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Are Your Clothes Helping Your Posture?

December, 2017

Students of the Gokhale Method sometimes find that their new upright, relaxed posture makes clothes fit better. Tailored clothes, however, sometimes fit worse, restricting motion and bunching up in awkward places. Here are some items to watch out for, and how to test their fit:


Jeans - Cut to Tuck?

Tucking the pelvis is so widespread in modern societies that most jeans and pants are designed around this posture. Fashion models tuck, teenagers tuck (sometimes highlighting this stance with sagging pants!), and even fitness instructors tuck and teach their students to tuck.

Jeans cut to fit a tucked pelvis are more symmetric front to back. They lack room for well-developed glutes (buttock muscles). The belt line tends to be horizontal. The fabric over the groin/hip area lacks a crease, and tends to fall in a vertical plane between the abdomen and the front of the thigh.

If you have worked on restoring your natural posture you may find that many pants don’t fit well – the fabric over the groin area is excessive and unflattering, and the beltline gapes above the buttocks. With truly well-cut pants, though, you will find that your Gokhale Method techniques provide you a flattering look. When you learn to antevert your pelvis, your belt line angles slightly down towards the front, and, with your behind behind you, you take up more fabric from the seat of the pant. As you glidewalk your way to a firmer, perkier behind (8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back, Ch. 8), you will further flesh out the seat of your pants in an attractive and youthful way. An additional bonus from having a muscular derriere is that you will raise your basal metabolism rate (read: easier weight loss) and you will be a better athlete.


Take the hip-hinge test!
If you are not sure about the fit of your pants, do the hip-hinge test! (8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back, Ch. 7). If your pants don’t allow you to comfortably nestle your body between your hips as you bend, then they are actually encouraging you to tuck! Tucking keeps your hamstrings short and restricts the proper range of movement of the pelvis around the tops of your thigh bones. This compromises the health of your hip joint (“use it or lose it”) and your back, which is forced to round if your hips won’t bend. Additionally, be sure that the cut of your pants is not discouraging hip-hinging because there isn’t enough fabric in the back to cover as much of your derriere as your sense of modesty requires!


Jackets – Cut to Curve?

How does practicing the Gokhale Method affect your upper body? With your arms and shoulders positioned further back, your upper body straightens and lengthens, and your breathing naturally expands your chest. As your traps and rotator cuff muscles learn to relax, your shoulders slope down more and your arms hang wider from your body, giving you a more powerful presence.

You may find that fitted or tailored jackets and blouses round your arms, shoulders and chest forward. It is important to make sure there is sufficient room to button a blouse or zip up a jacket without having to round your shoulders forward (and preferably without being excessively baggy in the back!). Be prepared to get your clothing adjusted or even move to a different size. A truly well-cut piece of clothing can work like a posture guide, gently nudging you into a posture that is a step up from where you habitually find yourself.

An ideal jacket or coat will be cut to leave extra room for your behind, instead of falling straight down over your bottom with the assumption that it is tucked; with an anteverted pelvis, poorly designed jackets pull in the front and bunch awkwardly over the lumbar spine.


Coat hanger tip:
Most hangers are shaped for slightly forward-drifted shoulders. Turning them around when you hang up your clothes makes for a better shape and a great reminder to roll your shoulders back.


Try the shoulder roll test:
Next time you try on a jacket, give it the shoulder roll test. Be discerning! If it restricts you from performing a comfortable shoulder roll and encourages forward shoulders, find another garment that, instead of encouraging harmful habits, will support you in your posture journey.


Do you have any stories of clothes that no longer fit right after learning the Gokhale Method, or qualities you now look for in new clothes when you shop? We'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments!

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I discarded many jeans after building my butt Gokhale style.  I don't miss the jeans, and I don't miss the back pain!

