Oct 182011

Re-posting this.  And admitting, although I still feel the same about the public wearing of velour track suits, that my tone was more dictatorial than I generally intend.  For that, I apologize.


Some people have no clue.  Unfortunately, most of them don’t read fashion blogs, or other sources of clues.  Like the woman in the very nice vintage clothing store I was just in, who was wearing a brown velour tracksuit (with black tee-shirt) and a ponytail!  This was no teeny-bopper, either, she had to be in her early 40s.

Since this is a conversation, where would you wear a velour track suit?  And what’s your opinion of the professional appearance of a ponytail?

  26 Responses to “What Not to Wear to Work: Velour Track Suit”

  1. I might wear a velour tracksuit to do housework/laundry in, but I would be more likely to choose a normal non-velour tracksuit or track pants and a tee-shirt. I own one pair of velour track pants that I got as a gift, and they are worn only in situations that do not involve going out in public.

    As far as ponytails, I think it really depends. I am in my early 20s, have long, straight hair, and sometimes wear a low or mid-height ponytail to work (dress code ranges from business formal to business casual). I think that a polished mid or low ponytail with an elastic that blends into the hair is work appropriate, but high ponytails and bright elastics can easily look juvenile.

    I am very interested to hear other peoples’ take on ponytails. 🙂

  2. Emily and I are on the same page! Some ponytails are extremely professional, some aren’t. It depends on the execution.

    I, too, prefer fleece to velour, and wear sweat pants in the house, sometimes to shovel the driveway, and on the pool deck over my suit.

  3. I don’t even own a velour tracksuit. I’d feel like I was in my pajamas if I went out in public in one.

    I do wear ponytails though. (Like Emily, I have long, straight hair.) I gather it low, in a dark elastic. I’m in my late 30s, so don’t really do the mid/high ponytail unless I’m going for a run, and then it’s to keep it above the band of the visor.

  4. I would not wear a velour track suit anywhere, under any circumstances.

    As for a pony tail, as previous commentors have said, if they are low enough with a coordinating band, or hair clip, then I think they are fine.

    High ponytails do a lot to accentuate cheek bones, which makes them flattering, but they can be flouncy and bouncy, which might be perceived as juvenile. They are best left of runs, or nights out on the town with some sparkly outfit.

  5. Big noooooo to ANY tracksuits at work, or anywhere else in public except at the gym or maybe jogging around the neighborhood.

    Pony tails are just fine but no scrunchies or cutesy bands, and not from the side of your head like an 80s teenager or way up high.

  6. I believe the only appropriate place to wear a brown velour track suit is on a street corner, whilst stumbling around clutching a 40 ounce bottle of something nasty inside of a paper bag. Seriously, velour track suits and brown paper bags of “beverage” can not be separated in my mind. Ever.

    I can’t really comment on the ponytail though since I am a stay-at-home mom who wears one at least 3 times a week. I wore them when I had a paying job too but that doesn’t mean anything fashion-wise 🙂

    I am really enjoying your blog. I came across your testimony a few days ago and it was just awesome. Just what I needed to read that day! Blessings!

  7. I agree that ponytails are fine, as long as they are well groomed and not too bouncy. I think a sleek, low ponytail–either wrapped with a strand of hair or held in an unobtrusive band or clip–is actually a good style in most professional contexts.

    A velour tracksuit? No way, nowhere, not under any circumstances! 🙂

  8. II have never worn a tracksuit in my life, being the yoga pants with cute tee and cashmere hoodie type.

    I fear a velour tracksuit would make me look like a stuffed animal, and am appalled at the ones with letters across the butt.

  9. Sometimes I like to go out to run errands in my “comfy stuff.” That usually means, yoga-esque pants and a nice nike zip-up with nice running shoes. There are days I really don’t want to get dressed, so I don’t. And I think that velour is just an unflattering fabric, especially across the booty and legs. But a whole velour suit, yuck.

