The British athletes looked great at the Olympics closing ceremony. Those navy blazers and red trousers were the epitome of smart casual. They have also looked really smart over the last two weeks in their official tracksuits. All this sportswear has gradually filtered down into the lives of us mere mortals. It is rare for us not to own a tracksuit/leggings/sweatshirt in which to chill out at home. We tend to think of sportswear, that is casual clothes worn by everyday people and not that worn by Olympic athletes, as a modern invention. However, the development of casual, comfortable, but stylish clothes has been a primary motivating factors for many clothes designers over the decades. Female clothes designers, in particular, have sought to produce clothes that are both elegant and wearable.
Clare MacCardell, whose designs are featured in this blog, was an American designer, and a pioneer of the casual, sporty look. Long before Body Map, Katherine Hamnett, Calvin Klein, Adidas, Nike or Stella MacCartney thought to dress us in cotton jersey Clare was cutting, draping and tying fabric to the body in her own unique way.
Clare gave women wearable, elegant, unfussy clothes at a time when other designers were still all about the New Look:
Take note, wearing casual clothes does not mean that you can slob around in an oversized tee-shirt and jogging pants. Our British team showed us just how stylish sportswear can be. It does mean that you can find a way of being comfortable in yourself, and wear clothes that are practical for what your diary has in store for you.
This sporty casual look is a cry for freedom of expression. Don’t be dictated to by what the high street has to offer. Search out what you want to wear, how you want to wear it and why you want to wear it.
The beautiful image above with the leotard and flowy skirt is as stylish today as it was 50 years ago (50!) when it was designed. Stylish and comfortable, fit for purpose. It has the same attitude that we try to reflect with Working Frocks: comfort and beauty.
While the weather is good (-ish), start now. Think about what you really want to wear in comfort and with style. Rock that sporty style look.