Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past five years, eating beetles for protein and washing in a muddy stream, you’ve no doubt noticed that menswear, as we know it, has undergone a transformation on a pretty fundamental level.
Tailoring has relaxed, men’s dress codes have become blurred, and the smartening up of sportswear has left bouncers at nightclubs all over the world scratching their big, round, boiled ham heads in confusion at the prospect of having to revise their “no trainers” policies.
Joggers are one of the critical items leading the charge during this pivotal era in menswear, and as men’s fashion mavericks continue to experiment with them, they are becoming ever more ingrained into the modern guy’s wardrobe.
The combination of a blazer, sweatpants and dress shoes was not long ago a style avenue reserved almost exclusively for old men who sit on park benches, drinking cans and shouting at pigeons. These days, however, you’re just as likely to see a similar look adorning the gents on the front row at fashion week – albeit styled with a touch more panache.
And while the elitists may turn their noses up, scoff and denounce joggers as a fad, it’s worth remembering that people of a similar mindset once said jeans wouldn’t last and that The Beatles were poisoning the minds of the youth. History has a habit of proving them wrong.
Speaking of history…
The History Of Joggers
Believe it or not, running as a form of voluntary exercise has origins in Ancient Greece, but spread after the modern Olympic games were re-introduced in 1896 and spread further after the ‘running boom’ of the 1970s. But after decades of training in ungainly attire, it was clear that something needed to change, and for one Frenchman, the solution was clear.
Émile Camuset wasn’t just any French dude; he was the French dude who founded world-renowned sportswear label Le Coq Sportif – which, FYI, translates to “the athletic rooster” – and he had understandably had quite enough of sweating his way around the track in whatever cumbersome legwear men were rocking at the time.
After some experimentation with fabrics and cuts, the classic jersey jogger we all know and love was born.
However, while joggers were built with a firm purpose in mind, today they’re much more. Just as with jeans and dress trousers before them, there are now many styles and shapes to take into consideration.
Types Of Joggers
No longer suitable only for track, field or sofa, the sweatpant revolution has seen this active/loungewear essential undergo a tailored transformation. Yes, the humble jogger has, as part of the athleisure trend, had a sartorial makeover, meaning dressing smartly no longer requires squeezing your lower portion into a pair of uncomfortable dress trousers for extended periods of time.
Think tailored, tapered legs and fine-gauge cotton that won’t sag at the knees. In fact, joggers have smartened up so much that wearing a pair with a shirt is no longer out of the question – something which just a few years ago would have been utterly unthinkable.
Even purpose-built joggers haven’t escaped this new dawn in menswear. Once a baggy, billowy, grey marl affair, sporty joggers have shaped up, slimmed down, and somehow still managed to retain every ounce of comfort they boasted before.
Flattering cuts and technical fabrics are par for the course in this new sportswear movement, and now it’s possible to hit the gym and look slick at the same time. Until you’re drenched in sweat and purple in the face, that is.
Perfect for everything from staying comfortable on a long-haul flight, to nipping out for a lunchtime bite – these classic, understated sweatpants have got your back no matter how you choose to spend your day.
With unbeatable comfort, total versatility and an increasing acceptance from menswear types, it may only be a matter of time before these modern casual classics take up the ‘favourite day-to-day legwear’ mantle from their denim cousins.
Sometimes all a man wants to do with his Saturday afternoon/evening is to sprawl himself out on the sofa and watch questionable television while shovelling fistfuls of dry roasted peanuts into his face. Thankfully, there is a legwear option more than adequately equipped for the task at hand.
Lounge joggers are loose cut, insanely comfortable and somehow manage to be both airy and cosy at the same time. Basically, you’ll never want to take them off.
How To Style Joggers
Relaxing attitudes in menswear have blessed joggers with a new-found versatility, and rather than just teaming them with a tatty hoodie for a quick dash to pick up a hangover cure, there are now many ways to work a pair of sweatpants into a number of different outfits.
