Privilege Blog

What’s With The $200 Sweatpants?

Apparently, luxe sweatpants are in. How fortuitous. I need sweatpants for sitting on the sofa to write, I need presentable same for running out the door to do errands. If you wonder why the dual requirement, it has been proven that Sturdy Gals don’t like to change their sofa clothes for anything less than dinners out.

Nice dinners out.

But my goodness, the gap between regular Champion sweats and Helmut is steep. For example, here are some common garden variety $14.99 athletic pants via Amazon. All-out comfort, in Eco Fleece, whatever the heck that is.

Champion Sweat Pants

Now consider some of the luxe varietals. These are the outfit components I’m thinking of; quirky shoes, carefree top, sweats. To put on first thing in the morning and wear all day. Any time I invest in a new garment category or silhouette, I try to envision the entire outfit first. Off to Polyvore.

See, I know there’s some chance that this attractive comfort strategy will make me look like a clown, but it’s worth a try.


Untitled #174

By the way, I don’t object, morally, to these prices ($200 was a bit of an exaggeration). While I might think to myself, “They are SWEATPANTS for god’s sake!” given what has been done with, or to, denim, sneakers, clogs, bottled water, and doughnuts, I suppose we can consider fancy sweats. After all, I do want an elastic waist. I do want some room in the seat and knees. I do want to be able to throw it all in the washing machine. But I also want to look, as my mother would say, attractive.

Will the luxe versions deliver? What do you think? I’m ordering the blue Misericordia, because they remind me of 80s Japanese gear I knew and loved.

A final confession. Although we are supposed to wear heels with our fashionable sweats, as Sally did here, I’m also ordering those Beautifeel boots. For better or worse my foot problems have left me unable to wear heels, at all. I will report back, with photos, no matter how silly I look. Oof, I must really love you.

Any predictions on the outcome? Class, or clown?

Images/products (some of these links will generate income to be donated to Dress for Success
Champion Women’s Eco Fleece Closed Bottom Pant, Oxford Gray, Medium, via Amazon
Gray Clu Panelled Sweats via Saks
Black Helmut Lang Sweats via Saks
Blue Misericordia sweats via Yoox (BTW), Yoox has an offer right now: Free Standard Shipping on Orders Over $150 on Discount applied at checkout
Navy art-decorated tee via
Stella McCartney for Adidas striped top via Zappos
Gray and white striped top by Alexander Wang via La Garçonne
Cole Hahn Alisa Oxford (in orange) via Amazon
Beautifeel Marion boot, via Beautifeel shop<

71 Responses

  1. The thought of heels with sweats makes me unreasonably angry. Please. Just don’t. I know you can’t due to your feet, but pretend you could and reassure me you never WOULD.

    I would go for one splurgey high end pair of sweats, plus a pair or two from Lululemon or Athleta, and then Target for all the rest.

    1. I looked at the “sweats” at and it instructs “dry clean only”. To me, that alone inidicates clothing that is the antithesis of what I consider “sweats”. But, I have to say they are nice looking!

  2. IMHO, sweatpants are inappropriate to wear outside one’s home unless one is indulging in actual athletic activity. they represent the degradation of our collective national appearance.
    so many people go out dressed—if one can even use that term—like slobs. there is a difference between what one wears indoors and what one wears in public. sweatpants—even of the $200 variety— belong in the former category.
    dressing for yourself, in the house, is all about you—as it should be. au contraire, dressing well for others is a sign of respect.
    furthermore, an elastic waist on any garment invites overindulgence in food. recall the tight french fashions of the 1970s. one seldom saw fat people. once the loose italian fashions took hold, people ballooned out. try wearing tight pants to dinner and you will bring home a filled doggie bag.

  3. Oh I am looking forward to your sweat pants ensemble. I do not own a pair and have not had any for years but I do love comfort!
    The Lands’ End performance pants are my walking uniform and I have worn them out to run errands but it feels like I am getting away with something….
    besides Mother might see me and then I would be forever shamed:-))

    Eco fleece sounds green….I wonder what they do to get that title.

  4. Those Misericordia pants look miserable! All that excess fabric and “waist wings”! Paired with heels….aw do it! It will be a great laugh!

  5. High heels with sweats is plain silly. That said, I do not own any single pair of sweats and if I did I sure as hell would not wear them outside the house. But these days anything goes, I guess as witnessed in pairing heels and sweats. ;)

  6. Well, jeans were invented for the original forty-niners, and now they sell for hundreds of dollars, and (in my area anyway) are worn to the nicest restaurants.

