Spandex at Chateau Marmont:
The Rise of Workout Chic
Princess Buttercup: Why do you wear a mask? Were you burned by acid or something?
Wesley: Oh no. It’s just that they’re terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.
Google the term “casual chic” and you will reap 31 million results (I stopped reading after page 20). Baseball caps have been elevated to posh by crafting them in leather. Our kicks have been seriously pumped up. Casual has become king in the States, and nowhere is that look more prevalent than the birthplace of laid back, Southern California. Perhaps the epitome of this look is the perma-workout dress code, where everyone looks like they are coming from or going to the gym, or hiking Runyon Canyon (whether they actually are or not). Go anywhere in LA and you’re bound to pass countless pedestrians in body-conscious, stylish spandex.
Not so long ago, workout clothing was associated with a certain element of schlubbiness. Just look to the iconic film “Rocky” where Sly is bedecked from head to toe in a lumpy, gray sweatsuit. It wasn’t about his clothing as he sprinted up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, it was about the athletic feat itself. However, in the last decade or so, simply working out isn’t enough anymore. Now, you have to look good while doing it, to the point where the yoga pants are more important than the yoga. Whether or not you work out has become irrelevant — if you look like you do, you’re en vogue. (Perception is everything, right?)
So what has shifted in society that precipitated this look? Well, usually, what’s considered beautiful is what conveys wealth. In the days of yore in Europe, fat and pale was beautiful because it meant you could afford to eat to excess and you didn’t work in the fields. These days in the U.S., fitness, and more than that, thinness, has been a badge of success. If you’re thin, it reads as if you have the luxury of time and money to see a personal trainer. If you can walk around in posh exercise clothing all day, obviously you can afford not to work — not a feat many can boast in this economy.
Certainly being fit while wearing fitness clothing seems like it would be an important element of “workout chic,” and, of course, LA is a mecca to gym bunnies. There are a lot of people here who look good in lycra because they literally work their asses off, and they’re certainly not all Richies (Pretty in Pink, anyone?). But in a city that was built around people pretending to be things they’re not, if you’ve got a pretty face and a naturally hot body, it doesn’t necessarily matter if you can actually execute a push-up or run a mile in that performance clothing. If you look like you can, then who cares?
In fact, the everyday wearing of fitness clothing has become so prevalent in L.A. that wearing workout leggings to a club will not get you turned away by a bouncer, as long as you integrate it appropriately, say with a cute top, blazer, and tall boots — and, of course, as long as your butt looks good in those leggings (yes, people really wear Athleta to Chateau Marmont in LA).
Want to achieve the Workout Chic look? Plunk down your plentiful pennies and get your rear in gear at these spots:
Visit Alo to stock up on your gym-to-street gear.