Just as declining bee populations have recently signified a larger, potentially apocalyptic environmental crisis, there have been a handful of style trends throughout history that, when examined up against the broader cultural landscape of the day, have served as distress signals of something very, very wrong with our society.

One thinks of the corset, for example, and how its required application and desired effect was emblematic of centuries of silent abuses hurled upon women. The prevalence of the gray flannel suit in suburban 1950’s threatening to lobotomize and homogenize our country’s men. And the early 2000’s pornification of women’s fashion (see: The Thong Song).

The latest sartorial bee to drop, so to speak, is the Dress Pant Sweatpant, which offers “Boardroom Style, Bedroom Comfort” according to the pant’s designer, Betabrand. (Nostradamus predicted the end of times would involve puns.)

From the company’s website:

One of our very favorite things (besides burritos) is discovering fantastic new fabrics — and using them in innovative ways. Our latest curious combination of designs and materials: Dress Pant Sweatpants. This is an experiment in sartorial subterfuge. They look sophisticated, but they feel as slumped-on-the-couch comfy as your favorite pair of old sweats.

As you guessed, we take issue with just about every sentence above. Comfort and laziness have steadily and successfully trumped style and sophistication at every turn over the past fifty years. Airports have been hit the hardest, though you needn’t look very far in any direction to see evidence of an extraordinarily underdressed nation. But at least they’re comfortable.

When London was briefly (yet terrifyingly) enveloped in youth-inspired riots this past summer, Tyler Brule’s commendable response wasn’t about drugs or poverty or race – it’s was about sweatpants. “The garment goes from bed to street and back to bed again – a sign of giving up, of no longer making an effort in society,” he wrote in the Financial Times.

Gentlemen, these are trying times. We here at Kempt recognize the virtue and necessity of comfort. We thrive on comfort. When it’s earned and/or appropriate. Coming back from surgery? Football practice? By all means, stretch out in head-to-toe elastics. But if you know someone who thinks for one moment that, as advertized, “These trousers will make any day feel like Casual Friday — and no one will be the wiser,” make no mistake: he will embarrass himself. The world around him will begin to soften in the worst way. And he will quickly find himself microwaving nachos and watching wrestling.

So join us in rallying against the complacency of “comfy.” In taking pride in the threading of belt loops and the gentlemanly cadence of dress shoes. This isn’t a matter of vanity or wealth. It’s simply about pride. So if you see someone cloaking himself in a pair of these abominations claiming he’s just “an average American man trying to get comfortable,” lend a hand by lending him a few harsh words. He needs your help.

He’s about to start wearing sweatpants to work.

—C.B.S.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • C. Brian Smith