MOVE ASIDE, little black dress. We are now in the age of the LBYP. That’s right, the little black yoga pant.
With the abundance of fashion-forward fitness-apparel shops on or near Georgetown’s M Street corridor, many of which offer after-hour, free workout classes and events, sweating in style has never been easier. But know when you breach the portals of these shops you’ve entered a world with a new vocabulary–Luon Full-on Luon, PowerLuxe Pilayo. The names for proprietary fabrics trademarked by the various companies have as much stretch and give as the yoga pants the companies sell.
At the ever-popular cult, upscale brand Lululemon Athletica, which recently made waves for its chief executive officer’s unflattering comments about women’s bodies, yoga pants typically run just under $100. The store offers a wide-range of cuts, fabrics, patterns and shapes of pants (from second-skin-fitting leggings to loose drawstring pants) and is stocked with an array of colorful yoga and running apparel and accessories. (3265 M Street NW; 202-333-1738)
In close proximity is competitor Athleta, the Gap-owned sportswear brand offers slightly lower price points and plus-size friendly products. It also stocks jazzy sportswear geared towards yoga, Pilates, running, cycling and swimming, as well as “lifestyle clothing” – i.e. weekend wear. A pair of black yoga pants runs between $69 and $98. The perks here are free hemming and the fact that you can simply return whatever doesn’t work for you. (3229 M Street NW; 202-202-471-4268)
CorePower Yoga offers, you guessed it, yoga apparel at their retail boutique alongside their two-room studio. They offer a wide collection of high-end yoga brands, including Beyond Yoga and Karma, as well as Lululemon. Added bonus- they regularly have a 75 percent off bin. Also, if you are feeling like a post- shopping treat, the Baked & Wired bakery is just across the street. (1055 Thomas Jefferson Street NW; 202-338-9642)
The Reebok Fithub, which replaced the Adidas store last October, organizes its store into sections into running, dance, yoga, training, plus everyday apparel. The basic black pant here runs between $50 and $60, and sports bras average around $35. There are slouchy cotton-poly drawstring pants and leggings that look fairly similar but are tagged for Dance or Studio or Yoga.
The brand is also the exclusive outfitter of CrossFit, a high-intensity conditioning program that combines gymnastics, track and weightlifting, so don’t be surprised if you spot gymnastic rings, climbing ropes, and kettlebells in the store. The Fithub regularly hosts in-store workout sessions and fitness challenges. (1251 Wisconsin Avenue NW; 202-333-4348)
Georgetown Running Company is, as its name suggests, geared toward runners, although the basic leggings span the whole world of exercise. An extra perk: Staffers all have a running background so feel free to ask them for advice. (3401 M Street NW; 202-337-8626)
Athletic wear giant Nike (3040 M Street NW; 202-471-5870) and specialty sports retailer City Sports (3338 M Street NW; 202-944-9600) offer a wide variety of sportswear, including but not limited to running, basketball, swimming and tennis. Both offer a wide range of yoga pants (City Sports’s pants range from $30 to $80 and Nike’s $50 to $120) and carry local D.C. sports-team fan merchandise.
Whether you’re running, dancing, doing yoga, working out or just hanging out, sports-minded stores can sell you a pair of pants they claim are perfect for your preferred activity. But bottom line for me is I don’t care about breathable panels for running or stirrups on yoga pants. Whether I’m doing a downward-facing dog, lifting weights or running a 4K (admittedly not likely), I want pants that whittle my middle, make my thighs look trimmer and sculpt my sagging rear end. In other words, pants that promise to make me look a lot fitter than I am. So, on a recent Saturday afternoon, I set out to find such a pair in black.
At Reebok FitHub, I tried on some unflattering all-purpose tights before discovering the ShapeWear Lux Legging tight, which was a big improvement, thanks to the brand’s proprietary TrueCurve technology for shaping and smoothing bumps. The waistline compressed my tummy and the side seams created the optical illusion of thin thighs. They felt reasonably comfortable and were marked down from their ticket price of $65. I figured the store was getting ready for a new spring shipment. However, when I asked the manager about their availability, she said she thought Reebok was discontinuing the line for lack of interest.
The woman in the dressing room next door to mine at Athleta looked swell in an attractive pair of running pants fitted out with a wind panel to keep thighs warm and cute zippers at the ankles, which prompted me to try this Wind Warrior number, which turned out to be not my style. Next, the saleswoman suggested the brand’s Revelation tight ($79), explaining that it offered the most shaping of all their pants styles. Athleta’s proprietary fabric, called PowerLuxe Pilayo, is a combination of nylon, lycra and spandex. The wide waistband smoothed my mid-section and the fabric held in the poochy parts of my figure.
Despite negative publicity about see-through pants and the remarks of a clueless CEO, Lululemon retains its allure. The Astro pants I bought several years ago have held up under a lot of wear and washes. The waistband, which I always wear high for maximum coverage, can also be rolled down for those with firmer abs; the leg is straight, not tight. I went in search of a second pair, but a saleswoman advised me to try the Wunder Under pants ($98), which fit tight around the ankles and felt divine, like a second skin on my lower half. Thanks to Lululemon’s high-test signature fabric called Luon, they compressed my thighs and rear end into a pleasing shape.