By Ruthie Friedlander
Jun 22, 2018 @ 5:30 pm
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Ashley Batz

Up until recently, I employed the Karl Lagerfeld school of thought when it came to dressing: "Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life, so you bought some sweatpants."

I attended a high school with a relatively strict dress code. We didn't have a uniform, but we weren't allowed to wear jeans or T-shirts. No logos, no spandex, definitely no pajama-like clothes allowed. To be honest, I kind of loved having a dress code. As a teenager, I was beginning to become interested in fashion, and relished in the fact that I had to buy a "fancier" set of clothes than my peers at non-dress-coded schools.

Ashley Batz

St. John Collection Bella Double-Weave Blazer, $1,295; neimanmarcus.comBLEUSALT "The Jogger" Pant, $120; bleusalt.com; Tommy John Second Skin Stay-Tucked Camisole, $30; tommyjohn.com

When I got to college, I was surrounded by pajamas. Students in pajamas. Students wearing pajamas to breakfast, to classes, to dinner ... presumably to bed. I didn't understand it at all and had no interest in testing out that way of living. I preferred waking up and getting dressed. In an outfit.

And despite the fact that the ulta-chic Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen began traipsing around NYU wearing leggings (leggings with sweatshirts, leggings with blazers, leggings with dresses), I wasn’t ready to get behind it. Sweatpants to class? No way.

Sweatpants to work? Laughable.

Ashley Batz

BLEUSALT "The Cindy" Pant, $140; bleusalt.com; BLEUSALT "The Duster," $160; bleusalt.com

After graduating, I worked as a personal assistant to a media mogul (no sweatpants), and then moved on to Chanel (definitely no sweatpants). I was set for a career of getting dressed for work. “Step it up,” my sister would joke to me if I showed up with dirty hair or a T-shirt. “Step it up in the workplace.”

I came across Bleu Salt a few months ago. The founder and designer, Lyndie Benson, happened to be showing her line to a bunch of InStyle editors, myself one of them. The first photo she showed me was of an extremely chic blonde woman in a slip dress with a matching robe over it at a dinner party; diamonds and everything. It was exactly how I would want to look if I were at that dinner party.

And it was all made from sweatshirt-like material.

Ashley Batz

BLEUSALT "The T-Shirt," $90; bleusalt.com; BLEUSALT "The Skirt," $100; bleusalt.com

Benson created BLEUSALT out of a need for “effortless, flattering, and comfortable clothing.” She took everything that’s great about athleisure (notably, the comfort factor) and, to invent a word, chic-i-fied it. A slip dress that I swear could be Nili Lotan or The Row, in fact, is BLEUSALT, and made from sustainable botanic fibers of the beechwood tree.

Contrary to my frankly dated feelings that comfort equated laziness, I decided to give the line a try. And not just for lounging about my apartment (although to be honest, it’s great for that, too).

I attempted to wear the line to work. I chose their staple pieces: a T-shirt, a skirt, a robe, and two pants (which, by the way, Cindy Crawford wears!). And with the exception of a St. John black blazer and a The Row black button-down shirt, I was successfully able to fully wear sweatpants to work for three days.

Had the slip dress been in production by the time the photos were taken, I definitely would have gotten a full five days out of the brand. I’ve been wearing it to work with a silk T-shirt underneath it.

And I think the high school Ruthie would be pleasantly surprised by the new sweatpant-loving Ruthie. With the right accessories, the perfectManolos, and a much more elevated take on those pajamas people wore to school, I think I look quite chic. And I've never been more comfortable.