The Edit

How To Wear Sweatpants In Style

The MR PORTER guide to relaxing at home like a grown-up

For those rare evenings (or mornings or afternoons, or even minutes) when you find yourself commitment-free, donning proper leisurewear is a vital act of self-care and central to the age-old philosophy of “me time”. And it’s not just about softer and cosier fabrics. The act of shrugging off the day and pulling on something slightly more appealing, preferably in cashmere, is as much a balm for the mind as it is the body. Here’s how to do airplane mode right.

First things first

01. Make time

The first rule of relaxing: you’re not going to be able to do it unless you clear some space for it. That means scheduling in time to do nothing. A bit of aimlessness once in a while is not only harmless, it alleviates stress and boosts creativity.

02. Out with the old

Every man has a favourite old T-shirt or pair of grey sweatpants that he’s had in his possession since time immemorial. Bad news. While you might find this garment comforting, the world at large finds it deeply unpleasant. Do your friends and loved ones a favour and refrain from wearing anything with holes, indelible stains or mysterious odours, no matter how poignant it may feel to you.

03. Prepare for surprises

It’s inevitable that when you’re at your most slovenly and ungroomed a family member will decide to pop round. Or someone sets off the fire alarm. Or you have to nip out to the shops for a vital ingredient. Build your loungewear, therefore, around the idea that you may have to present yourself to the outside world at short notice, as in keep it clean and keep it decent.

04. Read the label

What separates loungewear from, erm, normalwear? The feel of the fabric next to your skin. The qualities we are looking for here are stretchiness and silkiness and the best way to ensure you are receiving a decent measure of both, especially if you are ordering online, is to look at a garment’s fabric composition. Cashmere and alpaca add softness. Knit linen has a silky, liquid feel. So does silk. You may not like elastane and spandex in your jeans, but for a pair of sweatpants, this can be a comfortable addition.

05. Think big

Relaxing isn’t just a mode of dress. It’s a state of mind. If you want to really get there, we would recommend putting down your phone, switching off the television, lighting a pleasantly scented candle and closing your eyes and letting your thoughts drift over you like clouds across the sky. Now, doesn’t that sound relaxing?

The details

01. The headphones

Some of us live in blissful rural landscapes and others – many of us – live in horrible cities full of noise and smog and people screaming and cars honking. That’s why a proper pair of noise-cancelling headphones is a prerequisite for any serious relaxation session. We like Bang & Olufsen’s H9i set. What to listen to? Search iTunes for The MR PORTER Podcast, surely the most stylishly relaxing podcast out there. (And yes, we have to say that.)

02. The eye mask

They may have slightly princessy connotations, but, by gum, if you’re going to get a nap on demand, on your own terms, you need one of these. Silk varieties are particularly kind to the skin and help avoid the startled-panda look on waking.

03. The shawl-neck cardigan

Find the right combination of fibres (see first things first) and the right chunkiness of knit (basically, chunky) and wearing one of these is like being given a giant hug. Plus, they look good. Just Google “Steve McQueen” if you need any convincing of that fact.

04. The stretch T-shirt

Not all T-shirts are created equal. Brands such as Britain’s Derek Rose, Germany’s Schiesser and Switzerland’s Zimmerli are all in a sort of loungewear space race to see who can produce the softest, lightest, stretchiest, cosiest example. (See also Derbyshire’s Sunspel, above.) Cotton is always nice, but look out for modal, a super-soft fibre created from the beech tree that has an exceptionally good next-to-skin feel.

05. The cashmere sweatpants

Cashmere and sweatpants are like strawberries and ice cream. Individually, they’re wonderful, but together, they are sublime. In summer, you may want to swap these for a merino wool or knit cotton variety, but in the colder months of the year, you won’t come close to anything else for exceptional comfort.

06. The wool socks

If you go to a yoga or meditation class, they’re likely to tell you to relax from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes. And the same goes for furnishing yourself with loungewear. Sort of. OK, you don’t need cashmere-blend socks, but now you know they exist, don’t you want some? The slouchier and chunkier the better.

07. The slip-on shoes

Controversial, sure, but ever since Gucci debuted its backless loafer in 2015, men’s style has been far more welcoming to these ridiculously easy-to-wear shoes, which you might also call “mules”, if you think that sounds better. Get them from Birkenstock, Officine Creative or Yuketen. Why? Because they’re a slipper that you can wear outside. They’re an outdoor shoe you can step into without bending down. And they’re also, weirdly, having a style moment, so make the most of it.

Don’t Sweat It

  • Fear of God Slim-Fit Tapered Belted Mélange Cotton-Blend Jersey Sweatpants

  • Off-White Printed Fleece-Back Cotton-Jersey Sweatpants

  • Aimé Leon Dore Slim-Fit Tapered Cotton-Fleece Sweatpants

  • Helmut Lang Tapered Logo-Print Loopback Cotton-Jersey Sweatpants

  • Polo Ralph Lauren Slim-Fit Tapered Logo-Embroidered Colour-Block Jersey Sweatpants

  • Sunspel Tapered Brushed Loopback Cotton-Jersey Sweatpants