I own one pair of sweatpants. They were my mother’s University of Oklahoma sweats from circa 1975. I don’t own any other pair, and wouldn’t dream of wearing them more often than once each month, any where other my kitchen.
“Chicago Mail Order,” 1921
When I started college, I noticed that many of my fellow young scholars wore sweatpants to class. Instead of taking pride in their appearance, they schlepped around in flip-flops, grey sweats and some kind of t-shirt, completing the ensemble with hair that may or may not have seen a brush in the past 3 days.
“Butterick Fashion,” 1934
When I began to fly about once per month back in 2001, I noticed sweatpants on airplanes. No longer did people don their Sunday best to ride about the world with others; rather, I saw people of all ages in sweats lugging around bed pillows (which kind of grosses me out).
1940s Airline Advertisement
I’ve seen sweats in houses of worship, in office settings, out at bars… and I wonder where on earth these people found the information saying that this is acceptable public attire?
When I’ve asked for the opinions of others, I get one of two answers:
· Sweats are comfortable, and I dress for comfort.
· I hate that people can’t respect themselves enough to at least put on a pair of jeans.
“Vicara Fibers,” 1956
This is a very “me/now-centric” society. Rather than care about how we are perceived by others, we care only for and about ourselves at the present moment in time. Who cares if in 2 years I’ll want my professor to write a letter of recommendation? I only care about my comfort level in this 8am class.
“Arrow Shirts,” 1961
We don’t care about other people because other people don’t matter. So why stop at wearing sweatpants out to places formerly reserved for resort or business casual? Let’s wear those holey, sagging things to funerals. I mean, we’re so distraught at a funeral, so we might as well be comfortable.
Next, let’s wear our “leggings of shame” to weddings (but not white sweats, because you might compete with the bride).
The President should give his next State-of-the-Union in them.
“Levi’s Sportswear,” 1978
Or, you know, we could relegate sweatpants back to where they were intended, where they belong: The gym. Hence the name “sweat” pants. There’s nothing wrong with respecting yourself, and dressing to impress those around you.
As Jerry Seinfeld famously said in an episode of his show, “You know the message you're sending out to the world with these sweat pants? 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."