The Sour Taste of Lululemon Sizing. ~ Mel Squarey

Via on May 16, 2012

lululemon, pants, crops, sexy, butt,

I am opening up a big can of whoop-a** on the Lululemon dynasty.

I’ve been inspired in part by an elephant journal article on yoga uniforms in the West. I can’t say that I’d really thought about it before that point other than discussing the tiny outfits that come romping through my yoga class.

Let me be clear here. It’s not that I hate Lululemon, or the fact that everyone in class is wearing the same stuff, it’s more of a morality issue that I’m in debate with. I see value in feeling fly while entering the gym, hitting the track, or going to your yoga class. We all know that feeling fresh and clean can help with confidence boosting. We may need to feel fly to even get up out of bed in the morning to sweat. If this is your reason to get up and make your body healthy then I think that I’m okay with that. Honestly!

My problem is that Lululemon and companies like them have failed larger people in society. If you take a second and browse around your local sweaty place of practice you’ll see two things. People who look fly in their tops and pants and people who are wearing their t-shirts and baggy sweatpants from 1995.

Very few athletic sportswear companies have stepped up to the plate to size their merchandise for larger people. I’m not just talking about people who have a few extra pounds, I’m talking about people who are tall and lanky, who have bigger feet, hips, or busts. These people want to look just as fly as everyone else in the gym.

These people have separate issues when thinking of fit and design of product. For example, if a woman who has a heavy chest ever put on your standard Lululemon top you’d find that the second she did a downward-facing-dog her tatta’s would be hanging downward with the dog. It’s not comfortable or sensible to feel like you’re coming out of your clothing and it’s about time the Lululemon’s of the world take the hint.

My theory is that if you offered a $98 yoga pant that:

1. fit any woman above a size 12,

2. made sure it didn’t give her huge camel toe and

3. made sure it was mid-waisted so that healthy butt wouldn’t be revealed mid-clas,

then you’d be in serious business.

Just imagine, the fact that larger/taller people spend more money for well-fitted apparel is absolutely well known. For myself, I’ve banned my 1995 apparel and have adopted several fly pieces to help boost my mood when I’m down-doggin’ in class.

I know how hard it is for someone to find athletic clothing that fits the more-than-average person. As a teacher, I represent yoga to my students. If I don’t feel fly then they don’t feel my vibes. This is an open call for the plus sized clothing market to make top of the line, stylish and durable athletic apparel.

 Peace ~ Melissa Squarey.

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Melissa Lesley Squarey was born and raised on the rugged, mystical, and epic island of Newfoundland, Canada. Melissa has been studying hatha yoga for 10 years and is currently completing a 200hr Yoga Alliance Yoga Teacher Training with plans for more trainings in the therapeutic style of yoga in the near future. Melissa lives her practice of yoga through love and service. Melissa believes that the size, shape, or capability of the physical body does not limit the ability for anyone to practice yoga. Melissa regularly updates her website  with various thoughts on yogic theory and everyday life. Check out    Melissa on Twitter: @MSquareyYoga or Facebook.

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89 Responses to “The Sour Taste of Lululemon Sizing. ~ Mel Squarey”

  1. chrissy says:

    Thank you! As tall and definitely not a size 8, it’s very disheartening to not be able to find cute workout clothes. It’s like being left out of the club. It would be a very successful market for a company to get into, amd would develop a very loyal customer base.

    The companies don’t seem to see us plus-sizers as worthy of fashion and function, we have to buy the drab, ill-fitting garments because we don’t have any other choices and they know it.

  2. Kristina Tost says:

    Well said Ms. Squarey!! You are so right and speak for so many people!! listen up clothing manufacturers, this is the truth!!

  3. Kellyann says:

    They don’t make anything for short people either :(. I have a horrible time finding any yoga pants that aren’t like 5 inches too long. So I end up with capris that come down to my ankles.. haha.

  4. Risa says:

    I am a Bikram practitioner, and I am not of tiny body. I have an ample bum, and spacious hips.

    I love the teeny tiny shorts that others wear into class.

    And I am often disheartened by the fact that many clothiers make “one size fits all” that, in fact, fit a size 6 or smaller; make XS/S and S/M, but no L. Or the L they DO make stated *will fit a size 8*… What!?

    I have found that the KDeer BumBums are sized nicely AND she makes plus sized shorts!! Sa-weet!

