Where are the Plus Size Yoga Clothes?

Via on Jun 4, 2010

Yoga MatNormally, I would have a more relevant image here, but guess what… I couldn’t find any! (Illustrating the point I’m about to make…)

A few months back I was researching yoga clothes to sell in my now-defunct on-line store. But as I looked and looked, I kept running into a wall. My criteria; that the yoga clothes fit my demographic – 20-something – 40-something moms, and that it also be something I personally could afford to buy.

In figuring out what to write for this weeks column, I asked for feedback on possible topics via my facebook profile wall. I put out a few options: 1. Where are the “Plus-Size” Yoga Clothes, 2. Spiritual Materialism, 3. Something else.

The topic of plus-size yoga clothes got all the votes. Though one witty friend suggested I link the two topics of yoga clothes and spiritual materialism. “The plus-size yoga clothes are in the organics section. LOL! What ever happened to good old sweat pants?” she quipped.

Funny, because I couldn’t really write this article without stating the obvious; yoga clothes are, in general, outrageously priced. But I personally love yoga pants, and would wear them almost anywhere, as opposed to sweats, which I wear almost nowhere.

But style is not the only reason yoga clothes are as popular as they are with the yoga set. A baggy t-shirt is not going to make the average (or larger) size woman feel more comfortable – nor capable – in downward dog.

We all know exercise is good for us. Women are encouraged to exercise to combat everything from pregnancy weight gain to depression, and to improve quality of life, decrease stress, and improve health. We all know it’s not a snake-oil remedy; exercise actually does help with all the aforementioned conditions, and more.

The average size American woman wears a size 14. Seeing as “average” is size 14, some women wear larger and some smaller.

We have the “smaller than average” end of the spectrum covered in spades. But where are the plus-size yoga clothes that invite and incite average- and above-average size women to get active, and to feel as comfortable, svelte, and body-proud as they can? Where are the fitness clothes that encourage the courageous and curvy post-pregnancy mamas, the busy moms toting tots to and from school with barely a minute to themselves, the moms of many who are finally starting to claim their own self-care time, to get out there on the mat?

In asking the question on my facebook page, a parallel question came up more than once; “Where are the “plus-size” clothes that fit us average size ladies at all, and still make us want to be seen in public?”

“At the crux of the inequity, according to some plus-size designers, models and retailers, is prejudice toward women the industry doesn’t find particularly glamorous or sexy. Like fifth-grade girls who secretly live in fear of being ostracized from the cool clique, they don’t want to be caught talking to the fat girl.” says Emili Vesilind in Fashion’s invisible woman, published in the LA Times.

In the same article, Whitney Thompson, the only plus-size winner of America’s Next Top Model, is quoted as saying, “I’m not a plus-size person, I’m a plus-size model… On the street, I’m skinny.”

So obviously this issue is more culture-wide than just pervasive within the yoga community. But our community is one that encourages a healthy and active lifestyle. But leaves many who need support in arriving at that lifestyle out in the cold.

In searching “yoga clothes plus size” for this article, I was glad to see more options have cropped up in just the past few months. However, as was the case last time I performed this search, eco-conscious options are few and far-between.

From the smaller and more independent Junonia (yet not domestic nor “sustainably” produced) option, to Old Navy, to Danskin, the needs of the average- to above-average size woman who’s committed to an active lifestyle are being taken into account more and more fully.

Junonia has an awesome “About Junonia” mission statement, but the prices a bit on the higher end, and as with many companies that cater to average- to plus-size customers, they have no retail outlets – which potentially creates even more stress trying to work out sizing and fit than when clothes can be tried on.

As was the case last time I searched this topic, my favorite is still Danskin. What was a smaller, dance-wear focused company that sold dance tights and leotards when I was a kid has expanded and mainstreamed to become probably the largest retailer of affordable, size-inclusive, fashion-conscious fitness clothing in the US. And you can even try their items on in the store instead of ordering them on line only!

Danskin’s women’s sizes run refreshingly to 16. Their women’s line features my personal favorite item; the Yoga Cotton Crop Pant (I’m short, and they fit me to lower calf). This line also features excellent tops that I can wear for yoga and my other fitness activities with comfort. Their plus-size line, which runs to 3X, features tops like this Plus Cotton Lycra Shell and this Racer Back Tank Top.

And guess where you can buy it for the best price? In my (rural) neck of the woods, it’s back to Walmart. Though in a larger urban center you can also find the items at a discount at Target – a slightly better option when it comes to worker’s rights and company policies, but still a Big Box store.

