Melanie Chisholm, better known as Mel C and and/or Sporty Spice, has always been associated with track pants. Not bad in the scheme of things, but as she revealed to the Guardian, there was a point in which she underwent a minor identity crisis, which is pretty understandable after being stylistically pigeonholed into one of the biggest pop bands of the ‘90s.
Mel C was basically raised in track pants—or “trackie bottoms,” as she puts it. Her look as part of the Spice Girls came about after it became clear that coordinated outfits just weren’t going to work for them:
“Historically, lots of girl bands have dressed the same or been very coordinated. When the Spice Girls started, we tried a few different looks, but it just wasn’t working for us. One day, we were looking at ourselves in rehearsal and I was in a trackie, Geri was in some crazy outfit from a secondhand shop, and we thought: why don’t we all just wear what we’re comfortable in? We realised that our individuality was a great selling point – lots of fans felt that they identified with at least one of us. We almost became caricatures of ourselves.”
Sporty Spice’s relaxed look has always made her the optimal lazy Halloween costume, thanks to the fact that you can throw on your tightest sweat pants and a sports bra and call it a day. But at some point, Mel C felt compelled to reinvent herself in something undoubtedly less comfortable:
I felt a bit rebellious when I released my first solo record. I was very keen to be seen as something separate from the Spice Girls, so I chopped all my hair off, went a little bit punk and spent a couple of years trying to not be Sporty Spice. More recently, on tour with [the LGBTQ+ collective] Sink the Pink, my costume looked like a corset version of an American football top, but it was made from old pairs of trainers: a bit of Nike, a bit of Adidas.
Mel is pictured in the article wearing a drapey maxi-dress that’s nonetheless made by the sportswear company Fila, so it’s clear her version of “not being Sporty Spice” is still very much Sporty Spice. But hey, you like what you like!
I still love athleisure, but I also feel confident enough to be a bit more feminine at times. I know what suits me: simplicity, tailoring, a more androgynous look. I’ve always liked that rock’n’roll chic; Kate Moss looks effortlessly cool. So much of fashion history repeats itself: my daughter is now 11 and she and her friends are all dressing like Sporty Spice – they don’t even realise that I was there first.