Yoga Fashion: How to Shop Like an Om Gal

I find myself sounding a little like an idiot when Neiman Marcus stylist, Meredith Keir, asked me about my personal approach to fashion.  In preparation for the Neiman Marcus Fashion Rules event featuring seven Bostonians, including myself, and our “dream closets,” Meredith spent time with each of us, getting to know how we like to dress and express ourselves through clothing and design.

She manages to stump me with her first question.

“Where do you get your fashion inspiration?”

Meredith Keir, visual stylist, Neiman Marcus, Boston.

It’s not a difficult question.  I imagine some people say decisive things like “Mad Men,” but I’ve never seen that show.  Or, “African safari,” which is having a fashion moment right now and I did experience while studying abroad in college.  I bought a tapestry/tablecloth in Kenya and am more than a little proud that after I tired of it as a tapestry and, later, tablecloth, I wore it as a sarong and, now, a scarf.  However, I am fairly certain that one should not divulge wearing kitchen finery as fashion to a professional stylist. The Fashion Rules people would surely renege on my inclusion as a stylish Bostonian right then and there.  It would be fun to respond “French impressionist paintings” or “1970s disco,” but, let’s be honest, these would be boldfaced lies.

‘Is “bohemian en route to the gym” an answer?’ I think to myself.  Thankfully, by pointing at colorful and drapey dresses around the store (my go-to outfit of choice), swooning over certain fashion icons, recalling fun moments in fashion history, enumerating a list of designers I’d love to find hanging in my dream closet (Diane Von Furstenberg, Marc Jacobs, Chloe), and recounting a dizzying typical day (teach yoga, breakfast meeting, writing, teach yoga again, conference calls, more meetings, more writing, more yoga, punch people and drink beer), we gain a clearer picture of how and why I dress the way I do.

It’s not that I think this is riveting information.  Instead, I thought you might find it interesting to see how yoga can inform wardrobe choices.  Beyond the logistical need for clothes that transform from fitness to fashion, I realized that my approach to clothes bears a striking resemblance to my approach to life, which is shaped by yoga.  As many of you can attest, yoga has a tough time staying put–relegated to a mat, in a studio.  Here are 7 ways that yoga sashays into my closet.  If you feel so inclined, these observations might serve as guidelines for “shopping like an om gal” this season.

  1. Shop for the figure and fashion sense you have now: Among other benefits, yoga and meditation teach us to see ourselves and the world more clearly and live in the present moment.  To this end, it makes sense to buy clothes for the bodies we have now, as opposed to a body we hope to have in a few months (or had a decade ago).  Similarly, wear clothes that fit your personality today, not who you were in the past–if that persona no longer suits you.
  2. Money can’t buy love, but do buy things you love: The yogic principle governing greed is called aparigraha.  Avoid greedy impulses such as hoarding or overspending by buying only items that you really adore.  I also find it immensely helpful to purge my closet several times a year.  If you don’t love it, don’t buy it, or donate to someone who might love it.
  3. Visualize wearing brand blinders. If you didn’t know the brand, logo, or label, would you still like the item?  Be honest.  This exercise encourages a creative and authentic point of view when it comes to your personal style.
  4. Wear color. Different colors evoke different emotions.  I love bright colors and think of them as natural mood lifters, like good music or Top Chef.  Use color to set a tone, stimulate feeling, or as a nod to one of your chakras.
  5. Be an ahimsanista. Ahimsa (non-harming) is the most important yama (attitude toward the world) that yogis practice.  For some, it means not wearing fur, leather, or other animal products.  For others, it sparks a desire to buy local as often as possible.  Integrating ahimsa into your wardrobe can take many forms.  Explore them all, and find those that fit you.  In addition to minimizing harm, what we buy has the opportunity to do good, with products that give back such as TOMS shoes.  For every pair purchased, one pair is given to a child in a developing country.
  6. Unfussy, YES.  Sloppy, NO. Ideal yoga poses are comfortable, unfussy, and elegant.  Ditto a perfect outfit.  In neither case is unfussy synonymous with sloppy.  (This rule is particularly relevant in Iyengar yoga classes and on Casual Fridays at the office).
  7. A healthy body is the best accessory. Nothing looks more fabulous, bangin’, fashionable, on trend, in season, of-the-moment, classic, glamorous, or exquisite than someone who feels healthy and happy in his/her own skin.  Dressing your body in beautiful clothes always pales in comparison to how you treat it from the inside-out.

Does yoga factor into your fashion sense?  How?

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  • Ralph

    Does yoga factor into your fashion sense? How?

    I find my sartorial pleasures derived from a yogic sense of acceptance.

    Gone are my peacock displays (guys have em to) and macho man metro sexual suits.

    I am now subway slob. I have a T for a logo

    Yes, I wear what I can move, breath and feel most comfortably in these days. As I find my life improving through the acceptance of what is, I look less on the outside and move more on what I wear on the in.

    Buy, all means, I appreciate and admire all bodies and how people dress. Always seeing when someone has gone the extra effort in outfitting and complimenting . It is just for me right now I accept myself more so and see where my body is at more clearly.

    Who knows, 2011 may be another makeover?

    Thanks for bringing our outside to a more conscious level.and the stylist sounds great..

  • Julie

    I just invested in my 2nd pair of Wunderunder pants because I was washing my first pair 3-4 times a week. As someone who’s forced to wear suits almost 5 days a week, there’s nothing more liberating than having leggings in my non-work wardrobe. It will be a sad day when they go out of style in streetwear again (flashback to the 1990s?).

  • Alli

    I agree with Julie. I’ve stopped denying that I honestly wear my leggings everywhere. My friends always joke that I look like a lululemon employee when we go out, but they are comfortable and classy at the same time. I love that I can wear them to yoga, then around the house, then out that night, then under my kilt the next day, then to work the next night, etc. Pairing them with a funky top from forever 21 is always fun :)

  • shelby

    Love this post! I practically live in my yoga gear, squeezing a class into an already jammed packed day. So I’m always keeping an eye out for gear that serves both function AND fashion! A long time Nike and lululemon fan, I just discovered this new fitness brand called KiraGrace and am head over heels! They are absolutely exploding, and they have some of the most gorgeous stuff I’ve seen in a long time. And when I pull open my dresser drawers in the morning, I find I’m always reaching for my KiraGrace tops and bottoms because they feel SO amazing on. Luxurious, premium quality, and unforgettable fashion.