthy people because they don’t make clothes for fat people? Really? I thought better of yogadork. And yes, I know yoginis with naturally stocky, thick frames. I think they look great in their lululemon pants.
The fact is, that the vast majority of women who do yoga are skinny, and most fat chicks who did it regularly for the last couple years are now skinny. Selling clothes to imaginary markets isn’t profitable. And that raises the question of who the market for greater than plus size yoga clothes is.
Is the idea that exercise clothing will encourage people to exercise? Sure, I know one (and only one) fat lazy guy who won’t buy running shoes or workout clothes, because he won’t run or work out and doesn’t like the way they look. But my morbidly obese father bought XXXL exercise clothes he never exercised in at least twice a year, and I’ve known too many people to buy gym memberships and workout clothes and never go. This marketing of plus size yoga clothes sounds like a way to rip fat people off without helping them, and the tone of this article seemed to criticize the few companies, or sub-companies even, that make clothes for athletic women.
I’ve seen better articles from you in the past and I’ll see better from you in the future. But this was one of the worst articles I’ve seen from you in a long time YD, and it’s not the first time you’ve written nonsense similar to this. I get that their are many body types out there, but I feel there’s a level of disdain for skinny, healthy people in here that I don’t like.
PS – Large breasted ladies, it’s absurd you can’t get proper athletic tops.
So… Nick is short for Nicholas? And you are not a transitioned female-to-male? Thanks for weighing in on the complications of fitting into women’s clothing. Very helpful. In this paragraph, you revealed yourself to be completely ignorant of the issue at hand:
“The fact is, that the vast majority of women who do yoga are skinny, and most fat chicks who did it regularly for the last couple years are now skinny. Selling clothes to imaginary markets isn’t profitable. And that raises the question of who the market for greater than plus size yoga clothes is.”
But, thanks. Thanks for playing. Thanks for reinforcing the very conflict that presents itself every day and leads to an article like this.
I practice yoga every day and attend anywhere from one to five classes a week, depending on my work schedule and that week’s budget. I’m overweight. I have medical conditions you’ve never heard of that I combat on a daily basis. Having lost six pounds this year is a major victory that was basically medically impossible, despite careful diet and exercise and medication and yoga and acupuncture. So even with that six pounds… even if after three more years, I’ve lost another eighteen pounds… I’m still going to be fat. And I’m still going to want to wear cute yoga clothes.
Namaste, bro. Go comment on an article about which you have an informed opinion, please.
I am sorry that I hurt your feelings. Your suggestion that as a male I have no right to comment on this issue is a bit outrageously sexist. I’m sorry I outraged you. Some of what I wrote, particularly the bit you quoted, was rude and insensitive. I am sorry. Please excuse my rudeness.
You’re correct in that I’m fairly ignorant of the issue of overweight women trying to find athletic clothing. I was (clumsily and rudely – sorry again) attempting to raise a different, relevant issue.
Contemporary American standards of female beauty have gotten nigh anorexic. Look at the model in a pepsi advertisement, the models in an equinox add. The examples are countless. The skinnier the models get, the fatter it seems most other people do.
My mother has no problem finding cute, tight fitting yoga clothes. However, it’s almost impossible for her to find a business suit that fits. I find the implications of this troubling. I “see” the message being sent – you can be fit and healthy (your overweight lawyer/stockbroker/whatever husband/wife will bring home the Bacon, and you’ll have salad instead) or you can be fit and healthy, but it’s so hard you have to work on it like all day everyday so why would you need a suit?
It’s a bit alarming that your medical care providers told you it was medically impossible for you to lose weight. I feel that many people feel this way.
I’d say that we get a cultural message along the lines of: It’s impossible for you to be fit and healthy and you should feel bad that you aren’t.
Again, I’m sorry I upset you.
Forever 21 makes a lot of really affordable decent quality activewear and has a small plus-size collection.
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