Here are the most stylish combinations, depending on your look.
Trackies are nothing new on the street, and their current popularity is due, in part at least, to the merging of streetwear and high-fashion.
To give an insight on how to style your joggers for a streetwear-inspired look, who better to hear from than Hypebeast UK editor Jack Stanley?
“Keep it simple,” says Stanley. “Anything sporting or workwear-inspired can be paired very well with traditional joggers. Work jackets, technical waterproofs and bomber jackets [are] all great options.”
As far as footwear is concerned, Stanley is a firm believer in the importance of a good sneaker game: “I’d go for a classic pair of trainers, something like Reebok Classics or Air Force 1s, and top it off with a white tee.”
Simple, but effective.
Leaving the house in a pair of joggers for anything other than a walk to the gym or a jog around the park was once considered a cardinal style sin. But these days, it’s entirely possible to wear them as part of a smart-casual outfit. Sarah Gilfillan, personal stylist and founder of SartoriaLab, explains how to do it:
“I suggest either wearing a fine-gauge crew neck sweater or a fitted button-down shirt. It could even be in a jersey fabric, which carries through the sporty feel, without being as casual as a T-shirt.”
On the feet, Sarah’s a fan of the premium white leather trainer, and we’d have to agree. “Smart leather trainers like Common Projects or Lanvin would be my choice of footwear,” she says.
Top it off with a wool overcoat, denim jacket or unstructured blazer, and you’re good to go.
The idea of wearing a pair of joggers with any tailored clothing would’ve once solicited a hearty laugh from anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of menswear. Now it’s an altogether different state of affairs.
“Over the past few [years] we’ve seen a more refined jogger creep into menswear,” says freelance stylist and brand advisor Daniel Rhone.
The refined joggers that he refers to are a hybrid between dress trousers and sweatpants, melding the best traits from each. Plus, they’re surprisingly easy to style.
“I like the idea of a wool jogger worn with a black Derby shoe and matching wool blazer for a modern take on the two-piece suit,” he says. Since this is as formal as you can go with joggers, stick to darker shades of grey, navy or black, but team with a casual, unstructured jacket that has soft shoulders and patch pockets. Soft, tactile materials should also be prioritised. A shiny, polyester blazer will make you look like you’ve broken your parole for the fifth time.
There’s a certain irony about joggers. On the one hand, they were designed with the express intention of being worn to play sports and live actively in; conversely, they’re perfect for slumping yourself on the sofa like a beached whale, while you watch Netflix and consume your body weight in junk food.
But acting like a slob doesn’t mean you have to dress like a slob, and it’s definitely possible to bring a dash of style to proceedings, even if you’re just starfished on your bed, taking a nap with your cat.
“If you want to up the luxury factor with your joggers when chilling out, choose a cashmere sweater with the ‘V’ detailing of a sweatshirt,” says Gilfillan, adding that a logo-free hoodie could also work nicely.
“After that, just chuck on your trainers and bomber, or fur-lined denim jacket to go from sofa to street.”
The sports luxe look is a direct result of the menswear mashup we spoke of earlier on. Think sport-inspired clothing and relaxed styling, with the odd wardrobe classic thrown in here and there.
Put bluntly, you wouldn’t wear it out for a swanky dinner, but you certainly wouldn’t wear it for a game of five-a-side either.
Joggers are the element that tends to anchor most sports luxe outfits, while other components can vary. A bomber jacket might make way for a denim jacket, but the joggers will usually remain.
Phie McKenzie, editor of fashion and music magazine Notion, advises on how to style: “I love a pair of joggers teamed with a simple, Scandi denim jacket,” she explains. “Something from Our Legacy or Acne Studios would work nicely, topped off with a statement tee and a pair of Converse.”
The Best Joggers Brands
We spoke about smart joggers, but it probably comes as little surprise that sportswear behemoth Nike’s offerings are a far cry from Savile Row. However, while they may not go down that well at an evening meal, they’ll more than compensate for it on the playing field.
