Don’t Sweat It

sweatpants yoga top athletic top
November 15th, 2011

My co-worker has a “no sweats” policy. He believes there is no excuse to ever wear sweatpants outside the house unless you are actually sweating at the gym. I’m trying to get my head around this. An avid sweats-wearer, I own everything from really ratty paint-the-house sweats to upscale Lululemon yoga pants. And I have to admit that, until recently, I thought sweats said “casual” and “young.” But lately I’ve noticed a strange phenomenon: the same choices that screamed “immature” in my twenties now flatly state “middle-aged housewife.” When did dressing down start to make me look older? Why can a T-shirt and leggings look runway hot on a younger person, but make a 40-something look like she’s gearing up to clean house? I’m still working on the answer, analyzing the ever-changing T-shirt cuts as I try to keep my wardrobe current. I’m also looking more closely at fellow middle-agers who boldly wear athletic tops outside the yoga studio. While I don’t take the hardline stance of my co-worker, I’ve come up with a few “DON’Ts” to keep our judgment in tip-top shape. If you’ve got these, keep the sweats behind closed doors.

Beer Gut: It may feel like that $70 worth of spandex is holding you together, but if your waist is over 27” you look like a thick-in-the-middle old person. It’s admirable that you made it to Pilates, but you need to head back before sharing your core.

Big Boobs: If you’ve got ‘em, you know that high impact sports aren’t for you. Running in a yoga top – no matter how industrial – is bad form and totally unflattering. Save the rack display for an outfit that complements your curves.

Back Fat: ’nuff said.

Check yourself against the “Three Bs” checklist to see if your athletic wear is street-ready. If any of the three Bs applies to you, ditch the yoga top or better yet, throw a loose-yet-hip T-shirt over it.



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Our Friends Say
  1. Nadine says:

    I think “sweatpants” is becoming a cultural icon. Check out Kristen Wiig’s character in the movie, “Extract,” where sweatpants plays a big role. Then, in the book “Helen of Pasadena,” sweatpants of the 80′s have morphed into yoga pants — but really, it says the same thing. That being said, when I’m on a day of running errands, there’s nothing more comfortable than my sweat…I mean yoga pants.

  2. Angelica Garza says:

    I usually love to read my daily Tootzypop, but this piece left me disappointed. Most of it was amusing and resonant – up to the three Bs, then Jenny lost me. I would like to offer an alternate point of view.

    According to the author, unless a woman is rail thin, she should hide her body in a “loose-yet-hip T-shirt.” Loose clothing is never flattering. This is terrible advice. Loose clothes is for the insecure – none of us should aspire to that! The author’s list of body parts to cover up, hide and feel shame about seemed quite random and I can only guess she rushed to finish what otherwise would have been a great piece.

    27″ waist? I’ve always been on the thin side and I attribute this to genetics more than anything. Nonetheless, my waist has NEVER been 27.” Even as a young athlete when I was 5’7″ and 125 pounds, my waist was about 29″. My body type is boyish – you know, narrow hips. I am now 44, a mother of two, weigh about 140 pounds and my waist is about 31″ and I am most definitely sporting a beer gut. Oh well… I don’t hide my body in a loose t-shirt ever. I don’t need to or want to. I am self-confident enough to know that I look pretty damn good for a 44 year old.

    As for “big boobs,” Jenny’s advice is not to run. Sorry, but this is such irrational garbage. Some women have large breasts. So what? One of my best friends, two of them actually, are well-endowed. The idea that they should stay put because of this is nonsense. One of them runs marathons, in fact….

    As for “back fat” – what? Again, I can only guess the author was rushed to make a deadline. There is nothing illuminating about pointing out an unsightly byproduct of being overweight.

    We all have weak spots, but really, isn’t life all about coming to accept our less than perfect attributes without feeling the need to hide them?

    • Jenny says:

      Hi Angelica- Thanks for your thoughtful response. I so agree that life is about accepting ourselves and believe this attitude comes through in most of my posts. Due to space constraints, I was not able to get into that, despite being relatively thin, I also meet a couple of the “three B’s” and so my tongue-in-cheek suggestions were meant as much for myself as anyone else! And I shamelessly wear yoga tops in public. It was not my intention to be offensive or disempowering to women of all shapes and sizes. I do have to take issue with you on the loose clothing being strictly for the insecure though. Most of the tees I’m seeing on young hipsters these days are loose-fitting and it’s only us middle-aged moms that are clinging to our fitted tees from 2005. It’s all in the cut though!

  3. Angelica Garza says:


    I meant to write to you right away and say thank you for responding to my post. I appreciated it very much.

    Hope you had a wonderful holiday season.

    Saw your piece today. Powerful.

    best to you,



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