Requiem for My Sweat Pants

Comedian Gail Forrest reflects on 2020, "The Year of the Sweat Pants," and wonders what her fashion future holds.

I am not a fashionista by anyone’s definition, especially my mother’s. She could take a deep breath and dive into a bin of clothes on sale at Neiman’s and triumphantly come up with an Armani sweater half off. She had monster lung capacity. I look at a bin of clothes on sale, hyperventilate and run. 

I hate shopping. It is at the top of my “most dreaded” list. This is no more evident than looking in my closet where my friend Adria, pre-Covid, spent about thirty seconds before she started screaming, “Is this it?! Where are the rest of your clothes?!” That was it.  However, 2020 has brought me to new clothing depths and, for the first time, despair. I have reached the bottom of the fashion barrel. Sorry Mom, no Armani.

March 14, 2020 was the last time I put on a pair of jeans or anything that resembled style.  My black skinny jeans that have gone on over 50 dates and dined in restaurants from Chicago to LA to San Francisco now hang idly in my closet. I miss them. It’s pointless to put on jeans to sit on my living room couch chin deep in the comforter from my bed, or watch endless hours of breaking news in pants that are just a little too tight. I dream of when I dressed them up with my hip Fiorentini and Baker boots or fab Kate Spade high heels and irresistible Steven Alan black leather jacket – so sexy and soft.  I went out feeling very cool and fashionably tall. Now I just stare into my closet and think of it as my personal black hole of fashion.

I don’t know what 2020 was according to the Chinese calendar but for me it was “The Year of the SWEAT PANTS”!

I don’t know what 2020 was according to the Chinese calendar but for me it was “The Year of the SWEAT PANTS”! Big, comfortable, stretchy, soft, elastic waistband sweat pants.  Pants with room to eat endless bags of potato chips, chocolate chip cookies or a pie. I remorsefully went on the Gap site and bought a black pair to replace my jeans. I thought this would just be for a few months but it has morphed into eleven. I put them on first thing in the morning and take them off when I go to sleep and sometimes not even then.  That is the sloth-like creature I have become. To make matters worse, I wear them with various tops ranging from old college sweatshirts to a ripped black cashmere sweater, or a Cubs T-shirt with a red wine stain on the front. It was a nice Zinfandel but a stain nonetheless. 

For the first time I long to shop till I drop. Please don’t tell any of my friends as they only know me as the person who goes kicking and screaming into Bergdorf’s, Barneys or Bloomingdales. I remember the day my friend Katy held me prisoner in a dressing room at Barneys. She picked out clothes, threw them in for me to try on, grabbed my purse before I could stop her and bought them all with my charge cards. I admit they were chic and adorable but at the time it felt like a rare form of torture. Now I miss that dressing room. I use my charge cards for Lysol spray, Purell hand sanitizer and, occasionally, gas.

One night after way to much wine I went to my closet and promised my Jil Sander coat I could never put it over sweat pants

Old sweat pants die hard. After ten long, arduous months, my black ones look gray and are stretched out so badly if I ever have friends over again we could have a cocktail party in them. I vowed to never buy another pair no matter how dingy my black ones become or if they decomposed. Could I use them as mulch? One night after way too much wine I went to my closet and promised my Jil Sander coat I would never put it over sweat pants. Ten months is a long time and my sanity was wobbly, which was reflected in my talking to a coat, no matter how absolutely stunning.

As 2020 was drawing to a close I decided that 2021 would not be an extenuation of “The Year of the Sweat Pant.” The reign had to end. Off with my pants and on with Jil Sander, Rag & Bone, Vince, Prada, and Chanel. Whoa, baby! I’ll probably chicken out due to lack of funds, but a girl can dream. 

Also, as 2020 was drawing to a close and I was sitting alone with my glass of white wine (stain proof) I confess the siren call of the Gap came from my computer. “Gail, we’re having a blow-out sale. Just one more pair. New sweat pants for the New Year. Get a different color this time. They’re soft, comfy and your size.” No, no, anything but sweat pants! 

I was close…so close! One minute until 2021.  I ripped off my old, black, faded pair and flung them across the room as I clicked “add to cart.” 

Here are some of what I am lusting for:

Chanel Chunky Maison Lesage Tweed Jacket with Crochet Knit Trimming. Yum.

RAG & BONE 90s High-Rise Relaxed-Fit Jeans

VINCE Double-Breasted Oversized Wool-Blend Coat

JIL SANDER Belted taffeta midi dress




  1. I like sweat pants but are so sick of them after eleven months. No point in dressing up to go nowhere in my estimation/world. Maybe someday I’ll see the inside of a restaurant again in different clothes


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Gail Forresthttp://www.gailforrest.com
Gail Forrest recently started doing standup which she finds is a complete blast. Gonepausal is her blog and she has a book on Amazon by the same name filled with stories of her skewed, funny view on midlife and all its attendant surprises. Humor is the only way forward at this point.


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