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How To Look Good In Sweats

Sweatpants are not just for the gym. We show you five stylish ways to wear this laid-back trend

The idea of wearing sweatpants as actual clothing – not just for the gym or sitting on the sofa – is a relatively new one, but it’s catching on fast. It’s part of a larger trend known in the biz as “athleisure”, which is not a word we’ll be using again, we promise. Translated, it means that we’re seeing sharp, structured silhouettes give way to something softer, stretchier and more comfortable. Only a week after the indulgences of Thanksgiving, the rise of any trend that features elasticated waistbands sounds like a good thing to us.

In 2015, they featured on almost every fashion runway. You can now search “sweatpants” on MR PORTER and find results not only from athletic brands Nike, Reigning Champ and adidas, but also high-end fashion brands such as Balmain, Givenchy and Tom Ford. It’s not just a case of being able to wear them outside the house, either; depending on where you work, you might even be able to get away with wearing sweatpants to the office.

Still, we’d advise approaching this one with care. Worn properly, sweatpants are the perfect blend of comfort and style. Miss the mark, though, and you risk looking like the guy who’s given up on getting dressed. There’s a fine line between stylish and slobby, but if you follow our guide, in which we present five looks for five different scenarios, you’re sure to stay on the right side of it.

THE DRESSED-DOWN DAY

Is it OK to wear sweatpants to the office? Whether or not you can get away with it entirely depends on where you work. If there’s any doubt in your mind at all, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution. Fashion statements are best made in the evenings and at weekends. If, on the other hand, you’re fortunate enough to work in an office with an open-minded view on business attire, then here’s what we suggest. Marni’s carefully considered, detail-oriented menswear line should be your go-to for office-appropriate casualwear, and these stylish sweatpants are a case in point. They’re paired here with a sweatshirt from A.P.C. layered over a soft shirt from Oliver Spencer Loungewear. Smarten the look up for the commute with Jil Sander’s belted overcoat and some round-frame glasses from Cutler and Gross

THE I’M-NOT-LEAVING-THE-HOUSE LOOK

These sweatpants from Italian cashmere specialist Brunello Cucinelli are the kind of thing that could be deemed extravagant if they weren’t so ridiculously comfortable. They’re worn here with a cotton-jersey Henley shirt from insider Japanese heritage brand Chimala, a plum-coloured sweatshirt from Sunspel and a thick pair of socks from NN.07. This is more or less exactly what we’ll be wearing over the holiday season. You really owe it to yourself to try it out. It’s like being wrapped in a soft cashmere blanket, but slightly more appropriate for answering the door. Or taking your Aunt Mavis her morning cup of tea. Turn the heating up, pour yourself a glass of wine and mellow out.

HITTING THE GYM

Let’s not dismiss the original purpose of sweats – a purpose that, in case you’re in any doubt, should be perfectly obvious from the name. These tapered sweatpants are made from a technical fleece material designed to be “warm without weight” and, because they’re made by Nike, a brand with a serious sporting pedigree, they won’t look out of place at the gym. They’re worn here with a pair of Air Presto sneakers, also from Nike, which are cut from a fleecy jersey material for sock-like comfort. Add a Maison Margiela sweatshirt and A.P.C. backpack for a look that you can comfortably get away with on your way to and from the gym, too.

THE SUNDAY STROLLER

Thanks to the neat taper of these sweatpants from New York brand Theory, this is one easy weekend outfit that won’t leave you looking like a freshman student when you step out the door. The trick is to stick with neutral tones and throw on plenty of layers. Here, the dark-grey merino wool sweatpants are paired with a Henley shirt from Rag & Bone, a charcoal cardigan from Thom Browne and a camel-coloured zip-up hoodie from Marc by Marc Jacobs. It’s ideal for a stroll in the park or grabbing your morning coffee (a flat white, since you ask). If you’re in need of another layer, throw on a dark single-breasted overcoat.

THE LONG-HAUL FLIGHT

If you’re a frequent flyer, especially one who flies long haul, then a set of comfortable sweats is a savvy investment. And it doesn’t get much more comfortable than these sweatpants from Bottega Veneta, which are cut with a wide leg and finished with an elasticated waistband. Add a long-sleeved jersey T-shirt from AMI and a cashmere hoodie from Tom Ford and you’ll be an eye mask and travel blanket away (we recommend Armand Diradourian, by the way) from the best night’s sleep it’s possible to have on a plane.