Fashion Masochist: Madonna Tracksuit

The Madonna for H&M clothing line has decidedly tanked, Rachel Baker tries out Madge’s glaringly synthetic tracksuit to find out what went wrong.


It has been five months since the announcement of Madonna’s clothing collaboration with H&M and four months since the launch of its ubiquitous ad campaign, featuring Ms. M (and her roots) sporting the line’s signature tracksuit. At H&M’s Newbury St. outpost, an overstuffed rack of the shiny, astronaut-white separates gathers dust in a low traffic corner.

In the name of research, I snatch up a suit in my size and vow to find out—firsthand—why Madge’s many fans have left her desperately seeking sales. My total comes to $58. Though I seem to be the first customer to buy one after so many months, I’m offered no prize or discount. Just an eye roll from the sales girl when I ask her if the outfit will be marked down anytime soon. She thinks it will be quite a while.

I psych myself up for wearing the Suit to work: I’ll be researching as I wear, plus what a fabulous excuse to break the dresscode. My coworkers will be so J when they see me in loungewear. When I slip it on, the pants are too low rise and a bit short, and I have to add a tank top to fight the crop of the zip-up jacket. Then I look in the mirror: See-through.

Completely see-through.

Obviously, I know that I can’t wear bright, floral bloomers under these or any white pants, but this is outrageous. The white pockets are visible in full form through the front, while every seam screams “look at me” in the rear. The only antidote to this ghastly problem is a nude thong. Thankfully, mine’s not in the laundry so I don’t call the day’s experiment, but the promise of uncomfortable underthings puts a damper on my excitement for my own, personal, “Wear Your Pajamas To Work Day.”

The walk to the office is comfortable, the lining of the suit plush-like—similar to what I’d imagine the inside of the Golden Girl’s windbreakers to be. But when I arrive at my desk and take my coat off: STATIC. It’s so loud and so powerful, I wouldn’t have been surprised if all of the papers tacked to my cube walls had jumped off to cling to me. My carefully ironed hair now looks like a science experiment.

I head to the bathroom to try to get to the bottom of it. I take off the pants, shake them as to rid them of their extra electrons, but before I put them back on I read the label: 100% polyester. THANKS MATERIAL GIRL!!! No wonder she looks so sinister in the ads: she must be wearing some fancy silk version of the design, but knows that us little people will be doomed to polyester! To think, I’d trusted her…

After the transparency and electricity issues, I am less chipper about my endeavor, and the whole test-driving thing begins to wither. Instead of letting people around the office make real assumptions and have actual reactions to the Suit, I defensively blurt, “it’s the Madonna for H&M tracksuit, I’m test-driving it for my column!” I don’t even enjoy it when colleagues tell me they’re jealous of my comfort level because I’m constantly pulling on the poly or spraying anything I can get my hands on (hairspray, perfume, water, Fantastic) to relieve the static.

As I run errands I find myself avoiding eye contact with strangers, instead of monitoring whether or not they avoid eye contact with me. And after I change into normal clothes to go to an offsite meeting (my boss says I’m “not allowed” to wear the Suit), I can never convince myself to suit up again.

So Madonna, the next time you want to try and get all Stella McCartney on us and do another line with H&M, take a cue from your pre-Kabala tunes: Respect yourself.