And yes, we’re still purchasing items that are not “eco-safe”, American made, fair trade, organic, or otherwise “sustainable”.

How do we tie the issue of personal sustainability and global sustainability closer together? That question remains to be answered. But until there are options in the green marketplace that fit the needs of the average- to plus-size woman, we will be filling our needs elsewhere.

Thankfully, consciousness is raising in the arena of plus-size women and asana-yoga. And not just in the form of attractive yoga clothing becoming more available – at least in the mass market – but also from a perspective of how to adapt asanas so they’re easier to achieve with a fuller form, and how to teach the “fat yogi/ni” in the room without making him or her feel more uncomfortable than she or he already may.

From Mahita Devi’s recent The Fat Yogini, and Traditional Spiritual Lineage is not right for Me because I’m Female, by Brooks Hall here on elephant, to this article on Plus Size Yoga at suite 101, and through companies like Danskin and Old Navy, the “Invisible Woman” is finally gaining visibility in the asana-based yoga movement.

About Lasara Allen

Lasara is wife to her true love, and mother to two amazing young women. She’s also a best-selling author, an educator, and an activist. Lasara’s first book, the bestselling Sexy Witch (nonfiction, Llewellyn Worldwide), was published in 2005 under the name LaSara FireFox. As of 3/6/2012, after a coaching sabbatical, Lasara has openings for three three-week, individual, personally tailored coaching and mentoring programs. She also has slots in a cohort-model group coaching program available for a limited amount of time. Lasara is available for one-session commitments as well. Make whatever commitment feels best for you. Lasara offers individual coaching on topics such as; * Mental and Physical Health and Wellness - accepting your diagnosis (or that of a loved one) - learning to live with awareness of strengths and vulnerabilities - Learning to live gracefully within your spectrum of the possible * Mindful Relationships - self as primary partner - loving partnerships, friendships and connections - marriages - parenting - family * Spiritual Contemplation and Alignment - Entering into and committing to your spiritual inquiry - Learning to listen to listen for and hear the divine in your life - Inquiring into the role that faith may play in informing your path - The role of meditation, contemplation, and prayer in your practice For more information and endorsements, visit: http://lasaraallen.com/about-lasara/coaching-services/

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57 Responses to “Where are the Plus Size Yoga Clothes?”

  1. [...] Where are the Plus Size Yoga Clothes? | elephant journal [...]

  2. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    From facebook:

    Lisa Braun Dubbels
    I was so disappointed to find that lululemon only goes as high as size 12. Seriously?

    • Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

      Lisa, I was seriously bummed, too.

    • Carla says:

      Make sure you understand that lululemon's size 12 is not a pant size 12. LOTS of people wear and fit lululemon that are a 14 or 16 in actual pant size. I am a size 12 in jeans and can wear an 8 or 10 in most all pants and crops. GO TRY!

  3. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    From facebook:

    Daniel Solnit
    Average american woman is a size 14. If you take out the under-25 women, it's larger. Not making clothes that fit ALL size goddesses is a form of sexism; we can vote with our dollars to support manufacturers who support the beauty in all women, not the anorexic fashion-fascism.

  4. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    Lisa Oden
    I am so tired of plus sized clothes with bling. We are women, not Vegas showgirls.

  5. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    Lasára Allen
    Christy, I understand your reaction, however believe you cannot STAY at a size 14 wwhile actively anorexic.

    Here's a great story on the topic: http://news.softpedia.com/news/From-Anorexia-to-P

    • Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

      Christy Meyer
      True enough, but the tendency is to go back to size 14, and the anorexia remains. As a girl who too often gets dismissed as "anorexic" or (my teeth-grinder) "not a real woman," or even poo-poo'd for my own body issues (as if women with low-normal BMIs can't have our own struggles), the habit of a certain kind of knee-jerk "feminist" to use the term to sloganeer makes me violent.

      • Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

        Christy,
        Of course we all have our own issues, and I can see how some might assume – with your "modelesque" physique – that you suffer anorexia.

        I cannot imagine anyone calling you "not a real woman", and am sorry to hear that you feel you've been perceived this way.

        As I said, yeah, we all do have our issues.

        And you are right; no psychological disorder should be reduced to a slogan or short-hand for a whole slew of complexities.

  6. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    From facebook:

    Sunny Beaver
    There is a similar lack of plus sizes in high quality/technical outdoor wear. Just take a look at a Patagonia catalog.

  7. [...] My latest at Elephant Journal: Where are the Plus-Size Yoga Clothes? Lasára Allen My latest at Elephant Journal: Where are the Plus-Size Yoga Clothes? Click here to read! [...]

