A Little Review of Four Popular Yogawear Brands

I don’t normally do reviews on this page.  It’s not because I’m opposed to them; I just don’t typically think to do them, and I don’t buy a lot of stuff to review (unless you all want to hear my reviews of kale, peanut butter, and soy cream cheese).  Recently, however, I did a little shopping at Lululemon, Athleta, Prana, and I Am Beyond. So, I thought I would take a minute to pass on some of my thoughts about each.

Lululemon

Lululemon is popular and expensive.  There is just no two ways around that.  I’ve wanted to buy things from them far more than I have actually purchased, due to the cost.  But, recently I bought a pair of capris and was gifted with a tank.

Material – Materials from Lulu seem to vary, but for the most part they are strongly weighted, with a lot of compression effect.  They recommend washing Lulu products completely alone, because washing them with other items can cause the material to appear “pill-y” quickly.  In some ways, I like the feeling of support offered by these clothes, but in other ways, I don’t.  I found the tank very snug on my ribcage, and it was an uncomfortable snug (like a compression sock) that just didn’t work for me and I would have found distracting in a class.

Functionality – Because of the compression factor, Lulu items do provide a good amount of support for even a vigorous class.  And as they tend to be very form fitting, there isn’t anything getting in the way or dragging around.  As a small chested but big ribbed/shouldered woman, I find it really hard to get a fit in a top from them, and many are overly low in the cleavage area.

Looks – Lululemon clothes have that Lululemon look to them.  You know them when you see them.  They are clearly athletic apparel, but with some “fun” details in colors (usually accent colors).  There aren’t many of their items that I would wear for other than athletic purposes, but that’s not necessarily a drawback depending on how your schedule works out.

Cost -Pricey, very pricey.  While I think the quality is pretty good, there is something that troubles me about paying almost as much for a pair of pants as I would for a month of unlimited yoga classes.  I have heard that discounts can be had for instructors (in store only) but haven’t tried that out.

Customer Service / Returns – Watch the return policy for Lulu.  It is a very short window of time, particularly for gift giving or online orders.  My spouse ordered me the tank for my birthday.  By the time it arrived, the day came, and I tried it on, the period when I could return it had already passed.  So, now I’m stuck with a very expensive tank, with the tags still on it, and no way to exchange it or get the funds back.

I Am Beyond

I Am Beyond was a company I hadn’t heard of at all until after I started spending a lot of time in yoga studios and noticed the little lotus logo on a few people.  As a teacher training completion gift, I bought myself a pair of capri pants, and a jacket from them.

Material – Again, there are different fabrics available in this brand.  Some are relatively thin, which could present a problem dependent on how you are using them.  But, some are thicker.  The supplex/lycra blend that seems to be the most common is possibly one of the softest, most pettable fabrics I have ever experienced. I have to work when wearing the capris not to keep petting my own thigh.  Really.  This fabric isn’t thin, but it’s not as thick or compressive as Lululemon’s similar Luon blend.

Functionality – Because there is less compression, it’s possible that some people may find I Am Beyond products to lack support.  They have a wide variety of styles for most items, but here too I found that a lot of the tanks seemed a little low cut for a vigorous yoga class.  Maybe I’m just a prude.

Looks – I Am Beyond is pretty stylish, and has some unique pieces.  They don’t seem to utilize patterns much, but the solids run a wide range of colors and the styles are different from offerings I see other places.

Cost – IAB is less expensive than Lulu, but more expensive than Prana or Athleta for similar items (i.e a standard pair of capris runs about $90 at Lulu, $70 at IAB, and $60 at Prana and Athleta).  You can also sometimes find promo codes for I Am Beyond, so be sure to check that out before you order.

Customer Service / Returns – I haven’t had to use the return policy for this company, but I noted that it is about the same as Lulu – so a short window. If buying for someone else, I would suggest a gift card rather than an item, because a decision about fit will need to be made rather quickly after arrival.

Prana

Prana was the first “real” yoga clothing company I ever got anything from, as a gift.  Recently, I was able to purchase some additional items to give them a better try.  They included capris, tanks, and a dress.

Material – While you’ll also find a variety of materials here, the tops tend to be a relatively “slinky” poly blend, while the bottoms are thicker and more matte.  I like the material of the tops for washability, lack of wrinkle when packing, and flow.  However, if you have issues with slippery feeling fabrics, you’ll want to watch this.  In general, I’ve found the material for Prana to be more supportive than I Am Beyond, but less than Lululemon.

Functionality – Prana has a pretty wide range of items, so it’s not too hard to find things that will work for you.  I’ve found it pretty easy to get tops that don’t leave me in fear of flashing anyone around me.  Because I’m not large chested (or even medium), I find the tanks to have enough support, but I would think that the weight of the material would make this not the case for anyone with average or above breast size.

Looks – If you like prints, Prana might be a good choice for you.  They tend to have a wider variety of prints than the other three.  Once in a while, I see a print there that I feel like is a little middle-aged (but, hey, so am I), but in general, they are pretty.  Their clothes also don’t scream “workout wear” so they are pretty easy to dress up for other purposes or wear transitionally.

Cost –  As noted above, Prana is generally a lower price-point than Lulu or IAB.  This certainly doesn’t make it inexpensive.  If you can catch a sale or know a friend who is an “Influencer” (and then wait for one of their Friends and Family sales) then you can get a good deal on their items.

Customer Service / Returns – Prana has quite a liberal return/exchange policy and they are good about helping with that process.  I’ve been generally pleased with their customer service.