Athletic cuts and cutting-edge fabrics are just part of what gives Nike some of the best sports joggers on the market.
Topman – one of the biggest and best-loved names on the high street, and now one of the premier destinations for a new pair of sweatpants. With near-unbeatable variety and value for money, it stocks joggers across the dress codes.
Topman’s smart joggers are particularly good, so if you were thinking of giving the joggers-and-shirt thing a go, here’s your chance.
Swedish minimalist paradise and little brother of H&M may be the new kid on the block, but it’s definitely not pulling any punches. The new store crept onto the high street and the web with minimal fuss and is fast becoming a favourite among the more quality-conscious consumer.
Arket is geared towards the shopper who prefers to invest in durable, timeless items, as opposed to guzzling up fast fashion on the cheap. Needless to say, its sweatpants are some of the best on the high street.
When you think of the sort of preppy, north-east styling that Ralph Lauren has become synonymous with, jogging bottoms probably aren’t one of the first garments that would immediately spring to mind. Regardless, the New York label does make a mean set of sweatpants.
Expect simple styling, quality materials, a fuss-free aesthetic and, of course, that iconic Polo embroidery.
Luxury Italian sportswear label Stone Island is best known for its forward-thinking outerwear, but that is by no means where the brand’s talents end.
In addition to manufacturing some of the most visually stunning jackets on the market, using pioneering dyeing processes, the brand also makes some fantastic legwear. Buy your joggers from Stone Island and you’ll be met with superior quality materials, appealing details such as zipped pockets and its signature compass badge to the leg.
You just can’t go wrong with H&M. Need a jacket for a night out in a hurry? H&M. Forgotten to pack a clean work shirt on a trip out of town? H&M. After some joggers that will work in pretty much every conceivable situation but won’t leave you out of pocket? You guessed it – H&M.
The Swedish behemoth stocks a vast selection of sweatpants, tailored or gym-ready.
There’s every possibility that streetwear, as we know it today, would never have even come into existence if it hadn’t been for Shawn Stussy’s eponymous surfwear label. The brand pioneered the bold graphics and loose cuts that the scene is now known for and made fashion history in the process.
The iconic streetwear label offers several alternative takes on the average jogger, with features such as bold logo tape branding, reverse fabrics and striking patterns.
It might not have the widest selection on the high street, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Japanese retail chain has gained a reputation during its relatively short lifespan for offering quality that belies its affordable price points, and when it comes to joggers, things are no different.
For a comprehensive mix of timeless classics and up-to-the-minute trends, River Island is one of the British high street’s most reliable names. With a vast selection of clothes and accessories to suit every imaginable taste, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for.
Regarding joggers, River Island’s designs provide an extremely satisfactory bang-to-buck ratio. With the whole spectrum of styles and cuts, in all colours of the rainbow, you’ll be hard pushed to visit and leave empty-handed.
For a brand to be held in equally high regard by both weather-beaten workmen and streetwear fanatics is no easy feat, but one of the few to have managed it is Carhartt. The iconic heritage workwear label turned its gaze toward the streetwear community with the launch of its Work In Progress line and as a result, has produced some excellent joggers.
Think streetwear styling with a workwear heart. Solid, reliable joggers that could stand up to some punishment, but wouldn’t look out of place with an oversized tee and a pair of Jordans.
You can’t think of sportswear and not think of Adidas. It’s impossible. The German label is so ingrained in the world of sporty clobber that it should go without saying that its joggers are some of the best around.
For high-tech fabrics, lightweight construction, retro styling and slim, modern fits, look no further.
Champion has been making comfortable sports apparel for the best part of a century, but despite its heritage and knack for experimenting with technical materials, it usually comes without the hefty prices that some sports luxe brands charge.
Its joggers collection includes slimline cuts for the street, technical pairs for the gym and comfortable fleece options for Netflix indulgences.
Additional reporting by Will Grice