  8. It's nice that some brands go all the way to XXL, but I'm a size 24. That's not XXL. That's it's own, big, size. I have big boobs and a relatively small waist and lovely curvy hips. That's called an hourglass figure, and I wish I could find workout clothing (it wouldn't have to be yoga-specific, either, as that is a ridiculous farce anyways) that embraced my figure. I work out, and practice yoga, not because of body-loathing or because I buy into the popular notion that being fat is a character flaw, but because it makes me feel good. That is my sole, base concern. It also makes me feel good to wear a sports bra that fits, tailored tops that don't billow out in downward dog, and pants that allow me to see when my quads are activated and my knees are lifted.

    It really shouldn't be so hard.

    I wrote to Lululemon a while back and asked them to make some clothes that fit me and change my mind about their company. Truth be told, it might take a bit more than size 24s to change my mind about Lulu, because I think they feed into some bigger societal body image and health issues that I am not cool with. At any rate, their response was:

    Hi there,

    Thank you for writing to us with your concerns.

    We are glad to hear that you appreciate yoga as much as we do! Currently our size range is 4-12 with a few items in sizes 2 and 14 for women and, S-XL with a few items in size XXL for men. lululemon athletica’s business model focuses on smaller retail stores which in turn limits the size range we can offer within each style and colour. Having said this, we are a company built on feedback from valued guests like yourself. I have sent your request to our design team for future consideration.

    Thanks again for contacting us and have a great day,

    -Steve

    THE STORES ARE TOO SMALL FOR CLOTHES FOR TEH FATTIES. You know. Because a hanger with a size 24 on it takes up SO MUCH more space than a hanger with a size 4 on it. I hope my sarcasm conveys how utterly ridiculous I found this explanation. If Lulu sold online, they wouldn't have this confounding problem of delegating floor space to "ugly" fatty clothing. Pppft.

    • Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

      Thanks for your comment. I hear you! I think it's too bad though that so many plus-size lines are relegated to on-line shopping. I like to try on my clothes before I buy them!

      I will keep looking for truly plus-sized options, and pass on what I hear about. Take care.

  9. CatDeville says:

    They're all at Junonia.com, Lasara :) Junonia specializes in plus sized active wear, and while they aren't always what I would consider "affordable" (i.e., k-mart cheap), they do tend to be more reasonable than most places. http://www.junonia.com/home.htm

  10. Carolyn says:

    Lululemon used to carry more size 14 bottoms & tops which can stretch up to 18 depending on the cut. Their size 12 Still pants are pretty roomy and can fit an 18. Zohba is starting to make more size 14s but I find their tops to be too narrow at the bottom to accommodate hips that flare out. Beyond Yoga carries an XL which I think fits about a 14-16 depending on the cut. The material is very stretchy. In the mainstream stores like Lululemon and Lucy you pretty much top out at size 18 in being able to fit into their clothes. I used Junonia to buy some ski pants recently and was pleased with the quality. Athleta also carries some items up to a 2X.

  11. [...] Where are the Plus Size Yoga Clothes? | elephant journal [...]

  12. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    From facebook:
    Katy Schiel Downey
    Interesting that even though the average american size is a 14, that is considered "plus size." I love Sweet Skins – they do not bill themselves as a yoga clothes company, but they have lots of great eco options in larger sizes. http://www.sweetskins.com/items/Pants/DancePants/

  13. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    From facebook:
    Elijah Chancey
    I would love to know where I can find some colorful and playful men's yoga shorts!

  14. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    Karki,… See More

    According to stats, fewer men than women do asana yoga in the US. However, that does not make your question a mute point. As far as "yoga-specific" clothes go, there is less of that marketed toward men all-around.

    And, in the article, the lines I recommended were not yoga-specific.

    Elijah, I don't know if these would work, but found some swim shorts on a search: http://www.kingsizedirect.com/Big-and-Tall-Swimwe

    Also, long pants, but a much wider array of sizes and colors: http://www.kingsizedirect.com/large-size/Jersey-K

  15. Tobye Hillier Tobye says:

    I seem to remember yoga journal doing a big piece on Anusara, but not wanting to put John Friend on the front cover coz He’s a big fella and didn’t suit their “image”. Kinda silly really considering….

  16. Joe says:

    It's so easy to be cynical and bash on brands for not offering large sizes in yoga clothing. It's also very easy to forget that companies have to pay for manufacturing and stock sizes that are in demand, not just make any and all sizes for the hell of it. It's not sustainable for a clothing company to simply make clothing of any size imaginable simply because people think it's the right thing to do.

