Monday, 22 October 2012

Le Sweat Chic? Please - NO!

Sweaty Choices 

 Closet Content Analysis: "Sweat" Chic
No Thanks 
I have addressed the subject of "chic" before (What is it to be Chic?; The Way We Dress: What is Chic?; A Style Philosophy) and although I have not really come to any definitive conclusions, I know one thing, by my definition - Le Sweat - Il n'y a pas chic - bien sur!

Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.
- Karl Lagerfeld

So when I read the title, "Le Sweat, C'est Chic", in the October, 2012 (No.103, page 43) French edition of Glamour, my usual balanced Libra nature abandoned me. In the Glamour photographs of Kirsten Dunst, Drew Barrymore, Rihanna and Fearne Cotton, Dunst and Cotton appeared as if (except for the footwear) that they were ready to begin cleaning their houses (not that they do that sort of thing). Barrymore and Rihanna, who obviously have style, pulled off the "sweat" chic, for what it could be.

Style is an expression of individualism mixed with charisma. Fashion is something that comes after style.
- John Fairchild

In that same issue of Glamour, there is a "Glam/Pas Glam" page subtitled as "Les tendances hot et les idées flop" - the "hot trends and the ideas that flop" - which features "Le Total Look Jogging". The looks considered "pas glam" are baggy sweatpants with an over-sized hoodie, and an over-sized sweatshirt and cropped sweatpants that look too pyjama-ish according to the evaluator, Alice Augustin. The looks that are featured as the "glam" look of the month (September, 2012) were stylish outfits made of jogging fleece but were not the typical "sweats". Ah well, September, 2012 is over; perhaps this "tendance" is over too. 

But what a turnaround! For generations the world has been looking to France for chic and now, a French edition of a magazine based and founded in the United States is telling us that sweats are chic. I prefer not to believe the French editors on this one, even though Alice Augustin does her best to maintain balance.

This is where the subject turns to "chic-ness", which has nothing to do with trends, but with the style with which one wears an item of clothing.

. . . Today everybody can look chic in inexpensive clothes (the rich buy them too). There is good clothing design on every level today. You can be the chicest thing in the world in a T-shirt and jeans. It's up to you.

- Karl Lagerfeld

This motivates me to repeat some fashion advice from a forgotten source, something about being chic does not require a person to follow trends; however we unfortunately rely on celebrities and fashion magazines to be our guides. This is how I hope this blog intervenes - facilitating the process through which women formulate and develop their own "chic-ness". It's an evolution.
In my nature as a Libra, with the scales/balance guiding me, I leave you with the words of American etiquette specialist, Elizabeth L. Post:
The woman who is chic adapts fashion to her own personality.

. . . but (I return to where I began several posts ago about "chic-ness"). . . the woman has to know what chic is!

Check out the Fall 2012 street style "sweat" look in Paris during fashion week. It's number 24 of the 72 looks given on the Harper's Bazaar site


  1. Sweat pants are everywhere in North America but I can't believe that sweat pant are becoming"chic" in France. Last time I was in France which was 1998, I remember seeing women dressed to the nines arrive at the beach and then change into their beach wear. Then after the day at the beach was done change back into their stylish clothes. I never would have imagined seeing them in sweat pants.
    I personally LOVE sweat pants. OK let me explain. As a guy I personally hate those baggy things guys wear called sweat pants. I put my own twist on it again. I love yoga pants. I'm not sure they are considered sweat pants, I'm sure they are but I love them. Lulu Lemon is the upper standard here but I've buy they lower grade Izod or Fila ones. Yes they are sold as "women's" sweat pants but who really cares. I like them cuz they are comfy and stylish so I wear them. I think they are a step up from the baggy loose fitting things some people wear. Maybe I have lost control of my life too but I enjoy wearing my yoga pants. Ones like this

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Good topic for discussion, Brian - thanks so much for presenting several ideas, which commenters may elaborate upon!

      As "style" traditions evolve, the Glamour piece may be significant in that it "encourages" the look - allows for it so to speak - because it was in a magazine. I don't see women of my vintage wearing anything remotely looking like "sweats" here in France, but I have seen one young woman, on her way to school in them - not the baggy ones like in Canada but still . . . and it was only one in September. It will be interesting to be in Paris this fall and see what La Parisienne is wearing on the weekend. As for the yoga pants, I believe they are more "fitted", still comfortable. and as a result they just look that much better.

    2. I wouldn't think the sweat pants look will ever be seen in Paris unless it's worn by a tourist, and even then??? The sweat pants look is very common in my part of the world. Just go to any mall this time of year and you are sure to see lots of girls ranging from 25 and younger to be wearing sweat pants with a hoodie and Ugg boots. Some girls actually wear pajama bottoms instead of sweats. It's very common here. I think the only time you will ever see a women in France wearing pajama bottoms in public is if there house is on fire and they had to get out quickly. Although the Glamour magazine article may "encourage" sweat pants it will be interesting to see if or how fast it catches on in France.

      I have a few pairs of sweat pants that I wear for warmth around the house on a cold winter day. If I'm venturing out and feel the need to be comfy it's yoga pants for me.

    3. I think you're right, we must give French women and La Parisienne more credit than following an obviously not so glamorous suggestion; however I'll be in Paris this week for four days so I'll be on the lookout and will report back.

      Pajamas, by definition, are to sleep in. The desire to wear them in public - a need to shock, to be different, or simply to be adolescent. I suppose pajamas become lightweight cotton or flannel pants with an elasticized or drawstring waist when you wear them somewhere other than to sleep - a rose by any other name.

      This begs another discussion regarding the degree to which North Americans will resort in the name of "comfortable casual".

    4. Friday, October 26th in Paris in the 9th arrondisement - not one sweatshirt (it was a cool misty afternoon and evening) and not a single pair of sweats seen on any female. One young male had on a hoodie. I was on the RER (train from the airport to Paris), at Gare du Nord, in Pigalle and walking around in the 9th. Not one pair of sweats! There was one pair of yoga pants on an older woman who appeared to be late for her yoga class, with mat tucked under her arm and politely expressing "pardon? as she rushed by.

    5. PARIS: Saturday, October 27, 2012: cool temperatures and misty again. Took the metro from the 9th and walked around the 1st, 2nd and 3rd arrondisements. Not one female, young or otherwise, in anything resembling "sweats" upper or lower body. Saw 8 males, all aged 20 or under, with hoodies and only one with sweatpants and a hoodie - matching, no less. I saw many skinny jeans on both males and females, boots and oxford style shoes and lots of black tights with short skirts and boots. I think I'll develop this into a post.


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