  5. Lisa says:

    I couldn't agree more! I happen to have breasts, and have a hard time finding "fly" tops that will hold my anatomy in place so I don't give a show during inversions or down dog. I have given this feedback to Lulu many times and they keep making those same tops with the "built in bra" that does absolutely nothing for most grown women. Vote with your credit card and they will come around.

  6. NMM says:

    Thank you……I would pay a fortune to have a cute yoga outfit that fit and was functional!

  7. Jacquie says:

    Can I recommend a UK company called Sweaty Betty – they just launched in the US but have been going strong in the uk for easily over 10 years. We can't get Lululemon in the uk so this is where we get our functional & fashionable workout gear from – priced similar to LL and worth every penny (cent) quality wise.

  8. ehassman says:

    YES! When I first started practicing yoga, the size 12 lulu pants didn't quite fit me, and it made me feel like crap about myself. I didn't have all the lovely yoga principles to teach me to love myself, yet, because I was just getting started. I just wanted to fit in.

    And I'm tired of trying to shove my tatas into too-small bras and tops… it gets REALLY ugly in that hop forward from downward dog to forward fold!

    Seriously, I'd save up and spend the money if I could find the gear.

  9. I do understand the debate about lululemon's influence in the Western yoga world. I see both sides of the coin there. However, when it comes to the quality of their apparel, there is really only one side: it is excellent. A few things worth pointing out:

    – Lululemon offers FREE hemming on their pants. They make them long intentionally and will hem them for you at any location.
    – The big ta-ta issue? Ask any retail associate for a high-support top. It is true many of their yoga apparel is low support. However, they famously offer high support tops and bras, including the life saving "Ta Ta Tamer" bra for large chested women.

    I don't work for lululemon. I'm not speaking to the debate over materialism in yoga. I'm just saying … they make good clothes. And, they're not the only clothing company that has trouble fitting plus sizes. In fact, as far as that goes, they are the norm and not the exception.

  10. Susie says:

    Lululemon does care to sell to older, larger people!!!! I worked there and was an older women and the comment from one of the visiting managers was "if people passed by the store and saw me in the clothes the younger would no come in to buy them"…. They only want young people working in their stores. Great company to work for if you are the right age and the clothes do last a long time.

  11. susie says:

    Correction: doesn't care to sell to older, larger people.
    Would NOT come in to buy them"

  12. shaydewey says:

    Having an F cup there is pretty much no "yoga top" I have found that works. Long torso means almost every pant hits at hip level. I swear I spent 1/4 of the class time readjusting my clothing after every pose.

  13. honest male yogi says:

    my guess is that yoga people make clothes that fit them. most of the fashionistas in the industry are small and tight. if the tall and lanky, big busted and big bootied want clothes that fit, they should step up and create some companies that make attractive clothes for their size and style…instead of waiting for someone to accommodate them…just sayin.

  14. @we_ar says:

    im the g.m for nz over at we-ar.it : im also an nz size 14 woman and lover of hatha. i wear our new romantic legging which fits my curvy body perfectly, i wear them high waisted to keep my tummy feeling supported in downard dog. and the leggings.. they are US $95 – just saying x

  15. Dita says:

    I am so so so happy someone wrote about the very issue I had contemplated many many times! I have walked into Lululemon many times drooling over their amazing looking outfits, thinking I wish I wouldn’t feel so left out, so permanently reminded that I only used to be able to buy my clothes anywhere I liked. I punish myself enough talking down to myself and feeling low for eating desert or not having worked out in a year, there is no good reason for anyone else to do that to me. Nor should I accept it. I am happy I am not alone in seeing this. Maybe there is room for us misfits to fit in and look good in a gym and stop wearing those 1995 outfits to the gym…

  16. Yogini says:

    I’m tired of the “I’m fat and beautiful” crap. Look at women’s sizes over the past three decades. It’s impossible for us fit and trim people to find clothes that fit. The current size 12 was a size 6 thirty years ago. Eat right, work out, and you will fit in normal clothes. If you’re that big then you should wear baggy tee shirts and sweat pants. Nobody wants to see your beautiful rolls.

  17. Susan Simon Susan says:

    For the most part a built in bra or a shelf bra will not work for anyone above a C cup. High end bra stores, Nordstron and Dillards all carry work out bras that come in sizes that are over a D cup. They're expensive but they are an option.

