Are yoga pants on a plane in bad taste?

Smarter Travel

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(Photo: Heather Charles/Chicago Tribune)

I don't wear yoga pants on planes. Nor do I wear them in public, unless I'm traveling to one of the only places in the world where brightly colored spandex pants are acceptable: the set of a Flo Rida video, a community-theater production of “Batman Begins,” and the yoga studio. Ergo, I only wear yoga pants to yoga class. And when I'm walking around in the city in spandex, I make a point to carry a rolled-up yoga mat and a water bottle to communicate to the general public that I am on my way to do some handstands, hence the pants. Everyone, I can explain!

Unlike me, there are lots of people who wear yoga pants, sweats, and assorted workout gear as real clothes in public places—and on airplanes especially. Depending on your circumstances, leisure clothes as casual attire can be either a great idea (you're pregnant, or you have the flu and need to run to Wal-Mart to buy Gatorade) or a wardrobe fail (corporate-job interview). But on a plane, only certain people can pull off the yoga-pants look, and only if they do it right. Here is my evaluation of the types of leisure pants, in order of least acceptable to most acceptable when worn on a plane:

1. Sweatpants with writing on the butt. No one should wear these, ever.
 
2. Pajama pants. If you want to look like a bedraggled slob, by all means, put on the same plaid cotton number you wore when building pillow forts during the Reagan Era. Your intention to sleep on the plane is no excuse.

3. Yoga pants that look like yoga pants. You choose to wear yoga pants on the plane because you don't care what anyone thinks, and you want to be comfortable. I like that about you. Seriously, if it works for you and your team of professional style consultants approves, go for it.

4. Yoga pants that look like leggings. These can look fabulous. Black yoga pants aren't all that different from black leggings or skinny jeans. Worn under a blousy tunic or sweater, this is an excellent plane outfit that comes across as stylish, but is nonetheless very comfortable. To achieve the leggings look, opt for tight-fitting yoga pants in a solid, dark color. Be sure to quadruple-check that your pants are not see-through!

Ultimately, the trick is to find an airplane outfit that is cozy enough to keep you comfortable wedged into one of the crannies of economy class, yet won't elicit the judgment of the be-suited people carting Italian-made luggage. Me? I'll stick with my long skirt and tee, which so far hasn't gotten me featured on any makeover TV shows.

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