voluntarily monochrome

How to Wear Sweatpants (and not be scared of being seen in public)

Before spring break, I committed a criminal act.
I bought a pair of sweatpants.

Sweatpants, for the fashion conscious, are a touchy subject. Some people love them because they’re comfortable, other people despise them due to their sloppiness and sometimes unflattering fit.

For my part, I don’t necessarily hate them. I usually have a pair to throw on when going to the gym, and to wear around the house during lazy Sundays or study sessions. I would hate to be seen in public wearing them, though. It would feel too much like being seen on pyjamas.

But don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying sweatpants are the most ugly and unflattering garment a girl has had the disgrace of putting on. I’m just saying that sweatpants, tucked inside Ugg boots and paired with a way to tight tank top and mismatched hoodie, is the ugliest outfit any girl has ever had the disgrace of putting on.*

I’m just saying.

Sweatpants are not to blame, though. I think they actually *can* be worn wisely, and *can* be a versatile and comfortable garment without falling in the eyesore category. It’s all about keeping the outfit balanced and proportional. If you’re wearing a loose pair of sweatpants, then go for a fitted top, and vice versa.

When in the lookout for sweatpants…

  • Avoid words written in them. Ok, your backside can be all the “bootylicious” you want, but wouldn’t you prefer people find out by themselves rather than have it written there?
  • Go for plain colors. Avoid the white, vertical stripe some of them usually have. It shouts “GYM” and eliminates the chance of dressing them up.
  • Go for a cut that fits you and flatters your body shape. Grabbing them a size bigger will not necessarily make them more comfortable. They’re sweatpants, they are already comfortable!
  • Avoid legging-like tight sweatpants. If you pick a pair that’s too tight to your bottom, you’d have to wear it with longer tops. Just remember: leggings are not pants. Please.
  • Invest in good quality. Don’t you hate it when tiny little “balls” of fabric invade your cotton garments, due to friction?  Might as well avoid it! Good quality cotton shouldn’t die as quickly.
  • Waistbands can be tricky. If you pick a pair with a bulky waistband, or one with those “strings” they usually have to tighten them up, you won’t be able to pair them with long fitted tops, or it’d look really weird. Keep that in mind when choosing them.

And now, some fun with Polyvore

Say you have a pair of black, straight leg sweatpants. This are actually really similar to the pair I got, and this how I would wear them if, for ay reason, I decided to sport them in public.

Since the pants are loose, a fitted top is the way to go. Pair them with sneakers because, well, it’s supposed to be comfortable, right? And a biker jacket to completely dismiss the idea of “going to the gym”. A pair of leather bracelets to match the jacket, a messenger bag and off to class.

Let’s try with a pair of sweatpants with fitted ankles now.


I actually like this style of sweatpants (even if they look like harem pants, another piece of clothing I’m not really fond of). The fitted ankles will look good paired with a pair of flats or mary janes. Since the bottom of the outfit is somewhat tight fitting, I balanced it with a loose, wide shoulders top over a black tank top. Three quarter long sleeves to show some skin and keep the proportion with covered legs. Grab all your books and put them in a tote bag, grab your glasses, and you’re ready to start that essay you had been putting off! You could even go to the library and not be scared of being seen in public! 😀

sleep in

I call this the “OH SH- I FELL ASLEEP” emergency outfit. A pair of sweatpants that stop at the knee, paired with a loose collared top. A loose fitting cardigan over that in case it gets chilly, and to remind you of soft bed blankets. A pair of flat sandals for fast walking, a soft hand bag that can be used as a pillow. The necklace is the piece that warns people approaching you: “don’t mess with me, I’m sleep deprived”. The watch allows you to calculate how late you are. And the concealer is pretty self explanatory.

dressed up sweatpants

I purposefully paired every outfit with flat shoes, because well, if you’re willing to dress up in heels, why would you wear sweatpants in the first place? But this is just to prove that they *could* indeed be dressed up if you wanted to. In this outfit, they work as a pair of skinny jeans. But more comfortable. It all depends in the fabric: if its dark and thick enough, you can get away with wearing them as you would with any other type of pant of similar shape.

*Disclaimer: I’m aware that each to his own. Of course it doesn’t offended me when I see girls sporting the sweatpants and Ugg boots uniform around campus. People can wear potato sacks for all I care. I usually just sigh and pray for our humanity when I see them.


4 responses

  1. Kat

    your life seems pretty empty if your spending time writing a bunch of non-sense about sweatpants…wow..people can wear what they want and how they want to…that’s the beauty of America!

    October 29, 2012 at 04:44

    • Hey Kat! I’m sorry if I appealed to your insecurities about what you can or cannot wear in public that you felt the need to defend yourself and your wardrobe! You said it, people can wear whatever they want without worrying what someone’s opinion on the internet is about it. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to voice my thoughts, right? And don’t worry, that applies to all the world, that’s not something exclusive to the United States 🙂
      Have a great day!

      October 29, 2012 at 06:15

  2. polkadots300

    um… yay?

    December 4, 2012 at 17:46

  3. courtney

    you go tuerce! set HER ass straight 🙂

    December 22, 2012 at 20:34

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