Top Ten Sweatpants

Every year you want sweatpants for the holidays and nobody ever believes you because it’s like asking for socks or something right. That’s totally bullshit, sweatpants have officially become second to “no-pants” in the battle of The Best Pants to Wear For The Day. You know how they say bloggers work from home in their pajama pants? That’s not true, we work from home in our sweatpants. We don’t have pajama pants. We sleep naked. Anyhow.

Today I’m going to tell you the Top Ten Sweatpants according to me (except for one of them which is according to Senior Editor Rachel and two others which are according to Executive Editor Laneia). Because I’m only one girl, I encourage the rest of you to share your sweatpant recommendations in the comments, because we are all special snowflakes with different needs.

Top Ten Sweatpants

[not really in any particular order]

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1. Uni Sweatpants

Senior Editor Rachel loves her Sweatpants from Brandeis – which she says are either $29.98 or “something like 87 dollars.” Rachel graduated college in June and has probably forgotten about math, I think.

Rachel says: “The best sweatpants I own are ones I bought from my university bookstore. I was angry that they were like $87 or something but then I put them on and was like oh shit, these are the best sweatpants. They’re really thick and have pockets and also the band is really tight so they don’t sag. I also wanna share that sweatpants are like ALL I ASKED FOR this Christmas, but apparently no one thought I was serious because no one got me any.”

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2. Basic Champion/Hanes/Fruit of the Loom Sweatpants

These Champion sweatpants are not cute. Your butt will not be featured or showcased in any way. But they are warm, and they have pockets and they are SO SO CHEAP and especially good for laundry day (espesh if you’ve got quarters/keys to lug around)!  You can find similar styles peddled by Hanes and Fruit of the Loom. We recommend slaughtering the legholes at the bottom b/c the elastic thingie around your ankles is oppressive, like the patriarchy.

If you want basically the same cut but softer, in better colors, and way more expensive, try American Apparel’s Flex Fleece Sweatpants.

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3. “Lounge” Pants

Lounge Pants are just for ladies. You can wear these anywhere anytime. They feel like pajama pants, but they don’t have plaid or stripes, so you can wear them to the grocery store and people will think you just left the gym when really you just got out of a Buffy Marathon Coma and plan on returning to it asap.

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4. Hard Tail Yoga Pants

Once upon a time I went to the University of Michigan and befriended many girls from the New York Tristate Area who sported very expensive clothing/accessories. Although they were wrong about most of their fashion choices being “worth it,” they were totally right about Hard Tail yoga pants, they are THE BEST.

I have worn my ~4 pairs of Hard Tail pants literally EVERY SINGLE DAY, or at least every-other-day, since 2002.

here’s a day when i wore hard tail yoga pants and just happened to be in a photographers studio with my hair all shiny and windblown and wearing just enough makeup to look alluring yet workout-appropriate and my knee cocked “just so” to maximize the knobby-skinny-leg effect!

I KNOW THEY’RE EXPENSIVE but Hard Tail Roll Down Yoga Pants last forever and make everybody’s butt look cute. Even better are the Hard Tail Roll Down Bootleg Flare Pants because they are made out of thicker material so they last EVEN longer and are less HERE’S MY JUNK, etc.

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5. Status Sweatpants

e.g., Abercrombie, Hollister, Juicy

Your Abercrombie/Hollister sweatpants scream “I have money for sweatpants!” But everyone knows you weren’t on the Abercrombie Hockey Team. Don’t front.

(Sidenote: As a 5’10 human, I’ve found Abercrombie sweatpants ideal ’cause they’ve got a 36 inch inseam. Hollister however is for adolescent girls and people who only eat lettuce and mustard. American Eagle has cute stuff but runs too short for me.)

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6. Lesbian Status Sweatpants

Once upon a time someone bought me a pair of Free City sweatpants. They feel like heavenly clouds are embracing your thighs, but baggier. When I become v.rich/successful, I feel like Free City is the only “expensive” brand I’d ever patronize. I mean, also it’s an independent lesbian-owned business with super-ethical/green/community-oriented feelings.

However about a month ago, I turned on my closet light (a desk lamp in my closet), not realizing it was aimed directly at a stack of sweatpants, and I left it on for too long so it burned a hole in “FREE” and I almost cried.

These suckers are expensive, for example these cost $150, but your purchase will ensure Leisha Hailey has enough to eat.

not a lesbian but plays one on tv

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7. Grandpa-Style Pajama Pants / Sheet Pants

Exec Editor Laneia says: “These are sometimes referred to as ‘like hospital scrubs’ or, as I call them, ‘sheet pants,’ because they’re not jersey or flannel and they feel like bedsheets. You’ve got a drawstring elastic waist, straight roomy legs and if you’re the luckiest person on earth, pockets. These pants let the everyone know that your legs need to breathe and you are not cold. When you buy them from aerie or Old Navy in the spring / summer, you will enjoy the low-rise cut and the cute patterns and fuck if I don’t love a cute pattern.”

