Yoga Outfit Ideas: The Basics Of what To Wear

Photo of author
Written by

If you’re hopping on the yoga bandwagon, welcome! As a teacher, one of the most common questions I get from new practitioners is “What should I wear?

You’re in luck. This article will give you an insight into yoga clothing through the lens of fashion and function, as well as provide you with a helpful breakdown of yoga outfit ideas.

yoga clothes and equipment laid out on the floor

6 General Guidelines

With a huge amount of choices of every size, color, and budget, it can be difficult to know what will be best suited for your personal practice. Before we dive into anything concrete, let’s go through a few general guidelines you should follow when choosing what to wear for yoga.

1. Personal Comfort

At the end of the day, it comes down to your comfort. Even in the same class, everyone reacts differently to the temperature and the intensity of the session.

Try not to fixate on what other people are wearing. If you tend to be cold, bring an extra layer! If you usually run hot, make accommodations.

The same applies to the way you react to different fabrics. Light-weight, moisture-wicking, quick-drying clothes tend to be popular, but you might prefer natural fibers like cotton, linen, bamboo, or even wool.

Finally, you should choose clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident from within. The happier you are in your yoga outfit, the more you can focus on your practice.

2. Sizing and Fit

Picking the right size is a prerequisite for comfort, enjoyment, and optimal performance. Life is too short to fumble in a pair of high waist yoga leggings that keep sliding off or a ‘breatheable’ sports bra that does not adequately support you.

Clothing that does not fit your body may restrict movement in unexpected ways, obstruct your vision, or distract you from the practice.

Instead of wearing something you have to regularly adjust, opt for garments designed for your chosen activity, body type, and size.

a woman doing yoga cross legged on a yoga mat with hands in prayer

3. Freedom of Movement

There is a reason why you don’t see yogis wearing jeans, corsets, or button-up shirts. One of the most important qualities of a yoga outfit is the ability to provide support without restricting your flexibility range.

This is why most practitioners opt for activewear clothing made from breathable stretchy fabrics that adjust to the shapes you create with your body.

4. Layer Up (Or Down)

An easy way to keep your options open is to wear layers. It can be particularly useful to have access to a blanket, a pair of warm socks, or an extra layer of clothing as your body cools down in Savasana.

The same goes for those who tend to overheat. It’s a good idea to wear something that allows you to shed off a clothing layer or two.

5. Socially Appropriate

While personal comfort is a great metric, it is also important to follow the social conventions of the country or specific studio where you attend classes.

For instance, hot yoga studios are generally accepting of minimal clothing, whereas other venues might require practitioners to keep their top on, and avoid sheer fabrics or excessively short shorts.

6. Barefoot

Traditionally, yoga is practiced barefoot to enable direct contact with the ground. Direct skin contact also provides the best grip with the yoga mat.

Some studios and individual teachers are stricter than others. Personally, I don’t insist on my students being barefoot in my classes. If someone chooses to wear socks, the best thing I can do is give them advice to make sure they practice safely.

Yoga Outfit Ideas for Men

As you can see, finding the right yoga outfit is a case of mixing and matching until it feels right. Arguably, this process is a little easier for men since their yoga outfits usually feature fewer clothing items.

a man cross legged on a yoga mat in grey clothes

Pants and Shorts

Think about pants or shorts you would wear doing other types of exercise. Great news! Chances are, they are equally suitable for yoga.

The best options are pants made with stretchy fabric (such as sweatpants or high waisted leggings) that accommodate the full range of movement. Similarly, you can wear athletic shorts.

Avoid pants with too many extra features like pockets, zips, buttons, etc. They might dig into your legs in certain poses and detract from your enjoyment of the session.


Most men in my classes opt for a comfortable tee, tank top, or long-sleeve shirt. However, you may also prefer a free-flowing tunic or a topless practice.

With the latter, remember to be mindful of the studio rules and social conventions. Naturally, topless yoga is perfectly acceptable when you practice at home.

Avoid tops that are too loose, as they might obstruct your view in inverted poses like Downward Facing Dog or Shoulder Stand, as well as make it difficult to breathe.

Trans men and non-binary practitioners may also opt to wear a binder underneath for extra comfort and support.

Extra Layers

If your temperature fluctuates during the session, I suggest that you wear a sweatshirt or a light zip top you can easily take off. You can also wear pants on top of a pair of shorts, ready to be removed once you warm up.