    Yogini … harsh. Not necessary.

  18. Michelle says:

    Try Athleta! Their clothes are amazing! They have a large selection of super cute yoga clothes for every shape and size at reasonable pricing. And they offer a no hassle guarantee return policy.

  19. lori says:

    At See Jane Run (www.SeeJaneRun.com) you can find amazing yoga pants up to size 2X and short, regular and long lengths. There are other companies out there other than Lululemon.

  20. John says:

    The thing I liked about lululemon was that they make yoga gear for men at all and that it used to be cut for men with the kind of physique you get from doing a lot of yoga rather than cut to hide a beer belly, which most men's clothes are. Last time I was in they had changed the cut and I've noticed their stuff isn't nearly as durable as it was.

    Yogini – you've got a point, though I'd say I'm sick of people being spectacularly dishonest about why they are the shape they are and going on about how attractive that shape supposedly is (whatever shape it might be) the way so many do is outright weird.

  21. Noelle says:

    Yes, hard to find yoga tops for us well-endowed ladies. I’m retro and just put on a t-shirt with OM or some other relevant motif, over the yoga pants/capris. Do we have to have workout tanks, really? I did recently buy a tank with shelf bra from Gaiam. Of course the shelf bra is not sufficient, need to have a bra under that. Still wary of wearing this top in class, afraid of spillage…
    I do like Blue Canoe and Lucy for yoga pants.

  22. msquarey says:

    Thank you everyone. I'm grateful for each and everyone of you're points and opinions. I think this is an important issue to talk about. So, you're talking.

  23. beegirl says:

    Thank you. This issue has been a personal rant of mine for years–as in 10+ years. The average size of the American woman is what the fashion industry labels a size 14/16. Note that 14/16 is also the smallest size available in most plus size shops so there is a continuing history of shaming average women into believing that they are not normal. And we haven't even touched on the well-endowed, the tall, the short, the differently proportioned, those with wider or narrower feet, broad shoulders, narrow hips, long or short arms, and large or small booty sizes.

    All of these women deserve fly, comfortable, supportive, serviceable yogawear that makes them feel as powerful as their bodies are becoming through their practice. Lululemon and others (Ibex, I'm looking at you) have completely missed the boat. To say that producing clothing that fits actual women makes costs untenable is a complete copout. It's possible and it makes good business sense.

    John and yogini–I thought that yoga practice was supposed to cultivate an enlightened mind and body, not judgment and nastiness. It sounds like you don't grok the situation at all nor do you have the same issues that many (read: the majority) of women do. Yoga is not just for those who are already fit. Yoga is not for those with hard bodies who fit into an industry size 4 or a specific style of mens' wear. Yoga is for everyone. Got it? Everyone. Size 2. Size 28. Short, tall, fat, thin. To insinuate otherwise is just falling into the same tired trope about how plus-sized people/different sized people should just work out and then they'd be fit enough for your aesthetics in a yoga class. How precisely should they get fit if they're "too ugly" to be welcomed into a class promoting physical fitness?

    At any rate, I appreciate calling the yoga clothing industry to task for their perpetuation of whack body standards. If yoga is about enlightenment of body and mind, then let's welcome all toward that, in clothing that makes them feel confident and powerful.

  24. Mimi says:

    Thank you, beautiful.

  25. hmmmm says:

    I agree that yoga is for everyone and that means EVERYONE. What I don't understand is this "Calling Out" of clothing companies. If you don't like what you can buy, start your own company! Do something about it! Lululemon can do/sell whatever they want. If you like it – buy it. If you don't – don't! If there's such a huge market that hasn't been tapped – go tap it! The End. No company has any kind of obligation to cater to any demographic in particular. Do you really just want yoga clothes that fit? Or do you want the "cache" of wearing Lululemon clothing that fits?

