A tracksuit is an article of clothing consisting of two parts: trousers and a jacket usually with front zipper. It was originally intended for use in sports, mainly as what athletes wore over competition clothing (such as running shirt and shorts or a swimsuit) and would take off before competition. In modern times, it has become commonly worn in other contexts. The tracksuit was one of the earliest uses of synthetic fibers in sportswear.
A descendant of the tracksuit, the shell suit, which arrived in the late 1980s, was popular with the hip hop and breakdancing scene of the era. They were manufactured from a mix of cellulose triacetate and polyester making them shiny on the outside, with distinctive combinations of colours.
Most tracksuits have a mesh interior which allows the user to wear them without any undergarment such as underwear. This is much like a bathing suit. Many people wear it for physical exercise sessions. A sauna suit is a specialized form of tracksuit made of a waterproof fabric such as coated nylon or PVC that is designed to make the wearer sweat profusely. Sauna suits are primarily used for temporary weight loss.
Sweatpants—the bottom half of a tracksuit—remain popular, and are worn by people of all ages, even babies. They are commonly worn in solid colors such as gray, red, black, white, or navy blue, and may be made of light cotton or synthetics.
The tracksuit is also known as a warm-up suit, or "warmups" for short, as they are intended for athletes to keep their bodies warm before or after competition, and during breaks, especially important in cold weather. In almost all cases, sports teams will wear these garments using a fabric that matches their official team, school, or country colors.
Since 2006, prominent fashion designers have been asked to design tracksuits for the athletes of various Olympic teams, usually all the athletes representing one country. For example, designer Ralph Lauren created the USA uniforms for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games opening ceremony. The sportswear company Adidas hired Stella McCartney to be the Creative Director for the 2012 GB Olympic Games (by Adidas)—the first time in the history of the games that a leading fashion designer has designed the apparel for a particular country’s team across all competitions for both the Olympic and the Paralympic Games.
The tracksuit has also historically been linked to organized crime syndicates in many parts of the world including the United States and Western and Eastern Europe. This has often been glamorized on television programs such as The Sopranos and Brotherhood, as well as movies including Goodfellas, The Departed, and Donnie Brasco.
- Craik, Jennifer (2005). Uniforms Exposed (Dress, Body, Culture). Oxford, UK: Berg Publishers. p. 171. ISBN 1-85973-804-4.
- "History of The Shellsuit". Iloveshellsuits.com. Retrieved 2012-10-06.
- "Fitness Fashion History after 1960". Retrieved 2013-05-02.
- http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/alltherage/2012/07/olympics-2012-ralph-lauren-reveals-us-olympic-team-opening-ceremony-outfits.html Olympics 2012: Ralph Lauren reveals U.S. team opening ceremony outfits