The athletic wear market isn’t often concerned with larger women. For someone like me — a short woman who ranges from a size 12 to 14 (aka the national average) and has a deep passion for fashion and enjoys yoga and jogging — this can be a challenge.
Sure, I love my basic black Gap yoga pants and Under Armour sports bras, but I long to up my sartorial game in the fitness arena. Enter Phat Buddha, the brilliant brainchild of Alissa Benishai, a yogi with a background in the garment industry who noticed a lack of fashion on the mat and aimed to make a line of affordable yoga wear that could transition from studio to street. Benishai finds inspiration in current couture, and Pantone forecasts to inform Phat Buddha’s aesthetic: hot glitter leggings, bright animal prints, so-right-now colors like acai and mustard.
The line is made of breathable fabric that wicks away sweat, so you won’t smell like a dirty laundry hamper and feel like you’ve been wrapped in a garbage bag. Here’s the best part: Items are one-size-fits-most! In fact, washing the garment brings it right back to its original shape, meaning you get a perfect fit every time. I took a trip to the Phat Buddha showroom to investigate.
The sports bras are tiny. I mean, training bra small. Even with gorgeous details like two-tone weaves, vented cut outs in the back and removable cups to provide shape and coverage, I was skeptical. If I saw it in a store, I probably would walk right past it, but I was in the beautiful Phat Buddha showroom at the mercy of you, the reader.
I took a deep breath and shrugged the seamless Harrison halter bra over my head, prepared to perform the fat-girl-wiggle-of-futility trying to get it on. Then, a miracle occurred. The garment stretched effortlessly, molding to my form and instantly smoothing out all extraneous flesh. This bra, my friends, is a miracle. Not a single shimmy, shake or bounce dislodged my ta-tas. One in every color, please!
Any curvy girl who has tried on “one-size-fits-most” leggings in the past knows that what the manufacturer meant was “I have no idea what body proportions mean.” Just because it’s Spandex doesn’t mean it’s going to fit everyone. Not so with my new obsession, the Reade Glitter legging. Like the bra, the leggings appear to be cut for the tween set. A thorough examination — aka stalling to try them on because I was almost positive they wouldn’t fit me — revealed that, unlike most glitter garments, the leggings were smooth inside, eliminating the itch factor.
A preliminary stretch proved promising, but my legs are pretty toned, so things tend to go well until I reach the stomach that gives me my adorably named “apple” shape. These leggings glided over without a hitch, and the waistband didn’t roll or slide down, even during an impromptu downward dog. I can’t wait to pair these with a longer tank and hit the mat! I also got a sneak peek at a prototype for a daisy print legging, which will be finding its way into my life.
I wish I could be as in love with the tank tops. Remember that fat-girl-wiggle-of-futility? Yeah, it was pretty brutal. I liked the ribbed Varick tank’s racer back, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to breathe during my workout if I wore it. For a taller size 12/14, the tank may work better, but us stocky sisters may have to pass. However, Benishai sent me some good news: In addition to kids and maternity lines, Phat Buddha is also planning on venturing into plus-size clothing, so that Varick top may join my wardrobe after all!
Phat Buddha’s holiday line debuted Oct. 15! Check out Phatbuddhawear.com to view the latest colors and styles; then go try them on for yourself! Phat Buddha is available at Equinox, Crunch, Pure Yoga and Yoga Works, as well as a number of studios throughout the United States and abroad.