Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sweatpants and Swedish Fashion

A couple of days ago I saw a young man wearing a pair of sweatpants while riding the subway. In Stockholm, Sweden. I considered just stopping right there. Not writing another word. Just letting that sink in. I know. I know. You’re thinking he must have been drunk. Or American. Or both. Unlike the last visibly drunk man I had a run-in with just a few days ago, this man did not fall into me and almost spill his open beer. Which is clearly my standard for sobriety. And he probably wasn’t American because he was not chanting U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! while shotgunning a Bud Heavy in his tennis shoes and ‘Merica-themed t-shirt. Which is clearly my standard for American citizenship. But despite all this, he was wearing sweatpants while riding the subway in Stockholm, Sweden.

Now, as many of my friends know, I am pretty much a fashion guru. If there’s a fashion trend, I know about it. My wardrobe consists of fashionable labels that can only be found at the most exclusive of stores. Like Kohl’s. That t-shirt from Work Out West that I still wear regularly 14 years later? No longer in production. I took that from my old employer fair and square. Today, it’s retro. Those neon orange sweatpants acquired that same year? Also retro. The fact that I just searched for “retro fashion” to see if it was actually called “retro” or “vintage” on Also retro. And it really speaks to my expertise on the subject.

Fine. It was Google, not AskJeeves. But Jeeves was the best. I used to actually write full on questions into AskJeeves instead of key words.

Anyway when there are Swedish fashion trends to be discussed, I’m the one to do it. Like the guy walking through Humlegården wearing a blue blazer, dark jeans, and pumped up retro Nike basketball shoes. Business casual in Sweden.

But the guy on the subway was different. He wasn’t business casual. He was fashion casual with his sweatpants. Gray, tight-fitting, belt loop-having, zipper-equipped, sweatpants. I was fascinated. Probably creeped the poor guy out by just staring at his pants. It couldn’t be helped though. He was rocking the sweatpants.

At first I thought they were just normal gray pants. Slacks might be what they’re called. Then a little ball of fabric caught my eye. Right on his knee. It looked familiar. Like something that nearly all of my clothes eventually degrade to. His pants were pilling! He was wearing sweatpants! With belt loops and a zipper! So many exclamation marks!

If anything though, this gives me hope. Hope for a future where my neon orange sweatpants – those of the no zipper, no belt loops, and no form; those of the floppy elastic, holes in the pocket, holes in the knees, holes in the groin, and holes in the butt – will be accepted. Hope that I will one day be able to venture outside in them. In Stockholm, Sweden. Secure in my comfort. Secure in my sweatpants. Secure in my fashion casual. But maybe not.

Welcome to Sweden. Is retro fashion a thing?


  1. God, I LOVE sweatpants! I do not see the point of wearing any other kinds of pants (except pajama pants). I don't know how it is in Stockholm, but here in Göteborg and the west coast in general, I feel it has been acceptable (and dare I even say, sometimes fashionable???) to wear sweatpants in public the last decade or so. You and your orange pants are most welcome to come live on Bästkusten! :)

  2. I must say that Ive seen way more sweat pants than I remember seeing when I was living here four years ago. Im glad to see it!