Apparently This Matters: Sweatpants at work

Editor’s Note: Each week in “Apparently This Matters,” CNN’s Jarrett Bellini applies his warped sensibilities to trending topics in social media and random items of interest on the Web.

Story highlights

Betabrand is a crowd-funded clothing company online

Dress Pant Sweatpants are made to look professional, but feel comfy

Among their other products is a line of clothing described as "vagisoft"

CNN  — 

A wise man once said, “I’m not wearing pants today.”

Mind you, this wise man was me. And he wasn’t particularly wise. Or manly.

Nevertheless, if you’re a long-time reader of this column – or if you just heard about my recent “produce aisle incident” in the local news – you know that I don’t particularly care for wearing pants.

But, alas, life often requires such things. Especially at work. Unless, of course, you enjoy filling your Outlook calendar with frequent visits to HR.

"Apparently This Matters" Is Jarrett Bellini's weekly (and somewhat random) look at social-media trends.

(I can draw you a map of the ninth floor from memory.)

Fortunately, however, a couple weeks ago, while wasting time on the Interwebs and avoiding any actual career accomplishments, I stumbled upon a possible compromise: Betabrand Dress Pant Sweatpants.

They’re just what they sound like. Dress pants … that are actually sweatpants.

“Betabrand, you had my curiosity. But now you have my attention.”

When they finally arrived in the mail, upon first glance, my Dress Pant Sweatpants seemed to be the real deal. They looked good and they felt good – pretty much as advertised.

They’re kind of pricy at $100, but I was amazed.

Chris Lindland, founder and CEO of Betabrand, explained to me that these aren’t your everyday sweatpants.

“We found a French terry fabric that looks like classic charcoal wool,” he says. “A designer suggested that we make classic dress pants – but a whole lot more comfortable.”

Thus, on Monday, I literally walked into the office wearing sweatpants.

“Look at you in your slacks.”

That’s what my startled co-worker Nick said when he strolled past my cubicle, likely assuming that I either had a job interview or another “workplace decency meeting” on the 9th floor.

A little while later, Rick stopped by.

“You’re all dressed up today.”

Again with the praise.

Now, I’m not sure if this says more about me and the fact that I normally look like a homeless man, or more about the pants, but the fact remains that I was basically wearing what I slept in, yet somehow getting mega compliments.

One customer even wore his Dress Pant Sweatpants to meet Kim Jong Un. Seriously.

From dudes.

Guys don’t normally notice each other’s pants, so clearly we had breached some sort of man dam. And when I started soliciting opinions from ladies in the office, it was the same thing. Everyone thought I looked really clean. And nice. And less woke-up-in-a-gutter-y.

So, the pants work. From both near and far, they look just like regular trousers, what with pockets and belt loops and that second, inside waist button that lets you know you’re bein’ all fancy-like.

My only real complaint was that they were a bit warm. Not terrible. But definitely warm.

I’m told a lighter pair is being developed for the spring and summer.

But I was fine, and at one point in the day, I sat down with a female co-worker to further explore the Betabrand website.

You know, a little clothes shopping. What could possibly go wrong?

Aaaaaand that’s when we stumbled upon this word: Vagisoft.

Apparently, this company also sells something called Vajamas, and this was the adjective used to describe their unique level of fluffiness.


“We invented a quantum world of softness,” Lindland explained. “Where a Soft-o-Meter can measure and compare the suppleness of things like freshly laundered bunnies and the cotton fields of heaven. We simply abide by what the Soft-o-Meter tells us.”

I have no idea what this means, but on their website there really is a Soft-o-Meter image to confirm that, yes, these unisex Vajama pajama pants are softer than “the anus of a silkworm,” yet not quite as soft as “the womb of a marshmallow mermaid.”

Stephen Colbert has worn Betabrand's starry USA pants. Made with real bits of bald eagle.

So, just what kind of retailer is this?

Launched in the fall of 2010, Betabrand is actually a crowdfunding clothing company where all designs start in their online public “Think Tank.”

“This is where we post sketches and get feedback from customers,” Lindland says. “The most popular products are turned into prototypes, which our customers then crowdfund into existence.”

It takes about two to three months for a new design to go from the funding stage to actually being in stock.

“If people fund ‘em, we make ‘em.”

Ultimately, their goal is to release new products every day, from ultra-practical bike-to-work attire to reversible smoking jackets to shiny disco outfits. If the people want it, the people get it.

So, now I have Dress Pant Sweatpants, which are pretty much the next best thing to going sans pants altogether.

And they’re safe for the produce aisle.

Follow @JarrettBellini on Twitter.