Joggers vs. Sweatpants: Your Ultimate Guide

Today, joggers and sweatpants are staples in many closets across the country, but this was not always the case. Trust us, we know it’s difficult to imagine a time when sweats and joggers were practically unacceptable to wear in public, but it took time for them to enter the world of fashion. Once they did, they hit the industry with full-force and have continued to evolve. From couches to runways, jogger pants and sweats have made their mark.

While we all hear the terms sweatpants and joggers used interchangeably, there are definitely differences to note. Some may argue they’re both just as comfy and versatile, so why fuss over what to call them? As long as you know how to style them, there’s really no issue, right? We’ll take you through the similarities and differences, their evolutions, and the best tips for rocking each.

 

  • The Sweatpants Stigma

  • Similarities in Joggers and Sweatpants

  • Differences in Joggers and Sweatpants

  • The Evolution of Sweatpants

  • Health Benefits of Sweatpants?

  • The Evolution of Tracksuits

  • What to Look for When Selecting Sweatpants

  • What to Look for in Your Next Pair of Sweatpants
  • Sweatpants Styling Tips for Women

  • Top Sweatpants Styling Tips for Men

  • What are Joggers?

  • The Evolution of Joggers

  • The Contributions of Michael Huynh and Alex James

  • Material Mishap Leads to Jogger Brilliance

  • The First Jogger Launch

  • Ronnie Fieg’s Version of the Jogger

  • Joggers and Name Brands

  • What to Look for in Your Next Pair of Joggers

  • Rockin’ Your Joggers: Best Styling Tips

  • Sweatpants and Jogger Pants on the Runway

  • Celebrity Sightings: Sweatpants Joggers

In recent years, one of the hottest trends has been athletic wear. Athletic wear has earned its place as a mainstream fashion staple. From omnipotent powerhouses such as Nike, Lululemon, and Adidas, to high-end fashion brands like Fear of God coming into prominence over the last several years, it’s never been more appropriate to wear a nice sweatshirt out on a date or yoga pants to work. Athletic wear is now just as appropriate on the Gucci runway as it is for casual Fridays. Incorporating this trendy streetwear vibe into your collection helps to understand the differences and options available when comparing joggers vs. sweatpants.

 

The Sweatpants Stigma

Initially, a bit of backlash came with rocking a cozy pair of sweats in any sphere other than athletics or a day spent lounging around the house. At one point, there was a humorous yet negative stigma attached to one of our coziest pair of pants. In an episode of Seinfeld, Jerry Seinfeld famously exclaimed, “You know the message you're sending out to the world with these sweatpants? You're telling the world, 'I give up.'" Well, Jerry, it doesn’t seem this is the case any longer. Fashion has exploded with sweatpants and comfy loungewear over the last few years, as everyone from celebrities to average Joes are wearing sweatpants and joggers for any occasion.

 

Similarities in Joggers and Sweatpants

It’s easy to see why many people often use the two terms interchangeably.

Joggers and sweatpants were both originally designed for:

  • comfort
  • loose fit
  • efficiency
  • practical athletic wear
  • loungewear

 

Differences in Joggers and Sweatpants

Joggers and sweats each have distinct features. The most notable is their style. Typically, jogger pants are designed with more of a fashion-forward look and feel, while sweats are best known for their functionality. That said, a deeper dive is needed to really define what sets the two apart. Let’s examine joggers vs. sweatpants more closely:

 

Joggers tend to incorporate a particular set of features, including:

  • elasticized or cuffed ankles
  • multiple pockets, including front, back, and cargo-style side pockets
  • a tapered cut with a wider, more relaxed hip and thigh fit that gradually becomes slimmer down the legs, mimicking the look of traditional pants
  • a tailored take on classic loungewear pieces
  • a wide variety of fabric, typically a soft cotton/polyester blend or twill

 

On the other hand, sweatpants tend to offer:

  • a drawstring waist
  • wide, flared, or boot cut fit 
  • heavier fabric, particularly 100% cotton
  • tend to be a simple, straight-legged cut
  • often described as shapeless

 

Joggers are typically designed from lighter-weight material, providing more breathability and movement. Sweatpants are typically designed for warmth and are made from thicker materials for chilly environments.

