By Terry Tucker
Fashion designer and icon Karl Lagerfeld, of Chanel, is noted for declaring, “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.”
Like it or not, we are acculturated to judging others by how they present themselves. It is important to remember that your wardrobe is significant to your presentation — to your brand.
What message is one sending to one’s peers (and professors) when wearing sweatpants? Two possibilities come to mind: “They’re athletic” or “They’re lazy.”
It’s amazing how an article of clothing can be seen in such extremes, right? Wrong. It is a common occurrence in fashion. For a dynamic example, UGG boots — that is all.
Intrigued by the inspiration to wear sweatpants, I deemed it necessary (and fair) to question those sporting them on campus.
A female student told me, “I wear them to class sometimes, but dress up kind of nice for exams and meetings.” So, I asked her to explain this system. “Well, I feel like I do better on tests, and it would be rude to show up to office hours with sweatpants on. I like to wear them to class on my lazy days.”
A male student expressed, “Man, they’re so comfy. I don’t like feeling restricted and (like) being relaxed. I’m an athlete and go to they gym a lot, too, so they’re a ‘thing.’”
Students seem to have a neutral opinion of sweatpants. However, some professors and faculty share a stronger perspective.
“When I was in school, I dressed for college as I would for a job. College is a job and should be treated as such. It’s a preparation,” said a faculty member. Some faculty generally viewed sweatpants as a little disrespectful and as showing carelessness, whether intended or not.
There is so much “DNA” in clothing that a mindset is “inherited.” That’s why a person may feel powerful in a tailored suit or sexy in high pumps.
This, of course, is my opinion; however, it is highly supported by ample psychological and sociological research. Wearing sweatpants, which can symbolize laziness (and do not flatter the body), to class or a meeting is not good for morale, confidence or motivation.
But my reason for writing this article is to reflect on perception. It is clearly unjust to be judged by one’s appearance, but this is our society and culture.
Be confident and comfortable in what you’re wearing, but — please for the sake of Chanel, Oscar de la Renta and Valentino — avoid sweatpants in the public domain if you can. At least, for your own benefit.