Will sweatpants ever be considered normal at a workplace after lockdown?

woman in gray t-shirt and gray pants sitting on gray concrete bench during daytime

Fashionistas love the benefits of a elasticated waistline when they wear sweatpants in their work-from-home outfits.

Tracksuit bottoms were the enemy of fashion for a long time. Karl Lagerfeld’s infamous, if not forgotten, maxim states that sweatpants are a sign of defeat. “You lost control of your life, so you bought sweatpants.” This is a common attitude in luxury fashion circles.

Lockdown has allowed for change. Last week, Anna Wintour, Vogue .editor in chief, stunned many fashionistas by posting a photo .f her work-from-home outfit: a Breton top and joggers. This is a context: During an otherwise sunny online Q+A session last July, the air became chilly when a fan asked, “Hey Anna! Do you wear sweatpants?” and followed that with a sharp pause.

One Twitter user said: “This could spell the end of the world, as we know it. Anna Wintour appears in sweatpants for first time.”

woman in gray t-shirt and gray pants sitting on gray concrete bench during daytime

Although it’s not the end, it could be the end for an era. Bella Hadid, a model, wore a white pair of track pants on TikTok. Courtney Trop (3422,000 followers) also wore a Miaou pair.

“Since lockdown we have seen an increase of 1,000% in tracksuit bottoms,” Serena Rees, CEO of the gender-neutral brand Les Girls Les Boys, says. “It’s been amazing.”

According to the tracking firm Edited, sales of sweatpants are up 36% compared with the same period in 2019, while searches have increased by 2,000% since last March on influencer platform Liketoknowit.com.

The tracksuit bottom has been softened by the pandemic. It has become the go-to work-from-home trouser. In these difficult times, most people want an easy and quick option. “They are the new jeans and nice-top,” says fashion stylist Bianca Nicole.

Not everyone is convinced. Last week, Adam Tschorn, deputy fashion editor of the LA Times, wrote an impassioned plea against the rise of the tracksuit bottom in our work-from-home environment. “Please, put aside those sweatpants, ratty grey, decades-old collegiate sweatshirts, and obscure minor league baseball cap, and get to work looking like we are earning the wages we have been blessed with.”

He was perhaps recalling when sweatpants were last popularized – the 2000s with Juicy Couture and celebrity wearers such as Britney, Lindsay Lohan, Amy Poehler (as the “cool mom” in Mean Girls), and Paris Hilton (she famously stated that she owned 100 pairs).

woman in white and black jacket standing outdoors

Popularity of the jogging pants has raised questions about post-coronavirus workwear. Will we trade our pencil skirts for something with elasticated waists? Sofia Prantera, designer behind label Aries Arise’s No Problemo tie dye tracksuits, says, “I was wondering that too.”

“I believe there are two outcomes to this dilemma: ‘I don’t want to wear sweatpants ever again’ and ‘How will I ever feel comfortable wearing fixed-waist pants?'”

Rees states: “We have come a long distance (forward) in office attire. They have a place in the workplace.”

David Telfer, head of design at Sunspel warns that “it’s about what you feel socially and comfortable going to work.”

Is the rise of joggers indicative for a larger change? There is a new era in which all aspects of our lives are interconnected, a previously unknown era. Kim Toffoletti is an associate professor of sociology at Deakin University, Australia. She says that their popularity might lead to a shift away from formal wear, a focus on being professional at work and more flexibility between living and working.

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