 

The Evolution of Sweatpants

For many years, sweats were used only for functional purposes in athletics and were basically non-existent as fashion staples.

In the 1920s, sweatpants were first introduced, and only in grey, by French sporting-goods company Le Coq Sportif. Rather than fashion or style, athletes wore sweats to absorb perspiration and have more flexibility. In turn, sweatpants gained popularity in the sports realm as athletes started influencing everyday people to run out and buy them for their workouts and practices.

In 1976 more people hopped on the bandwagon when Sylvester Stallone killed it in a sweatsuit during his iconic role as Rocky. You remember the famous training montage, right? By the turn of the '80s, sweats became more widespread as the push for fitness and a healthy lifestyle became popular.

 

Health Benefits of Sweatpants?

Athletes even preferred, and still do, to use sweats during a workout for health benefits. Yep, sweats can offer health benefits! Let us explain.

Sweats are already designed to keep you toasty in colder climates, right? Well, imagine working out in them. The increased warmth your body will generate during intense activity will undoubtedly cause you to sweat.  Sweat, my friends, cools your body down, supports weight loss, and other health benefits, including:

  • Benefits from physical exertion: believe it or not, sweating it out in sweatpants while you work out can support your overall health and wellness. Did you know sweating during exercise can actually boost your energy level? You'll also see mood improvements, weight maintenance, and loss, as well as better sleep habits.
  • Heavy metal detoxing: heavy metals have been found in urine and sweat, leading researchers to believe the process helps eliminate them from the body.
  • Eliminating chemicals: a ton of plastics and resins are made up of the industrial chemical BPA. Sweating can help flush this harmful chemical out of your body to avoid cognitive and behavioral effects.
  • Bacterial cleansing: research shows glycoproteins in your sweat bind to bacteria. The good news for you? Sweat may just carry some of these bacteria right out of your system and boost your health.

 

The Evolution of Tracksuits

Another huge player in the growing popularity of sweatpants was hip-hop culture in New York City. Led by rap group RUN DMC, tracksuits became the new wave as the trio began wearing their iconic Adidas tracksuits with other Adidas Superstars. Sweatpants were still not a part of mainstream fashion, but by the rise of the athleisure movement, athletic apparel became fashionable instead of just functional.

 

What to Look for When Selecting Sweatpants

As with most of your wardrobe choices, when you're shopping for sweatpants and joggers, how you'll wear them may influence your purchase most. Ask yourself a few questions before you jump online or head to the store. It will spark your fashion creativity and help steer you in the right direction. Here are few helpful questions your friendly retail workers tend to ask their clientele as they shop:

  • Are you looking for comfy loungewear or plan to hit the gym?
  • Do you see yourself "dressing them up" or just keeping it casual?
  • What kind of fashion statement are you going for?
  • What kind of climate do you plan to rock these in?

 

What to Look for in Your Next Pair of Sweatpants

The most comfortable and practical sweats are made of 100% cotton. Sweatpants were designed to support your physical exertion, keep your muscles warm, and soak up sweat, but allow breathability. However, various styles of sweatpants offer different thicknesses and levels of warmth in their fabrics. The usefulness of your sweats depends on how you’ll be utilizing them.

Consider the fabric type and weight that fits your climate conditions. Try on several pairs to ensure breathability, movement, and desired fit. Consider drawstring waistbands if elastic bands aren't the most comfortable or flexible for your physical activities.

 

Sweatpants Styling Tips for Women

Sorry Plastics- it looks like track pants are meant for more than just Fridays now! If you’re looking to utilize your sweats for more than just a day of Netflix binging on the couch, there are plenty of easy ways to add fashion to functionality. When done right, you can rock those sweatpants on your next shopping spree or sushi and drinks for the evening.

 

 

Top Styling Tips for Women:

1. Pass on the Sneakers

Another way to make a fashion statement with your sweatpants outfit is by switching up your shoe choice. Keep the sneakers in the closet and throw on a pair of boots or heels. Whether they're high heels, wedges, pumps, or booties, you know the look! Kim and Rihanna both prove that pairing those heels and boots with your favorite sweats works. Selecting the right pair of shoes can drastically change your outfit's look and the fashion statement you want to make. 

