One of the things fashion does is give us a snapshot of what an aspirational day looks like at a moment in time. Which is another way of saying that the reason lots of people now dress in outfits a bit like the one in this photo – in a way that suggests their plans for the day involve a fitness activity and then grabbing a cup of coffee – is because that is what the good life looks like.
I call this look “coffee run clothes”. By which I mean any outfit that you could feasibly wear to go for a run, but is also pleasing enough to stop off at a posh cafe. Coffee run – coffee, and a run, geddit? – is to the zeitgeist what the ladies-who-lunch look was a few decades ago. Back then, a cute skirt suit and kitten heels suggested your day revolved around shopping and pushing a fancy salad around your plate. So if you wore those clothes, you looked like you were winning at life, whatever you were actually doing.
Fitness (could be running, boxing, pilates – pick your poison) has since replaced shopping as the favoured leisure pursuit of the in-crowd. The 2023 equivalent of the socialites who used to relax over lunch at Le Caprice after a hard morning on Bond Street are the celebrities who get photographed in athleisure and a cashmere baseball cap, yoga mat under one arm, buying a take-out oat flat white that cost the best part of a fiver. The 1950s and 1960s had Truman Capote’s “Swans” sipping cocktails at the Plaza hotel in New York. We have Gwyneth Paltrow and Emily Ratajkowski spotted leaving a SoulCycle spin class.
You may not think Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle has anything to do with yours. You don’t use an Oscar as a doorstop. You don’t have a spa in your basement. But it seems to me that the celebrities our culture obsesses over, the people we choose as our avatars, tell us a lot about what we think an ideal world looks like. And right now, that is a world of athleisure and barista coffees. Strange, yes, but true.
Coffee run clothes are all around us. Gym membership and overpriced beverages are luxuries that you don’t have to be in the private jet/Wagyu beef tax bracket to indulge in. They are affordable luxuries, which is why lots of real people dress like this, because a Saturday morning spent doing an hour at the gym and getting a coffee when you stop for groceries on the way home is a pocket of me-time that is not out of reach.
I have some thoughts on how to make coffee run clothes look chic and cohesive and not like a weird mishmash. The bottom half is pretty straightforward: leggings and trainers – don’t overthink it. A hoodie always works because it is a practical warmup layer and also has a bit of street swagger to it. I’m a big fan of an ankle-length coat as your top layer, which pulls the outfit together in a clean line, and helps if you feel self-conscious about wearing leggings in public. But a bomber has a sporty energy that puts a spring in your step when energy levels are not exactly soaring. And I’m trying to be less self-conscious about the leggings because – as discussed – loads of people are wearing them in public now, so it’s really no big deal and we should probably just get over ourselves.
Oh, and the baseball cap! I have so many thoughts on how it went from tourist tat to hipster hotness this year, but we are running out of time so, for now, all you need to know is that it’s not just for hiding sweaty hair: this is also the numero uno off-duty power dressing signifier of today. Power dressing, for coffee and a run? Well, they say you just dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
This is dressing for the Saturday morning you want. And – with a fair wind, Christmas shopping notwithstanding – for the Saturday morning you are going to have.
Model: Sherin at Body London. Hair and makeup: Sophie Higginson using Sam McKnight and Dermalogica. Stylist’s assistant: Sam Deaman. Bomber: Anthropologie. Cashmere hoodie and cap: ME+EM. Leggings: Gym+Coffee. Trainers: Asics