Yet, the leader of the whittled pack was always Madonna’s opulent Rocky Balboa looks. In one image, the brolic Queen of Pop steps out in a fall 2001 purple Chloé zodiac tank (Leo, of course) which showed off her Popeye arms, a veiny map that revealed her yoga-to-TA-method workout trajectory. (She wore the Chloé top with velour cut-off sweats). No more Ray of Light-era, namaste, or all-natural fibers for Madge. During her post-workout outings with Gwyneth and Tracy, Madonna was also photographed in the pieces of Ed Hardy, wearing the trashy-luxe brand’s dragon emblazoned tops or a pair of sheared off sweat shorts that extended past the knee.
The looks are so fascinating because they perfectly showcase the trends and tech of the maximalist 2000s. Their Nike Shox were considered the technologically advanced performance sneakers. And those Free City workout sweats? Well, those were screen-printed using water-based paints, a forward-thinking, save-the-earth technique before sustainability entered the fashion lexicon. The grandiose, untouchable celebrity is seen in the melange: the Chloé tank soiled from the aftermath of a workout; a handful of three stacked cell phones; the doubled-up Free City sweatpants; the blasé flaunting of sleazy-yet-expensive Christian Audigier garb. Each of these women had the newest, hottest thing and in a way, these post-workout sessions were their sweaty runway.
Today, Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber are indistinguishable in their compression workout matching bras and leggings sets. I myself have drawers full of black spandex and nothing else. These days, it feels like workout clothes are made to be aerodynamic and absorb as much sweat as possible, morphing us into Alo Yoga-wearing urban warriors who are built for work-life optimization—sepia spandex clones. Perhaps, this is simply the state of workout wear and these relatively non-descript looks are most efficient for us to perspire in. But it’s also ultimately charmless.
I envy these megawatt women’s ADHD-injected athletic outfits: pumped full of chaos and luxury castaways. There’s something larger than life about throwing together such a bizarre combination of workout and non-workout wear into one drenched ensemble. Unless I spot the occasionally elderly man hunched over in a sweatsuit, speed walking around the park, I’m unlikely to hear a wind pant swish while exercising. I don’t think I’ve seen sweatpants at a gym in decades. I’d love to see some frenetic fits like a thrown-on sweatshirt from college with a long sleeve polo over it. Trackpants unzipped at the ankles. Maybe four T-shirts from an ex or a pair of ratty cut-off gloves. How about an Ed Hardy long sleeve, a la Madonna?
This article first appeared on Vogue.com
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