I admit that workout clothes (aka battle armor) are not on my list of favorite things to wear. As a plus size beauty finding comfortable and quality active-wear clothing is a challenge. Here are my thoughts on my experience with plus size active-wear clothing based on fabric, comfort, style, and product availability/access.
When purchasing workout clothes I take into consideration the thickness of the fabric, type of fabric (cotton, spandex, water wicking magic fabric), and how I plan on using the clothing. Lane Bryant had some cute Reebok workout pants but the fabric was really thick (I still bought them but mostly to lounge in). I’m already naturally insulated and extra thick fabric adds bulge when I’m trying to look leaner. Plus I find thicker fabrics tend to be more restrictive and don’t really encourage flexibility. I do own cotton/rayon yoga pants which are nice to lounge in but I’ve found for my Bikram Yoga practice that type of fabric easily soaks all of the sweat up and then feels heavy. Since I hadn’t found a good bottom to wear to Bikram Yoga I decided to simply wear my swimming shorts. The swimming shorts, while a tad thicker than other yoga shorts, work well for my practice.
I also want to feel comfortable in a workout attire so while I wish I could get to the point of wearing only a sports bra while working out, that doesn’t interest me at the moment. I think I would be too caught up on thinking that people are looking at me (regardless if they aren’t) to be able to focus. While I am a fan of yoga pants for lounging I’ve tried biking (the pant legs get caught in the chain), running (the fabric on the inner thigh wears out quickly or gets sweaty and then rubs uncomfortably against my leg), and Bikram yoga-ing (the fabric soaks moisture/sweat like a sponge) in them without great success (I guess that’s why they are yoga pants, good for only yoga). My one pair of moisture-wicking Reebok yoga pants from Lane Bryant are great at wicking moisture away from the fabric during Bikram Yoga, but there was only one length at my local store. Too long of a pant leg not only keeps me from fully assessing my posture but can also get in the way of completing poses and the fabric is thick and heats my body in a way that I’m not comfortable with (I feel like it traps the heat in). I also don’t want the seated bottom of a pant to be see-thru… Ladies AND men, I’d rather not see your blue thong or that you’re going commando when you lean over for Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose.
Yes, I am a plus size gal, and yes I’d love to prance down the sidewalk in those bright hot pink yoga pants and matching top because people don’t already see me walking towards them. Haha, I’m being sarcastic but why is it that patterns and colors for plus-size clothing have to be so obscure? When I was searching for active clothing to wear to Bikram Yoga I stumbled upon these really bright pink yoga pants. I love the color pink as much as some girls but bright pink hugging ALL of my wobbly-bits from shoulder to toe is not quite how I’d like to draw attention to myself. As I’m transforming myself and learning to love my body I’d like to stay at least out of the limelight, erm pinklight, as I try not to make a fool of myself in which ever group workout session I attend. Besides, who decided that active wear for curvy women has to look like it’s using left over fabric? Where are the stylish sports bras with playful colors/design and support?
4. Product Availability/Access:
While I think there is a lack of products that take into consideration the fabric, quality, style and comfort of a workout garment for plus-size women, there is an overall lack of any workout garments, even low-quality garments for plus-size women. While Lane Bryant retail stores dedicate a small section of the store to active clothing, I found the majority of the items are more for a mild activity level. There are some clothing items that can be found in various retail stores like Target and Walmart and online (such as Old Navy) but the variety and quality is not up to par. And forgot about looking in fitness enthusiast stores which usually only sell sizes XS-XL.
I would love to be able to enter a brick and mortar store and ACTUALLY try on a variety of active-wear clothing, more than simply trying on 3 colors of the same garment and online shopping can only go so far in determining if the product fits and meets a person’s individual needs. In my quest to find something to wear to Bikram Yoga I feel the most comfortable in swimming bottoms paired with a sleeveless form fitting exercise top from Lane Bryant (I prefer a fitted shirt rather than a loose shirt in Bikram Yoga). While my shirt is a rayon/cotton fabric it still soaks moisture but for now this feels comfortable. Every so often I switch my top with a halter swimming top (swim bottom and top are from Torrid) which doesn’t soak moisture like my normal cotton top. I believe the market exists, because of people like me…now someone just needs to fill the need.