Six Ways You Can Dress Up Sweatpants for Non-Casual Occasions

To me, being comfortable in your clothes means having the confidence that comes with wearing a bespoke suit. I own more tassel loafers than I do rubber-soled shoes, more ties than I do tees. Which is why I remember the first time I sidelined one of my beloved wool plaid suits for a cotton trouser of another kind: sweatpants. (They were a pair of navy joggers by Bally, and it was the first day of New York Fashion Week in fall 2012, by the way.) Yes, wearing sweatpants in public is now a thing.

To clarify: when I say sweatpants, I am talking about tailored fleece trousers, not sweats -- as in the activewear you sweat in. The former, which can be seen on the likes of Kanye West (not that that’s a strong validation) and the runways of designers such as Todd Snyder and Michael Bastian, are more fitted. They are meant to be worn as a substitution for your other varying casual bottoms -- like jeans, chinos, and cords. The latter (think of a roomy track pant, or Everlast boxing pants), on the other hand, are basically the male equivalent of yoga pants. In other words: can not and should not be “dressed up” under any circumstances (including brunch).

I know this is a tricky trend, and I don’t want you to be that guy at your Christma-hanu-kwanza-kah (that covers them all, right?) party who tries to pair his saggy-bottomed Abercrombie sweats from the undergrad years with a slim-fit leather jacket. So, below, I have compiled some styling tips, followed by my six current favorite pairs from around the market. Confidence not included, but you’ll need it.


* The Fit: Tailored, of course. Make sure they are mostly fitted through the leg, paying special attention to the amount of fabric on your bottom and at your ankle. Both should be slimmed-down. In fact, there should ideally be an elasticized cuff to achieve the desired fit. Fitted or drawstring waistbands are both acceptable, believe it or not. * The Fabric: Cotton, fleece, wool-blend, 30 percent polyester, jersey, cashmere. I endorse anything but leather, actually (unless you’re a more fearless sartorialist like Kanye, or member of the NBA -- in which case, carry on). * The Details: Heather grey with a clean front is fine -- but to amp it up a bit, look for subtle details like tonal stitching, quilting, bonded paneling and slant pockets.

Michael Bastian Jersey Track Pants

Look for modern details, like the snap-front pockets on this pair by Michael Bastian ($450,, to quietly dress-up the laid-back look.

Cotton Citizen Biker Sweats

Double-down on the trends with this moto-inspired, fleece-lined pair of joggers by Cotton Citizen ($250, Look for design details like accordion panels or quilting to toughen up the look without opting for leather.

Band Of Outsiders Striped Loopback Sweatpants

These sweats by west coast brand Band of Outsiders ($295, are for the man that is anything but a minimalist. Style tip: let these bad boys do the talking, and pair them with a subtle top like a Todd Snyder + Champion crew sweatshirt or an Orlebar Brown pima cotton long-sleeve t-shirt.

Marc by Marc Jacobs Burgundy and Black Sweatpants

I love the understated coolness of these wine-colored, tuxedo-style pants by Marc by Marc Jacobs ($230,, which are great for days when you’re feeling a little more courageous. Pair them with a deconstructed blazer, like this one by Raf Simons, to complete that sporty tailoring vibe.

John Elliott + Co Drop Crotch Sweatpants

This two-toned, tapered option by John Elliot ($176, is the perfect example of elevated comfort. These would look great with a killer piece of fitted outerwear, like this Sandro Prince of Wales check print coat or leather biker jacket by The Kooples.

S&H Athletics Racing Stripes Sweats

For the guy who is having a difficult time graduating from his favorite college team’s sweats, but needs to step up his game. ($120,

Moti Ankari is the associate market editor for Bloomberg. He loves Kanye West (for his music) and suede tassel loafers by Salvatore Ferragamo. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter.