“You know the message you’re sending out to the world with these sweatpants? You’re telling the world, ‘I give up. I can’t compete in normal society. I’m miserable so I might as well be comfortable.” – Jerry Seinfeld to George Costanza.
About a year ago I fell off my bike and broke both my wrists. During the ensuing six weeks I pretty much lived in sweatpants. They were the only item of clothing I could easily get in to and out of unassisted. And let me tell you, there’s nothing like six weeks of sweatpants and not being able to wash properly to make you feel totally gross and pissed off with life. At the time, I swore off sweatpants – never to be worn again outside of an exercise-type scenario.With the fullness of time, however, something has happened. I have been drawn back to my sweatpants. But not in a day-time-TV-bingeing-on-haagen-dazs kind of way. No. I’ve re-embraced my sweatpants in the most stylish way possible: with a sharp blazer, killer heels and an all-levels-of-epic structured handbag.
My recently-renewed love of sweatpants happened in quite the same way that I fell out of love with them a year previously: by accident. On arriving home from work one evening, I was halfway through slipping into something more comfortable (sweats, obvs) when I managed to get one foot caught in the leg of the sweatpants. I hopped around my bedroom, wildly out of control, and as I fell, I caught my reflection in the mirror and found that my blazer (which I was still wearing) totally elevated the relaxed vibe of the sweatpants. Slowly, as if being guided by a higher sartorial spirit guide, I picked myself up off the floor, stepped back into my heels, and… voila, new outfit.
I trialled this look on an evening out at a very hip London restaurant with good friends – the kind of friends who will always tell me exactly what they think of my outfits, even if it is likely to hurt my feelings. They’re great that way, and Australian needless to say. The mixed responses ranged from the insensitive “what’s with the sweatpants? Are you injured again? Do you need any assistance?” to the more thoughtful “I like it. You’re subverting the whole sweatpants genre and appropriating it for your own re-imagined vision of urban couture.” Riiiight.
I doubled-down on my genre-subverting ensemble and wore it to work. No one on the rock-n-roll floor commented. My colleagues in legal, finance, tax and audit are all very polite that way, and very charmingly British needless to say. However, the fashion-forward millennials from the sales floor totally validated it with a loud “love your look, girlfriend!” in the lift. OK, they didn’t call me “girlfriend” but, in my mind they totally accepted me as one of their own, thanks to my mind-blowing sweatpant-blazer combo. I’m expecting an invitation to their Friday afternoon cocktail hour any day now.
Now would I wear this outfit to a job interview, a meeting with the CEO or your more conservative dining establishment? Mmmm, no. There are just some places that sweatpants shouldn’t be seen and wouldn’t be welcome, no matter how ironically they were being worn or how fabulously accessorised. But in between all of these occasions, I’ll continue to pull out the sweats, co-ordinate sharply, and feel like the rule-breaking, cutting-edge go-getter that I am.
Any other tips for sweatpant-chic? Leave a comment below!