The Day I bought Gym Pants
It all started when I was planning my wardrobe for a three week vacation to Europe. Back then, if I had a style at all, it wasn’t cohesive or easily identifiable. I didn’t know who I was or what I liked.
Cue months and months of research. And hello, it must’ve seemed like overkill because it’s only a three week trip. That’s true, but somehow that summer of deciding how I wanted to look has guided my style philosophy for the three years since then.
Chic, elegant, sophisticated, edgy.
It has served well, but of course eventually it got a little boring, and sophisticated doesn’t exactly work well for BBQs and game nights with rambunctious kids. “Dress for your life,” is my motto, so to keep to that value I started looking at bringing my dress to a more casual level.
Cue, gym pants and hoodies.
That was a far leap from black leather jackets and silk dresses and skinnies.
It has been a strange journey to go from thinking in the mindset of dressing to assault the commonplace, to allowing myself to be more commonplace. It’s just sounds weird to have found myself more comfortable in dresses and heels than the uniform of the average millennial.
Some of you just started weeping: “is she going to start tying her hair in a messy topknot and wearing tee shirts from long-gone reunions?”
No, darling. Remember, there is a closet of beautiful clothes I still intend to wear as well. I’m just learning a thing or two about kicking back and relaxing. As one of my friends commented on the first Saturday morning airing of my new track pants to a coffee shop:
“I just thought, wow, Lyn looks so comfortable.”
Yes, yes. I was.
let’s balance ourselves, shall we?
No matter how many times I think “clothes aren’t important” I always come back to the conclusion that they are of great importance and no importance at all. They mean absolutely nothing to our identity, and yet everything about clothes send unspoken messages about our identity. They protect us against the elements, they make people around us feel more/less comfortable, and you just try not wearing any if you don’t think they are among great standing in our customs and culture. Try bucking cultural norms if you want a taste of how important they are to people. Still, clothes shouldn’t define us, we should define them.
People and clothes should never become our idols. When we care too much about what people think or how we look, we lose our wonder and gladness in life. At the same time, we live with and around people. It isn’t wrong to uphold cultural norms, or even celebrate them. That’s kind of why I bought into the athleisure look. I like it, there’s nothing wrong it, and it’s possible to look not-frumpy while doing it. Just check out Scandinavian fashions; they nail it.
the philosophy of fasting helps me decide what to wear
There is another principle at play in getting dressed, which I think of in the same context of fasting. Cake isn’t special if you eat it everyday, and the same reverse principle reflects in our dress. We sometimes withdraw from eating certain foods, or participating in certain activities, because (a) perhaps it isn’t healthy in great quantities (like cake or high heels) and (b) it’s nice to properly enjoy it again. I wanted to withdraw from always “dressing up” so that when I did dress up, I could feel the full pleasure of it. I can’t understand a pleasure if I don’t create a vacuum somewhere else. Hedonists are some of the most unsatisfied people on the earth.
For any aesthetics, creating tension in style is essential to being satisfied with your wardrobe. Unless you’re Steve Jobs and have your head in the cloud.
Of course, we each decide how to apply those principles to our lives, and find a way to make it work. For the corporate executive who spends half their life in a suit, wearing blue-collar clothes to work won’t be an option. We balance our dress between the life we have and want. It is a grey area, and what works for me might not work for you. Maybe you need to get out of sweatpants and celebrate the special beauty of life. Or maybe you, like me, need to relax and enjoy the everyday, and get into a pair of sweatpants.
Create a little tension in your style.
P.S. The hoodie win is a Ten Tree hoodie I’ve had my eye on for about half a year. When a black Friday sale came along I jumped on it. It is glow-in-the-dark and it satisfies the 10-year-old in me. Because it’s interesting, it also satisfies my desire for creativity in knowledge.