The debate over style vs. substance is an ancient one, going back to the days of the fig leaf vs. the loincloth. Sure, functionality is of the utmost importance, if you're a caveman. All you need to do is eat and make little cavemen. Humans of the upright variety, however, began to incorporate more aesthetic qualities into things. Caves were homey enough, but cave drawings really tie the room together. A toga can really accentuate your curves more than a rotting animal pelt. Clothing and shelter are all fine and dandy, but human nature craves beauty in our surroundings.
Which brings me to this week's topic: sweatpants. There are many precursors to the apocalypse - locusts, brimstone, Ke$ha. But sweatpants, an item harmless enough in its inception, have evolved into a symbol of blandness and uninspiration, adorning poor souls trudging into despair. Sweatpants are basically sloth, woven in terrycloth.
It wasn't always like this. Sweatpants used to be functional, practical, something to wear while jogging, mowing the lawn or other actions that would muss or soil nicer pants. They were quick to pull on when someone comes to the door when you're in the shower. But they were never meant for everyday wear. They were never meant to be fashionable. And they certainly were never meant to cost more than $7.
I should clarify that this argument is meant more for sweatpants on girls. Since I am a girl, this is my main focus. Men's sweatpants haven't really changed over the years. They serve basically the same purpose. Women and sweatpants, however, have changed. They are being worn less for function and more for some misguided fashion. As ingrained as fashion is in society and pop culture, and as much as women invest in their appearance, every time a girl wears sweatpants in public, the ghost of Coco Chanel sends a chill down their spine.
I blame this almost entirely on the advent of sweatpants with words on the behind, which is quite possibly the worst invention behind the H-bomb, Betamax and Crocs. Before that, sweatpants were still largely of the terrycloth dollar store sort. After, though, everything changed. Sweatpants were sold by the underwear store that shall go unnamed under the pretense that they were provocative. They cost upwards of $30 - for sweatpants. That has to be illegal. They were emblazoned with dumb words that were small enough to fit on one's behind. Girls thusly began wearing sweatpants everywhere - the mall, to class, out on a Friday night, because now they had the street cred of being fashionable.
I am hardly objective on this topic. I've always hated pants. They are just, well, boring. They only come in so many styles - long, short, flare, skinny - and only so many colors and patterns. Pants only have so much room to grow and evolve. I've always preferred skirts and dresses, which can embody so much more creativity and individuality. I'm hardly a fashionista. In fact, most of the time I look like a 4-year-old who is allowed to pick out their own clothes. Some of my outfits look like they came from the Courtney Love Collection. But, despite looking like a demented 1950s secretary much of the time, I don't look like anyone else. I always am wearing an outfit. Sweatpants does not an outfit make.
This entire debate began on Facebook (where everything is born and dies). A male friend posted about how he sees more and more girls wearing sweatpants in public. Others, male and female, chimed in on the de-evolution of fashion. Others chimed in on the struggles of raising kids or going to school and working full-time, and how sweatpants are all they have time for (don't forget, #SweatpantsGate on Twitter). I don't begrudge comfort. But it takes the same amount of time to pull up a pair of sweatpants as it does to put on a pair of slacks, or jeans even, or a pair of tights or leggings. It takes me the same time to get dressed every morning as it does to pull on a pair of sweatpants and its accompanying shirt and / or hoodie. Since I do not own any sweatpants (just yoga pants and workout shorts), I never end up leaving the house in them. Out of sight, out of mind.
So, if you like sweatpants, huzzah. But, please, save them for manual labor or Sunday morning pancake-eating. Don't enable the monster corporate sweatpant machine that enables evil underpant makers to crank out the terrycloth sinpants and charge you upwards of a half-tank of gas for them. And if you must wear them, make sure the only words on the behind are "Made in the U.S.A."