 

2. Go with Fitted vs. Baggy

While we agree that there's nothing quite as comfy as lounging in your favorite baggy sweatpants, there is a time and place for that fit. When you're out and about and want to add a bit of fashion flair, overly baggy pants may just come off a bit… sloppy. Instead, consider a more flattering cut by throwing on a pair of sweats that are fitted and lightweight. You don’t want to sacrifice comfort, but you also want to avoid unflattering excess material hanging around if your intent is to spruce it up a bit.  

 

3. Throw on a Trendy Jacket

You can still be cozy and comfortable on the bottom while super trendy up top. Dress up your sweats with a leather or biker jacket. Throw on your favorite belted trench coat or casual blazer.

 

Top Sweatpants Styling Tips for Men:

1. Simple is Best

Keeping it simple is the best way to take your sweats from the couch to the public eye. To subtly enhance your look, leave the baggy tee at home and choose a slim-fitting t-shirt. You could also opt for a polo shirt in a complimentary color. To complete the look, throw on your favorite distressed denim jacket. The best rule of thumb: keep your jackets short to creating a more form-fitted look.

 

2. Solids are the Way to Go

You'll pull off the best look if you steer clear of loud colors and busy patterns. Men tend to make the biggest statement when they select solid-colored shirts with their favorite pair of sweats. If your heart is set on your go-to graphic tee collection, consider choosing one with the bulk of the graphic on the back and toss on a light jacket for a layered look.

 

3. Black is Your Best Friend

We know your closet must be full of black and white, so throw on a black tee with your sweatpants when in doubt. Chances are, your sweats are grey, so you'll never go wrong with a slim cut or V-neck black t-shirt.

If you’re dressing for a casual meeting or event, a black button-down shirt adds a nice touch. Better yet, swap out those grey sweats for an all-black look.  

 

What are Joggers?

Jogger pants are the modern twist to your classic, comfy sweatpants. The Jogger is known for offering the comfort and style you know and love in sweatpants, with an added sense of style. Whether you’re chilling at home, hitting up a skatepark, or heading out for a night with friends, jogger pants can meet your needs. Joggers are known for kicking loungewear up a notch with their relaxed fit, elastic waistband, and cuffed ankle.

 

The Evolution of Joggers

It took visionaries like Kith’s founder Ronnie Fieg and Michael Huynh, creator of Publish Brand, to push comfort versus fashion boundaries. Now, with jogger pants dominating the market, it’s inspiring to take a look back on their history and how they went from a fashion faux pas to some of the most popular items on the market.

It’s unclear who originally invented joggers and when their introduction in the United States played a major role in the advancement of athleisure clothing. It took a long time for the jogger pant to explode into the fashion world. Some early trends that predate joggers include placing rubber bands around the ankles or rolling up pant legs to prevent longer, baggy pants from covering sneakers. Still, it seems clear that many guys struggled with two core issues:

  1. finding a fashionable alternative to diversify their collection of bottoms
  2. finding pants that allowed sneakers to be showed off properly

 

The Contributions of Michael Huynh and Alex James

While the jogger was first seen in Europe, Michael Huynh and Alex James of Publish Brand were early pioneers in the US. Ironically, their first attempt at the jogger was a misprint from a brainstorm session in 2009. During a meet-up, Alex James rocked a dope pair of Marc Jacobs sweatpants. James mentioned to  Huynh they should create a similar silhouette since there were not enough like this available on the market. At first, Huynh was skeptical because of the number of sweatpants already on the market. However, James explained most sweatpants didn’t provide that perfect fit. Sweats were either too baggy or too slim, and there were not many that actually looked cool. James had also recently returned from London and was certain the particular style of his Marc Jacob sweats would be the new wave in streetwear fashion.

The two redesigned the Marc Jacobs pair with the hopes of creating something that was unique and distinctively their own. Little did they know what was about to happen would change the world of fashion. In an interview with Complex, James stated, "These are going to be the future because everyone's been trying to roll their pants or get them tailored, and you don't have to do it. It's already done for you.”

 

Material Mishap Leads to Jogger Brilliance

When Michael Hunh received the first sample from the factory, he noticed one major mistake: the factory sampled the pants in stretch twill instead of fleece, the material Huynh and James originally wanted. While Huynh was first upset with the mistake, he quickly realized they might have just opened the door to something incredibly unique with a ton of potential.