Great article! Thank you, Cecily

Patty McCormick

I’ve given up on pants altogether since I’ve started the Gokhale method and also weight training. I have one pair of stretchy high waist skinny jeans and they are the best of the worst. I’ve had to alter men’s jackets to fit my new shoulders and I rely on soft and stretchy dresses and tights to fit my new shape. I would love to find clothes that fit me off the rack but it seems like an impossible dream. Totally worth it though to be pain-free and to love how my body looks and to be able to do so much more with it!

With enough of us in a new (old) shape, there'll be pressure on the clothing industry to up their design game! 

Great post, I've given this topic a lot of thought!

For men, any recommendations on pants that could pass as somewhat professional that are also in alignment with Gohkale principles? Other than elastic or exercise pants, I haven't found anything that doesn't feel restrictive or constrictive.


In the past, I've come across Portuguese pants that had a slanting forward beltline and were adequate in the seat, but that was decades ago. I'm hoping the audience here will contribute with their experience of different brands. 

Likewise, I bought a great pair of trousers almost twenty years ago in Portugal -- room for a bum, with the waist sloping from back to front. These were a favourite, especially once I started with Gokhale method. Sometimes I think I'll have to go to some one of these countries where posture is better, in order to be able to find trousers that fit properly.

I'm a man, I've greatly improved my posture in the last two years, and I've been designing, making, and selecting clothes for many years, mainly for comfort and utility...and now for improved posture. I've also built up an ability, over many decades, to wear non-mainstream garments with confidence (and pleasure). 

To the point: No matter your gender, anatomy, location, or budget, you can easily liberate yourself from mainstream clothing without scaring the horses. Several years ago, I switched entirely to pants designed for tai chi and qigong. I found a good maker (in Australia, who brokers the work to Viet-Nam) and another in Canada. Those pants are designed to have ample room for movement around the hips and crotch. 

Lately I've gone another step, motivated to get away from securing anything around my waist. I've spent some time understanding the ways that caftans, tunics, kimonos, and such are made. There are some interesting complexities about the ways that such simple garments need to be constructed in order to hang well on the body. I started by ordering (and then custom ordering) some pieces from Lativia via Etsy (Google "linen caftan"). Then I continued experimenting with my own designs, and by now I've made enough garments for an entire wardrobe. I only wear my "civilian" gear (i.e. pants, shirts, etc.) when it seems prudent (there are limits on even my confidence). 

Before the ancient Central Asians brought horseback riding into our history, bifurcated garments were rare, as I understand it. Free your waist, your hips, your crotch, your posture, not to mention your psyche. Dress like an ancient Roman, a Medieval aristocrat, an Egyptian of any period. Pick your model; the world has always been and still is rich in non-tailored, unbifurcated, flowing and comfortable garments. BTW, I'm not selling a thing; I don't make things for other people, and I don't have a business or any monetary interest of any kind in this. I would just hope that some of you who are already becoming enlightened about this manage to find your own freedom.

What an inspiring post! By far my favorite garment is a jacket I bought over 30 years ago in the highlands of Thailand. It's a Yao tribal jacket made of hemp (I'm still able to wear it because hemp is strong) with a sewn in ruff of red wool around the neckline. It's cozy, warm, liberating, easy to put on and take off, and very special. It has surprise details in a few places. I'll take a photo during the day and post it here. Thanks for reminding me that it belongs in this post!!

Nezami, are you willing to share the tai chi source? Good pants are hard to find in that category as well.

Thank you!

I love this post so much. I’ve also looked at alternatives to the choking fashions that fall in the narrow band of what the world considers “professional” or “normal”. Wraps, scarves, wide stretchy belts, tights and leggings instead of pants, all of those things are my friends. I still don’t have a proper winter coat. The search continues. But I love to see other people thinking outside the box. I wish we could bring back some of the beautiful and well-made fashions that would bring more color, beauty, and diversity into wardrobes.

