On Sunday, the New York Fashion Week kicked off with Jason Wu's presentation- who has dressed former US First Lady, Michelle Obama more than once.
The Taiwanese born designer often infuses "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 and easygoing silhouettes inspired by the Caribbean coastline town of Tulum, Wu's home away from home. They had a feeling of escapism yet could be worn at home or easily transition into eveningwear. 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?
The term athleisure was first used back in the late 1970s, a time when the American inspired sports look was becoming global but it still had a feel of elegance-- think Polo Ralph Lauren. High fashion borrowing ideas 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 and finish with some undereye concealer a wand of mascara and lip gloss. It makes me ready for the day.
As a fashion writer--- 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 of 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 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 6 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 with 'Vogue' supremo, Anna Wintour wearing them in April.
Hopefully Jason Wu's show proves that we are moving away from tracksuits to a chicer yet comfortable style of dressing. The whole point of fashion is to bring joy and a feeling of escapism to our lives 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!
(The writer Sujata Assomull is an IANSlife columnist. Assomull is the author of "100 Iconic Bollywood Costumes" and was the Founding Editor In Chief of Harper's Bazaar, India)