We’re all familiar with that term by now, right?
It’s the trend of Athleisure that really made my recent visit home to the USA feel really weird – fashionwise.
We did a lot of hiking in National parks. Admittedly, hiking in National parks is very different from tramping in New Zealand. If you’ve done some “hiking” in a national park in the USA (apart from the backcountry, of course), even doing a great walk in NZ would probably feel like a kick in the face. I’m just saying… there’s a reason we “tramp” in NZ and you “hike” in the USA – I’m pretty certain these are two completely different activities.
Therefore, D and I were way over-prepared for our hiking and looked like very obvious foreigners. We were wearing all of our usual tramping clothes. But we looked like complete foreign weirdos (subtle differences – sunhats, shorts, our very heavy very dirty looking boots – actually all of our gear was clearly well used and 100% functional). D was at one point mistaken for a park ranger. Why? Because everyone else was wearing clean, brand new, stylish athleisure.
Hiking doesn’t really strike me as being about hiking, anymore. It’s about crafting the perfect image for your instagram page (seriously. We observed this many, many times). And that only comes with really cool trendy hiking clothes.
For me, hiking isn’t really about fashion. And even though I used to blog about my tramps and fashion all on this blog, I’ve since separated out most of the tramping. But now, I find that I can no longer separate that part of my life because I felt really unfashionable during our recent travels (also, not wearing nearly enough make-up). Seriously, I need to get myself some 80s print or bright coloured spandex yoga pants stat!!
On the otherhand, while everyone out hiking in the USA is looking really fabulous (in my opinion), everyone else going about their every days lives looks quite casual. As I mentioned in my last post about our trip, D and I were upgraded by an usher to front row seats at Cirque in Vegas. I am reasonably certain it was because we were ‘dressed up’ by comparison to everyone else (almost no one dresses up to go out to shows apparently).
As athleisure is becoming more prevalent, inherent casualness is spreading to other clothing. With all the choice (and at every price point!! you can look good for almost no money at all in the USA), I do not understand why some Americans often dress so casually, or alternatively, simply badly (e.g. tasteless, poorly fitted clothing). I know it takes a lot of effort to get beyond t-shirts, sneakers and jeans (my ‘uniform’ of sorts from teens to mid-20s). But once you do, you’ll never go back. The variety of jeans, tops, skirts, dresses, cardigans, blazers, scarves and shoes…! The potential for varying outfits is fantastic once you get past “jeans & a t-shirt”. I feel like I’m at a point where I am actually starting to look put together. I’ve come a long way from my jeans & t-shirt & hoodie (a hallmark of the midwest) loving self.
So even though I do wear yoga pants to the gym (although I prefer shorts + bike shorts!), and then to the supermarket or some other occasional errand afterwards, I will not wear them to work or out for dinner. I must admit that I can see their usefulness when hiking, as my legs have taken one hell of a beating this year (so many scratches from tramping). Also, all that UV protection would mean no more gaiter tan lines… We’ll see.
Do you think it’s important to look stylish when you’re hiking? Is there a place and time for yoga pants or are they now as ubiquitous as jeans?