Athleisurewhat? by Alyssia Schwartz
Mom, TV writer, and Bezels & Bytes fan Alyssa Schwartz gains new respect for yoga pants and athleisure wear. Happy Mother's Day from Bezels & Bytes! Enjoy!
Four years ago, when I first moved from Los Angeles to Bethesda, Maryland (a suburb of Washington, D.C.), I’m loathe to admit that I turned my nose down at all the moms darting around the city dressed head to toe in Lululemon, Alo, Athleta or any of the other zillion brands currently referred to as athleisurewear. After living in Los Angeles for fifteen years, the ever-changing scope of the fashion industry was an exciting moving backdrop to La La Land. As far as I was concerned, black leggings and a hoodie did not an outfit make.
Don’t get me wrong—I had plenty of cringe-worthy fashion moments when I first moved to L.A. (tube tops, shiny red pants, platform flip-flops). But once I hit my late twenties, I’d happily cultivated my personal style and usually stuck to it. Choosing my outfit was a daily routine I appreciated and enjoyed. I’d wake up in my carefree, quiet, no-kids home, and rifle through my closet, carefully pulling clothing items that matched my mood. Finding an outfit in the evenings for date nights with my husband or girls’ nights with my friends was given an equal amount of thought, though I’ll admit the experience was not quite as relaxing as my morning ritual. Much to my husband’s dismay, the statement, “I have no clothes!” was often uttered (screamed) from the depths of my closet at least once, sometimes followed by a mild tantrum. So suffice it to say, like a lot of other Angelenos, clothes and style were a big part of my life.
So back to four years ago when I first stepped foot in the middle of “downtown” Bethesda, Maryland, which boasts four athleisure stores on one small block. I was practically claustrophobic from the sheer volume of them. If there wasn’t a store selling leggings and hoodies with thumbholes, then there were women whizzing past me in them. Would it kill these women to put in a little more effort? I thought. Is it lack of style? No access to good retail stores? Obliviousness to the life-changing mecca of online shopping? I was mystified.
Let’s fast-forward, shall we? I now have three-year-old twins.
I GET IT.
I finally understand the beauty and simplicity of athleisurewear. In fact, I happily partake in all its glory every weekday morning when I stumble out of bed and race to get dressed before two toddlers charge in my room like they’ve just ingested a case of Red Bull.
But I still have one beef with the concept.
When my mom friends and I are in athleisurewear, there is ZERO leisure involved. It means we’re usually getting the kids ready for school, making their lunches, doing drop-off, working, doing pick-up, going to the grocery store, or preparing dinner in between entertaining and/or chasing down our toddlers. I’m having a hard time finding the “leisure” part in there. On the other hand, when I’m wearing an outfit that could never be worn for yoga and my favorite five-inch booties, it’s a sign that I’m definitely in leisure mode. I’m out with my husband or my friends, involved in adult conversation and sipping (or chugging depending on the day) a glass of wine.
But let’s be real, how often does that actually happen? Dressing up these days usually means jeans—and if they’re not distressed I feel like I’m practically going black-tie. I don’t remember the last time I stood in my closet on a weekday morning and gave more than ten seconds of thought to my outfit. And when I do have time to choose something for a night out, I’m so ecstatic to be have an occasion to wear my “going out” clothes that I rarely, if ever, have a closet meltdown. Unfortunately for my husband, the clothing breakdowns are not entirely out of his life. My daughter loses her mind if she can’t wear the outfit of her choice (I totally get that mixing prints can be a great, bold fashion choice, but a flowery top with striped leggings and sparkly shoes is not a good look on anyone).
The point is, I’d like to consider this my formal apology to the hard-working moms running around till they’re dizzy in whatever clothes they can manage to throw on that morning in their exhausted haze. I’m officially with you. Those four athleisurewear stores in downtown Bethesda are awesome.
But seriously, can we PLEASE change the name athleisurewear to something else?
Alyssa Schwartz has written in television and film for over a decade. She made her debut as an author with her first book series, Georgetown Academy. Her next novel, Lost Causes, will be released in the fall. Alyssa resides in Maryland with her husband, three-year-old twins and smug rescue mutt.
You can follow her on Twitter @LyssandJess or on Facebook.
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