Sweatpant Couture

When I moved to Virginia three and a half years ago, I was shocked to see how nicely people dressed, all the time. Growing up in Michigan, it seemed as soon as the temperature dropped below 40 degrees, the automatic garb was jeans and a hoodie–and that was relatively dressed up. Sweatpants were the norm.

Taking it as an indication that maybe it was time to grow up and retire my hoodie collection, I embraced a new philosophy of dressing while I was in Virginia. During the warm months, sundresses every day. Once it cooled down, jeans were acceptable, but no sweatshirts or t-shirts. Rather a nice sweater or blouse and blazer were in order. Because of the (generally) milder winters, I even stopped wearing ski jackets and no longer owned snow boots or  waterproof gloves.

Every once in a while, though, I would wistfully remember my Michigan days and wish I could bum around Charlottesville in a hoodie. In the comfort of my own home I would keep it casual, reminding myself of my comfortable clothes days.

I’ve now been back in Michigan for half a year, and I have rediscovered sweatpants. No, I wouldn’t wear them if I were grocery shopping or going out to eat with my family. Virginia’s influence on me was at least that long-lasting. But with friends coming over to watch a college football game, or me heading to their houses to eat, I would have no qualms changing out of regular clothes into my sweatpants and hoodies, and driving over for a night of fellowship. Besides, most of these friends were guys who were also often in übercasual clothing. I just wanted to fit in…:)

Recently, though, one of these friends and I were talking about how women can sometimes feel insecure about their appearance. A quick solution, he said, while she works on the inside, is to change her clothes. To dress up, dress nice. It gives the look of outward confidence. I soon realized he wasn’t speaking in generalities, but was directing this as advice towards me.

We were flying that day, he in dress pants, a dress shirt, and a sweater. Me in dark jeans, a casual sleeveless blouse, a cardigan covering, and sneakers. Not really dressed up at all, but considering I had almost worn sweatpants and a hoodie (I know), I didn’t think I was dressed that bad.

I had two immediate reactions. The first was actually thankfulness. I was thankful that this friend felt comfortable enough to talk about these things with me, and I knew his intentions were out of a genuine desire to help a friend. The second was confusion. But I don’t dress down that much, do I? I’m in dress pants, dresses, or suits all the time. True, he was among the friends who would frequently see me in sweats, but come on, we were never in public.

Last night was a reunion of sorts. After being parted for the holidays and GYC, many of the crew I hang out with were back in town. And they were hungry. I offered, if they bought the ingredients, to cook them dinner. As I was about to leave for their house, I considered changing out of my jeans, t-shirt, and blazer into sweats and a hoodie. Knowing my friend who had counseled me to dress up more would be there, I decided against it.

I got to house, and as I was cooking we’re all talking. I mentioned how I had considered changing into sweats, but decided not to. Our host, who was standing in the kitchen in sweats and a hoodie said, “These pants are Amy inspired. I bought them because of you!”


“You always look so comfortable when we are hanging out, I decided I wanted to be comfortable too, so I decided to buy these when I saw them in the store.”

I looked at the other friend who had suggested I dress up more in shock. Maybe I had slipped back into the sweatpants couture to an extreme, and was defining myself as sweatpants girl. Not good.

I do love being comfortable. But sweats and hoodies aren’t the only comfortable clothes in the world. I guess this means I’ll be trying to dress more like I did in Virginia. Thanks for the advice bro.


  1. After the exhaustion of GYC I was feeling the need to be super chill. You definitely inspired the idea but I don’t think you have defined yourself completely as a sweatpants girl. I have seen you more often in “regular” clothes.

    Have you seen how you’re advice giving friend dresses at home? hahaha

  2. True say re: that friend at home. 🙂 And I agree, I dress up quite a bit…but I guess I go from one extreme to another quite frequently too. Suit or dress all day, straight to sweats as soon as I’m done with official business. I’ll find a happy medium so I don’t slide down any slippery slopes in either direction. The last thing I want to do is get nominated for What Not to Wear.

  3. LOL! “I just wanted to fit in.” heh, well at I still have about 15 hoodies in my closet that I have to tell myself to not put on everyday.

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