Yoga Pants —A Lifestyle Evolution, Explained

A few years ago, Stop Wearing Yoga Pants All Day cropped up on my New Year’s Resolutions, not to mention my husband’s Helpful Hints. And, like their fellow listed partners, this resolution was soon broken. Yet it still remains, nagging me, to evolve. I have put some thoughts as to why — and why not—I should spend my days in the stretchy comforts of lycra.

Here’s how it starts. I had my first child and was laid off from my Internet start-up moments before he was born, and was therefore not immediately driven back into my Can’t Wear Yoga Pants Everyday office-type job. I’m not even sure we called them yoga pants back then, but those stretchy black leggings fit my post-baby figure. I would wear them to exercise — and soon, don them, with the confident intention I might possibly exercise later that day. (An important link to the Yoga Pants lifestyle — the barest whiff of fitness connection will do.) Since I live in the Springtime-Always climes of the Bay Area, there was no winter chill or summer humidity which might deter my primary clothing decision of fleece: with jeans OR yoga pants? Baby number two came along, and so did a true commitment to Yoga. (I love yoga.) I actually wear yoga pants to yoga. Around this time, the geniuses at Lululemon introduced their chic, definitely superior, especially in the ASSets department black yoga pants, and suddenly, yoga pants was a lifestyle. It was the iPhone of female fitness gear. It tipped from Saturday morning on Chestnut Street post-spin coffee, to all day, every day, particularly among Stay At Home Mom’s and young female tech workers with flexible work schedules and environments.

It’s an easy-to-understand evolution: lifestyle changes among the potential target audience meet a technological advance which then translates into a style movement, with visible acceptance forged by early adopters and a perceived brand prestige, which then crosses the chasm into widespread adoption.

I sometimes wonder what a time traveler or visiting foreigner might think. They are walking down the more fashionable avenues of America, from Pacific Heights to Georgetown to the Magnificent Mile. The majority of the well-to-do women they come across, especially before noon, are wearing rather revealing (front and back, let’s be clear,) tight black…tights. There is little left to the imagination, and they are bombarded with this parade, continually, with aplomb.

This precise moment of acceptance was eventually marred by a few ripples, which cast its effects widely: into the suburbs and aging Gen Xers. (See: Liz; New Year’s Resolutions.) Competitors like Athleta, Prana, even Gap, Target, entered Lululemon’s space. The queen herself took a stumble. Lululemon introduced a transparent version of their already-revealing yoga pants. Soon, every chick in Starbucks nationwide was wearing a pair of black stretchy pants, negating most of their initial prestige and association with fitness. This ubiquity became somewhat of an eyesore (white yoga pants?) and reminder to check our own backside reflection with greater scrutiny. Jeans jumped back in — AG, J Brand, with stretch, a big price tag, and a more forgiving fit. Yoga Pants, a lifestyle, was at a crossroads.

I have a flexible job and DO NOT wear yoga pants to a work meeting. However, I do find myself slipping into a pair, most mornings, lulled by their convenience, my intention to exercise, and the idea that it is somehow acceptable and, even, stylish to walk around in see-through ballet dancer tights. Maybe they are the precursor to unisex silver jumpsuits of the future, as promised by science fiction movies. For the present, my Yoga Pants lifestyle evolution remains just that, unfixed and adaptive, though increasingly not without a…pause.

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