    I seem to be behind the fashion curve by 3-5 years. I hate something new, then I get used to it, then I like it. That’s a sign that it’s already passe!

  7. Interesting to think about a “retirement wardrobe”- What about Eileen Fisher, bits of vintage mixed in and global haram pants?

  8. Not sure I can bring myself to actual dressy sweatpants, but I do rather like the trousers that are shaped like sweatpants. Same silhouette and elastic waistband or drawstring, but different material.

    I prefer a pair of good old ballet flats or a very delicate heel rather than a plump pump.

  9. I like that t-shirt with the subdued animal print… Sweats… I can’t. Maybe for yoga class. Actually, I sometimes drop off my children right before yoga class or a run and I feel totally embarrassed to be wearing sporty clothes. I see people doing it around me all the time… Is there something wrong with me?

  10. Oh LPC, you have always made your own rules [“impunity”], so this will be fun to watch because I don’t think you’ve assembled an outfit FAIL to date [although I did not like the lavender sheath with the wool houndstooth, but lots of your readers DID!]. Eileen Fisher has some snazzy loose pants on an elastic waist, especially good looking for going sofa-to-errands.

  11. I would vote for the Eco fleece (quite reasonable priced) and the Cole Haan Alisa Oxford look pretty smart too.
    Do those Marion boots come with wings & wand?

  12. I think I’ll give the sweats a miss, but I have some Mountain Hardware “butter” yoga pants that are so comfortable and stylish that I’m not afraid to be seen in them in public.

  13. i summoned the sweatshirt-dress equivalent of that helmut piece (tops and dresses, note, being the only acceptable iteration of sweatpants beyond one’s front door; if you really want to take the look all the way down, do it with a dress) and was seriously disappointed in the acid-wash fabric. too stiff, unflattering. harem pants, if you must?

    1. Thanks for the info. I just don’t find dresses relaxing. I am sure there’s some sort of psychology at work.

  14. love this and think it will look great. i happen to think older people look very good in athletic inspired outfits. it projects a sense of fitness and activity – health.

  15. I thought that the sweatpants out in public were popular 5 years ago, when “Desperate housewives” made it a permanent feature of their wardrobes. It had long died since then. I know, because I was trying to clean out my closet and took my Juicy Couture sweatsuit to Plato’s Closet and they did not accept them on the grounds “young people don’t wear it anymore”. Ugh.

  16. I have a sweatpants wardrobe divided between dressy (can be worn in public) and not (can barely walk to the end of my driveway for fear of being seen). That said, I don’t think you can dress up sweats with heels or other dressy shoe without looking/feeling a bit silly. I wear my dress sweats (from Lululemon) with a very nice athletic shoe. I also think that whether you can wear sweats in public to run errands depends on where you live. When I lived in Malibu wearing sweats was ubiquitous. Now that I live in town and run my errands in an area of high-end boutiques and galleries, I’m uncomfortable wearing even my dressy sweats to the grocery store. I think the same would hold in San Francisco and its suburbs.

  17. I love my grey sweatpants, I live in them and they are starting to thin at the bottom but I have worn them non stop for ten years. I love comfort more than anything. But I would never have sent that much on them!

  18. I think you may be going down a very slippery slope. I’m all about comfort and deconstructed fashion…to a point. But that’s just me. I don’t think sweats look good on anyone except athletes.

    I’m also guessing most of your readers, myself included, no longer have the bodies of athletes, anymore.

    No matter what the price point, though, sweats are still sweats.

  19. Working from home I tend to find myself wearing sweats more than I should. I am just not sure I can bring myself to spend a lot of money on them. Target seems to be the right price point for me.

  20. I am not much of a ‘sweats’ gal when it comes to outside of the home but I must say those blue Misericordia sweatpants have caught my eye! Can’t wait to see what kind of chic magic you work on the sweats, definitely ‘class’!

  21. This is not a style town and people wear sweats outside here. I refuse to be sucked into that. Well OK I wore my champion workout shorts to splash through the surf at the beach this weekend, but beyond that, no, I do not believe pants with cuffs will do and I am a casual, casual person. My go-to casual pants are swishy cotton widelegs from XCVI. They have drawstring waists and are comfy stretch poplin, but they are also uncommon-looking and they totally class up the joint. They are good for everything from daily wear to the ballroom dance floor depending on the top you choose. I get many compliments on outfits that consist of drapey tunic top and drapey wide legs, whether I’m at the grocery store or out socializing. That might not be quite your style, but, what I’m saying is — there are alternatives!

  22. I actually live in my James Perse capsule wardrobe these days….gorgeously luxe sweats if you will. Dress em up, dress em down, they are basically perfect. I should mention that I live in Los Angeles so luxury casual is always acceptable.

