Saturday, May 4, 2013

Yoga Chic fashion- for Emily

Living in a city where it is necessary to pack a large day bag with essentials like wallet, snacks, reading material for the commute, perhaps a scarf... I have found that is really nice to be able to go straight from work to a yoga class, and not have to pack any additional pieces or stop at home to change.  In a perfect world, I would be able to live in comfy yoga clothes all day every day, and even be barefoot (...and have a garden, sky views, a sweet dog, clean fresh air and the love of my life at my side...but I digress)  But for now, while I am working in costumes and part of my job is to dress other people, I feel that I need to dress myself in a somewhat professional, somewhat presentable and stylish way that is flexible enough that I can feel comfortable yet cute at work, on my commute, and in a yoga class.  Even though I love yoga, I don't necessarily want to look like I am in a yoga class all day unless I am in a studio all day.  I want people to be surprised when they realize how easy it is to look good and be ready for exercise at any moment.   I want all of this out of one outfit, I want to be "yoga chic" on the cheap, and I have found that it is possible!

Here are some components of a good work-to-yoga outfit.  I think there is a little bit of a formula to it which consists of a base layer (the clothes you practice in) plus cover-layers (for work, traveling, etc.) and then of course shoes.

The base layer=
-yoga bra/comfortable (yet flattering) sports bra-
Rio Bra from Yogabela. My favorite!
I prefer a bra designed for yoga rather than a sporty runner's bra or a non-athletic daily bra that has thin straps.  When looking for a yoga bra, I look for something with some stretch that is not too constricting and that does not have a center back closure or any hardware. I prefer not to have my boobs be smooshed into a uniboob formation, so I like the crossover style, plus it's nice to have a tiny bit of cleavage available too, in case I might want to feel just a little feminine and sexy outside of class.  Which I often do.

Kiwi Co. on
I prefer a legging to a flared bottom yoga pant, because they are usually more visually slimming and more versatile. The fitted leg also allows for me to see my anatomy better, so I (and my students) can make sure my ankle and knee are where they are supposed to be.  You can choose whatever length you are comfortable with- from a long pant to capri to above the knee.  It's good to have a lot of options of these.  Printed ones are fun and colorful and can provide an outlet to express your personal style.  Big cheap ladies chain stores like Forever 21 and Delia's have lots of options.  I did a search for "printed leggings"on Amazon once and saw tons of cool looking leggings.  Just remember, LEGGINGS ARE NOT PANTS!  And be sure to test the density of the fabric to make sure they're not too sheer!

-fitted tank-
I find that it is better to wear one that will stay down at your hips/waist and not flap up and expose your belly and blind you with the fabric at the same time when you go upside down, so I prefer a fitted tank top or tee shirt. Plus it is very distracting if your clothing is being very active while you are trying to be still.  I tend to prefer a regular fashion tank top as opposed to a sports top because the fabric is usually lighter and more comfortable and also compliments other pieces in my wardrobe more.

Next up is the cover layer.  It's your fashion layer, your modesty layer, your civilian, city-dweller layer.  I feel better if I am wearing something that covers my booty, and hides my tummy roles that appear when I'm sitting which will probably never go away. Just as I do not ever wear pajama pants out of the house, I also don't really like to go out in the world in an outfit that is obviously meant for exercise.  It's just how I am.

Cover layer options=
-a light dress-
Something that breathes (all natural, non-synthetic such as cottons, linen, silk) is nice, since you will already be wearing leggings and a tank underneath and might get warm.  A light rayon or good quality stretch jersey is nice because they tend to resist wrinkling.  The less tailored, the better- you might as well be comfortable.   That doesn't mean the dress can't be fitted, it just feels better if there's not a bunch of seams and belts and buttons and things.  Plus, you want something that won't look weird if there are leggings underneath.
-a tunic-
which is like a dress but too short to be worn alone as a dress and too long to be considered a shirt.  You wouldn't necessarily want to practice in a tunic, because it might be too restrictive.  But you can throw a cute one on over your base layer in case you have a date after class and want to look cute!  (This also works if you have a yoga date, which I recommend and will post about some day soon)
-a flowy cardigan-
I definitely try to find longer, open cardigans that cover my tush because again, leggings are not pants.  Pockets are a plus! A flowy style is pretty and more presentable for work/meetings/social stuff.  Try lightweight options as well as sleeveless...this piece isn't necessarily providing warmth as much as it is helping to make you look more put together, feel more comfortable by covering up somewhat exposed parts of your body, and express your personal style.  However, a cardigan is nice to have close to your mat should you get chilly during savasana and want to cover up.
-a skirt- yep, a stretch mini skirt or some other short skirt is great!  you just take the skirt off for your practice and you're ready to go.
-boots or other slip on shoes- easy and cute.  I seem to wear almost nothing but Danskos in the summer.

Things to keep in mind when you are shopping or choosing from your own closet:
-comfort- it's best if your clothes are not restrictive on the waist or anywhere else, and you should be able to move your arms above your head and widen your legs without being restricted.  Sometimes, if the store's fitting room is large enough, I'll fold over at the hips in a fake downward dog (without touching the floor because that would be gross) to see what happens when I go upside down.  If my shirt flops into my face or slides up at the ribs and doesn't naturally slide back down my ribs, it's not making the cut.  It's good to do a squat too, because low-rise leggings can become annoying if it feels like you are exposing your butt crack to the world when you bend over.  (sorry- but it's true! who wants to be distracted by that in yoga?)  Avoid excessive zippers, buttons, and pockets which would be painful on your muscles if you laid on top of them.
-Pieces should be affordable- keep in mind you might break a sweat in these clothes so they should be machine washable and not too precious. Plus you are stretching in them as well as wearing them all day, so they might get a little more wear than other pieces in your closet.  I scour the clearance racks at places like Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and boutiques and often find things that are super cute that can work for yoga or work or social events. Places like Marshall's, TJ Maxx and Century 21 have great deals on decent quality leggings and athletic bras.  You don't necessarily have to get all geared up in sport clothes, there are lots of ways to wear everyday clothes to yoga and work and still look cute and feel comfortable.

This post is for Emily McElroy, who should be credited with coining the term "yoga chic" and has a great sense of style.

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