“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.” (Seinfeld)
If Shakespeare was a Glamour Girl, he may have had Hamlet say “To wear sweats or not to wear sweats, that is the question.” (Instead of “To be or not to be…”)
For myself, I have a very strict rule to never wear sweats out of the house. Even my cute sweats, my turquoise or orange sweats, my navy velvet sweats that say “Baby Girl” on the butt (from my Glamour Ghetto Fabulous phase)–none are allowed out of my house on my body. Now if you happen to catch me at home unexpectedly, you may find me in sweats and fuzzy socks, but in general, I like to be properly dressed.
“Why,” you ask? “Who cares?”
Well, I do.
I feel better when I’m dressed in proper clothing. I can focus better, I feel more competent, capable, and “professional” when I’m dressed.
Take, for instance, my white Burberry trench coat. My little sister and I spotted it as we were walking out of a shop one day last Spring. I commented on it’s beauty, she made the saleslady unchain it so I could try it on. (Why in the world do shops chain things? It’s so cynical.) I felt amazing in it with it’s double-breasted buttons and gorgeous collar. Something about collars makes me feel like a CEO, and since I’ve recently decided to start acting like a CEO in the hopes that I’ll have a bank account like Sheryl Sandberg, it’s a good idea to buy anything that helps me “fake it till I make it.”
I put it back and said, “I love it, but it costs more than my first car. I’ll think about it.”
(I would have said flat-out no but I was mad at my husband and a huge purchase seemed like a good revenge.)
My sister made me buy it then and there without even thinking. (She has a way of making me do things whether I want to or not.
“Buy it,” she said, “And wear it every day. It’s your everyday coat, with jeans or dresses or skirts. It’s amazing on you!”
“I don’t wear jeans. And for that matter I don’t wear trench coats.”
“Well, I wear mine every day. I throw it over anything I’m wearing.” (I opted not to tell her that her trench coat was oversized and she kind of resembled a flasher in it.)
“But it’s white,” I said. “It will have chocolate or cappuccino stains down the front within minutes.”
“So? Carry a Tide stick.” (She has an answer for everything.Now, in a fit of Martha-Stewartness, I bought a Tide stick once but it disappeared within minutes and now I think my 10-year-old daughter carries it–she’s far more fastidious than me.)
“But it’s expensive.”
“So? Wear it every day. Then it’s only a couple dollars a day and if you wear it every day for a while, you will actually make money.”
Her math was off but she had a point.
I took the plunge and was, by turns, giddy with happiness and sickened by own excess.
It hung in my closet for a while looking gorgeous as I thought about returning it as all the voices in my head told me “I didn’t deserve it, it wasn’t my style, think of all the sweats I could buy for me and an entire town if I returned it”.
Then I heard my sister’s voice. “You deserve it.” I took it off the hanger, put it on, and felt amazing.
I walked through the world with confidence in my beautiful white trench coat. I threw it carelessly over the back of my chairs in defiance of its expense and luxury. I wore it for shopping, Back-to-School night, riding the train to the city to meet my husband…
It really was fabulous, and I love raincoats and trench coats and umbrellas for their symbology: they protect us.
And last Spring, I needed protection.
So now it’s Autumn and here I am in my sweats yet again, writing at home, comfy, yes, but maybe too much so.
Last week I left my house TWICE in my sweats because it was a dark and stormy week and I had two huge writing deadlines looming and all my mental energy was going into my writing so by the time I left my desk there was no time to dress. I wore big Prada sunglasses so no one would recognize me, but of course I ran into an endless array of people I knew wherever I went. I asked them to excuse my outfit as I was in the throes of creative fires with my writing. I had an impromptu lunch with my dear friend, Cristie, who saw my agony and recommended I write about sweats for my blog. So here I am.
In the end, I survived the breaking of my rules, and I’ve decided it’s ok to break the rules occasionally as long it doesn’t become a habit.
But maybe I’ll change my home writing clothing to silk pajamas ala Judy Holliday.
And if Audrey Hepburn can look like this while eating donuts, so can I.
And for days when I really need a pick-me-up, I’ll wear this: