Are you confused by the title of this post? If so, great. The idea that inspired it is equally confusing. Here is the summary before you read any further: there are people out there trying to pass off new workwear as sweats – think sweatpants and sweatshirts here – even though they really aren’t. It is a lot like the T-shirt dress, if you’re familiar with that fashion faux pas.
When a shopper goes online to buy a LatinX sweatshirt from Plurawl, he knows exactly what he’s getting. It will be a traditional sweatshirt or hoodie with some sort of LatinX message. Pretty simple, right? That’s the way shopping for sweatshirts is supposed to be. Ditto for sweatpants. But now, people who are into pushing the boundaries of good fashion, just because they can, are trying to change the definition of sweats.
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A New Line of Workwear
In a nutshell, the fashion world is starting to see designers and manufacturers creating new lines of workwear purported to be more formal sweats. The shirts have collars and pockets. Some have fuller, flared sleeves. Likewise, the pants have cuffs, zippers, and pockets.
Pardon this writer’s general lack of fashion decorum, but if you take away all the design features that make sweats what they are, what are you left with? Just because a pair of pants is loose fitting doesn’t make them sweatpants. If that were the case, a whole generation of young people who insist on wearing jeans big enough to house an entire Himalayan expedition would be wearing sweats all the time.
Things are just as absurd with the newfangled sweatshirts. One of them featured by a recent Yahoo! Finance report has a collar and actual buttons. It also has four breast pockets. With all due respect, that is not a sweatshirt, irrespective of the material it’s made from.
A Style, Not a Fabric
The problem we are having here is conflating sweats with a particular fabric. We did the same thing with T-shirts. In fact, that’s where the ludicrous T-shirt dress came from. Someone made a dress from the same material that T-shirts are typically made of and decided it was essentially the same article of clothing, only longer.
Just because you make a shirt out of the same fabric your competition is using to make sweatshirts doesn’t make your garment a sweatshirt, too. Cut and style are what define sweats, not fabric choice. The same goes for sweatpants. They are a specific style of pants designed to perform a certain function.
A Fashion Free-For-All
The most disconcerting thing about all of this is the free-for-all nature of modern fashion. No one quite knows when the ‘no rules’ philosophy came to be, but we’ve seen a few designers do some pretty outlandish things over the last few decades.
Maybe sketching designs on an artist’s pad is perfectly suited to the free-for-all mentality. But when it comes to normal people actually buying clothing that they will wear, free-for-all doesn’t work. We do not want to order a pair of sweatpants only to have them show up and be something else. We want our sweatshirts to be sweatshirts, not collared shirts with buttons and pockets.
It is enough to make one believe that it’s all about selling clothes. A bunch of designers decided it was time to add to the bottom line in time for the Christmas shopping season. So they redefined sweats, reimagined what workwear should look like, and threw all their thoughts together to come up with sweats that really aren’t sweats. How surprising that these non-sweats don’t even look like sweats!