Soft Pants Forever

Never Have I Ever: Underdressed for a Night Out

What happens when sweats meet swank.

By Zoe Sayler September 16, 2021 Published in the Fall 2021 issue of Seattle Met

Seattle, let’s talk about your fashion sense: It’s one thing to don something waterproof and shapeless for, say, a walk to Bartell Drugs. It’s another thing entirely to then keep walking toward anyplace that serves a manhattan. And yet so often locals wander into our $15-cocktail bars in the plaid of long-gone grunge bands, the Amazon shirt acquired at a career fair 10 years ago, or the down puffer last worn in an actual tent.

For someone who loves to dress up, it’s not a fun look to emulate. Daydreams of pastel sweaters and platform boots dissolved into red plaid flannel, a shirt nabbed from my high school wardrobe on a visit to my parents’ house. Pajama drawer sweatpants saw their time in the sun. And I hit La Dive, a natural wine bar typically frequented by Capitol Hill’s sharpest dressers, though that night most everyone was sipping pet-nat in athletic shorts, blissfully unaware of their faux pas while I took self-conscious sips of my Frozen Guava 75 and sunk deeper into my booth.

Nervous I’d misremembered La Dive’s fancy factor, I decided to up the ante. Next stop, El Gaucho—a ritzy steak house where waiters escort guests to the bathroom and “The One Hundred Dollar Martini” is a literal thing on the menu. I got cold feet when I noticed a valet with slicked-back hair. No one dresses like this at a place with a valet, I reasoned—not even Seattleites. Heart racing, I sped around the corner and began my walk of shame toward Rob Roy a few blocks away.

Settled into a more casually leatherbound establishment, doom no longer felt imminent. The bartender even complimented my pink-flame Vans, which was all the serotonin I needed to come to this shocking conclusion: Seattle, it’s not you. It’s me. I’m not sure I’ll ever wear sweats to a bar again. But prioritizing feeling comfortable over feeling fashionable? I could learn something from that.

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