This Life...

Not My Mother’s Stretch Pants

My friend C.L. (whom I’ll credit with the title for today’s blog)  and I were talking clothes this morning and I mentioned how much I love my Land’s End yoga pants. She immediately chimed in with, “Oh yes, I love my yoga pants, I probably have seven pairs! I put them on as soon as I get home from work and live in them all weekend.”

“I know what you mean,” I agreed. “I have at least that many pairs. I work in them every day–they’re so incredibly comfortable. They’re not all big and baggy like sweatpants. They fit you and always look great, so you can pair them with everything from a sweatshirt to a pretty sweater, and wear them anywhere.”

We went on to sing the praises of these comfy cotton and lycra knit pants for a couple of minutes before I remembered having the exact same conversation not even three days ago with my friend Dee, who reported how much she loved her yoga pants and that she wore them everywhere. That really surprised me because Dee has always been a hardcore jeans wearer, but I had to admit, she looked terrific in her yoga pants, long-sleeved tee, and fleece vest. It was a great look.

So why is this a topic worthy of blog space? Well, because I’m wondering what happened to us. We were the generation of women who lived in blue jeans. We wore them everywhere–denim ruled our wardrobes. We washed them until they were soft and faded, we went from frayed, bell-bottom jeans in the seventies to high-waisted pleated jeans in the eighties, to  low-slung hip-hugger jeans in the nineties and beyond.

We are the ones who figured out how to dress up a pair of jeans—excuse me, plain white t-shirt and a blazer? Add a pair of cute boots or flats and that look will take you anywhere. Or put on a sparkly top, a pashmina, and strappy heels and you’re ready for a night on the town in your jeans. So what happened?

I’ll tell you what happened—skinny jeans. The bane of Baby Boomer women everywhere, skinny jeans took away all the cachet of denim. Most of us are unwilling to try to zip ourselves into a pair tiny little jeans that hug our butts and legs so tight they feel like heavyweight pantyhose. Enter yoga pants. They’re made of some miraculous all-natural cotton fabric that breathes, and stretches, yet holds its shape, and flatters just about any figure. Yoga pants and a tunic sweater look great anywhere.  Buy them in black and they go with everything you own.

Now, I know for a fact that my mom is sitting up there heaven laughing her ethereal ass off as I’m writing this. I made fun of her back in the day when she pulled on her elastic waist stretch pants. Remember those polyester pants? Old ladies wore them! I encouraged her to try a pair of fashionable jeans, which she eventually got into a little bit, but mostly she loved her stretch pants.

I can hear her now, “Babe, you can make those pants out of cotton and lycra, you can buy them from some fancy high-end catalog, you can even call them whatever you like, but, honey,  you are wearing stretch pants!”

Oh, God…I’m wearing stretch pants…


  • robena grant

    Ahhh, the famous stretchy pants. They’re way up there at the top of the list, along with mens leisure suits in white, pale blue, yellow, and even pink. Hee hee.
    I laugh, but I’m in black yoga pants as I write this. And a tee-shirt in army green with a giant black heart in the middle and the words, “Love conquers all.” I kid you not.

  • londonmabel

    Very funny post.

    When I was a teaching assistant and spending a lot of time at home grading I invested in multiple pajamas. So I was well supplied for being unemployed this year. But I did finally get some jogging pants (yoga pants? whatever, there’s no elastic on the legs) to encourage me to take the trash out more often, at my apartment building. 😉

    I actually don’t lurv jeans. Nowadays they always put lycra into them, so they’re falling down after a couple hours.

  • Bethany

    I did flannel pj pants in college a few times when I’d stayed up too late writing a paper and woke up 5 min before class. I always felt a bit grungy in them. I like looking put together. Heck, I throw on a dress for a phone interview just to help me feel more professional!

    If you’re looking for a new pair of jeggings, I’ve actually loved the ones from Lane Bryant. They have a bootcut pair I’m tempted to try (the perfect combination of yoga and jean?)

  • Liz Flaherty

    Oh, I love this–and yoga pants. I remember having stirrup pants when I was in junior high. I only had one pair–my mother hated them beyond believing–and I wore them until…well, I guess until bell-bottoms came along and replaced the stirrups in my fashion heart.

    A fun read, Nan!

  • Bethany

    I’ll admit, I’ve got a pair in black fleece that are perfect for winter. I still don’t wear them around town (I’m in my late 20s if that matters) but I’d far rather do laundry or grab the mail (I’m in an apt building) in yoga pants or my fleece yoga pants than pajama pants any day.

    As for skinny jeans, jeggings are their far far kinder cousin. I’ll admit I wore mine so often (they had a real waist that was high enough up I could bend over! they fit *into* my tall boots! they stretch if I have a giant meal!) that my sister asked if she needed to buy me another pair of jeans “they look great on you, Beth, but I’m worried that I haven’t seen you wear any other pants the last few times we’ve hung out.”

    • Nan

      I have a pair of jeggings, but they’re not as comfortable as my yoga pants. I don’t get the trend of wearing flannel pj pants out in public, do you? I mean, grabbing the mail is one thing, but I’ve seen teenagers at Target in them! Dear god, I really sound like my grandmother…sheesh!