Standing here, dressed in my luxe tracksuit, I am feeling like the walking embodiment of that expectation-versus-reality meme. In my mind I am channelling Tony Soprano but I can’t shake the idea that, when faced with the cruel light of a Wednesday lunchtime in April, I actually look like a scruffy extra from EastEnders who appears for occasional scenes around the fruit and veg stall. And that is the innate problem with the tracksuit.
Personally, I find the concept of the high-end, swaggering joggers and hoodie pairing (by the likes of Alessandro Michele for Gucci and Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga) hard to marry with the threadbare, ready-for-the-scrapheap pair I wear at the weekend. Stepping out of the house in a tracksuit feels absent-minded and reckless, like forgetting your keys. My recurring anxiety dream is simple: I’m not walking around my old school with no clothes on. I’m wearing a tracksuit.
I think part of the problem is, as ever, pop culture (see Liam Payne, who recently wore his Gucci number and looked a bizarre mix of international student slumming it in the student union and alien from planet Sergio Tacchini).
I suppose the problem is getting to grips with the idea that a garment so associated with lounging around in a straight-to-DVD Danny Dyer film could suddenly be considered expensive dressed-up wear. The concept of streetwear and athleisure merges these two worlds, but on a day-to-day level, it’s harder than I thought to reshuffle my thoughts to deal with the concept.
The mixed messages about tracksuits continue with the one I am wearing here. If I had to describe it I would say that it is very “Elton and David welcome you to their luxury home away from home pied-à-terre”.
There’s a lot going on with it. It’s breathtakingly comfortable and very snazzy. But I also fear I look like a cast member of The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. And not in a good way.
Will that disconnect I feel ever connect? Who knows. But the more I wear it, the less I want to take it off. Perhaps I could be persuaded.