Um, Excuse Me? Your Yoga Pants Are Totally See-Through

It's every yogi's worst nightmare. We talk to the pros for tips on how to make sure you don't moon the entire class doing downward-facing dog.

Yogis in DC's Dupont Circle yesterday

This blog post is dedicated to my husband, Chris.

Hold on—let me explain. Chris, a photographer, is in DC this week on assignment. He’s spent the past few days wandering around the city snapping hundreds and hundreds of photos and observing thousands of Washingtonians going about their day-to-day life. Yesterday afternoon, I received this very un-Chris-like text:

Please do a blog post noting that outdoor yoga + sunshine makes all yoga pants 100% see-through.

My reply:


His response:

I’m staring at an entire Dupont Circle’s worth of butts right now.

(Photographic evidence above.)

“Oh man. I’m doing it,” I texted back. And so, here we are.

Ladies, we need to have a talk about your see-through yoga pants. If you’ve ever done a single yoga class (or, apparently, observed an outdoor one in progress), you know what happens when your body gets all sorts of bendy: the pants you thought were perfect and comfortable and oh-so-stretchy end up giving the world an unintended R-rated peek at your backside.

“We hear this from people all the time,” says Amanda Powell, manager of the Walnut Street Athleta store. “They come in saying, ‘I need pair of pants that people behind me can’t see through.'”

The problem, she says, is three-fold: It has to do with the size, color and fabric—or any combination of the three. Let’s break it down.


Simply put, pants that are too small are see-through. “If you bend over and the pants get that sheen, it means they’re stretching too much,” says Powell. When the fabric gets pulled beyond its limits, the weave gets wider than it’s supposed to—giving everyone around you a view of your backside. Solution: Go up a size.


Black’s your best bet if see-through’s a concern. Powell says to stay away from grays, which tend to show more, and leave your pastels for lounging only: “They’re not the most flattering.”


Paying attention to the fabric is key. Plain ol’ cotton is not the best choice because as you move and stretch, it gets thinner and thinner—and eventually won’t bounce back. You want reinforced compression fabric (i.e. lycra or lycra-nylon blends) that feels thicker to the touch, especially around the butt area. This stuff’s intended to stretch over and over (and over and over), and return to its original shape.

Athleta’s brand-name fabric is called Supplex; the Lululemon version is called Luon. Both stretch in several directions—up, down, diagonal, side-to-side—and are meant to endure serious wear-and-tear. Which means, with proper care, your behind will be covered for years to come.

What to Do at the Store

When you’re shopping for yoga pants, don’t be afraid to hit the floor and do some stretches in front of the mirror. Notice how the fabric pulls and stretches, and ask an honest friend to pay attention to your behind. If you’re shopping alone, ask a staffer to do it—hey, it’s their job.

And since light’s a factor here (remember: the natural sunlight is how my hubby got a nice little show yesterday), make sure to find a well-lit area to inspect the pants. That way, your bases are covered.

One thing Powell couldn’t help with was what to do when you see a stranger showing a bit too much in the rear—she says that while she’s honest with customers in the store, she’s never confronted a stranger when she’s off the clock.

So I’ll ask you: What do you do when you see serious case of see-through pants in a yoga class? Is it a disservice (to the individual, to humanity) not to say anything? Wouldn’t you want to know if you were mooning the world without knowing it? Share your thoughts in the comments.