We confess we had to brush up on Australian English to figure out what a Tracky Dack is and why Australians celebrate Tracky Dack Day on any day in May, May 25 this year. Tracky Dack Day is celebrated every year in Australia with gusto (an Italian term, by the way, not Aussie). To understand Tracky Dack Day, first, know that ‘dack’ is Australian English slang for trousers. The same pants that Americans traditionally refer to as slacks. Dacks can be long or short but we don’t think denim jeans are dacks. ‘Tracky’ or ‘trackie,’ spelled either way, is the Aussie slang term for ‘tracksuit,’ that unflattering, kind of masculine but unisex athletic outfit also called a jogging suit but known by most of us as warm-ups. A complete tracky consists of long pants with an elastic waist (the dacks) and a matching waist-length, zippered- or pullover jacket, with or without a hood. Trackies are usually made of a warm, soft knit or fleece fabric.
History of Tracky Dack Day
Tracky dacks, or sweatpants, were designed in the 1920s for athletes. Credit for the original design and creation is attributed to French clothing designer Emile Camuset. The athletic, masculine look of sweatpants caught on as urban casual wear in the 1970s, then ruled the 1980s and 90s, until yoga pants crept shamelessly out of fitness studios into daylight. The popularity of wearing tracky dacks had absolutely nothing to do with being athletic. It was about the comfort of elastic waistbands in baggy pants. But, hey, who doesn’t want to look like they are on their way for a run or a workout, even though you never work out or set foot in a gym?
Although comfortable to wear, sweatpants tend to be baggy, loose, and shapeless, and not very fashionable. They have never been considered appropriate professional office attire Down Under, nor in the U.S. for that matter. At least not until the turn of the century gave way to a clothing style called ‘business casual.’ This brings us to the genius behind Tracky Dack Day.
Tracky Dack Day began as a fundraising idea for TLC for Kids, an Australian children’s medical charity. This day took its lead from America’s Casual Dress Fridays. White-collar professionals — those whose work requires wearing traditional suit-and-tie business attire in the office every day — started wearing ‘business casual’ to work one day a week, usually on Fridays. Business casual included slacks, or dacks, but never denim jeans, and a collared shirt. The practice grew in popularity and eventually made its way to Australia.
Tracky Dack Day takes casual dress Fridays down a few rungs on the ladder, allowing participants to wear tracky dacks or sweatpants to the office. The fundraiser operates in ways similar to walk-a-thons or jog-a-thons but does not require any physical exertion. All that is required to participate is a desire to help sick children and a willingness to wear a pair of comfortable tracky dacks to work. It’s a brilliant idea to enlist those who enjoy donating to charity but are not inclined to do a run or walk. And the idea of wearing sweatpants to work appeals to those who don’t enjoy getting all gussied up. ‘Gussied up’ is yet another Aussie English slang term made popular around 1900.
Australians encourage each other to “dack up and donate” on Tracky Dack Day by joining teams who solicit sponsors, or they write checks themselves for the right to wear their tracky dacks to work. Participating is not just about raising money for an amazing children’s charity. Tracky Dack Day is a show of solidarity with hospitalized children who are also encouraged to wear tracky dacks instead of hospital gowns or pajamas on Tracky Dack Day, so they can be part of the day that is all about “dacking up and donating” for the kids.
Tracky Dack Day timeline
Sweats are invented by designer Emile Camuset — founder of clothing, footwear, and sports equipment brand Le Coq Sportif.
The TLC for Kids charity is founded by Tim Conolan.
The first Tracky Dack Day fundraiser is held.
Tim Conolan receives the Australian of the Year Local Hero Award for his commitment to helping sick children.
Tracky Dack Day FAQs
How do you use the Australian word “dacks”?
The answer is “very carefully.” Context determines the meaning of many Aussie slang terms. Dacks is an Australian slang term for trousers, which could mean long slacks, shorts, or underwear, depending on the context in which the word is used. If someone is wearing trousers on a cold day, then dacks means long trousers; if it’s hot out and they are wearing shorts, dacks means short pants. But if a female is wearing a dress or a skirt, then dacks refers to her underwear.
What kind of top do you wear with tracky dacks?
