Yoga pants. Leggings. Tights. Whatever you call them, athletic wear isn’t relegated to the gym any longer. It’s becoming a much larger part of our everyday wardrobe, and nearly every apparel retailer you can think of is cashing in on the billion dollar industry. The category has grown so swiftly even Merriam Webster has taken notice: “athleisure” will be included in the next edition of the dictionary, defined as “casual clothing designed to be worn for both exercising and general use.”
And brands at all price points have something to offer in the athletic wear category. From high-end $138 yoga pants and $98 sports bras at Rebecca Minkoff to $30 yoga pants at Old Navy, you’ve got plenty of stretchy pants to pick from.
But it’s bigger than just a trend. The popularity of athletic wear has skyrocketed over the last few years. U.S. consumers spent $323 billion on apparel, footwear and accessories in 2014 – a one percent increase over 2013. That one percent increase represented about $2 billion in sales on activewear, sneakers and bags.
“Casual and ‘athleisure’ have taken on a life of their own,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. “This is no longer a trend – it is now a lifestyle that is too comfortable, for consumers of all ages, for it to go away anytime soon.”
I love an outfit that can pull double or triple duty. I can style an entire look around a pair of yoga pants: throw on a pair of boots, leather moto jacket and a scarf and I’m ready for just about any event I need to attend.
Not only does it save me time after I leave the office before I go teach my yoga classes, I can run right out of the studio and go grab dinner and drinks with friends. It’s my everyday uniform. Some days I’m feeling an all-black pair of yoga pants with mesh cutouts, while other days I reach for the craziest neon pattern in my closet.
Bonus: wearing yoga pants to work. Comfort level 10/10.
Find Your Favorite Yoga Pants
Some of my favorite athleisure brands offer discounts if you’re a certified yoga teacher or fitness instructor. My favorite athleisure brand, Athleta, offers a 15% discount for teachers. (That’s a big savings when you add on up to 2% cash back.) I just went through a winter closet purge and am not sure if I should be proud or horrified that I own six times as many pairs of yoga pants as I do jeans.
My key to the perfect pair? The bend over test. If I can bend over and not see my underwear peeking through and the waistband doesn’t roll up on me then they get the stamp of approval. (You’d be surprised by how many brands fail my test.) Let’s be real: nobody needs to see the pattern on my underwear.
Yoga Outlet, Lucy and Gaiam also offer athleisure wear and props, so if you’re looking to start a yoga practice in 2016, these are great merchants to grab your pants, blocks and straps all in one place.
Do you wear yoga pants outside of working out? Let us know in the comments!
A photo posted by Athleta (@athleta) on