Yoga Fashion: How to Shop Like an Om Gal

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I find myself sounding a little like an idiot when Neiman Marcus stylist, Meredith Keir, interviewed me, this month, about my personal approach to fashion.  In preparation for the Neiman Marcus Fashion Rules event featuring seven Bostonians (including myself), Meredith spent time with each of us, getting to know how we like to dress and express ourselves through clothes, colors, design, and more.

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 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/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. I was pretty sure the Fashion Rules people would 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, swooning over certain fashion icons (Siena Miller, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Gwyneth Paltrow to name a few), enumerating a list of designers I’d love to find hanging in my 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 even 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–you guessed it– is shaped in part 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 a yogi” this spring season.

  1. Buy for the body you have now: Among other benefits, yoga and meditation teach us to see ourselves and the world more clearly.  To this end, it makes sense to buy clothes for the body we have now, as opposed to a body we hope to have in a few months (or one we haven’t had in a decade).  Dress to fit your body: plain and simple.
  2. Money can’t buy you love, but it can buy things you love: The yogic principle governing greed is called aparigraha.  Avoid greedy impulses such as hoarding or overindulging by buying only items that you really love.  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?
  4. Wear color. Different colors evoke different emotions.  I love bright colors and find them to be a natural mood lifter, like 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 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.  Find those that fit you.
  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).
  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 up always pales in comparison to how you treat it from the inside-out.

How does yoga factor into your fashion sense?