  26. hmmmm says:

    They've created that "cache" by lots of young, fit, good looking people wearing their clothes. That is as much their brand as the litle logo. It doesn't behoove their carefully designed marketing campaign to have large women squeezed into their pants – which, yes I also have to say, just doesn't look as nice as a fit, smaller yoga ass. YES – these larger women should still go to yoga! Absolutely! I hope they learn from it and grow just as I have benefited from yoga. But I get the idea that the underlying issue is jealousy about wanting to wear the specific clothing from the specific brands because it's "in." That energy is misdirected, and could be put to much better use by actually addressing the problem and doing something to create a solution – not crying to Lululemon so you can get in on the hype and be cool too

  27. […] one yogi after another is smoothly and effortlessly finding their Dragonfly Pose, like a bunch of Lululemon-clad circus freaks. Not one to be intimidated, I take my right leg over my arm and try to dig my […]

  28. Rubicon says:

    Interesting conversation. I actually worked for lululemon for many years and the reason they have chosen not do increase their size runs (despite feedback from guests) is that they do not want to condone or affiliate with an image of "poor health". Whether that encourages people to meet their own weight loss goals or instead sends them to other apparel stores, all I can say is that we all want to look our best and feel our best AND be supported in doing so. So if that means going to Nike and buying a bra that fits, or going one more yoga class this week or spending another 30 minutes at the gym, the reward of fitting comfortably into a pair of lulu's might just be the motivation that some of us need.

  29. […] a big butt and hips in comparison to the rest of my body. I have thighs that require me to get a different Lululemon size for leggings than what I get for […]

  30. Diane says:

    There's an amazing line out of DC that's a great solution for people looking for a lulu alternative: http://www.apifeni.com. The line is sold through reps across the US who come to you and do personal fittings to make sure you look your best. There's a collection with shapewear and a collection without – with a higher, flattering rise. Definitely something to check out!

  31. Mary V says:

    Sure would love some tops that keep the 7 years of breastfeeding saggy girls from slapping my face in down dog and inversions. Thanks for speaking for so many of us perfectly larger bodies.

  32. Lovely and well said. And how about older people? We want to look fly too, in a way where our hootchies aren't hanging out. Oh, and make an older person, over a size 12, of color an Ambassador. Or just put a picture of one in the store? How about it?

  33. MaryAnne Colledge says:

    Lululemon is capitalism at its absolute worst. What's the difference between commercial christianity, the Catholic Church, Mormanism, and Islam? They ALL exploit women for either money or power.

  34. […] outfits to the first 40 people who lined up outside the door and stripped naked. Everyone knows Lululemon is over priced yoga […]

  35. Lululemon is a juniors and Barbie doll establishment. If you are not one of those two body types, move along. There's nothing for you to see there.

  36. Try Nordstrom says:

    Nordstrom actually has a line called Zella, which is very close to Lululemon in style and quality. I believe the line was developed by a former Lululemon designer. The kicker is that unlike Lululemon, who doesn’t want to promote the unhealthy lifestyle of plus-sized people who want to work out and get healthy, Nordstrom does have a plus-sized line of Zella. So bravo to Lululemon and their skewed morality. Zella is less expensive too. God forbid anyone encourage bigger people to get fit by making them feel good about how they look while exercising.

  37. lauriet says:

    I disagree with those claiming that Lulu makes a high impact bra that keeps the ta-taz tamed. I personally tried one of these ta ta tamers on and my girls were all over the place and the bra didn’t fit right with any adjustment I made. Never will turn in my Under armour high impact bra. They are way more supportive than the ta ta tamer anyday!

  38. Natalie B says:

    Ever heard of Cult of California? Active wear Made for bigger girls by a bigger girl. Their stuff is pretty fly. Google it. :)

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  40. […] well-acquainted with the all of the joys (feeling like a sexy, curvaceous goddess) and miseries (um… do you have jeans that fit a 28-inch waist and 38-inch hips?) that come from carrying lots of junk in the […]

  41. Ayurvedic Travel TipsWhat timing – Yoga Journal sent a email today featuring in-flight Ayurvedic beauty tips.

  42. Sarah says:

    here's another brand i'd like to bring up: I AM BEYOND. while i appreciate their attire is soft, made in the USA, and holds up well, it is so strange in the waist area that every time i bend over or take janu sirsasana my crack is exposed. someone please make some clothing that i like and that stays put!

  43. Jen says:

    Love it!! Thank you, no wonder I do not shop there as an average sized woman!!

  44. Sara says:

    I can never find pants to fit me. I have a big butt and hips and their pants are a horrible fit. Tops give great support for my tatas (but I am average size there). I wish stores in general would come out with clothes to fit women who have hips (I didn't have hips until I had my daughter).