    As for the ponytail, I rock them on occasion. Usually I wear my mid-length hair down or semi-clipped back, maybe sporting a low pony now and then. I usually reserve the ponytail for the gym when I’m ready to get my sweat on! I don’t think the pony is inappropriate for the work place, I just don’t like having my full cheeks on display. As for the bounciness, love it! Nothing worse than a high, flat pony!

    And yuck to letters on the butt!

  10. No to the velour tracksuit, apart from lounging around at home.

    High ponytails work on shorter faces, and low ponytailes work on longer faces. What is important to consider is what you tie it up with and is that juvenile or mature.

  11. Hey, Rebecca – long time no write!

    I did wear a velour tracksuit for lounging during pregnancy and I wore one on a long car trip a while back (like 3 yrs ago). I have not worn one in at least 2 yrs and wouldn’t have worn it shopping, etc. Only as true lounge wear.

    As for ponys – I wear one often. High, low, sleek, messy – it’s never the same pony twice or even all day – it’s part of my personal style. My hair is thick, reaches almost to the bottom of my shoulder blades and has a wavy texture. My pony has a lot of body and fullness – it’s never a child-like fine, straight tail. Keeping my hair off my face makes me more professional in appearance, not less. I use a half-pony as frequently (today even).

  12. When I worked in retail one of my managers (a Spanish guy who liked curves – it’s the truth, what can I say) once told me to never, ever, ever buy a “J Lo” suit aka velour track suit. I didn’t have curves then and the comment wasn’t directed at me personally – he just despised them that much. I never liked them to begin with, but I figured if a guy with relatively good taste hated them there was no way I would wear one!

    I have only ever once seen a lady who I truly admire wear velour track pants and look good. Though she looks good in them, I still have to gulp because I just plain don’t like them.

    As for ponytails… I pretty much agree with the general consensus. Low and sleek can look really great!

    Not for the office… But I’ve been enjoying wearing a low ponytail pulled to the side. Kind of a nod to the 80’s but not obnoxious. It really makes a couple of my outfits.

  13. Wow, “seriously some people have no clue” …..I had enjoyed your blog up to that point….Now I realize that instead of a place to find fun ideas about fashion judgements are being handed down about what others choose to wear…..
    Hopefully your life is perfect ….best of luck to you and your ongoing readers-
    A CPA in RI that you can count as a former reader

  14. I don’t really do track suits (too matchy matchy for me) but on Saturdays I might be seen at thrift stores, Fred Meyer, etc. in yoga pants, a t-shirt, and hoody. If I’m going to the mall I’ll usually dress up a bit more (trouser jeans, loafers, blazer). But your title was “what not to wear to work” — I assume the woman in the vintage store was not at work. Velour track suits — or any track suits — probably not appropriate for work. I agree the velour really looks like lounge wear, but I’ve seen some ladies pull it off.

  15. No, Beth, she was the worker. And perhaps she did have a clue that she wasn’t dressed appropriately – the service was MUCH less than it usually is at that particular store. Which is probably connected to why her outfit bothered me enough to post about it. Good manners cover a multitude of fashion infractions!

  16. I’m 31. I’ve only had one velour tracksuit, in college– and it was a gift and a size too big. I never, ever wore the pieces together. Now I don’t have it anymore, and am not interested in owning another one. Tracksuits are not appropriate for most work, and I even think it’s not appropriate to go out into town with one on. Everytime I see one on a person, they’re usually also wearing those Ugg boots, and the whole thing looks cheap to me.

    As for ponytails, I’ll wear one if I’m “just hanging out at home”. I usually wear a bun or an up-do at work. Ponytails seem to be age-appropriate, and I think I’m already at that point where a ponytail is almost inappropriate in a public setting.

  17. I would NEVER wear a velour tracksuit, ever. However a pony tail at work is fine, but it can depend on your face shape.

  18. Logos on the butt are really not bad but please don’t bend over or do a butt shake cuz you’re picking up your kids. So not appropriate in any school setting no matter how innocent you try to be.