Athleta

Athleta is part of the Gap company’s offerings.  They have few physical locations, so that has made me hesitant to order.  But, I’ve gone ahead for a few things using birthday gift cards, including pants, a skirt, a tank, and (in the past) swimwear.

Material – Items at Athleta vary pretty widely in intended use, so there are a lot of different fabrics.  For the yoga specific clothes, most are lycra/nylon blends and of a weight similar to Prana (so thicker than IAB, but not as thick as Lulu).  Other than the more swimwear oriented items, I haven’t seen as much slippery cloth as Prana.  I’ve had mostly good experience with washability of the fabric, with the exception of a little pilling action on a skirt.

Functionality – They have a lot of stuff.  A lot.  It takes some time to go through the pages, because the way things are marked may not really reflect what would be functional to do in them.  For example, some of the yoga tops are such that I’m pretty sure they would fall over your face if you went into any inversion.  It’s worth it to take some time and sort through the site to find what you want.  The tops with support inside seem to be a little more supportive than Prana or IAB, but less so than Lululemon.

Looks – Again here, there is so much to select from that it is hard to say.  They tend to have less print items than Prana, but more than IAB.  A lot of the items have kind of a California/surfer vibe to me.  But, then again, I’m from Indiana, so what do I know?

Cost – Prices at Athleta are similar to Prana, but they have sales with more frequency (though not as often as the other companies in the line).

Customer Service / Returns – Similar to Prana, Athleta has a good return policy.  They are part of the Gap corp., so customer service is about what you would expect there (functional if you call, but they won’t know a lot about the specific items beyond what you can see on the page).  If you have a local store, which are few and far between, returns and exchanges are much easier.

So, there you have it, my little review.  Right now, I would say that Prana is my favorite of the four, but I can see why someone would pick any of the others as well.

Happy shopping,

L

Five Things I Want from Yoga Clothes

This is a little message from me to all of the designers and manufacturers of yoga clothes out there.  True, this is only my opinion, but I will say that I have discussed this with a pretty wide range of people.  I feel like these five qualities are those that many yogis can get behind.

Just to set the ground for what I’m about to say, I’m talking about the asana limb of yoga in this post.  It seems to me that the other seven limbs shouldn’t really require special clothing.  But, to some degree, asana does.  Now, you might say, “it doesn’t if you practice naked.”  This might be true for some people.  However, some need a little more support in one area or another, and some of us are just never going to practice in the buff.  For those who do want to practice nude, or really like the itty  bitty tiny teeny outfits, run with that.  This is for the rest of us.  Given those basics, there are only five things I need from my yoga clothes.

Exactly what I'm NOT talking about

1.  I want the clothing to be designed with the activity in mind.  Yes, I know that there are many types of asana and it’s hard to remember them all, but I think the basics can be considered.   Pants should be an appropriate length.  This means long enough to cover all of the important bits when bending WAY over, and it also means not being an awkward in between length that makes bakasana impossible.  Necklines shouldn’t be so low that the person across from you is absolutely guaranteed full-frontal nudity when you move into catturanga.   Similarly, armholes should not be so large that the person on your right can see the person on your left through the shirt.  This is yoga, not the Hustler centerfold.

2. On a related note, the clothing should allow for ease and freedom of movement.  They do not need to be so compressing and constrictive that they feel like you are wearing a boa constrictor on all of your limbs.  I understand the benefit of compression pants for endurance running.  But, I don’t want my yoga pants to emulate sausage casing.  I want to be able to flow in a flow class, and not have that hampered by clothing items.  This means selecting fabric with some stretch.  While some items (i.e. a sports bra) need to be supportive, there is no reason that my calves, shoulders, and ribs need to be squeezed.

3.  Part of #2 might be related to a need for yoga clothing that fits a variety of bodies.  All too often, brands have one length of pants (we are all the same height?), a limited range of shirt sizes, one type of pants rise, etc.  We say that yoga is for everybody but we do not design the clothing for every body.  One glance around a yoga class makes it clear that there are a wide variety of waist/hip ratios going on.  Manufacturers should get that.  Breast size isn’t always correlated with overall body or rib size.  Designers need to understand that.  Making the center seam in pants the same rise on almost all lengths/sizes pretty much promises that there will be women in the room with a serious case of… I’m not going to say it but you know what I mean.  That’s not comfortable for the wearer or the viewer.

4. Speaking of viewer comfort, I have yet to find a magic transporter to get me to/from yoga.  So, I want clothes that are before/after class appropriate.  Sometimes, I have to run to the elementary school before yoga, or the doctor after, or stop by the pharmacy on the way.  Is it too much to ask that yoga clothing has the flexibility to be worn in other settings?  Yes, this may mean that we won’t all look like the Victoria’s Secret yoga clothes models (whew!), but it’s a trade-off that I would be willing to make.  After all, this is yoga, not a dance club.  If I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing the clothes in front of my grandma…

5. That having been said, I would like clothes that have pleasing aesthetics.  While I don’t need, or want, to try to look like a cover model, I do want to feel ok about my appearance when I stand in front of a class.  So, something a little prettier than black gym style shorts and a gray tank is desirable.  Solid colors are great, but they can get boring after a while, and it seems that a little bit of well-placed funky or yoga-ish pattern (without going over the top and heading into old-lady fussiness) would be a reasonable request.

And, as a sub category to all of the above, I want these things at some sort of reasonable price.  My yoga clothes should not cost more than my yoga classes.

So, there you have it: five (and a half) things that I need from my yoga clothes.  Is that too much to ask?

Namaste,

L