    Kat: Juicy Couture sweats are not in the same category…the fabrication and styling are different and the name/bling factor definitely dates it. I think you are right that they’ve been out at least five years.

  23. I just can’t.

    Also, the kind of sweats that have a tight ankle or elastic at the bottom of each leg is an item I would never wear outside of my house. And even in my house, I have long-preferred the looser-fitting ones. I even took the elastic out of the boarding-school issue Winter gym class sweatpants!


  24. A very good, and often inexpensive, alternative to sweats is yoga pants. Many are now so well cut you can hardly tell them from trousers. Boot cut and long, cropped, or skinny as leggings, they look great with a good blazer, sweater or jacket. Great inexpensive yoga gear at Target and Gap, or go crazy at Lululemon. Nike and many other sports brands are available online, discounted deeply, or hit the sales at Sports Authority.

    Sweatpants with elastic at the bottom? Today? Never. Not since the 80s!

    1. Yes, definitely agree. No adult should be wandering around in pants that gather around the ankle unless they are doing something appropriately athletic.

    2. See, the thing is, I am looking for something with space around the seat. My only real other alternative is boyfriend jeans. Which might be the answer:).

  25. Happy retirement! Never have liked sweats. In the house, out of the house, with heels or with sneaks! They just aren’t attractive. Yoga pants? OK, if you’re doing or have done yoga that day. Otherwise, not a fan of that look either.
    Have you tried the NYJD leggings? They have a very comfy wide knot waist that works under a variety of tops. Legs are trim and can be tucked into boots or worn with cute flats or sneaks if you like!

  26. L.A. style: very expensive clothes that look casual or beat up. Sweats anywhere, if they’re the right brand. I love living this way myself – home, gym, out to movies, even dinner if it’s not a super expensive restaurant. Even then, the men here can get away with almost anything, anywhere – torn jeans, sweats, etc- women a little more decorative if you want to be a hip couple.

    Also, there IS a difference in the way Champions fit and look vs. some of the more expensive “sweat” pants. Accessories and hair & makeup also make a huge difference between intentional casual chic… and just sloppy.

  27. You sweatpants? Pulease. Just put a bathrobe on if you’re going to be laying around on the couch.You have an amazing bod so go for it. Love those crazy blue pants with wings. Also NYDJ has great very confortabe legging pants that look very cool but look put together. That and any one of your tops and you’re good to go. You know I don’t know anyone who wears sweat pants anymore. It’s Yoga! But as I said you can get away with anything.

  28. Those blue ones don’t look like sweatpants to me – they look like the trendy pants the designers on Project Runway keep making this season. My current favorite sofa attire is jeans with a lot of stretch in the fabric, including in the waistband.

  29. Sweat pants (aka tracky dacks down here in the Antipodes) are rather polarising. The only time I can bring myself to wear them in public is if I’ve been exercising and have to pick up some milk on the way home, or if my back is in a bad way and I can’t get anything else on. Yes, a dress works, but not if you have to spend part of the day doing inelegant stretches on the floor. I do have a lovely pair of soft black draped pants with an elastic waist which I adore. Narrow at the ankle, crotch in the correct location, soft folds from the waist and hips, with decent pockets that I can pretend there are ferrets playing in. Expensive French things, but they do need a fitted top. And they work with either flats or ankles. But I’m not wearing them to do the gardening!!!

  30. I am not a fashionista–in spite of living in the world of glitzy fashion (Dallas, Texas). I always leave our house looking my best–no exceptions allowed. This means freshly showered, good hair, full makeup, attractive clothing. At the same time, I am a homemaker. While I am often a lady who lunches, the rest of the time I am an errand runner, a grocery shopper, a gardener, a closet cleaner and a cook. I like the be comfortable. I like to have an array of clothing for my work. Lately, I’ve been thinking that J Jill may have what I need. I’ve been looking at their wares and have been pleased–comfortable tops and pants–not expensive, things that hold up well in the laundry, and can be worn all day.

  31. $200 for sweatpants? Lisa, this flies right in the face of Sturdy Gal logic. I won’t spend more than $75 for fab jeans, never mind sweatpants. Please *do not* fall for this egregious marketing scam. Get thee to Big 5 (or Lululemon, which is plenty trendy), and feel oh-so-good for putting $200 toward something really nummy and stylish that will generate far more impact and satisfaction.

    The red booties are fab, however.

  32. Interesting comments. Has there ever been as much dissent here?

    Yoga pants in public are rare here. I saw a young woman do the dressed sweatpants thing yesterday and remember thinking “meh”, not “cool”.