    If "plus-size" women want their favorite brands to offer larger sizes, they need to group together and pressure companies, making the case that there is a viable demand. Otherwise, these companies will never feel convinced there is a reason to invest in manufacturing more clothes. Think about if you owned your own business and you went through the trouble of creating a product that people made a lot of noise about, only for your customers to fail to purchase, leaving shelves filled and you stuck with the costs?

    Complaining never gets anything done. Being civil, organized and communicating with companies/brands is what makes things change. Also, putting your dollars where it counts does too. If there is a brand that is already offering better sizes, buy from them and make the other brands feel the pain of losing your business.

  17. Jamie says:

    I haven't read all the comments, but would like to suggest "Pink Lotus". They make larger sizes and they're also "Made in America.

  18. Charlotte says:

    Hugger Mugger Yoga Products does carry some plus-size clothing. For a while they were partnering with Abby Lentz of HeavyWeight Yoga. It was a really popular partnership for customers and much of the clothing has sold out, but there are still some items for sale. HM has an ad toward the top of this page. The website is currently being reconfigured, so it's not easy yet to find plus-sized clothing. Your best bet is to call customer service at 1-800-473-4888 and ask them to look up the plus-sized clothing for you. When these items sell out, the company plans to bring in new ones. I hope this helps!

  19. I’m actually starting to believe that things are getting better for everybody so they can be themselves.

  20. [...] get the word out, and then do something different. Try local Y’s, community centers, and plus-size clothing shops, to name a [...]

  21. When I came to this post I can only see 50% of it, is this my internet browser or the internet site? Should I reboot?

  22. [...] the message of acceptance that is a hallmark of yoga? Where are the curvy yogis? Where are the plus size yoga clothes? Do we want to reduce a practice that was designed for the whole mind-body to weight loss? [...]

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  24. YOu talk about plus sized Yoga clothes. I am simply not petite and am trying to shop in China for ANYTHING is a nightmare.
    Could these Asian women not eat a little more rice and bulk up to match up with the rest of the world ?

  25. I barely get any traffic from comments, this was a good read and brought up some interesting points for me to consider!

  26. You can certainly see your expertise within the work you write. The arena hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. All the time go after your heart.

  27. Great article and all so very true. Unlike Whitney I am a plus size woman and plus size model and do find it very hard to find plus size active wear until I recently began fit modeling for a new plus size active wear line called http://www.adoraom.com which launched this month.Their product quality and fit is like no other. Made in the USA which is another plus:) I support everything about living a healthy active lifestyle and have come on board as a spokes model for line. I too got very frustrated with the fact that I was unable to wear anything at lululemon and am so thankful that now there is something just as stylish out there for me.

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  29. Tiffany says:

    Here are the plus size yoga clothes– http://www.adoraom.com! From a brand new company, made for women by women with a great philosophy. I met the owners while traveling to the southwest and it turned into a long rambling story, but I believe in what they are doing and I'm grateful to these ladies for making clothes that fit well. Their garments are also made in America!

  30. Trillium says:

    Thanks for a lovely and concise article. The warmth and inclusive tone of the article really helped me feel a tiny bit better about my frustration with this issue. It's nice to feel included in something I love so much (yoga) and I sure hope manufacturers and retailers eventually get their heads out of their bums!

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  32. Oh no, did no one tell you? Fat women aren't allowed to do yoga… yeah… the only people who benefit from yoga is people under a size 12. They just didn't want us getting the wrong impression…

  33. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    Beautifully said! Thank you.

  34. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    Thank you for commenting here, Jennifer!

    I love my curves. I also love it when I can find clothes that flatter them – on or off the mat. But it's especially important to have form and function present in my exercise garb. It makes it that much easier to just sink into my practice.

  35. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    You can find naked yoga some places! And honestly, I'm all for more nakedness. I think if we could see more real bodies of all ages, sizes, colors, and abilities, we'd find much more peace with our own, with the process of aging, and with each other, too.

    Of course, I grew up naked in a hippie enclave hidden in the hills of Mendocino County, so naked is part of my roots. :-)

  36. lighthasmass says:

    Well we are in Trinity county a little further north. It is the State of Jefferson coming out.

  37. Naked yoga for the win! I don't practice naked, or nekkid, as we say here in the southeast, but I wear a heck of a lot less than I do when I trek into the studio.

  38. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    No doubt. I hope you find what you're looking for!

  39. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    I just read up on the State of Jefferson…always wondered what that meant, now I know. Thanks! :-)

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