 

The First Jogger Launch

At first, the joggers did not sell well, but Huynh concluded people did not understand the new style. They decided the joggers needed to be portrayed in a different light. Huynh decided to market the pants visually through a photo series in which models were dressed in joggers paired with sneakers, like Jordan 11 Concords, Nike Huaraches, Stan Smiths, and other famous kicks. Their goal was to show the consumers - mainly sneakerheads – that their sneakers would no longer stand for being hidden. Their campaign showed consumers that this was the pant of the future. From there, Publish Brand copyrighted the term jogger, and the rest was history.

 

Ronnie Fieg’s Version of the Jogger

On the other side of the country, Ronnie Fieg was also creating a new wave of bottoms through experimentation. Fieg’s “Kith Mercer Pants” were making serious noise in NYC, originating from a pair of camouflage pants that he owned and needed to adjust. After making the pants smaller, Ronnie decided to add an elastic cuff on the bottom. Soon everyone was asking Fieg about his pants. Sure enough, they became one of Kith's early bestsellers when the store opened in 2010. Later, bigger brands like J Crew picked up on the new trend and produced their own versions. The domino effect rippled through the fashion industry as more brands wanted to test this new market.

 

Joggers and Name Brands

Another major player in the jogger movement was Nike. Nike’s running shoe surge included Flyknits, Roshes, and countless other new running models that paired perfectly with the style joggers offered. Many other brands mimicked Nike’s scheme, such as Adidas with Ultra Boosts, Yeezys, and more. Consumers paired the latest running shoe trend with the jogger trend, allowing the movements to grow and evolve together. Ultimately, with the ever-growing popularity of Athleisure wear, sweatpants and joggers made an enormous leap into the fashion world from inspiring humor to high-level fashion.

 

What to Look for in Your Next Pair of Joggers

With the incredible advances in material technology, designers have created fabrics and blends that fit any want and need. This has tremendously expanded the range of jogger styles offered on the market today.

 

As you shop for your ideal pair of jogger pants, keep the following in mind:

  • Look for joggers that provide structure and flatter your silhouette.
  • Select fabric that caters to your wants and needs. While cotton/poly blends are great for warmth and working out, twill offers a casual look suitable for the office.
  • Quality matters! Joggers made from low-quality material can lose their form quickly. Invest in joggers that will stick by you through days off on the couch and active nights on the town.

 

Rockin’ Your Joggers: Best Styling Tips

Joggers come in an array of materials and styles these days, making it easier than ever to switch from casual to stopping traffic with the change of your shoes. Yep, they're that versatile, with endless options for creating any look you desire. It’s all about styling with the right accessories and layering with the intent to pull off a look. Take a look at our go-to tips for your jogger:

  1. Show Off Those Shoes

It’s what joggers are intended for, right? If you’re headed to the store, throw on your favorite Nikes. Running to the coffee shop down the block? A cute pair of pumps will get you there in casual style. Chilly outside but headed to the mall? Ankle boots will keep you warm and looking fierce. The statement you’re trying to make can be as simple as a shoe choice!

  1. Layering in Style

For both men and women, the layered look is perfect with a pair of jogger pants. Opt for a fitted t-shirt with an open button-down on top for a great casual look.

Or toss on a lightweight hoodie and an oversized jean jacket for trendy streetwear appeal. Since joggers offer a more tailored fit than sweatpants, you can pull off just about any look on top.

  1. Office-Appropriate Options

While there are varying degrees of “casual Friday,” the twill jogger is definitely the way to go if you’re looking to dress it up a notch. Cotton twill joggers offer form and definition while more closely resembling the casual work pant. Pairing them with pumps, heels, or casual men’s black shoes helps enhance the look. Toss on a polo or blazer to complete the look, and you've got comfort and style for your workday.

 

Sweatpants and Jogger Pants on the Runway

Even before the stay-at-home orders were becoming a new way of life, sweatpants were already making a huge mark on the fashion runways. Fashion icons like Burberry, Off-White, and Gucci began featuring their upscale loungewear on the runways, paired with anything from funky casual to stilettos and faux fur. As models came flaunting down the catwalks in the latest chic streetwear apparel, it was obvious everyone had to have a piece of the trend.

