Like lots of you, I have spent many hours on sidelines watching my daughters run around on teams. Basketball, soccer, volleyball. I loved a lot of it, actually, especially when we moved to Atlanta and my girls were part of this fantastic, all-girls soccer club. The beauty was that there was, somehow, no travel involved. On Saturdays, you would just arrive at the most beautiful oasis of grass (I think it used to be a horse farm) in the middle of Atlanta. Uniformed girls everywhere, from toddlers to teenagers. You showed up and they had their game or practice while you chatted with the other parents or siblings there. And you didn't have to bring team snacks, since Cy Strickler, the legendary leader of the program, did not believe in post-game treats as an incentive to play. Water only – no cheese crackers or cupcakes – the burden of the last-minute grocery trip (or unspoken baking competition) was lifted. It was pretty much heaven. For me, Tophat Soccer Club felt more like Tophat Social Club.
I had done my share of travel soccer in Wisconsin and always felt grateful that my young athletes chose my company over the team dinners at Applebee's. So we have a lot of sweet memories in ugly hotel rooms, eating burgers on towels laid out on the bed in front of a movie. That was where they learned that any hotel room is a good room if you have hot water and a clean bathtub. But I really did love watching the girls play, ponytails flying. I never got into the rules and penalties and all that – no one could count on me to distinguish off-sides or how a corner kick actually comes to be. It was more relaxing that way. (Sid was competitive enough for both of us, and can yell at any game, any time, live or on TV.) But I did love watching the girls run around and sweat.
Of course they were very different athletes from one another. One daughter would famously raise her hand every time the coach asked if anyone needed a break – her favorite spot was on the bench, chatting with the subs and cheering for the others. The most skilled and competitive daughter hit the sweet spot of talent – good, but not SO good that we had to spend hours on the road or write checks to training programs. I can't think of my girls and sports without thinking of doing their hair before games. Two braids was the go-to for awhile, or often a simple ponytail with a thick, black Lycra headband. Or maybe a thin rope of pre-wrap for some color. Sometimes we would do a few different bands for a striped effect. Very Paul Smith. The uniform was set, but styling it was fun for me.
Last week, I was in LA for a trunk show at the amazing West Coast outpost of Capitol and I was struck by how much activewear was on women coming and going. Lycra and running shoes on the bottom, gorgeous blond hair and sunglasses on the top. I am all for it. Getting your workout in and running errands (and stopping by Capitol for some Ann Mashburn) sounds like a morning well spent. Historically, athleisure has not been my thing, but I am feeling really sportive lately. Not only the look of it, but how it feels. Trim, close to the body, comfortable. I write about comfort all the time here, but what I really mean is comfort when you are moving around and going about your day. Maybe life is one big field for me. Better think on that.
I am talking about the kinds of pieces that are soft to the touch, easy to care for, fit close to the body and allow you to move. Things you wear for daytime, not the gym. You may not think that 'sophisticated' and 'sporty' go together, but trust me – a black turtleneck and trim pants and a stretchy headband? You are so chic. Add a pair of ballet flats instead of tennis shoes and you may look more 'mime' than 'athlete.' I LOVE this look. I have talked about turtleneck sweaters quite a bit, but cashmere does not quite... make the team when it comes to my sportive-chic uniform. Instead I am going for my new favorite thing – our turtleneck tee. Just a wisp of pima cotton that is so soft and lightweight that it honestly feels like you are wearing nothing. The neckline doesn't grab your neck – which is key for me. And it is so good for layering. I am constantly hearing people complain that wool is too itchy. If you are one of them – wear this underneath the sweaters that make you itch.
We have a few sweatshirts on the line this season. One has a little puffed sleeve in French terry. The other is a classic sweatshirt with the little triangle at the neck. Small, trim, feminine. That French terry has a little stretch so it feels like it is hugging you in the best way. There is also this funnel-neck one that looks SO modern to me. Almost like the shape of an old-school ski parka, but in super-soft fleece. Worn with a knit bottom, it looks really sophisticated. I have a drawer full of actual activewear that is useful – and well-used! – but it is fun to have a few new things that I won't be sweating in. Just prancing around the house (or office) and feeling sporty and fantastic. Get yourself a headband and get going.