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In praise of sweatpants: if they are good enough for Anna Wintour ...

A picture of the fashion powerhouse in joggers has reaffirmed my own quarantine fashion choices

Anna Wintour has caused a stir by wearing sweatpants. Instagram / Vogue Magazine
Anna Wintour has caused a stir by wearing sweatpants. Instagram / Vogue Magazine

A picture of Anna Wintour at home, sporting red tracksuit bottoms, has been taken by some as confirmation that the world really has changed beyond recognition.

“I never saw this day coming... sweatpants? The world is going mad,” commented one perplexed fan. “Didn’t she said she never wears sweatpants: this corona changed the world for realz,” wrote another.

Only last year, the fashion powerhouse and editor-in-chief of American Vogue was asked whether she would ever don a pair of sweats, to which she responded with a resounding (and typically disdainful) “no”.

And yet, there she is, on Vogue’s Instagram account, working from home like the rest of us, proudly sporting a pair of red tracksuit bottoms with jaunty go-faster stripes down the side.

They are a far cry from her usual uniform of a floral-print dress, colourful collar necklace and nude Manolo Blahnik pump.

Admittedly, she has not veered completely from her typical style, as her trademark black sunglasses are still firmly in place, despite being indoors, in what does not appear to be an overly bright room.

A more typical Anna Wintour outfit. GC Images
A more typical Anna Wintour outfit. GC Images

‘Sweatpants a sign of defeat’ ... really?

Sweatpants have long been vilified by the fashion elite. “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat,” the famously acerbic Karl Lagerfeld once said. Jerry Seinfeld reiterated this sentiment, almost verbatim: “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.’”

How choosing to be comfortable somehow became a marker of mental health is a wider discussion, and one for another day.

Dolce & Gabbana’s take on the athleisure trend. Mark Ganzon
Dolce & Gabbana’s take on the athleisure trend. Mark Ganzon

Even after the athleisure trend took hold and streetwear became a fashion week staple (reflected in Childish Gambino’s 2013 single Sweatpants and subsequent claim that “rich people wear whatever they want”), there was still an undercurrent of snobbery around sweats.

"You can’t do sweatpants... ladies, number one cause of divorce in America, sweatpants,” was actress Eva Mendes’s take on things.

But the current crisis is switching up all the fashion rules. And nobody can be blamed for a little fashion U-turn, least of all Anna Wintour.

So sweatpants are finally having their day in the sun. As we all languish at home, unseen by the rest of the world, the days and nights bleeding into one another, the need to be comfortable has superseded all other fashion diktats. And no other item of clothing screams comfort quite as loudly as the trusty jogger.

And so I will take Wintour’s red sweats as an affirmation of my own quarantine fashion choices. I am not going to lie – the humble tracksuit is currently featuring heavily in my work-from-home wardrobe. In fact, the ability to rock an elasticated waist and baggy leg on a daily basis has become one of the silver linings of my self-isolation period.

And now, I no longer have to feel guilty about my louche approach to day (and night-time) dressing. If it’s good enough for Anna Wintour, then it’s definitely good enough for me.

To quote a meme that has been doing the rounds: “To all those people quarantining in jeans, what are you trying to prove?”

Updated: April 14, 2020 07:15 PM

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