Andrea here. One thing I’ve noticed during the pandemic shutdown is how many more people I see outdoors exercising—from running, biking, golfing, tennis . . . or just walking the dog or enjoying a leisurely stroll. With so many of our normal activities curtailed (thank heavens things are beginning to open up again) getting outside and moving has been a welcome interlude amid all the hours spent indoors at home.
Seeing all the physical activity got me to thinking about athletic clothing. You know—sneakers, sweatpants, t-shirts, synchilla vests, running tights, and all the other accouterments. And it struck how much the gym look has become our new normal. Admit it—when was the last time you put on a pair of pants with a waistband and zipper? (My answer is a little frightening!) I can’t remember the last time I saw a man in business suit . . .
Comfort has become the key word in our lives, from humble mac and cheese dinners to cuddly flannel pajamas. And it seems we’re no longer embarrassed to admit it in public. (I saw someone yesterday in the grocery yesterday literally wearing floral flannel pajama bottoms with a t-shirt. I’m not saying it’s a good thing—it’s merely an observation that casual now seems to be King . . . and Queen.
Granted, casual has become awfully sophisticated. The array of high tech materials designed for comfort is pretty amazing. I confess that after Patagonia microfleece, which is so soft and against the skin and wicks away moisture, I find it hard to wear traditional wool sweaters anymore, no matter how pretty they are.
One can choose windproof and waterproof materials that are light as a feather, warmth that weights next to nothing and fabrics that never feel clammy. And there there’s the footwear, with space age cushioning, support and special treads every different sport imaginable. (I remember when athletic shoes meant a pair of simple Keds sneakers.)
It does make me wonder whether “dressy” fashion will become increasingly for just a special occasion. Once one is comfortable, it’s hard to go back. The trend was already starting. In some of the fancy New York City restaurants I had begun seeing men come in wearing untucked dress shirts, where in past they would have been denied entry without a jacket and tie. Jeans are also de rigeuer for both sexes.
In other words, anything goes.
To make my point in a visual way, I thought it would be fun to share some vintage images of how people dressed for athletics/active pursuits in the past. It’s rather frightening to think of sweating in some of those get-ups, isn’t it! Or even just moving one’s limbs! How on earth did women play tennis in those long skirts and elaborate bonnets, or men ride bicycles in three piece suits? (All images from Wikicommons.)
What do you think? Have you enthusiastically embraced the new “sweatpants chic” look? Are you doing a hybrid? Or are you dismayed that people are running around outside in barely more than their underwear <G>?