On the last day of week five of confinement in Normandy I slipped on my sweatpants for the very first time since we’ve been here. It’s something I’ve wanted to do basically since day one, but I’ve never really had the right opportunity. Funny since confinement in the countryside seems in and of itself a perfect excuse to wear sweatpants every day. But when I think about wearing sweatpants in France I think of Karl Lagerfeld’s declaration: “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.”
My First Experience Wearing Sweatpants in France
I vividly remember the first time I wore sweatpants in public in Paris. It was a very cold and wet Saturday in December 2012. My motivation to be “out and about” was nonexistent. But I’m never one to miss a meal, and I realized that I didn’t have anything for dinner. I needed to move it or lose it before the Franprix closed.
Since I hadn’t left the apartment that day I wasn’t “dressed” in the French sense of the word. It was already dark outside – no way I was getting “dressed” to grab a bag of pasta. So I decided to leave on my sweatpants.
I made it all the way to the Franprix and just as I was walking inside I caught the eye of a homeless man. He gave me a once-over and then made a very long and exaggerated French “raspberry” noise. The meaning of the “raspberry” noise depends on the context, but it’s basically a “no” or “I have no clue.” You can hear what it sounds like in this video around the 44 second mark.
What a confidence booster.
I literally didn’t wear sweatpants publicly again in Paris until midway through 2019 when I realized how ridiculous it was for me to be getting “dressed” at 7AM to take Dalton outside.
Sweatpants in Confinement
It’s still not really socially acceptable to leave the house in France wearing sweatpants. Even if it’s early on a Sunday morning and it’s kind of cold outside and you’re just going to buy a baguette and a croissant and come home. Even if you’re in Normandy five (almost six) weeks into confinement and everyone has already seen the good, the bad, and the ugly.
But I floated the concept anyways. My first indication that a crime was committed was when Romain’s mom said “oh, you’re already dressed for the day.” We both knew that I’d been rotating variations of the same five outfits for the past six weeks. This wasn’t one of those outfits.
My second form of validation arrived in the line at the boulangerie. An older man took one look at me and said something to the effect of “oh, you must be going for a run later.” If by later you mean possibly tomorrow, then yes.
My sweatpants are now back in the drawer where they will sadly stay until the end of confinement.
Luckily I have a loophole – it’s acceptable to be in your pajamas until you shower. I volunteer to take my shower last, after the hot water has had plenty of time to replenish.