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No more tracksuits please!

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Work from Home seems to have become an excuse for dressing like a ragamuffin; we have fallen into a cycle of fashion lethargy

By Sujata Assomull

September 14, 2020 (IANSlifeOn Sunday, New York Fashion Week kicked off with Jason Wu’s presentation—who has dressed Michelle Obama more than once when she was the First Lady. The Taiwanese born designer is known to refer to “Old World” femininity in many of his designs and chose to have a physical show with a very limited audience. 


The collection was filled with contemporary, easy but beautiful clothes inspired by the Caribbean coastline town of Tulum, Wu’s home away from home. They had a feeling of escapism yet could be worn from home, or dressed up to wear for an intimate evening soiree. They are clothes that work for the times we are living in--- and there was not one tracksuit!


Work from Home, seems to have become an excuse for dressing like a ragamuffin.  Of course we do want to wear starched shirts and confining tailored jackets (and nor do we live in a place where the weather “suits” such attire); but does that mean we need to live in clothes that were meant to be worn in the gym or on a sports field?


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Jason Wu keeps it simple, stylish and feminine   

The term athleisure was first used back in the late 1970s, a time when the American inspired sports look was becoming global—it was influenced by sports but not performance based; they still had a feel of elegance-- think Ralph Lauren. High fashion borrowing idea from sports is not a new concept, and you could say Coco Chanel was probably the first athleisure designer—she used jersey to make day suits for women back in the 1920s. I have a feeling if she were alive today she would be horrified to see how women are dressing right now.


“We have become trapped in a cycle of fashion lethargy,” says celebrity stylist Mohit Rai. “What most people do not realise is that a growing routine is not about how you look but how you feel. A system that puts life into an overall perspective and retains sanity.” 


As someone who has been a freelancer for the last couple of years, work from home is a way of life for me. And it's my dressing routine that has kept me in check--- I wake up, gym, shower, finish my morning prayers and then change into something easy but still elegant- it could be a kaftan dress, jeans and a shirt or shorts and boxy top, add on some accessories. finish with some undereye concealer, a wand of mascara and lip gloss. It makes me ready for the day and well, as someone who writes about fashion--- it would be strange not to enjoy and understand the value of dressing-up.



I wonder if when we look back to the current tracksuit trend, it will be with the same disdain we have for the Juicy Couture (remember those velour tracksuits)  phase of fashion in the early 2000s. (I am happy to say I never participated in this trend). You don’t need a reason or an occasion to dress--- and sometimes we just do it well because you feel like it because it acts as that “pick me up”. Anjali Patel Mehta, founder of the Studio Verandah, a luxury resort brand says, “Athleisure is here to stay, but even if that’s your choice, choose the clothes that make you feel good. I haven’t been to a salon in over six months, nor cut my hair but what I’ve done is to make the most from my surroundings and dressing can help you lift your spirits.” 


Which is why as we try and learn to co-exist with the virus, we need to get out of our tracksuits and embrace our own personal style--- yes, that could be sporty but it does need to have a feel of being dressed. And tracksuit bottoms don’t cut it. Even if Vogue supremo, Anna Wintour wore them in April.


Hopefully Jason’s Wu show is showing that we are moving away from tracksuits to a chic yet comfortable style of dressing. The whole point of fashion is to bring joy and a feeling of escapism to our lives—and don’t we need that more now than ever. In fact there is no surprise that many of the recent collections we are seeing seem to have taken inspiration from resort fashion instead of athleisure--- so let’s get out of those tracksuits, please!



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Sujata Assomull


The writer Sujata Assomull is an IANSlife columnist. Assomull is the author “100 Iconic Bollywood Costumes” and was the Founding Editor In Chief of Harper's Bazaar, India.



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