Sweatpants, long a staple at the gym and on the couch, are finally making their way onto the street thanks to a new group of designers blurring the line between what was once euphemistically referred to as “recreation wear” and publicly acceptable clothing.
“We most certainly have come a long way since the nineties drop-crotch, just-rolled-out-of-bed look,” says Elana Brynes, founder and creative director of Kings of Cole, a New York-based brand that specializes in high-style sweatwear. But Brynes is quick to point out that just grabbing a modern, tailored sweatpant won’t immediately result in a better look. She advises men to search for pants that complement their bodies without clinging: “Guys should look for sweatpants that are flattering in the butt area [and] long enough so that their white socks don’t show.”
As for sweatshirts, the waist should overlap the pants, but it’s important to avoid “tenting,” that horrible phenomenon when extra fabric creates a fake paunch over your no doubt toned midsection. The other thing to think about: color. “I like when a guy mixes and matches colors,” says Brynes, adding that the contrast between top and bottom makes for a more mature look. A darker color up top will make the outfit look more intentional and less like you couldn’t be bothered to find jeans and a sweater.
Fortunately, there are a bunch of different brands chasing the stylish sweatwear trend. The Canadian brand Reigning Champ has been at this for a while and favors a heavily-detailed, prep school gym look while Steven Alan, in partnership with Wings + Horns, is creating narrow pieces that seem to belong under a leather jacket. Brynes own Kings of Cole traffics in brighter colors and elastic waistbands – a rarity in upscale sweatpants – but creates a similar, trim silhouette. And, yes, you can wear this stuff at home during a Netflix marathon. The point is that these sweats, like you, should also get outside every once and a while. [Tailored sweatpants, $138; kingsofcole.com]