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8.  The Red Sweatpants

My BFF, rising star Haviland Stillwell, had this pair of Russell Athletics dark red sweatpants she always wore when she was in a state. She cut off the bottoms and there were slits on each side. This one night, I slept over at Haviland’s for the first time (mhm) and then the next morning when I missed my flight to New Orleans she let me borrow the pants. Eventually she gifted me the pants.

Basically, these are magic pants best suited to a mental breakdown. I can’t tell you where to buy them, I just wanted you to know.

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9. American Apparel Leggings

WHEN I WEAR MY AMERICAN APPAREL LEGGINGS I WANNA GET PHYSICAL, PHYSICAL/ I’M WEARING THEM RIGHT NOW also we think that leggings are the most HONEST KIND OF PANT.

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10. Threads for Thought Roll-Top Leggings

Exec Editor Laneia says: Rolling the top down on your Thread for Thought pants instantly makes them customized to you and your life and your body. Do you want the waistband of your pants to hit you mid-ass? Do it. Roll that shit down. Not feeling it today? Wanna pull ‘em all the way up under your boobs? FUCKING GO FOR IT I’M NOT HERE TO JUDGE THESE ARE YOUR PANTS.

Also hi hello, leggings are another way of fucking the patriarchy, because by wearing leggings, we’re highlighting yet another part of our body that/which we’re taught should look a certain way before we highlight it. Leggings are your way of saying “this is what my legs look like DEAL WITH IT.” The cutest girl in leggings isn’t the skinniest one or the tallest one or the one who goes to the gym the most, it’s the one with the smile on her face and the world in her heart.

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Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1760 articles for us.

115 Comments

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        you guys Free City is really serious about being really expensive. I used to sell other people’s old Free City shirts on ebay and people would pay over $100 for used Free City clothing because they’re so hard to find (only sold in like 3 regular stores and also at the two Free City superstores in California and Florida)and so expensive. That’s why it was so funny that The L Word cast was always decked out in Free City — they’d never be able to afford it. Shane, Tasha, Dana and Alice were always in Free City. Also Free City apparently outfitted The Kids are All Right, i noticed.

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          Yeah but they are all about being organic and environmentally friendly and also I think wash their clothing like 200 times before they put them up for sale, so they look comfy and worn in. And they also help support artist collectives etc.
          When I actually brought up how expensive their stuff is to Nina (Leisha’s girlfriend) who is the big boss…she looked at me horrified LOL I guess its just considered cheap in Hollywood maybe?

          Also randomly I was in some small mall in New Orleans and found a weird ladies clothing store (not a chain) and they carried FREE CITY, which at the time we thought really strange. Totes should have bought some there, as they were alot cheaper too.

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          Also did you notice that in The Kids Are Alright, the daughter has a poster of Uh Huh Her on her bedroom wall.

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    You guys Abercrombie sweatpants, seriously. They sell this really soft pair (I got em’ a while back, but let’s face it, Abercrombie never changes stock, they keep getting the same shit in)
    They’re a little thin, but they’re warm, and HOLY SHIT soft. They are so soft and comfy, and I wear them to ballet because they make me feel like my ass looks good, and I feel very ballerina like.

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    agree on the college sweats, except i like keeping that elastic ankle cuff on! back in college, i cut all of mine bc well, it looked stupid restricting your ankles like that. but then i grew up and realized, wait i dont want these dragging on the ground when i walk the dog or letting all that warmth out of my legs! well, that and the fact that the ankle cuff actually makes my legs look skinnier. it’s all about the vanity when you wear sweatpants, obviously =)

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    Sweatpants are like my second skin. After the hour of 4pm M-F and all day Sat and Sun, I live in a rotation of 4 pairs of college sweats (one of which school I actually attended, just posing with Princeton). I wear them everywhere. I don’t care. I am comfortable and I feel cute and “athletic” but mostly just happy.

    Understandably, then, I harbor a boiling hatred for my co-workers who are gym teachers and get to wear a variety of sweatpant-like apparel EVERY DAY while I suffer in my “professional attire.”

    Goal: to not have to wear professional attire for the rest of my working life.

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    I live in sweatpants at home but never leave the house in them because I fearI’ve reached the age when people see that as a sign of a person having “given up”. I worry about this because I judge other middle-aged lesbians by their shoes and think that most of them have “given up”.

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      I’m like this as well. It’s weird but I usually feel MORE self-conscious wearing sweatpants outside than I do regular pants, because they are so often stigmatized by fashion people.

      However the pants in the pictures above look pretty hot–I love that this article is changing my mind about comfy pants. SWEATPANTS ADVOCACY.