  19. Well, I am gonna be a total “fashion outcast” because I love to wear sweats. I have what I consider to be outside the house sweats….well fited, jacket to match, contrasting Tee. I have found that I can wear them to run errands, get my hair cut, shop for graceries and go to an afternoon movie wearing them. I have 8 pair and love them all. I mix and match as the mood strikes me. Fortunately, as long as I am well groomed and neat, I don’t much care what anyone else thinks. I have sense enough not to wear them to inappropriate places. I really find jeans cut down to the pubic hair and midriff tops to be in much worse taste.

  20. I have to agree with Brenda. There are much worse fashion don’ts than velour track suits. I am in my early 20s and I have three pairs of velour track suits, two from juicy couture (no writing on the butt) and one from bebe sport and they are beautiful! I have a curvy figure (aka a big butt a la jlo) and the pants look fabulous on me! I understand there are many women who believe big bottoms are gross but in my opinion, small flat booties are gross. I wear my suits around the house, but if I have to go buy groceries or pay some bills, I wouldn’t hesitate to go while wearing one. I wouldn’t wear one to work or anywhere else.

  21. Wow. I am shocked about the sweatsuit remarks. I have a high fashion sense and dress up and down. I only wear juicy JLO or bcbg suits in public. They are comfortable and flattering. I do not feel they should be worn for work as they are very casual. that’s all I wear when I am flying long flights as well. With a nice ponytail of course.

  22. Mrs d, my kind of gal. Not every place has a staid dress code. You can easily wear them at work if you *can* wear them at work and in some cases would make your clientele feel more comfortable.
    They don’t all have hoods, either. They *are* monochromatic and modestly covered up. I think Imogen is spot on in her remarks about the ponytail, too. A very simple, uncontrived hairstyle.

    This whole subject is a pet peeve of mine. (do not own any track suit, velour or otherwise, btw)
    I also think that both leggings and pajama style print bottoms are pants.(don’t own these, either) If they cover your bottom half and have two legs, they are pants. I think Uggs are boots. (ditto) I will say that in my own neighborhood in the winter you do see women walking about atop the packed snow wearing bright pastel fuzzy slippers. But I suppose if they were black no one would notice so much.

    I suspect, especially when you add in the brutal one time mockery of pegged pants sihouette and mom jeans, that all of this is a way of placing the observed fashion offender in a social class squarely beneath oneself.

  23. Hmmm. I don’t think it’s all about social class, although it certainly could be with some people. As with so many other issues, there is more to this than meets the eye. I agree with you, Vildy, on the pj pants. I think what it is with leggings and velour is the drapiness. Structure, in fabric, is sort of a protective barrier. And the idea of going out in public without the rear “protected” sort of makes my skin crawl. Which I can totally understand how it isn’t that way with everyone. 🙂

  24. Now, drapiness I kind of like. I might be influenced by reading Fashion Incubator’s piece explaining why more jeans are sewn to result in monobutt and how to cut and seam to create separated curvature. I had never before thought about this! But when I did, I noticed that some drapy pants did this naturally. Perhaps I was looking at yoga pants. Even having taken yoga I’m not sure what yoga pants are in real life vs website photos. Those travel knit/citiknit sort of pants are drapy off the rear, too.

    But, I was thinking of leggings as being the thick kind or the superfirm spandex kind. The latter don’t look any different than good swimsuit fabric to me. Even I wouldn’t be in favor of leggings so thin they are essentially Footless Tights. 🙂 Today I saw a woman in light colored patterned
    spandex leggings. Maybe animal print. Shining clearly through the torso portion were a pair of rainbow bright blue undies. Yes, this is a little too much stylin’ for me to like. Though no other person was paying her the slightest mind. Only I was surreptitiously goggling.,

  25. To fly on a 24 hour continuous flight in economy. Burn after landing.

    Ponytails are fine, scrunchies are not.

  26. Pony tails are just fine but no scrunchies or cutesy bands, and not from the side of your head like an 80s teenager or way up high.

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