What Do You Wear Under Yoga Pants? I Asked 400 People.
Back in 2013, Lululemon faced some flak for selling yoga pants that were revealingly sheer. As people discussed the see-through pants, a question emerged: what should you be wearing under yoga pants, anyway? Standard underwear? Some kind of fancy yoga pants thong?
“Regular” underwear with yoga pants might be too constricting and cause VPL (that’s visible panty lines, which some people would rather not display). Thongs take care of the lines but can lead to comfort issues. So do you just go commando?
Sites from Slate to The Frisky have all weighed in, but a consensus has never been reached—it is a question of personal taste, after all. But I wondered if, given a large enough sample of yogis, I could find out what constituted the best underwear for yoga pants ... or at least which option was most popular.
A REALLY WEIRD SURVEY
I created a survey using SurveyMonkey and made sure that anyone who answered it would remain completely anonymous. I advertised it to yogis I knew and posted it on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. The survey asked respondents how old they were, how long they’ve been practicing yoga, and what they typically wore under their yoga pants, with multiple-choice answers for all three questions.
The third question had three possible answers: nothing, a thong, or underwear (not a thong). If someone chose non-thong underwear, they were asked to specify what type of underwear they preferred (bikini, boy shorts, etc.) in a text box.
I also included a text box at the end of the survey where participants could leave comments if they wanted.
I had hoped to get about 100 responses so that I could make some deduction about how yoga-pants fans prefer to dress their nethers. I ended up getting more than 400.
Before I started, if you had asked me to choose a horse in this race, I would have bet that “no underwear” would come out ahead. To my surprise, it ended up as the least popular choice, and “underwear (not a thong)” won out.
Here are the graphs for the other two questions, so you can see the age and yoga-experience demographics:
Bikinis are big. The people who chose “underwear (not a thong)” and typed their preference (165 people total) showed that bikini-style underwear is the most common go-to. About 45% of the answers mentioned the bikini cut.
… But a lot of people didn’t stress about their underwear style. About 23% of underwear-wearers typed something to the extent of “Whatever I’m already wearing” or “Clean underwear.” The rest of the answers were all over the place: boy shorts, hipsters, spandex shorts, briefs, and “anything seamless” all showed up a few times. Some other contributions: “pants with spandex built in,” “Cotton [k]nickers,” and “Cotton granny panties. Comfort rules!”
Teenagers preferred thongs. The 18-or-younger group had the highest percentage of thong-wearers: 52%, compared to 38% of people aged 19–30 and 22% of people aged 31–50. (Keep in mind, there were only 31 people in the 18-or-younger group, so this might not be too telling.)
… And so did yoga newbies. Of the 79 people who had “just started [doing yoga] recently,” 52% chose thongs. Otherwise, 29% said they wear non-thong underwear and 19% said they wear nothing.
People over 30 preferred to go commando. This group of 86 people had the largest percentage of no-underwear supporters: 40%, as opposed to 23% for the 18-and-under crowd and 21% for the 19–30 crowd.
Yoga teachers had no strong underwear preference. Of the 39 who took the survey, 14 of them (37%) said they wear thongs. Thirteen of them (34%) said they wear nothing, and 11 (29%) said they wear non-thong underwear.
People over 50 … were hard to find. I only reached four of them with the survey, and only one of those four left a comment: “Who cares?”
I received 122 notes in the optional comment box and identified a few patterns.
Lots of yogis aren’t concerned about VPL.
- “I don't think about my underwear when I do yoga—acceptance of self is a major hurdle for me, so I strive to come as I am and accept that.”
- “I don't understand what the big deal about VPL is. Oh no! Someone might realize you're wearing underwear! Who wears UNDERWEAR?!”
- “After doing yoga in what I found out later were completely see-through leggings, I have conquered my fear of others seeing my underwear in yoga class. You are supposed to be concentrating on mindfulness anyway!”
(I found these comments encouraging, personally, and have since vowed to let comfort take precedence over a supposed fashion faux pas.)
Men also do yoga and many wear yoga pants. Also, they may get offended if you do not mention them in your survey.
- “This survey has significant gender bias. It’s insulting.”
- “I am male. This survey seems to assume only females practice asana?”
- “I am a male. We can do yoga too you know.”
Sorry, dudes! I tried to make the survey’s language gender-neutral and didn’t think that people who identified as male would skew the results.
Everyone has a different reason for choosing what to wear (or not wear). All of them are valid. For example:
- “I've had to start looking for underwear without bows on the front, which is oddly difficult. They always show through! WHY ARE THEY NECESSARY.”
- “I sweat so much during my ashtanga practice that any extra fabric becomes soaked and uncomfortable. So no panties for me! I make sure to buy triple-gusseted yoga pants.”
- “I wear running shorts under my yoga pants because I'm terrified of getting pantsed ... though I've never been and am unlikely to ever be pantsed.”
Mel writes about food and beauty trends. She would rather give up chocolate than onions.