  45. AnneCornell4 says:

    I am so glad to see this blog that expresses what I feel. I recently posted something on the Lululemon website about their sizing practices and I was attacked by size 2's and size 4's who assured me that I was the unreasonable one. They couldn't understand why only sizing to a size 12 when the average American woman is a size 14 was inappropriate. People who make the argument that Lululemon is just a store and if they choose only to market to small people then so be it are missing the point. Lululemon is more than a store. In my yoga community of Omaha Nebraska, half of every yoga class is dressed in adorable Lululemon tops and bottoms. They constantly have get togethers and demonstrations at their store. My yoga teachers have been hired as "Lululemon Ambassadors" and their photos are displayed in the store. It is more than a store, it represents the local yoga community and it has closed its doors to many of the yogis in the community. It is an exclusive club that only small people can belong to. I practice yoga and spin several times a week. I love yoga, it is a huge part of my life. But God forbid, I wear a size 16! So I do not feel welcome in a Lululemon store, nor do I feel like I am welcome in their "club". When every other department store and other athletic wear go to size 16, Lulu cuts off at a 12. The excuse that I've heard is that it would cost more to produce clothes up to a size 16. In response to that I say then charge a higher price for the 14's and 16's. And by golly guess what, they go to size XXL in men's wear and they don't charge any more so I guess it's not a problem for the men. I truly believe it is a conscious decision by the corporation to market only to what they perceive as being "attractive" women so that they can sell more. They know that catty self centered women love being members of exclusive clubs so they have created the ultimate exclusive club. This would be fine if it wasn't clothing for an activity that preaches love peace and kindness……..

  46. loverofyogaclothes says:

    I totally don't get the lulu hype. In 2004 they were amazing, back when their clothing was actually manufactured in Canada; I still have items from then that look brand new. Then when I purchased items in 2006 and 2007 I was horrified at the reduction in quality. The pants pilled like none other; drove me NUTS!!! Canadian friends told me they'd outsourced production to China. Not to mention, they lost many of their cuter, more distinctive styles and went mainstream with garishly-colored fabrics and fashion to suit the masses. Where I was once a great lover of Lulu now I patronize companies with more options (and less controversial policies/former CEO's). To me Lulu is the Abercrombie and Fitch of the yoga community. Total schlock. I would be embarrassed to be seen wearing it today, because to me it represents much about modern yoga I find problematic, including their limited sizing range!!

    That said, I have a new love–Athleta! They make clothes for so many sizes–talls, petites, XXL–they hold up fantastic to rugged wear and last as long as they say they will. Plus as an instructor I get 30% off, and the styles/colors are so much more creative and interesting than at Lulu. I'm a grad student, and don't work there, but truly am grateful that there is at least one company out there making durable clothes we can rock it in!

  47. billycallahan says:

    If it sold, they would stock it. Bigger people should probably wear baggy sweat pants instead of skin tight yoga pants anyway.

  48. Krishnabrodhi says:

    I mentioned this article to my girlfriend and she immediately did a google search and found LOADS of companies that offer plus size yoga clothes and active wear of all kinds. I don't understand the need to "should" companies into creating products for every single niche demographic and body type. Especially when there are plenty of companies that are doing exactly what you are complaining that Lululemon isn't. I think they only thing that the company has "failed" is your expectation that the customer, no matter what, is always right. And that doesn't mean they malicious in having a selection that doesn't fit every single body. Please move towards a positive direction by promoting the companies that are doing what you like instead of spreading negative energy by blasting a company for doing what is within their free market rights to do that you don't like.

  49. CAP says:

    I am not at all surprised by the hateful comments by supposed "yogis" on here. They are just ignorant girls that DO yoga. There is such a difference and since Lulu came on the scene making yoga "the thing" to do, it has changed yoga. Real yogis are kind and gentle to one another. The judgmental and critical words by the girls above don't mean anything. To the women who are larger, who cares! Be healthy, thats what we all need, just to be healthy. We live in a world that favors thin women. Doesn't mean anything at all. Ignore comments by ignorant people. What they say means nothing. You don't owe ANYONE a reason for your size. Just be healthy at whatever size you are eat. Eat well, exercise and wear what makes you feel good. If someone judges or criticizes it says everything about them and NOTHING about you. They have an ugly heart and ugly spirit and it will come back on them. Be your yoga. Be kind and gentle to those you meet and you can never go wrong :)

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