Joggers vs. Sweatpants: What They Are and How to Wear Them (2023 Guide)
What’s the difference between joggers and sweatpants?
A lot, actually.
Even though they may seem quite similar, their differences are substantial. There is a time and place to wear sweatpants and plenty of occasions where that would be the worst idea possible.
Joggers, on the other hand, have become a staple of fashion-forward individuals who want the perfect combination of comfortable and classy.
But what’s the difference between the two?
Joggers vs. Sweatpants: What’s the Difference?
Joggers and sweatpants are not the same thing.
They actually differ in several ways.
As we just alluded to, joggers are much more stylish. They’re also lightweight, versatile, and flexible compared to sweatpants, which are usually thicker, heavier, and intended for cold weather.
That said, both sweatpants and joggers are excellent for maintaining an active lifestyle as the temperature drops. While most joggers are on the lighter side, you can find plenty of options that will keep you warmer when contending with colder months.
But while there is some overlap between sweatpants and joggers, here are three areas where they are especially different.
Let’s start with what kinds of fabrics you’ll find in sweatpants and joggers.
What Fabric Are Sweatpants Made Of?
The most popular materials you’ll find when shopping for sweatpants are:
- Cotton Polyester Blend
A cotton polyester blend is probably the most popular option, though fleece and cotton are definitely up there among people who want a warmer option.
The big advantage of cotton sweatpants is that they are soft and breathable but also do a good job of wicking away moisture, so you can wear them when you just want to be comfortable or if you’re working out.
Those made with a cotton-polyester blend are going to have a little more stretch to them, but they’re also a bit more durable, too. Cotton-polyester blends make for affordable sweatpants, too.
What Fabrics Aer Joggers Made Of?
Joggers, on the other hand, are usually made from fleece, cotton, or polyester.
However, as joggers tend to be on the “fancier” side, you’ll find a wide variety of fabrics among joggers. Other fabrics include:
Fabrics aren’t the only area in which these two clothing items differ, though, so let’s look at another important area.
Sweatpants and joggers are going to fit differently, too.
It’s not just because of their respective fabrics, either. These two types of pants are designed differently, as well.
How Sweatpants Fit
Unless you’ve been living under a rock your entire life, you probably don’t need me to tell you how sweatpants fit.
Still, in order to better compare them to joggers, let’s take a closer look.
Sweatpants are usually on the baggier side with a looser fit. As we mentioned earlier, their material usually makes them a bit heavier and thicker, too. These fabrics make sweatpants nice and soft, too. This is why sweatpants are the quintessential loungewear.
How Joggers Fit
Joggers have a slimmer, more form-fitting design.
We’ll cover this in more detail momentarily, but this is because joggers aren’t for lounging like sweatpants. Most people consider joggers to be the type of activewear you can put on and wear outside the house.
Sweatpants usually have a straight-leg fit that is loose around the ankles, though some may be tapered.
Joggers are always tapered, though they may not be especially tight around the ankles. Some feature cuffs. Again, this tends to make them a bit more acceptable as pants you can wear outside the house. Similarly, while sweatpants may also have a looser waistband, joggers have elasticized waistbands that give them a snugger fit.
Perhaps the biggest difference between joggers and sweatpants is simply when it’s socially acceptable to wear them.
Joggers may not be overly formal, but more and more, you’ll notice people wearing them in public. They might not be appropriate for work or wearing to nice restaurants, but joggers are perfect for all kinds of casual activities when slacks, khakis, and even jeans might seem like more trouble than they’re worth.
Sweatpants can definitely be worn out of the house, but most people would agree that those instances should be few and far between.
After all, most of these super-comfortable pants are just a step above a bathrobe. While you can certainly wear them to the gym or out for a run, if you wear them to run errands or out for happy hour, people will start talking.
So, in short:
- Joggers = casual pants you can proudly wear outside the house
- Sweatpants = comfy pants for the couch, gym, or running trail
Now that you know how sweatpants and joggers differ, let’s talk more about the latter, so you can add a pair to your wardrobe ASAP.
How Joggers Became So Popular
A few years ago, joggers were almost unheard of, but in recent years, they’ve become a staple amongst people who take fashion seriously, as well as people who simply want an alternative to conventional pants.
1. Joggers Are Super Comfortable
And that seems to be the driving force behind their recent popularity.
Joggers really became a trendy fashion item in 2022, the same year that saw the return of baggy jeans and the rise of crocheted tops.
Clearly, comfort is back in a big way.
With joggers, wearers get the perfect combination of pants that feel great but also look fashionable, too. Most come with plenty of pocket space, too.
2. Joggers + Comfortable Shoes = Perfect Fit
Joggers also pair perfectly with tennis shoes, another super-comfortable clothing item that doesn’t always work with other pants.
Minimalist shoes are a great option for keeping your outfit with joggers super casual, but many people go the opposite route and choose running shoes like On Cloudrunners or basketball shoes like the classic Nike Airforce Ones.
We’ll cover some more daring options below when we explore how you can wear your joggers, but sufficed to say, there’s no reason to splurge on expensive footwear or uncomfortable shoes.
3. Joggers Are Extremely Flattering
Another really underrated aspect of joggers is that they’re very flattering for any body type. Yoga pants and other leggings have been extremely popular for more than a decade now, but not everybody loves the idea of wearing something so form-fitting just to run errands.
