It all started in college and the years directly after, when I became so set on dressing comfortably that I was willing to sacrifice public opinion in order to do so. To say that I checked out when it came to fashion would be an understatement. I routinely rocked bathing suits to the gym, athletic pants to dinner parties, and white socks with pleated dress pants. But a few years ago, that commitment to comfortable clothing took a hit when my new job required I conduct meetings over meals of all kinds, breakfasts and lunches and happy hours and dinners. I had to at least pretend to be a big boy, they said. This was a challenging transition for me, a blue-collar boy at heart. All of a sudden I was supposed to look nice.
I bought what I needed. The dress shirts weren’t so bad, so long as I could wear a white t-shirt underneath. And I didn’t mind khakis, especially the straight-legged, broken-in ones from Old Navy. The shoes were another story, though. Those damn things they make you wear drove me nuts. Those flappy, flimsy ones with the slick soles. I’m a sturdy hiking boot guy. Wearing those thin little shoes all night always zapped my feet and my energy along with it. I suffered for what felt like a long time.
Then, a few months later, a great thing happened: I discovered Ugg. I think I saw my Dad wearing them around the house or something. I remember putting my feet into them for the first time. I might as well have been walking on clouds. If anything could make me develop a foot fetish, I remember thinking, it was these slippers. I immediately purchased this pair to wear around my apartment. I was so pleased by their comfort over the next few weeks, in the heart of wintertime, that “wearing them around the house” quickly turned into wearing them to a friend’s apartment “just a few streets down,” and then out “to the bar for a quick drink.” And then eventually I said what the hell and wore them “out for the night.” No one ever said anything.
Then one night I wore them out to dinner with my mom and sister. They said something. Knowing me the way they do, they have a tendency to examine my appearance when they see me. I think it’s an exercise in comedic relief for them, to see what I’ll wear next. That night they saw the Ugg boots and it immediately became front page news. They were having a good time with it. They thought it was so funny that they bought me these shiny, dress-shoe looking Ugg shoes that Christmas as a joke.
It was a joke to them. For me, it was one of the best and most useful gifts I had received in some time. I abused them immediately, slipping them on under khakis at formal outings, my feet warm and cozy. No one has ever looked twice, and I lived on in bliss. They look enough like a dress shoe, I guess. I wore those babies everywhere in winter, to cocktail hours and conferences alike. It seems I finally got to have my cake and eat it too. Armed with leather Ugg shoes, I could confidently blend into society without sacrificing comfort. At least from the heel down.
I’m happy to report that, recently, my arsenal has expanded – I’ve discovered a new form of camouflage that covers me from the waist down. It really fell into my lap when I saw a kickstarter for a pair of pants that advertised itself to feel like sweatpants. That is something I could really get behind, I thought, the idea of wearing sweatpants to business meetings. I asked for a sample, and I’ve been trying them out the past couple weeks. They are made from eucalyptus trees, meant to merge active and office lifestyles. The company, Duer Design, calls the new fabric “Nature2X,” and the pants “No Sweat” Pant.
Boy, I’ll tell you, the name needs work. And I wouldn’t go as far as to say they feel like sweatpants (trust me, I know sweatpants). Yet I can see why their marketing team would feel courageous enough to say it. They are pretty damn soft and flexible. Every time I put them on, I close my eyes and pretend I’m falling into a velvet sofa. The good news is that it is not just me who feels this way: the kickstarter campaign has already smashed its fundraising goals, so they will indeed see the light of day. Apparently you can be athletic in them too, even climb at a gym. I doubt I’ll go that far. All I appreciate is that they are sharp-looking enough to pass as business casual, down-to-earth enough to wear around the house, and comfortable enough to lie around in bed.
There was a time in my life when I would have told you, hey man, pants are pants. But that was before I discovered I could kill two birds with one stone in this way. Maybe I’m starting to come around to fashion. I guess my fate depends on whether I continue to make these discoveries. I’m excited to see what’s next. It’s not cold enough for the Ugg shoes tonight, but I think I’ll wear the eucalyptus pants when I go out. I’m picking up a colleague at the Denver airport. He’s from New York City. Brooklyn, if I remember correctly. I’m sure he’s not expecting much considering its a late flight, but I’m going to go all covert Colorado on him and look the part just in case.