Another reason you might layer up is to support an old injury or prevent a new one. For instance, you may wear compression leggings under your shorts or compression sleeves along with your tee.

a man doing yoga in a suit with a blue cross over him


Since yoga is a relatively static practice, you don’t need to bring much with you. That said, some people might find it beneficial to have a sweatband or a bandana for their head. It performs a dual function of wicking the sweat and keeping the hair out of your face.

Yoga Outfit Ideas for Women

Men’s yoga clothing options, while growing, may not be as extensive as women’s, reflecting the historically smaller market demand.

The women’s yoga clothing industry is significantly larger, driven by the popularity of yoga among women, as well as the recognition of athleisure as a fashion trend. 

The industry’s response to the diverse needs and preferences of female yoga practitioners has led to an abundance of choices in terms of fabric technology1 Custom Apparel & Activewear Manufacturer. (n.d.). FittDesign. Retrieved January 13, 2024, from, design aesthetics, and performance features.

Women’s yoga wear is no longer confined to simple basics; it now includes a wide range of stylish and functional pieces, each designed to provide comfort and support on and off the mat. 

a yoga class in a lunging stretching pose

Pants and Shorts

The most popular choice of yogawear among women is leggings. My go-to yoga outfit, whether I am teaching or working on personal practice, almost always includes a pair of supportive, well-fitting leggings.

However, you are free to wear flared yoga pants, sweatpants, flowy harem pants, capris, and shorts.


Generally, women have the same options as men: tees, tank tops, crop tank, and long-sleeved shirts. Women’s clothing tends to be more form-fitting, so I would advise you to size up or opt for unisex options if you don’t like tight clothes.

Sports Bra

Any woman who attended a yoga class will tell you how important it is to have a good sports/yoga bras. I am not exaggerating when I say that a sports bra can make or break your practice.

Yoga has us moving in all directions, something a quality sports bra accounts for. Just remember that there is a lot of variation in bra sizing, and finding a well-fitting sports bra can be a bit of a quest.


One of my favorite new developments in yoga fashion is onesies (jumpsuits). No more exposed midriff, rolling down leggings, or mismatching colors.

Yoga onesies are a simple and comfortable option, which can be paired with additional layers such as a sweatshirt, crop top, or leg warmers for a retro touch.

The only downside of onesies is the difficulty of going to the bathroom. Something to consider!

a woman doing downward dog in a black onesie


It is common for women to have long hair. You might choose to accessorize with a headband or a head scarf to keep the hair back. 

History of Yogic Clothing

It is a well-known fact that the ancient practice of yoga originated in India. As such, the clothing traditionally worn for meditation and asana practice was a product of its environment.

To accommodate movement, early yogis usually wore loose-fitting garments such as a tunic and wide trousers

Made from natural fabrics2 8 Reasons to Make the Switch to Natural Fiber Clothing. (n.d.). Crann Organic. like cotton or linen, this type of clothing also allowed practitioners to manage body temperature in the hot Indian climate. 

When the Hatha tradition emerged, many yogis switched to wearing minimal clothing such as a loincloth or shorts. If you’ve ever seen early illustrations3 Images of Hatha Yoga from the Joga Pradīpikā (19th century). (n.d.). The Public Domain Review. and photographs demonstrating postures, you know what I’m talking about.

Naturally, as the influence and popularity of yoga increased and spread to the West, the clothing attire changed along with the practice. However, many practitioners in India stick to the original style to this day.

Yoga Clothing in the West

In the 20th century, when yoga practice was introduced to the Western audience, yoga outfits underwent a significant shift. Practitioners started to adopt a more contemporary style of clothing.

The modern workout clothing, including popular yoga apparel, is a combination of functionality, support, and self-expression. It includes a wide range of items to account for different styles of yoga, environment, and personal preference.

Bottom Line

Clothing plays an important role in making yogis comfortable and capable. However, there is no one-size-fits-all outfit formula, both literally and figuratively. My best advice boils down to a few simple points:

  • Choose comfort and function over style
  • Don’t be afraid to try different outfit options
  • Make use of sports clothing you already own
  • Put your yoga outfit in context

Since there are plenty of recommendations out there for women, I consider the matter closed. For our dear male practitioners, Dean from Man Flow Yoga provides a great visual guide to men’s yoga outfits and the way they affect the practice.

Photo of author
An avid yoga practitioner, Cat completed her training as a Hatha yoga teacher in 2016. She firmly believes that with the right guidance, yoga can benefit everyone, regardless of age, gender, size, or ability. With a background in journalism, Cat realized she could share her yoga experience with others, kickstarting her freelance writing career.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.