Last Word: Lady of Athleisure

I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m a little slow on the uptake when it comes to fashion.

Just when I finally got used to low-rise, boot cut jeans, high-waisted, skinny legs came back in style, leaving me confused over whether I’m required to continue emphasizing my ample waistline, or switch to accentuating my cankles.

I also completely missed the entire puffy coat revolution, as it’s supposedly made a huge comeback.

I just assumed that it was an outdated holdover from my childhood, when everyone dressed up for winter as the Michelin Man, complete with moon boots, which, if we’re being honest here, remain fashion’s greatest accomplishment to date.

Foamy, squishy and decidedly modern with their bright colors and stripes, I’d still wear them today given the opportunity. Especially if I were selected to help colonize Mars, because, after all, that’s what they were designed for.

But then again, I’d also leave the house dressed like Boy George if I didn’t think the employees at Stop & Shop would look at me more strangely than they already do.

Styles were pretty cool back in the ’80s. Other than donning a top hat and ribbon-entwined braids, my favorite look was combining a pair of black stretch pants with a giant, neon sweater that forgave all the sins committed by late-night Domino’s pizza delivery, even if it did make me look like a construction sign.

From what I understand, stretch pants are once again back in fashion, but rebranded as “leggings,” because calling them “stretch pants” sounds about as sexy as buying orthopedic shoes for the prom.

Unlike the first time around, however, people are wearing them with crop-tops and form-fitting pullovers.

Apparently by choice.

If you ask me, it’s a direct violation of the stretch-pant concept, which dictates they be coupled with an oversized shirt as to suggest that hiding underneath is a very fit, diminutive person, without actually having to be one.

Now, instead of camouflaging trouble spots, they’re intended to enhance them, and more than that, the wearer is actually supposed to look good in them, defeating the purpose altogether.

Stretch pants aside, not long ago, I noticed an increasing number of people wearing athletic clothes in restaurants, at social events, even the grocery store, and was instantly threatened by it.

Who were these extremists, exercising so excessively that they had no choice but to wear their workout clothes in public? And more important, how dare they show off their dedication to physical fitness, making me feel inadequate just because I prefer hibernating to hiking?

Soon after, I began seeing exercise clothes cropping up at all my favorite stores, usually next to the puffy coat section, leading me to believe that not only was everyone kayaking or rock-climbing during their lunch breaks, but preparing for the next ice age as well.

After months of bemoaning a world filled with cold, but healthy, zealots, it finally dawned on me that far from working out, these people were simply wearing the latest fashion: Athleisure.

Once I realized that wearing Lycra in public was not only acceptable, but highly fashionable, I dropped my doughnut and headed straight for the mall.

Despite attempting to look like all the other stylish women outfitted in sleek leggings, fancy running shoes, ponytails and shiny vests, my athleisure ensembles fell short, looking more like I just crawled out of bed than just finished doing crunches with my trainer.

Maybe I just picked out all the wrong things.

More likely, it’s because my overall aesthetic indicates that the only physical activity I’m capable of performing is emptying the dishwasher — a reasonably accurate assumption.

Either way, I continue searching for suitable athleisure as I, too, would like to look like I pretend to exercise, just like everyone else.

Or maybe I’ll hire an athleisure stylist, someone who can help me successfully dress in the clothes I occasionally sweat in, without looking like I actually did.

But chances are, by the time I finally figure out how to wear puffy coats and athleisure, the fashion world will have already moved on to the next big thing, which, God-willing, will include ribbon-entwined braids and top hats.

I’ve got my fingers crossed.

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