Cheapism: Best budget yoga clothes

Nov. 28, 2012 at 1:52 PM ET

Courtesy Old Navy /
Old Navy fold-over yoga pants and capris start at $15.

By Kara Reinhardt,

As yoga has stretched American consumers’ muscles, the apparel industry has stretched their budgets. Yogis and wannabes stock up on everything from figure-hugging jackets to socks with grips on the bottom and individual pockets for each toe. Lululemon, the maker of high-end yoga clothing, expects revenue to top $1.3 billion this year and charges nearly $100 for its popular pants. For less than $20, mass-market retailers sell workout gear that’s still a far cry from gym shorts and a free T-shirt from your alma mater.

Below are Cheapism’s top picks for affordable yoga clothes.

  • Old Navy fold-over yoga pants and capris (starting at $15) win fans both inside and outside the yoga studio for their supremely comfortable fit and fabric. Together the two styles claim more than 2,000 reviews on the Old Navy website, and an overwhelming majority award them high ratings. Many reviewers appreciate that they’re available in petite and tall sizes. The fold-over waistband flatters without constricting the midsection and may reveal a flash of pink, violet, or aqua, although buyers can also choose monochromatic black or gray. Online shoppers should note that a few color options include the brand name emblazoned on the back of the waistband. (Where to buy)
  • The Champion Double Dry women's training tank (starting at $12) may not be labeled as a yoga top but it fills the bill, fitting close to the body without restricting movement, according to online reviews. The lightweight, “mock-mesh” fabric should appeal particularly to practitioners of Bikram or “hot” yoga for its moisture-wicking ability. Flat seams are designed to prevent chafing. This tank is also cut high and long enough to keep wearers from having to worry about inadvertent exposure. (Where to buy)

Of course, the cheapest place to find something to wear to yoga is your own closet. While comfort is paramount, clothing that’s too loose may get in the way as you try to get into a pose. A baggy T-shirt or shorts can slide up and reveal your midriff (or more) in a pose such as downward-facing dog or provide an unwitting sight line in a wide-legged pose. Ironically, tighter apparel can prove more modest and allow greater freedom of movement. Clothing that fits closer to the body also makes it easier for a teacher to monitor your form and ensure you’re practicing safely.

Pay attention to the length of the pants you choose. Yoga pants often flare at the bottom, so if they’re too long, it’s easy to get the hem caught underfoot and difficult to see whether your feet are in the proper alignment. That helps explain the appeal of capris and leggings, as well as Old Navy’s fold-over yoga pants. With their three different inseam lengths, they attract many consumers unwilling to spend time and money on alterations.

Consider not only fit but fabric as well. A pair of leggings that works fine underneath dresses and tunics may not breathe very well and stick when you sweat. Cheapism found that one bargain pair proved practically see-through. Quick-drying fabric, like the material of the Champion Double Dry training tank, promises to keep wearers more comfortable than heavy cotton.

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