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I Tried 30 Pairs of Jogger Sweatpants to Find the Perfect Pair
Illustration by @CrayolaMode. 

In the spring of 2015, I made one of the most important purchases of my life: a pair of jogger-style sweatpants. After a decade of being very loyal to leggings — the holy grail of athleisure — I bought said joggers at Zara on a whim. They looked comfortable. These pants became my weekend uniform; they were easy to move in and certainly great to eat in. That was to be expected. What surprised me were the nonstop compliments my glorified sweats received. Leggings had become so “basic” that sweatpants (in a trendy silhouette, paired thoughtfully with the right sneakers) made more of a statement.

I took that statement and ran with it, sporting my new look everywhere I went. Sunday morning yoga class? Joggers with a sports bra. Afternoon trip to the museum? Joggers and a leather jacket. At one point my friends staged an intervention after I wore my joggers with a turtleneck and cashmere sweater for weeks straight. They proclaimed the look “Steve Jobs Chic,” and apparently “Steve Jobs Chic” was not appropriate for a first date.

I see where they were coming from, sort of, except that the compliments kept coming, so why wouldn’t I wear the world’s comfiest outfit all winter?

I ended up buying four more pairs of the same exact pants and kept them on constant rotation for two years. If The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants had been written post-athleisure revolution, I’m fairly certain the movie would have been about these sweatpants. (And I would have played the role of all four “sisters.”) Due to a series of mysterious and unfortunate events, however, I entered 2017 with a single, worn-out pair.

A new hunt began; I wanted to find the same ones I’d long-loved but couldn’t find their match at Zara. Nothing seemed to come close elsewhere. The search led me to a hard-hitting question: What makes the perfect sweatpants perfect?

I was able to answer that quickly:

Comfort. Do you need to tear them off your body the second you walk in your front door, or can you forget they’re on you forever, possibly to the point that hygiene gets weird?
Versatility. If I can’t wear them to a spin class AND a restaurant with tablecloths, no thanks.
Price. Do they cost more or less than a month at Equinox?
Shape. Do they flatter the body in question?

With those guidelines in mind, I tried on 30 sets of joggers that ranged in fabric, price and waistbands (elastic vs. drawstring) until I found the perfect pair.

The winner for all-around best sweatpants are the Terez French Terry Fishnet Joggers. They’re soft enough to wear as pajamas, stretchy enough to wear for a workout and the fishnet detail makes it possible to throw on a cute sweater and call it an outfit. I could live in them.

As for my runners-up: The Kate Middleton (See? Same thing), The Urban Athlete and I Woke Up Like This, Looks Expensive But Isn’t.

Tell me which pair you’d never take off, or if you have better suggestions, let me know in the comments below. After all, we’re in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Jogger Pants together.

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  • Emy M

    Gap Body always has cheap soft ones too!

  • Andrea Raymer

    I just want to say that my Lou and Grey joggers that I got at Camp MR are the most comfortable pants I own and I would prefer to never take them off. I wish they were my skin

    • Anne Dyer

      Oh thanks for that tip. I’ve been wondering about that brand…

  • Lindsay D

    i have those ZARA joggers!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND not I will have those terez ones thank you

  • Emy M

    The outdoor Voices stirrup pant is also excellent. https://www.outdoorvoices.com/products/stirrup-pant

  • I love my Amour Vert and Echo + Air ones

  • Samantha Mangino

    These are al cute but so completely out of my college budget. One of my favorite recent purchases are these slim joggers from Old Navy. They say they’re for sleep, but I think they’re better for brunching after rolling out of bed. They’re cute and only $20! http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?vid=1&pid=774534002

  • starryhye

    2 years ago I bought a pair of joggers from Lululemon. I was like you, in that I positively lived in them. So when Lululemon seemed to have the same pair again last winter, I bought another pair. Unfortunately the second pair I got, while equally comfy, did not hold up as well as my first pair. I loathe clothing that stretches out with wear, and that’s exactly what these pants do 🙁

  • Autumn

    My favorite pair is from Uniqlo – inexpensive and the comfiest

  • Meg S

    Those Terez joggers are great and I would buy them, but apparently they don’t think XL is a size they need to make.

    • spicyearlgrey

      sad boi

  • Anna Monaghan

    It would be great to see these styled, as you say, with so much flexibility. I haven’t made the leap yet… But definitely tempted if it meant expanding my work wardrobe (currently on my mind)

  • Alexia

    I like the look of the Michelle ones but can’t find an inseam length for them. I’m 5’10” and look silly if they’re really short.

  • TinySoprano

    I got some denim joggers from Uniqlo after finding out the ones I’d been ogling from Assembly Label had sold out everywhere and only existed as a torturous siren image on the internet. They are so perfect I’m tempted to push the Casual Friday dress code to include them. Maybe this is the week.

  • I am drooling over Everlane’s Cashmere Sweatpant for the sole purpose of wearing to work on the days I have to go in to a climate-controlled (read: absolutely freezing) archive storage room, but haven’t been able to muster up the courage to actually buy them!

  • Kim

    I love my fuzzy ones from Uniqlo that I got last winter.