Some of my fashionista friends flaunt their yoga pants. I don’t mean while girding their glutes during warrior stance or balancing perfectly in boat-pose asana. I mean fearlessly, shamelessly parading yoga pants everywhere, all day, every day as their go-to leg covering of choice. Yoga pants with a cropped leather moto jacket and black Nike Air tennies for kale shopping at the market. Yoga pants topped with an off-the-shoulder tunic, paired with pointy-toed pumps or flat faux fur slides as hostess wear at home with friends for wine. Yoga pants as dining attire at Eataly, hiking the Appalachian Trail, sample sale shopping (they’re an easy off/on in the middle of open dressing rooms!). The list stretches onward and upward, dog.
Many women consider their “basic” long black yoga pants the essence of casual dressing, the LBD of activewear.
Many women consider their “basic” long black yoga pants the essence of casual dressing, the LBD of activewear. Yoga pants are the staple of a new fashion category, which has been branded with that catchy portmanteau, “Athleisure.” That clothing segment represents an estimated market size of $44 billion in U.S. sales alone, according to research firm NPD Group. According to a recent Forbes.com article, activewear sales stretched 16 percent in 2015, with Morgan Stanley predicting sales growth figures of $83 billion by 2020 in the U.S. and more than $350 billion by 2020 globally.
More Comfy: Always A Good Thing
Many of these fashion BFFs may even wear them to work (trust me, they are not yoga instructors). These are women who live for fashion, employed by companies as on-point as Ralph Lauren or Coach. So repeat the mantra after me: yoga pants are the new jeans. (Full disclosure: I’m wearing a pair as I write this, without having made it to yoga yet today.) In a good way, yoga pants are like the sweatpants of our youth, just more stylish. They’re more comfortable and more forgiving than our jeans. You can actually eat and still sit at your computer or drive your car without feeling like you need to unbutton that top button.
Nevertheless, in some corners, the idea of yoga-pants-as-jeans is seeing a bit of a backlash. A recent CNBC article reported that “Americans are falling in love with denim again — and it’s coming at the expense of yoga pants.” I don’t believe them. I won’t believe them. I refuse to accept this as a trend. That’s just fashion-industry-based financial pundits lamenting the loss of dollars in the denim segment.
Today I will take pride in my appearance. I’ll shower, get dressed in proper clothes, and change into yoga clothes only for yoga, which today I will actually attend. –Eleanor Flood, in Maria Semple’s Today Will Be Different
Of course, some women seriously aspire to better themselves (or at least the way they dress) and may feel that starts with their yoga pants. Look at the fictional character Eleanor Flood, who in Maria Semple’s new book, Today Will Be Different, makes this promise to herself: “Today will be different. …Today I will take pride in my appearance. I’ll shower, get dressed in proper clothes, and change into yoga clothes only for yoga, which today I will actually attend.….Today will be different.”
But why make today different, in terms of yoga pants? I understand wanting to challenge yourself to be better. But in my mind, that means wearing better yoga pants. With all the “cool girl” detailing yoga pants now feature, there’s a style for every occasion, designed by nearly everyone and their yoga guru. Choose from Stella McCartney, Michi NY, Kate Hudson for Fabletics, and Target. There are yoga pants with cut-outs, cut-ins, leather looks, lace looks, lattice-detailed legs, wrapped ankles, and dropped, rolled, or gathered waists. Even yoga pants with skirts. Tutu cute!