Joggers can manage to still be very flattering without hugging every single curve of your lower body.
But again, unlike sweatpants (which do the same thing), joggers are still extremely stylish.
4. There Are Joggers for Every Occasion
We’re going to cover this in much more detail in the next section, but there’s a wide range of joggers out there. This has made them incredibly popular as many people have built their casual wardrobes around just a few different pairs of these pants.
That might mean owning a couple very affordable options from Champion or some higher-end joggers like a pair from Todd Snyder.
Of course, if you have an extra $1,000 lying around, you could also go with a super-luxury pair like joggers from Elder Statesmen.
4 Different Types of Joggers to Try in 2023
Joggers have become increasingly popular in recent years, and designers have been experimenting with different styles and shapes. As a result, there are now four main types of joggers, something for every activity in your life.
1. Lounge Joggers
For those looking for a comfortable and relaxed pair of pants to wear around the house, lounge joggers are the best option.
These joggers have a loose fit and are typically made of a material that prioritizes comfort over performance, such as fleece or French terry.
Lounge joggers offer plenty of room to move around and relax while still looking put-together, making them perfect for lounging on the couch or even hanging out with friends in a casual setting.
2. Sporty Joggers
Sporty joggers are the original and classic type of joggers, and they are still the go-to choice for many people when it comes to athletic wear.
However, the appearance of sporty joggers has changed significantly since the invention of sweatpants in the 1920s.
Today's sporty joggers are made from performance and technical fabrics that are moisture-wicking, breathable, and odor-fighting, such as bamboo performance fabric.
Sporty joggers have a thinner silhouette and flatter the figure while still providing the necessary range of motion for a serious workout.
3. Everyday Joggers
For pants you can wear outside the house, everyday joggers are the perfect choice for those who want to combine comfort and style in their daily lives.
These versatile pants can easily transition from lounging on the couch to running errands or even going out with friends to brunch, happy hour, or seeing a game.
Everyday joggers are ideal for a range of errands, too, such as picking up the kids from school, going to the grocery store, catching a flight, or heading to the dentist. These joggers are one of the most versatile articles of clothing on the market, offering both style and comfort.
4. Smart Joggers
Smart joggers are another version you can proudly wear in public. They are stylish and comfortable alternatives to traditional pants.
These joggers have more tailored and tapered legs than the other three types of joggers we covered above, creating a flattering silhouette that shows off your legs.
The material used for smart joggers is typically fine-gauge cotton or a similar fabric that avoids sagging and bunching at the knees, preventing the disheveled look often associated with sweatpants.
Smart joggers can be worn to parties, out to dinner, casual meetings, and other somewhat formal events, as long as they are styled appropriately. They allow you to look great and put together without sacrificing comfort.
How to Wear Joggers: 6 Simple Tips
There’s no one rule when it comes to wearing joggers.
It all depends on which of the four types you plan to wear and, of course, your personal style.
However, if you’re brand-new to wearing this trendy pair of pants, here are six simple rules to get you started.
1. You Can’t Go Wrong with Black
Just like sweatpants, joggers come in about a million different colors, giving you plenty of options for whatever outfit you’re trying to put together.
However, if you’re new to wearing joggers, you might want to start with a simple black. You can’t go wrong there.
Other reliable options include navy blue, dark blue, and gray. These colors will still go great with plenty of outfits – both casual and dressier.
2. Choose Fitted Over Baggy
If you want a baggy pair of comfortable pants, stick with sweatpants. They’re cheaper and that’s exactly how sweatpants are supposed to fit.
But if you’re looking for joggers – even lounge joggers, go with a fitted pair. They should fit snugly around the waist and taper around your ankles. To what degree they do both is up to you. Just avoid the kind of baggy look that’s going to make it look like you meant to buy sweatpants.
3. Pick the Right Shoes
Joggers may be unique, but when wearing them, you still need to remember one very important rule: the shoes make the outfit.
If you’re wearing lounge or sporty joggers, you can probably get away with the aforementioned minimalist shoes we mentioned earlier or some of the bulkier running shoes.
For something a bit dressier, you could try a comfortable pair of hybrid dress shoes or even ankle boots.
A comfortable pair of boat shoes is a great choice for something that falls in between casual and dressy.
Depending on your personal style, you might be able to pull off something a bit more casual like Chuck Taylors.
This article on pairing shoes with joggers has a lot of other great ideas, too.
4. Wear Dressier T-Shirts, Polos, or Button-Downs
A lot of people wear t-shirts with their joggers, but I’d recommend steering away from cheap or “print” t-shirts.
Instead, you can find plenty of great, very affordable t-shirts from brands like Nautica and Banana Republic. These brands have great monochromatic options that can go with any color jogger you choose.
But button-downs, crewnecks, and polos are great shirts for your joggers, too. They’ll help your Everyday or Smart Joggers look just a bit dressier, so you can confidently wear them out on the town.
5. Pair Them with a Trendy Jacket for Extra Style Points
You can definitely wear your joggers with a comfortable sweater or sweatshirt. I’d be careful not to choose anything that’s too casual, though. Otherwise, you once again risk making it look like you actually wanted to just wear sweatpants.