Active Wear Worries

Last week on Project Runway, Heidi Klum commanded that the contestants make her new designs for her active wear collection for New Balance. The wannabees looked at her quizzically. What is active wear? It took until the end of the show when the haughty judges explained what was so terribly wrong with the contestant's creations that I figured it out.

Active wear is basically high end sweat pants that you wear all day long.

Now I do go to the gym myself. There's nothing wrong with having a cute outfit at the gym. Yesterday I wore this and that.

21CkSbFQE6L._SX300_SY390_CR,0,0,300,390_  410QU6HDnXL._SX300_SY390_CR,0,0,300,390_

Boring, but it does the job. Afterwards, I had a shower and put on the working at home default – jeans and a black t-shirt.

After that show, this active wear concept began to nag at me. What lifestyle is the fashion industry pushing on us today?  Who do they think we are?

So, I checked out Heidi Klum's active wear line for New Balance. It's work-out clothes that you can fancy up with a jacket or a dress for your trip to Shop Rite and then you peel down to the workout clothes when you get to the gym.

Argh. It's aimed at people like me. I hate being a type. Heidi Klum isn't the only one who's jumped on the active wear bandwagon. I've been targeted with free catalogs from Athleta, which is subsidiary of the GAP. Their catalog is full of women with bulky thighs doing yoga, drinking green tea, and hiking. Their dresses will take you from the kindergarten drop-off line to a brisk hike in the woods.


Is active wear the new house dress? 

In the early 70s, my grandmother used to have some brightly flowered dresses that she would only wear at home. They were light cottony numbers that were close cousins with a nightgown. These dresses were designed to save the good clothes from the the rigors of housework. I wonder how many pairs of Old Navy yoga pants really make it to the yoga mat?

I suppose that there is nothing wrong with active wear. (Except for the fact that the dresses in Athleta are butt-ugly, and Klum's clothes only look good on 20 year old models.) If these clothes are really a sign that more women are exercising, getting out of the house or relaxing on weekends, that's a good thing. But, in truth, I don't meet many women like that. Even I have to make sure that I put "trip to the gym" on the daily calendar or it doesn't happen. Perhaps these clothes are more about how we wish we were.

I think I'll continue to keep my gym clothes separate from the clothes that I wear the rest of the day. But I do need to vary the jeans and black t-shirt uniform, so I've been gazing at these clothes this morning.


16 thoughts on “Active Wear Worries

  1. I’m wearing Aravon dress shoes (by New Balance) and they’re saving my life (or feet).
    A friend and I were talking about how we put on jeans to leave the house these days. Tha’s “dressing up.” If I know I don’t really have to get out of the car, it’s sweats. Oh, sorry. Yoga pants.

  2. I agree that the workout wear is mostly aspirational. I remember an infertility blogger saying about her yoga pants “Let’s admit it, I never do yoga, so they aren’t really yoga pants. They’re lazy pants.”
    I embrace the work-at-home jeans and t-shirt uniform. Except that I almost always add a sweater or a fleece. Yesterday I had to go to the dentist, and I wore decent clothes, because hey, someone was going to see me with my coat off for an hour.

  3. I was thinking the same thing yesterday at the Victoria’s Secret, where they are now advertising “Yoga Panties — 5 for $25” in the windows of all of their stores.
    You may or may not be wearing your Yoga Pants to Yoga Class, but I’m betting no one in the Yoga Class is wearing Victoria’s Secret Yoga Panties underneath.

  4. “Active wear” is also what Russians wear on a train. Pretty much as soon as they are on one, they switch to it. (I usually called it a “track suit”, but why worry about terms?)
    I must say, though, that those thighs didn’t look “bulky” at all to me. I think “toned” is the right word, rather.

  5. To me a track suit, at least on a man who isn’t actually at a track, says something completely different than workout clothes or other slump around the house clothes.

  6. You can always tell the Eastern European immigrants here by the shiny track suits and Adidas shoes…
    I try to keep the workout gear to working out or yoga but it is comfy. Otherwise my “uniform” is jeans and Anthropologie tops. Eileen Fisher is appealing but it looks dowdy on me – I think I need about another 4 inches in height to make it work.
    When I lived on the west coast it was goretex, fleece, birkenstocks and fuzzy socks. Here in Toronto, it’s more jeans, boots, and black.

  7. I started going to yoga three times a week in late June. The clothes I bought from Athleta, though, are too tight-fitting for me to wear anywhere else but the gym.
    But I recently found some yoga pants and lounge pants at a Banana Republic outlet recently, and I love them. I’ve worn jeans every day of my life since quitting my job 6 years ago. These are pants that I may actually start wearing with my clogs and a sweater. They’re that comfortable.

  8. What I took away from that Project Runway episode is that Klum’s type of “active wear” is actually NOT meant for working out, for the most part. Dresses in an active wear line? Unless they’re tennis skirts, come on. In fact, the judges often commented (even on the ones they liked) that the things would never be worn by a woman working out. For one thing, Klum’s stuff is way too oversized.
    Most of the parents at Yo’s daycare work out of the home and are dressed as such, but yesterday I noticed a couple of mothers who were clearly dressed in very fashionable activewear. It seems to be a look designed to make you seem fit and healthy *out* of the gym, whether you actually go to the gym or not.

  9. I do not like jeans. They seem to give off the style vibes of “active wear” + over-casualness (usually I read jeans as more casual than black active wear).
    Eileen Fisher is active wear, I suspect, and a competitor to the Klum line (my guess). The difference is that Fisher doesn’t seem to have the conceit that you’re actually going to wear the clothes to work out in (unlike a line sponsored by New Balance).
    I like Athleta (and Sahalie, another similar line) clothing, but am not really fit enough to wear it. That microfiber stuff really shows off lumps. My mom-clothes are Old Navy & Eddie Bauer pants in the winter, chinos of various sorts in the summer, mixed in with some cargo pants.

  10. I like the ruffled jacket in the Klum line (but don’t think I’ll buy it for $98).
    Now, what I’m fascinated by is how these fashions come to market. When was the Project Runway show that aired last week filmed? How long does it take to tool up and produce a garment like this? (looks like they were made in India). The economics of it all fascinates me.

  11. I’m sorry, but I thought the PR challenge sucked. When Heidi brought out examples from her line, they were butt ugly. All the designers did poorly because they were trying to match an ugly line. Give me “yoga” pants and a regular old hoodie any day.

  12. They did have difficulty with the challenge, didn’t they? I thought that was interesting. But, I disagree that Andy’s line was ugly — I think he actually managed to do something with a difficult challenge (and, I like the striped hoodie, though not for $158).
    I really like Project Runway. My complaint is that I wish they’d do blind judging. Wouldn’t that be fabulous? If they judged the clothes without explicitly knowing who designed them? For some designs it might be obvious anyway, but I’d love to see how similar their choices would be if they didn’t know who they were judging.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s