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        Yes I absolutely cannot wear sweat/yoga/pajama pants outside of the house because it makes me feel so weird, like I forgot to get out of bed or something, or haven’t showered for five days (and I’m someone who showers promptly every morning). I don’t LIKE being too comfortable I guess if I’m where anybody can see me. (Also I think it is kind of a bad look. But if I try hard enough I can understand why people might want to do it.)

        However, all that said, Yes To Sheet Pants, Laneia! They are the best kind of in-home pant.

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    University sweatpants! I think my swagger increases tenfold when wearing them.

    Protip: Buy an XS from the menfolk’s section for 30% of the price of the neon colored ones geared towards sorority girls and the incidental drag queen.

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    This is right up my alley being a freelancer who works from home. I basically LIVE in sweatpants. I sleep in them, I do work in them, I walk my dog in them. I wish this was not the case, but its sort of inevitable. Looks like I have some new brands to buy.

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    BASIC CHAMPION SWEATPANTS YES. Sure, the pants I’m wearing could probably fit a massively overweight man but I don’t care because I am warm and comfy and have lots of leg space. Perfect for lounging in bed with a laptop at 2:30 in the afternoon, yep.

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    Is anyone else obsessed with the Under Armor heat gear leggings?? i got them a few years ago for a ski trip, but now i just end up wearing them around the house all the time

    oh and i third the autostraddle sweatpants. also more ‘autostraddle this’ tshirts cause you all sold out way too fast.

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    the old brandeis sweats i had were on sale and probably mens or something because the crotch came down to my shins basically. walking was difficult and i waddled like no other.

    thanks so much for this post. seems like AS has once again been reading my mind which has been probably 40% sweatpants lately. which is a lot given what i’m supposed to be focusing on.

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    I almost squealed when I read the title of this article. I don’t squeal. Not ever. Everyday I log onto to Autostraddle, I am further impressed by its ability to ‘get’ me. The fact that I can find articles on sweatpants and DADT all in the same website amazes me over and over again. You ladies rock. You don’t even know.

  11. Pingback: In Defense of Sweatpants at Bunchland

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    Unfortunately, my college sweatpants and shirts for that matter are faded and starting to fall apart.
    That being said, I acquired a pair of soft sweats from my partner…via the US Army. Have to say, I now own a few sets of military sweats (my younger brother is in the Navy). They are cheap to acquire and are typically made by Soffe or Champion.
    I also dig your basic Russell sweats. Soft and last forever.
    I dunno if I could spend $150 on sweatpants.
    Oh and I live in pajama pants year round…at home or at work (note picture-scrubs).

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      marshmallows were the shizz

      now i have pt pants which are track pants and they’re ok but they make that annoying swishy sound that i associate with the 90’s and childhood terror of being a fat kid and trying to run.

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    hmm.
    I’m kind of afraid to be the dissenting voice here, but I feel like wearing sweatpants outside of the house is a faux pas. And something only Americans do. In my experience anyway.

    Some of the examples above are pretty cute, but sweatpants remind me too much of the time my grandma wore them to my brother’s super formal wedding and we were all embarrassed.

    Much love to y’all!

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      I dunno, I see Australians outside in sweatpants all the freaking time. Except they call them “trackies” here. But I refuse, just like how I don’t go to the petrol station, I go to the MFin’ GAS STATION.

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      plenty of people wear track suits like they were born in them here in glasgow; I see people walking their dogs and whatnot in sweatsuits, particularly juicy couture and more expensive ones in geneva and the surrounding suburbs.

      They’re comfortable and quick to put on for small errands and chores outside the house but I don’t think people in europe, particularly continental europe, find sweats as acceptable for all day usage.

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    So somehow when I got to the home page I saw the photo of a shirtless girl in sweatpants and thought “MISS JANUARY IS HERE AND SHE’S HOT!”…but it wasn’t her. Bummer.

    If you can’t tell,I’m super excited to see who will be Miss January!

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    here’s a day when i wore hard tail yoga pants and just happened to be in a photographers studio with my hair all shiny and windblown and wearing just enough makeup to look alluring yet workout-appropriate and my knee cocked “just so” to maximize the knobby-skinny-leg effect!

    Also, “taut exposed midriff.” How dare you.

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    Not to brag but I got socks and sweatpants for Christmas this year, and I only asked for the latter. I second the Hard Tail Yoga Pants. I’d never wear them myself but I spent my four years in Ann Arbor staring at sorority girl asses (in a completely non-objectifying way, in fact, call it research for this comment) and those pants work wonders.

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    I heart this post so much. And clothes from university bookstores are the best. I bought a sweatshirt from my university like five years ago and it has holes all over it and is basically falling apart but is still the most comfortable thing I’ve ever owned.

