Track pants are slouchy trousers, originally designed as warm-ups for athletes to wear over shorts in order to keep muscles from getting cold. Also known as joggers, tearaway pants, and in some cases, sweatpants, the classic track pant usually has an elastic waist and cuffs, making them easy to put on and take off over other layers. While track pants still have a utilitarian purpose for athletes, fashion has taken the design and turned it into a comfy trend.
The original track pant—or sweatpant, as it was dubbed—was designed in the early part of the 20th century as athletic wear. It was made from basic gray jersey “sweatshirt material,” much like its corresponding garment, the original sweatshirt. The domain of athletes for several decades, track pants and tracksuits entered pop culture in the 1980s and 1990s as the hip-hop uniform. In the early 2000s, velour track pants came into style, as a precursor to today’s trend. More recently, the design has come into high fashion, with track pants being made from leather, silk, cashmere, and velvet.
Now we know—track pants are not just for the track. Nor are they just for the gym. Sure, they made have started out as workout pants, but now you can actually get away with wearing them just about anywhere. Track pants have a baggy, forgiving silhouette, and stretchy waists and cuffs, making them pajama-like in fit. Some track pants are quite casual, more like sweats, while others have dressier cuts and materials. The design often features pockets, possibly with zippers, and a drawstring waist. Length is typically ankle, or a bit longer, though there are cropped and long slouchy styles as well. Drop crotch and harem track pants are also on trend.
There is a track pant for nearly every occasion, from barely leaving the house all the way to the boardroom. Let’s say it’s the weekend and you’re headed out for brunch and errands. Try a lightweight cotton or crepe track pant with sandals, a designer tee, and a leather jacket. Take your style into the workweek, but this time try a silk track pant with a blouse, blazer, and statement necklace to complete your outfit. Remember, the right layers on your upper half, and your accessories, can transform track pants from no effort to effortlessly chic.