Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stray reflections on exercise, clothing, and economics

While Pnin was asleep this afternoon, I started looking at additional exercise clothes to buy. Specifically, pants to wear to yoga class.

Several observations: vanity sizing is particularly pronounced in exercise clothes. I'm a size smaller than I am relative to most non-exercise related clothing brands, which surprises me. One would think that people who buy lots of athletic clothing are disproportionately skinny? Or maybe the idea is that people who exercise a lot are more sensitive about weight and vain to begin with, so they're more susceptible to vanity sizing that strokes the ego? A third possibility is that, because of my wonderful shortness, I'm mostly patronizing regular clothing retailers whose sizing runs small. I tend to doubt the latter, though; when I experiment with stores that I don't normally shop at, I'm still consistently in the same size range.

Also, nice yoga clothing is extremely expensive, and there doesn't seem to be much in the way of bargain priced stuff to be found. The same trend seems to hold true for most other forms of athletic clothing. I'm wondering if that's because -- as Pnin would say -- Yuppie types see exercise as a consumption rather than an investment good. That is, the point of gym going is not necessarily to invest in one's health, but rather to show one's friends that one is the the right kind of white person. Or maybe the high initial investment in the right kind of clothes convinces people to keep on top of exercise programs? Whereas people who spend only a little money on bargain brands feel like they can walk away from their commitments quickly -- and therefore quickly fall out of the athletic clothing market?

On another note,these are adorable. I remain amused that, while a frighteningly high percentage of what's in my closet is from J. Crew, I can't recall the last time I've ever bought an item there for full price. Sometimes price discrimination is the best thing ever.


  1. My yoga pants from Target are my favorite pants. But I don't actually do yoga in them, so their suitability for that purpose has not been tested. However, they are like 20$.

  2. That is helpful, thanks! The one nice thing about the expensive store that I found is that they do free hemming, which is nice and a virtual necessity at my (our?) height. But the price difference between there and Target more than makes up for it, even taking into account the time needed to take pants elsewhere to hem.