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    everytime something brandeis is mentioned in an article, i just about pee myself. and lemme tell you. those deis sweatpants are the BEST to borrow from your girlfriend after a night of hot strap-on sex.

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    The abercrombie pants are by far my fav but nothing beats a simple pair of surgical scrubs. They can beat the cost on any pants you’ve mentioned so far. They are free, u just take a pair from your nearest hospital. Soooo comfy!!

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    this article <3
    best thing about 2k11 so far. i think.

    roots has been mentioned already but these sweatpants, http://bit.ly/gqTXL9 SPECIFICALLY THESE F$%#$NG SWEATPANTS, i live in them. i drink in them, cry in them, i clean in them, dance love scream etc.

    the only thing i won't do is leave the house in them. I CAN'T. literally can not. there's like, a force field blocking me from exiting the premises that also screams 'it only takes 5 seconds to throw on jeans ya lazy trick' until i feel bad enough about myself that i just comply.

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    I am so thrilled that AS wrote an article about sweatpants! Yeahhhhhh!!!!!!! So bad ass.

    I think for a lot of people, the first connotation that sweat pants bring to mind is lounging. For me, they’re a uniform. Not for all the time, but definitely for when training. Parkour, gymnastics, weight lifting: gotta be wearing the sweats! Especially the #2 variety! As soon as I put ‘em on it’s like I can do things I otherwise couldn’t. Howev’s, I resent the comment about the oppressive ankle elastic. That’s a feature I seek out in my sweats, because it prevents them from swooshing around to much when, say, taking huge strides or doing hand springs over railiings, etc. Also works much better for ninja stealth.

    The other cool thing I’ve noticed about sweats, is that if I pair them with a ball cap and walk a certain way, I’m suddenly the sketchiest person on this side of the street (at least at night). It’s definitely funny/interesting to see how differently people react to you when passing for a man/hobo. Gender and class issues brought to the fore! Kyahhh!

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    Also: your ex-girlfriend’s sweats. You jacked them from her before things started to suck, and managed to keep them (yeah, long-distance relationships that conclude with a phone break-up, yes, amazing) because you never bothered/had a chance to parcel out yours from hers.

    It sort of makes up for her retaining one of your favorite hoodies.

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    I thought why should I even bother reading this- I don’t wear sweatpants…but I wear a ton of lounge pants, live in my old hard tails that are no longer suitable to wear to yoga and leggings- best thing ever with all my boot and socks! Thank you AS- I’m off to buy the roll downs.

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      I LOVE my Temple sweatpants! I’m pretty sure my pair cost at least $87 freshman year, too. Everything in that bookstore cost an obscene amount of money. BUT THEY HAVE POCKETS! (That’s how I validated spending a small fortune on them.)

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    question: I just clicked the link for the American Apparel leggings and it took me to Amazon. I know that if I buy things off of Amazon after linking to it from Autostraddle ya’ll get $$, but does this mean that I can buy things from other companies through Amazon and you STILL get $$? Because if this is true I will never go to a store again.

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    I dislike Abercrombie sweats and Victoria Secret sweats with a PASSION… Its a burning passion that sits in my stomach and explodes in my b rain when i see them… UGHHHH… “school logo” sweats/sweaters anything. Is it just me? I really like lounge type/pajama bottoms though super comfy.

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    Except, you just listed every type of sweatpant available just about, you didn’t really call out any specific brands and say where to buy them. Aside from the obvious stuff that everyone else already owns, or doesn’t because they don’t like it. Abercrombie? Sure, but don’t we already know that. I have a pair of heavy cotton sweats I got at Target like 6 years ago, and I have been wearing them like crazy since. Because they don’t sell these anymore, and I don’t know where to find another pair.

    Also, Champion? Crust!

    Lastly, Uni sweats. Boring. Let me go down to the goodwill and find 32 pairs of those for $1 (which is awesome, but #1? Seriously?)

    How about a list of The Most Comfortable Pants in The World for Being as Lazy as Possible, While Still Looking Good, and where to buy them?

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    Is a guy allowed to weigh in? I have probably 12 pairs of sweatpants and I live in them when I’m not at work (teaching). I’m partial to my purple ones from Furman University (took some students on a college visit there, but all anyone wanted to do was go to the giftshop to buy purple clothing). But my absolute favorite is my forest green Jerzees nu-blend pair that I got for $20 on eBay. I basically exclusively wear elastic ankle sweats because I always walk around barefoot and I don’t like my pants going under my feet and getting dirty and frayed. They don’t have pockets, regrettably, so I can’t tote my cell around the house but that’s the only drawback. They have some kind of really soft waist area too and they even look good if I have my shirt off on hot days at home, because the waist is kind of low-rise. I love these freakin things so much that when I broke up with a girlfriend earlier this year while she was actually wearing my favorite pair, she refused to return them so I went and splurged another $20 on new ones. :D

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