Designers pushed the envelope with jogger looks that took the industry by storm. Off-White’s c/o Virgil Abloh collection High-Rise Transparent Jogger Pant turned heads during their Spring and Summer show of 2019. It proved there are no limits to the looks you can create with a fashionable and functional staple.

Balenciaga added style to their black sweatpants layered with red poly gym shorts. To top off the model’s look, they threw on a black leather jacket for an added edge in their Fall and Winter 2020 Collection. And let's not forget the combination of trend favorites when Off-White showcased their tie-dye sweatpants and matching cropped sweatshirt during their Fall and Winter 2019 runway show.

 

Celebrity Sightings: Sweatpants vs. Joggers

Whoever said sweatpants were only for lazy days lounging at home must be eating their words by now. Celebrities across the globe are seen sporting their sweatpants and joggers for every occasion. Celebs like Taylor Swift to Jennifer Lopez have turned a basic outing in sweatpants into a fashion statement. They showed us that with a few simple styling tips, we could, too.

Celebrity spottings keep us in the know when it comes to the latest trends in dressing our loungewear up or down. Selena Gomez traveled in comfort wearing a vibrant cherry jogger, hoodie, and perfect pair of white sandals. Add with that her large leather bag, and she was the definition of a stylish yet comfortable traveler.

Gigi Hadid was a sight, seen dressed from head-to-toe in Vivienne Westwood style. Her patchwork khaki sweatpants were beautifully paired with various layered plaids and stripes. To complete the amazing look, she added a plaid trench coat with fashionable crocodile boots.

 

Best Celebrity Tips for Making Sweats and Joggers Trendy

Let’s be real—many turn their attention to the world of celebrities to learn new trends and find their own way with fashion. We’ve compiled some of our favorite trendsetting tips from celebs and their images over the last few years. From cotton to sparkles, they’re wearing it all and passing on their secrets to pulling it off.

 

Joggers and Bomber Jackets

Ahhh, the bomber jacket. It’s still one of the most popular styles for any outfit and continues to dominate streetwear fashion. Pairing your bomber with a jogger is trendy, casual, and on point.  Celebs have noted the cropped length is ideal for accentuating waistlines while still giving off that laid-back vibe.  

 

Joggers and Sweatshirts

While your average sweatshirt and sweatpants pairing sends a relaxed day at home vibe, sweatshirts with joggers can dress you up or down. Celebrity women often pair a cropped sweatshirt with a pair of joggers to show off their waistline while stepping it up with a pair of strappy heels or vibrant pumps. The athleisure trends really opened up this combination's possibilities, making it perfect for any event or environment.

 

Joggers and Track Jackets

The track jacket will forever be a celebrity staple, and the jogger has added to its long list of stylish pairings. The sportswear appeal is heard loud and clear when celebs are spotted in their Adidas track jackets and joggers to boot. You’ll even find BlackPink Idol Brand Ambassadors driving droves of fans to style themselves in matching attire and athletic yet stylish vibes.

 

Joggers and Hoodies

Is there even a doubt you’ll find this combo on one of your favorite stars? From Hailey Baldwin to Jennifer Lopez, looking great while feeling comfortable is always their first reason for styling this look. Noting the ease and flexibility when running errands and flying from one event to the next, both have shared a love for the breathable pants and stylish varieties they come in. 

 

Joggers and Biker Jackets

The seemingly mismatched pair of a soft and comfy jogger pant with an edgy leather jacket may seem odd, but runway models love it. They enjoy the comfort of the jogger style with the biker jacket's image as they strut the catwalk. Toss on a pair of five-inch heels, and you’ve got yourself a power outfit to be reckoned with!

 

Joggers and Blazers

Eva Longoria is a fan of pairing her joggers with a casual blazer and fitted tee. The combo provides comfort and style whether she’s heading to the grocery store or traveling for work or play. Blazers provide versatility to any outfit, so it’s no surprise they’re a hit with jogger pants. Add a few accessories and the right pair of shoes, and you’ve turned your casual ensemble into date-night attire with ease.

No matter which style you prefer, there’s a jogger or pair of sweatpants to meet your needs.


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