Sweatpants have experienced a surge in popularity, with the humble workout clothing gracing high-fashion runways across the world. In 2010 American designer Michael Kors made headlines by sending a pair of cashmere sweatpants down the catwalk with a price tag of $995. While few shoppers can afford haute-couture loungewear, it is still possible to look cute and polished in sweatpants, even if your runway is the hallway between the locker room and the gym.
Choose sweatpants that fit well without sacrificing comfort. Sweatpants that skim the hips and rear then flare slightly at the ankle flatter most body shapes, as do straight-leg sweatpants that fall evenly from hip to ankle. Wide-leg sweatpants in lightweight cotton jersey are dramatic and stylish, and are generally more forgiving on more ample figures. Avoid sweatpants that are gathered at the ankle with elastic; it creates a puffy, lumpy silhouette.
Wear undergarments that provide necessary support without detracting from your look. Sweatpants that hug the rear can highlight the seams of your underwear, so choose seamless briefs or boy-shorts to avoid visible underwear lines. While sweatpants ensembles may be casual, you will still need a bra that provides adequate support and coverage for your figure.
Pair sweatpants with t-shirts, sweaters and jackets that are casual and polished. An over-sized t-shirt or hooded sweatshirt looks sloppy when paired with sweats. Instead, go for slim-fit tank tops, crew- or v-neck t-shirts and sweaters that are fitted and feminine. Unconventional top layers add interest and dimension to your sweatpants as well; a denim jacket can be tossed on top of a racerback tank-top and sweats for a look that goes from early morning yoga to a casual cup of coffee with a friend.
Complete your look with simple accessories, styled hair and makeup. Sweatpants are casual and sporty, so keep your makeup clean and straightforward with tinted moisturizer, mascara and tinted lip balm. Make sure that hair is clean and pull it back into a bun or ponytail for a no-fuss, polished look. If you wear you hair down, take a large-barreled curling iron to the ends of hair, twisting locks under briefly to give even the most rumpled bed head some panache. Accessories can include jewelry and your favorite purse, while a cotton gauze scarf adds extra dimension and color.
Treat sweatpants like any other pair of pants in your closet. Stylist Wendy Toth tucks sweats into mid-calf height boots and adds layered, lightweight sweaters, a soft floppy hat and a shoulder bag for a look that would be perfect for a Sunday morning brunch. Actress and stylemaker Jessica Alba paired her sweats with an oversized, dolman-sleeve kimono sweater, a funky loose-fitting blouse, large hoop earrings and ballet flats for a look that was relaxed and urbane. Combining sweatpants with unexpected layers results in sophisticated, stylish pairings.
Maintain your sweatpants with the same level of care that you would any other garment in your wardrobe. Since sweatpants are such a casual item of clothing, it is easy for them to look sloppy faster than other wardrobe staples. Wash regularly according to the directions on the label and keep garments free of holes and stains.
References and ResourcesNBC New York; Sweatpants are in Style; Sept. 19, 2010
"New York Magazine"; Sweatpants Trend to Give Those Who "Get It" Feelings of Superiority; Amy Odell; April 4, 2010
"The Wall Street Journal"; The $1,000 Sweatpants; Ray A. Smith; April 3, 2010
Huffington Post; Being Sloppy Made Fabulous; Ysolt Usigan; Feb. 16, 2010
Style Bakery; Jessica Alba Makes Sweatpants Fashionable; Stephany McKnight; June 3, 2010