    I understand the need to be comfortable at home but prefer a different silhouette. My uniform would be something a bit dancer-ish, elastic waist palazzo pants with a tighter tee, cache-coeur or tunic. It would feel more feminine which is something I enjoy as I’m getting older. Paired with flat shoes and a leather jacket this could go anywhere.

    The above combinations don’t really speak to me.

  33. Wow as usual I’m late to the round table but I totally agree with all who have suggested yoga pants, or workout pants.

    It’s a sleeker fit, no bagging and much more flattering to the behind.

    Nobody wants a saggy looking ass and I’m afraid that;s eventually where sweats lead us.

    Nike, even the Gap or or course, Lululemon will fit the bill.

    Just try on a pair, you have a fabulous shape. Be comfortable and show it off.


    xo Jane

  34. Have you seen the skirt/pants that Viviennefiles has as part of her core wardrobe? I don’t know if I like them…but I definitely don’t like the blue “sweats – for inside our outside.

    Having said that, why do I have to like them? If you can rock them, you go, girl!

  35. I am :-0 at the thought that it is normal in parts of America to wear workout clothes out and about on the street?!!! How can this be? Are people going to start wearing their pyjamas to the supermarket soon? When one does have to go out of one’s home, how much effort does it take to put on a dress and a pair of pretty flats? Merely seconds! Please no, otherwise you will erroneously look like some scatty old lady who can’t manage buttons and zips any more and as a last resort has to suffer the indignity of wearing sweat pants in public.

    1. Oh yes, pyjamas, matching tops and bottoms, are the new thing on the celebrity circuit. I’m not kidding.

  36. I don’t hate the idea as much as some apparently do, but I can’t see spending money to have a separate “casual leisure” wardrobe. I’m already miserly enough with what I plunk down for running and yoga/Pilates gear. Jeans are comfy enough for me, especially these days with all the Lycra. . . .

  37. I clicked through your amazon link and ordered the grey pair for my daughter. This is exactly what she’s been needing for gym class, so thanks!

    And gym class is where they belong.

    I live in Berkeley where almost everyone walks around in fleeces and yoga pants (not me, you understand), so sweat pants wouldn’t be out of place here exactly. But they would also never be dressed up in this way.

    1. I really appreciate the support of those links for Dress for Success. And yes, I know the Berkeley look well.

    1. Those fabulous pointed/sparkled-toe Jimmy Choos, I knowww! How miserable must she have been walking those courthouse steps up and down? Well, she can always “auction” them here for her favorite charity, maybe even get a higher price since she won the Lily Lemontree best-dressed-celebrity-of-the-week competition in those shoes.

    2. I can wear them if all I have to do is walk out of an Uber car and into a restaurant and sit down:).

  38. I don’t wear sweat pants except when it is really cold and I am in for the day. I do love Green Tea brand when I buy them or their yoga pants and sweatshirts. If I’m going to look too comfortable I may as well feel good too. And they still leave me change in my wallet.

  39. I don’t like gathered bottoms, baggy knees and rump-sprung rear views that come with sweat pants. Black yoga pants? Extra-stretchy Yoga (brand) jeans? A flowy skirt? There must be alternatives.

  40. Sweatpants. I have never had a pair of those. I hope, I never will.
    If I wore sweatpants, I could not get anything sensible done.
    Sweatpants are lazy pants ; ).

  41. I admit I am one of those silly types who DOES drive to the gas station at 2 AM for smokes and odwalla juice in her monogrammed Brooks Bros. pjs covered over w/ a monogrammed seersucker bathrobe shod in rubber-soled printed canvas mules I wear as slippers. At that hour, no one I know is out so I have this notion, I’m “safe”, I also put on lipstick, carry my good purse. Why should I change to drive five blocks? I don’t own sweats, I look like hell in them. I prefer a cotton tunic over leggings. I would never wear heels with such an outfit, just one of the many pairs of ballerinas I have in different finishes and colors. I throw my lot in with the women who think it silly to spend $200 on sweats. There are so many other choices in which to invest one’s hard-earned capital. I have been following this blog for awhile, and I have not done a Search” in the Archives, I’d like to see when one of the other cornerstones of privilege has been discussed: philanthropy.

  42. The first two pairs look like $10 sweatpants to me. Maybe in person, you can see where the money is but not from here. I’d rather buy Eileen Fisher’s stretch crepe pant for comfort, style that you can dress up or down, and fabric that you can throw into the washing machine at the end of the day. The Yamamotos look cuter but I think on me, they’d just add bulk where I don’t need bulk.

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