I grew up in a relatively small town in Oklahoma where the most common casual wear choice on Free Dress Day at my private high school was sweatpants or Soffe shorts and an oversized t-shirt (your boyfriend’s if you were cool enough to have one). When I moved to San Diego for College, I noticed that sweatpants were no longer acceptable-and here began my foray into “yoga pants,” or as we now know them, leggings. In my case, yoga apparel preceded my actual yoga practice, an activity that was also rather uncommon in a small midwestern town at the time. Like most of the women on my college campus, I turned to Lululemon to support my new casual wardrobe and my budding yoga practice.
As my physical and spiritual yoga practice grew, as did my awareness of social justice issues. As a Masters of Social Work student, yoga practitioner, and teacher, my standards for yoga gear have risen dramatically since the day I bought my first pair of shiny black Lulu leggings. In the wake of Lululemon founder Chip Wilson’s controversial comment that “some women’s bodies just don’t actually work” for their clothing line in 2013, which ostracized hundreds of thousands of women who don’t conform to our society’s narrow and exploitative standards of ‘thinness’, many loyal customers (including myself) have turned to other active-wear brands to support their yoga practice and wardrobes. If you’re looking for some great brands to support your casual wardrobe, your yoga practice, or even your work attire (seriously, I can wear leggings with a sweater that covers my bum TO WORK!), here are some of my favorite brands:
1. HYDE YOGA
Best For: Casual wardrobe, feeling comfy and cozy, supporting the planet.
Selection: Pants, crops, tanks, tees, outerwear, men’s pants and men’s shorts.
What I Love: First, all of Hyde’s products are made from Organic cotton, which means that in addition to being super soft and luxurious due to the lack of chemical residue, the production of Hyde’s styles helps “sustain our planet and alleviate the damage done by unmindful, if commonplace, manufacturing methods” (Hyde Yoga). Additionally, Hyde values Charitable giving and incorporates this into their business model by teaming up with yoga teachers around the country to donate a percentage of the proceeds from various styles to support local and international organizations.
Best For: Work appropriate leggings, Lululemon lovers, and those of you that like to sweat- on or off the mat.
Selection: Bra tops, tank tops, tees, jackets, workout tanks (with built-in bras), full-length leggings, capri leggings.
What I Love: The quality of all Ellie’s styles is top-tier; they are never sheer and don’t start pilling after a few washes. The brand expertly designs the seams on their bottoms to lengthen your legs and frame your booty, plus with their surplice waistband (higher on the hips, lower under the belly button) your waist looks slim, your booty stays in place and any love handle concerns are neatly tucked away. For convenience, they also offer an “Outfits” section on their website with top and bottom styles pre-matched for you.
3. ANA’S LEGGINGS
Best For: Casual-wear wardrobe, spicing up your practice gear, being cozy.
Selection: Full-length leggings, capri leggings.
What I Love: I have never experienced a softer or happier pair of leggings than my Ana’s Leggings full-length Sunflower leggings. Besides looking like a straight-up ray of sunshine in these bad boys, all of the styles from Ana’s Leggings feel like the softest pair of pyjamas you’ve ever owned. While the dark and neutral colors from other brands most certainly have a practical place in our wardrobes, Ana’s Leggings offers many fun styles and colors to brighten your mood on and off the mat.
4. TINY DEVOTIONS
Best For: Casual-wear wardrobe, office attire, meditation practice, living with intention.
Selection: Traditional 108 bead malas, intentional necklaces, mala bead bracelet stacks, scarves, blankets, tanks, intentional bracelets, malas for him.
What I Love: Roughly 90% of my Christmas wish list this year is from the Tiny Devotions shop. Tiny Devotions encourages individuals to connect with their spirituality, follow their dreams and look gorgeous in the process. All of their styles are intentionally crafted with specific semi-precious stones and beads to help the wearer cultivate and develop certain characteristics such as calmness, grounding, assertiveness, and honesty. I use my 108 bead Tiny Devotions malas for my meditation practice, for courage and stress-relief at work, and to deepen my yoga practice by placing it outstretched at the top of my mat before each practice to soak up the effort and energy in the room.
Best For: Casual-wear wardrobe, office attire, gifts for your yogi friends, values-driven purchasing.
Selection: Bracelets, accessories (bags, key chains, hair ties and more).
What I Love: Every single bracelet purchased from Pura Vida helps to provide full-time jobs for local artisans in Costa Rica. Additionally, Pura Vida takes their charitable giving even further by donating the proceeds from various styles to a host of charitable organizations including those related to Enviro-causes, Animal awareness, Education and children, Cancer awareness, Women’s causes, Conditions, Service/military and Memorial causes. I love mixing and matching and stacking my Pura Vida bracelets to create a new style for every day while knowing I’m supporting a host of valuable causes.
Alex is an RYT-200 who began practicing yoga consistently in 2010 (after she discovered “yoga pants”) and fell in love with Acro Yoga a few years after, connecting deeply with the playful spirit of the practice and the community it creates between practitioners. While finishing her final year of a Masters in Social Work program at the University of Denver, Alex is also in the process of completing her 500 hour yoga teacher training at Kindness Yoga, the top rated yoga studio in Denver, Colorado, and preparing for her Acro Yoga teacher training in Summer 2015. For Alex, Yoga and Acro Yoga are tools for herself and her students to get out of their heads and into their bodies; a way to engage with the present moment, connect with a deeper sense and understanding of self, build community, and participate in divine play.