Such a lovely post. Clothes and their link to posture has fascinated me since I learnt the Gokhale Method. I had to change my entire wardrobe over the months after learning. Most of my tailored clothes didnt fit well to my changed shape. I have found materials with a little bit of lycra in them useful. So trousers with lots of room around the waist (I do the hip hinge test for anything I buy off the shelf) with little some lycra in it has been comfortable. 

About six months ago, my interest in saree (I live in India) got renewed and I can clearly tell the difference in terms of the ease with which the hips get placed in a non bi-furcated garment. I am in love with the handwoven unstiched piece of cloth that can be worn in interesting ways, will suit any body type and can be fashioned interestingly, yet help one retain the body wisdom and encourage good posture.

One of the big issues that is staring at us is the way our children are beginning to have poor posture induced by the clothes that are made for them. Invariably the jeans and and pants made for young boys have very little room around the waist and lead to tucking. I have a 11 year old and I am acutely aware of this issue. I get him to wear the Indian pyjama as often as I can, but as a growing boy he wants to wear other outfits. 



I'm very happy to share my sources:



For mostly silk tai chi garments. 



Yoga garments.



Linen by the yard.


I'll add one photo below, since there seems to be some interest here. If anyone wants to carry on the discussion, please suggest the best way to do so, either via this website or elsewhere. I'm not sure about the best way to do such a thing, assuming anyone wants to. The photo shows a gray linen outer garment something like a kimono and a red-striped linen inner caftan, both self-designed and self-made.





Jeans just don’t work for me anymore. There is just not enough room or fabric in the back, and the feeling of it wanting to pull my pelvis into a tucked position when sitting is really uncomfortable and annoying. Khakis are a little better as the fabric is lighter, but for at least the brands I have, there is still not enough butt room and they flare out in the back, leaving a gap. It would be useful to have a list of good brands, styles, sources,,etc.

I recently moved from Australia to US and finding jeans to fit was a trial. 


I found the best (still not quite what I need but comfy enough) were the Lee curvy options. 

Thanks for sharing this information! 

I am so glad to see this put into words.  I had noticed when wearing certain jeans that my back was aching.  This is exactly why.  They caused me to tuck.  I have almost entirely switched to Lee Curvy bootcut jeans (available cheap at walmart) and they aren't that fashionable - sort of big in the legs, but they do have some lycra and allow the body to move freely.

I guess I'm not the only one with a fashion/posture dilemma.  Posture wins!


One day our clothes will fit us instead of us fitting our clothes!

Thank you!


Thank you for helping me achieve clarity about why some of my "old fave" clothes seem increasingly uncomfortable!  

Does anybody else remember "Chi Pants" from the 80s and 90s?  They were popular among Tai Chi and other martial arts practitioners because they had a gusseted crotch that allowed long low stances as well as high kicks without resistance. I just discovered that the company was put out of business by an earthquake.  However, the originator now has a business that focuses on helping others who have ideas for clothing (or other goods that need to be sewn).  He consults on the design, pattern making, samples, sourcing and then overseeing production.  So if anyone wants to take on having "Gokhale Pants" made, here's all the help you need to manifest a new reality:  http://www.ljosew.com/index.html

See the gusset?


And then there's Gramicci, another brand based on a gusseted crotch, in this case originating with rock climbers wanting pants that allowed freedom of movement.  


I called to ask, and was told their newer pants styles don't have a gusset, but their "original" or "g pant" styles do.  I recall clearly that the Gramicci pants and shorts I had 25 or so years ago were big and baggy around my buns -- enough so that due to youthful vanity I didn't wear them when I wanted to look good!  :-)  

I'm going to hit my local independent outdoor retailer for a pair of Gramicci's sometime soon and will report back here how well they fit a Gokhale-modified bod.  

Since my back woes got worse I have only been able to wear the LL Bean Vista Camp Pant-- original version not the slim-leg version.  I buy it in a size that is loose around the waist (but still stays up) and has room in the derriere to bend over easily.  My only gripe with them is that the fabric wears and pills somewhat easily so I buy new ones to wear outside and wear the older pilled ones around the house.


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