Stylish Sweatpants: How to Wear Them With Style

Sweatpants with style Is it possible to wear sweatpants with style?  Many designers and fashionistas seem to think so.  I have to admit, I’m not completely sold on the idea of wearing sweatpants past my front door, unless I am going to the gym, which I never do.  Who was asleep at the wheel and allowed sweats to become haute couture? It’s like they slipped by when nobody was looking. In fact, I think it was Karl Lagerfeld who said that wearing sweatpants means you have basically given up on life.  Granted, Lagerfeld has definitely been known to say a lot of mean spirited things.

However, with Thanksgiving a few days away, a holiday that gives many of us the urge to avoid wearing anything with a tight waistband, I thought I would touch on this trend and give some tips on how to wear sweatpants stylishly.  I have to admit, it wasn’t easy.  It’s still hard to wrap my brain around how some people are wearing them.  Sweatpants with heels?  Are you kidding me?  I’m from New Jersey.  Where I grew up the only people who wore heels with sweatpants knew where bodies were buried and paid for everything with cash, if you catch my drift.  Sweats and heels didn’t mean style.  Sure, some editorial images may make sweats and heels look interesting, but, in real life, who does that?

Anyway…

Here are some looks I put together using these wool sweatpants from J. Crew.  It’s important to point out that a chintzy pair of sweats from the bargain bin from Costco probably won’t work if you are going to wear sweatpants in a stylish manner.  If you are going to attempt looking stylish in these relaxed pants, you’re going to have to shell out a few more shekels, which, let’s face it, sounds totally counterintuitive. The good news is that, if stylish sweatpants just aren’t your thing, you can certainly swap out these pants for a pair of leggings or jeans in the looks below.  But if you want to try wearing sweats with style, don’t let my skeptical thoughts on this stop you.

How to Wear Sweatpants with Style

Outfit #1

Stylish Sweatpants

In order to make sweatpants look less casual, swinging the pendulum the other way with your accessories is important.  What happens when you pair blingier accessories with very casual looking sweats is a balance somewhere in the middle is created and the outfit looks more like streetwear vs. sleepwear.

In this outfit, I styled these J. Crew sweats with a cropped drapey sweater from Alice + Olivia and then added dressier accessories, including a pair of Bauble Bar earrings, a jeweled bracelet from Stella & Dot, a rhinestone clutch from Fossil and a pair of rich burgundy suede flats.

Outfit #2

Stylish Sweatpants

Before you leave your house wearing sweats to do weekend things, if you want to look more pulled together and not so casual, think about some accessories you can add to the look that makes it look a bit more polished.

Another tip is to add some structure to the sweats, like I did here with a chambray shirt from Madewell.  Added to this outfit, is a plaid scarf from Lord & Taylor, soft pink stud earrings, a gold bangle bracelet, merlot colored bag from Kooba, and a pair of grey oxfords from Modcloth.  These simple accessories additions will not only help look like you didn’t roll out of bed but you will probably feel a lot better too.

Outfit #3

Stylish Sweatpants

You can throw a long cardigan, like this one from Dex, over a pair of sweats, which might be a good thing to do.  Have you ever looked at the rear views of most women wearing sweatpants?  Yikes!  But, if you do this, to get the proportion right, try wearing a shorter top under the cardigan, like this one from Mango.  For this more urban outfit, I styled the look with a long Bauble Bar pendant, a studded bag from Nine West and a pair of moto boots from Topshop.

Outfit #4

Stylish Sweatpants

Similar to the first look, in this outfit I glammed up the sweats to create some high-low balance.  With the glittery accessories, including a gold Tory Burch belt, metallic Jimmy Choo flats, and chunky necklace from Stella & Dot, the outfit look more polished.  Also note that the belt around the crisp white shirt from J. Crew creates more of waistline which will make your body look more balanced instead of blobby.  The outfit is softly finished with a grey Hobo bag.

Outfit #5

Stylish Sweatpants

In this outfit, this Modcloth cardigan is used to create a look just like the outfit in the third ensemble, only this one is a lot less hard edge.  Under the cardigan is a white Reiss v-neck tee, and the outfit is finished casually with a pair of navy lace up boots, a statement necklace and turquoise Fossil handbag.  Perhaps the gorgeous color combination will keep people from noticing you are wearing sweatpants.

  • LauraP

    I’d quibble a bit about pants that (1) cost more than $100 and (2) require dry-cleaning being called “sweatpants”. These are loose knit pants, so maybe “comfy pants”? At any rate, these combinations are really stylish–I’d try them! But I’m more “Team Cotton” than “Team Merino” (itchy)

    • I hear ya, sister. Lord knows what to call them. I guess comfy pants is a fine alternative. I think I would be team cashmere…(cha-ching!)

      • LauraP

        ooh Team Cashmere! Go, Goats, Go!

  • rk4e

    I recently learned that pregnant or not, the way to be comfortable and stylish on thanksgiving is maternity pants. Just wear a shirt long enough for no one to know…

  • Renee

    I like the *idea* of fashionable sweatpants, and the Athleta catalog taunts me with these very toned and lithe girls looking effortlessly cool in them. But I am no longer that toned or that lithe and have never been effortlessly cool. I think the all black flowy ones with discrete black drawstrings almost make the cut, but any of the styles with the chunky white drawstring just scream gym class.

  • Heather

    I giggled all the way through this article…I could almost feel you wincing as you typed it all. I love how you write! I’m not going out to buy a pair any time soon, but the read and pics were entertaining.

    • Haha! Yea, sometimes I am more inspired than others. I appreciate what you said about my writing. I’m glad I am not just amusing myself.