Can We Keep the Sweatpants On After Lockdown Ends?

People’s relationships with their trousers have become fraught as coronavirus quarantines drag on; ‘The second I can’t do it, I’m going to miss being able to’

On a recent trip to the grocery store, Paige Parnell wore jeans for the first time in several weeks. The 30-year-old marketing director had been on a steady rotation of sweatpants and leggings while working from her Atlanta home since March 13.

Zoom attire

“I hadn’t worn jeans in a while,” she says, “and I was like, ‘Oh, I like these jeans.’ ”

It wasn’t long before she noticed how restricting they were—she calls them “prison” for her legs. “As soon as I came home, I took the jeans off,” she says. “I don’t even think I unpacked the groceries yet.”

During the early sheltering-in-place days, a sweats-centric wardrobe was a welcome change for many who’d had to look presentable at work for years.

But people’s relationships with their pants have become fraught as the weeks of coronavirus quarantines drag on.

Is it possible to be comfortable too long? Should we press on with leisure-wear wardrobes daily because this is the only time we’ll ever get to be so cozy? Will our regular pants even fit after all that banana bread?

Perhaps people must force themselves to start dressing in actual clothes because there’s something wrong with indefinite sweatpant-wearing. Maybe the solution to sweats monotony is a greater variety of them—some fancy ones, say.

Ms. Parnell says while she sometimes feels a little gross wearing sweatpants, especially when paired with the shirt she slept in, she struggles to motivate herself to put on anything else. The other day, feeling like putting effort toward her appearance, she did so from only the waist up.

Scott Huff, a 39-year-old television producer, is sheltering in the Hudson Valley with his wife and children and another family whose home they were initially visiting for the weekend. He packed limited clothes, including a few pairs of sweatpants—nicer pairs by Lululemon and Nike, and a more casual Brooks Brothers pair akin to pajama pants—but no jeans or chinos.

After a couple of weeks, he thought: “This is feeling too depressing and too sad to be in the same clothes all the time.” So he ordered nicer sweatpants, $100 mint-green ones branded Standard Issue Tees, which “I saw on Instagram a lot of NBA guys wear.”

Scott Huff’s morning look: Lululemon pants, Standard Issue Tees sweatshirt, Yeezy/Adidas sneakers.

His work-from-home look: Standard Issue Tees sweatpants, Billy Reid sweatshirt, Bombas socks.

Fine-dining look: Nike Joggers , Standard Issue Tees red hoodie, Bombas socks.

Mr. Huff wore his brand-new sweats for dinner the day he got them and promptly sat in some spilled red wine. Now, he dons polyester-and-elastane Lululemon joggers in the morning, changing into fancier sweats for work. At dinner, he wears a spill-friendly pair, usually a cotton blend “in case fine dining turns into ‘The hell with it, I’ll sleep in these.’ ”

Going back to picking outfits to go into work will be difficult, he predicts: “I’m dreading having to go back to regular pants.”

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Fashion magazines haven’t settled on what the coronavirus impact on people’s wardrobes will be long term. GQ published two essays last month. One declared “We Are Living In the Age of Sweatpants and Never Going Back.” The other predicted a resurgence of men dressing up.

“I’m basically wearing track pants, T-shirts and leggings and that’s it,”

How We Managed During Coronavirus

Anna Louise Ayers, 24, an accounting-firm auditor, suspects at some point she’ll again be waking up two hours earlier for time to shower, pick an outfit and commute. Her office wardrobe includes a lot of black and navy slacks you might see at Ann Taylor, so the move to wearing sweatpants daily was exciting.

Eight weeks in, Ms. Ayers isn’t ready to relinquish the comfort. “I know the second I can’t do it, I’m going to miss being able to.”

The six pairs of sweatpants she rotates through, once kept in a drawer, live at the foot of her bed. “I don’t even put them away at this point.”

Ms. Ayers did put on leggings one day recently—her sweatpants were in the wash. She can’t find her jeans. Still, she recognized a few weeks in that she missed the feeling of returning from the office and changing into comfortable clothes. Closing her laptop doesn’t offer that punctuation.

“Now I’ll change sweatpants when I get off work,” she says. “I have some sweatpants that on the spectrum of sweatpants are closer to pajamas and some sweatpants that are closer to what I would consider actual sweatpants.”

Heather Palm, 46, had been wearing sweatpants several weeks when, she says, it hit her: We might be living this way awhile. She also started to notice a direct correlation between her pants and her productivity. “These sweatpants couldn’t continue being an every day, every night, round-the-clock situation.”

Ms. Palm started wearing leggings or jeans while working during the day. She took things a step further after seeing a post online by a military charity challenging people to show pictures of themselves in formalwear. A family-consumer-sciences teacher in Falls Church, Va., Ms. Palm put on a burgundy-lace evening gown and gold-sequined heels for her portrait, pairing it with yellow rubber gloves, and posed cleaning her oven.

She’s now donning formalwear for “Fancy Fridays.” She spends the morning doing her hair and makeup and posts a photo to social media by lunchtime, she says. “It’s nice to have something else to focus on.”

After the photo shoot, she says, it’s “straight back to the cozy clothes.”

Credit: The Wall Street Journal – Click here to view the article

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