Styling your sweatpants is easy because sweats are easy to pair with pieces you already have hanging in your closet. If you are going for the Ivy League preppy look, layer your tracky dacks with a classic white tee shirt and button-down Oxford. If your style is more uptown sophisticated, then layer it with a dark neutral-colored polo with a trim-fitting zip-up cardigan. For a lively night on the town, wear a colorful striped or patterned jacket with a solid colored tee beneath it, even if the night out is a B.Y.O.B. virtual one with your chums.
What does Aussie slang mean?
Australian English slang refers to the way Australians have contracted or shortened words and phrases to speed up the conversation. Australians have been shortening common English words since the early 1800s, creating an iconic, informal dialect unique to Australians, but often confusing for foreigners to decipher. Quite a few Aussie diminutives have found their way into our standard American English dictionary, with ‘selfie’ and ‘uni’ being two well-recognized examples. Aussies are known to be friendly, welcoming people and their slang-infused language reflects their laid-back culture.
How to make the most of Tracky Dack Day
Donate to your favorite children’s charity
In the spirit of the original Tracky Dack Day, wear your favorite tracky dacks wherever today finds you and make a generous donation to your favorite children’s medical charity or research hospital. Even if you do not live in Australia, consider donating to the original benefactor of Tracky Dack Day, TLC for Kids. Challenge friends and family to do the same.
Plan a Tackiest Tracky Dack Day holiday party
Call it a party, a contest, or even a fashion show if you please, this is a new twist on your annual Ugliest Christmas Sweater contest. Start planning a Tracky Dack Day party for the upcoming holidays and send out save-the-date invites today, on Tracky Dack Day, so guests have time to plan their craziest, tackiest tracky dacks. Offer prizes for the most glamorously tacky tracky dacks, the most bedazzled tracky dacks, and the most worn-out tracky dacks. And in the spirit of the original Tracky Dack Day, make the party an end-of-the-year fundraiser for your favorite children’s charity.
Buy matching sweats for your family
Make Tracky Dack Day a new tradition for your family. Surprise everyone with new sweats, matching of course, for a laid-back family night together. Pull out the board games or dartboard, or watch a movie, whatever your pack favors and enjoys together. Make your favorite snacks and appreciate the shared time together.
5 Reasons Everyone Loves Wearing Tracky Dacks
Made for sweating
Tracky Dacks, sweatpants, were designed for workouts, which means they were made for sweating — not everyone looks buff in yoga pants, so we love wearing tracky dacks to the gym, for a run, or just sweatin’ to the oldies at home.
Ultimate R&R comfort
At the end of a day of hard work or play, who doesn’t look forward to a refreshing shower and slipping into a comfy pair of tracky dacks for a little rest and relaxation?
The ultimate day-into-evening attire…
The ‘little black dress’ has nothing on a comfy pair of tracky dacks.
Wash. Wear. Repeat.
Sweats become softer and more comfortable the more you wear them, and we love the faded look after dozens of tumbles in the laundry.
It validates our love-hate relationship with sweatpants
Despite being considered a fashion faux pax by the fashion cognoscenti, we boldly and confidently sport our tracky dacks.
Why We Love Tracky Dack Day
It requires no physical exertion
As for ways to be involved in raising money for good causes, Tracky Dack Day may be the easiest to participate in, other than simply writing a check. This one doesn’t require athletic ability, attending committee meetings, or time away from the family on your day off. All that is required is to slip into your favorite tracky dacks and show up wherever it is you need to be that day. Okay, sure, you may need to call donors who pledged to donate to charity because you and your team wore sweats to work, or stroke a check yourself but, basically, this is the lazy man’s (or woman’s) way to be part of a fundraising event.
It makes us feel good to help others
Who doesn’t love the feeling of helping others, especially when helping sick kids and their families? If you don’t live in Australia and prefer to donate closer to home, it’s all good. Joining in the fun of Tracky Dack Day makes donating more meaningful and rewarding than just stroking a check or texting some number to make a donation. Being part of a team does wonders for your self-esteem and reputation, too.
Makes for a good story
Australians are known for their storytelling prowess. Participating in Tracky Dack Day will give you a great Aussie story to tell your mates when they ask you why you are wearing sweats to the office, dinner, or (gasp!) to the theatre. Embellishing the story is okay, too, maybe with a few Aussie slang terms tossed in for effect.
Tracky Dack Day dates