10 best yoga and pilates clothes

Our pick of the gear that will keep you comfortable and cool in the trickiest of positions

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The Independent Online

The biggest month for fad exercise regimes is behind us, so congratulations if you’ve kept your New Year’s resolution of keeping fit. Buying stylish new workout gear is a great way to reward yourself or give yourself a little bit more motivation, especially if you’re feeling daunted about attending a new class.

When it comes to yoga and pilates, it’s important to buy clothes that don’t restrict your movement or rub. Whether you prefer baggy, short or full-length leggings, or a tank top over a long-sleeved tee, we’ve tested a wide range of garments to find the best pieces to suit all preferences. 

We looked out for comfort, style and quality, and tested each item in a range of yoga and pilates classes, from hatha flow to bikram, in all the usual poses as well as inversions. 

We’ve whittled it down to our 10 favourite pieces – you’ll be excited to get to class and show these off.

1. Adidas By Stella McCartney Yoga Flower Tights: £74.95, Adidas


Stella McCartney’s latest range of yoga wear for Adidas is bursting with fun and colourful patterns. Not only are these tights playful and stylish, they’re also stretchy and lightweight, clinging comfortably to your figure and working with you as you bend and contort into the trickiest of positions. There’s also a handy inner key pocket on the elastic waist. Our favourite design is this bright pink and red colour combination but for a more understated look, there’s an ice grey and granite pair. This is our favourite statement piece of yoga wear.

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2. Lululemon Free to Be Bra: £42, Lululemon


This open-back bra with beautiful criss-cross straps is our favourite bra, design-wise. The straps stay put as you move, so you can get on with your workout without having to worry about readjustment. There is also removable padding. It’s light but fairly skimpy, with a thin rib band, so it’s more suitable for smaller busts and slow-paced yoga or pilates sessions. The bra comes in a choice of six colours but our favourites are this black and white one or the “dreamy blue” design.

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3. Forever 21 Active Hooded Ladder-Cutout Top: £16, Forever 21


This lightweight pullover is great for keeping you cosy as you warm up or cool down from your session. The fabric is soft, and it’s a loose fit without being baggy, so you can keep it on at the start of your class without it interfering with your movement. The cut-out back looks great and allows air to circulate, regulating your temperature.  It’s also great value for money.

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4. Sweaty Betty Chandrasana 7/8 Reversible Leggings: £75, Sweaty Betty


These stretchy, soft and comfortable leggings fit snugly without restricting your flow of movement. They sit nicely on your waist and aren’t too tight around your ankles either. They’re reversible too, so you can choose which way to wear them depending on how loud and proud you’re feeling. You may choose to wear this printed side in class and reverse them to plain black when you pop to the shops afterwards, if you don’t feel like making a statement. These leggings come in a variety of designs but our favourite is this “hamsa” print.

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5. Manuka Life Salutation Capri: £45, John Lewis 


The ultimate loungewear trousers from yoga and pilates brand Manuka Life, this style has a beautiful draped front and fold-over waistband, with a sneaky flash of blue from the contrasting pocket linings. These three-quarter length, loose leggings are incredibly comfortable and ideal for light yoga sessions and stretching. Due to their thickness, we wouldn’t recommend them for anything too vigorous or hot (like bikram yoga) but they’re great for relaxing, both in class and at home. 

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6. Nike Breathe Pro Inside: £40, Nike


This two-layer tank top and bra combination is both practical and fun. The bra is comfortable and supportive, while the lightweight, breathable top keeps you cool with the help of the slit at the back. It’s floaty but not too loose, so it won’t fall on your face during inversions but it won’t rub or restrict your movement either. The Dri-FIT technology moves sweat away from your body and to the fabric’s surface, where it evaporates, so it helps keep you dry throughout your workout. The two-in-one top comes in four different colour combinations but our favourite is the black bra and electric blue top combo.

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7. Manduka Cross Strap Bra: £47, Yogamatters


Made from 88 per cent recycled materials, this bra is “made for good” with both you and the planet in mind. The fabric is super-soft with a subtle navy and black pattern, while the criss-cross back adds a stylish element, as well as helping to distribute pressure evenly across your back. The thick rib band at the bottom is supportive too and there is removable padding, meaning you can change the level depending on how much extra support you need. The bra isn’t as skimpy as some yoga bras, so you’ll feel comfortable wearing it on its own or under a top.

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8. Pepper & Mayne Seamless Compression Unitard: £79, Pepper & Mayne


We were so excited to test this unitard by London-based ballet and barre gear specialists Pepper & Mayne and we weren’t left disappointed. The fit is snug and flattering without being too tight, so you can move comfortably between downward dog and crow pose with no fear of chafing. And it’s supportive too, with a waistband and padding, so you don’t need to wear a bra underneath. Sweat-wicking fabric means you stay cool and dry throughout your workout while looking stylish and like a bona fide yogi.

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9. Rosie for Autograph Active Medium Impact Crop Top: £25, Marks & Spencer


Part of the new sports collection from supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, this crop top is sleek, stylish and comfortable. It provides the correct level of support for every intensity of yoga or pilates workout, and for both small and large busts. We love the crossover front and the cut-out back. It sits smoothly and neatly under a top, or works well on its own.

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10. Free People Lotus Yoga Bag: £58, Free People


Free people’s canvas yoga bag with a suede zip and drawstring is the epitome of boho-chic. It’s the ideal size for a regular yoga mat (60cm wide), though would be a little too small for an extra-wide mat. There’s a handy side pocket for your keys and phone, and the thick strap makes it comfortable to carry. We love the stylish paisley print design too.

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The Verdict: Yoga and pilates clothes

The Adidas By Stella McCartney Yoga Flower Tights win our vote when it comes to the most stylish, comfortable and high quality garment, thanks to their beautiful design and lightweight fabric. Also, the Manduka Cross Strap Bra works for all bust sizes and all workout intensities, and it’s so soft and comfortable that you won’t want to take it off after class.

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