A few years ago, the words “comfort” and “fashion” couldn’t be uttered in the same sentence — this was particularly true if elastic waistbands, sneakers, or leggings were involved. Fast forward to 2020 and sweatpants (thanks to shelter-in-place orders, virtual meetings, and social distancing) were suddenly the look of the season (via CR Fashion Book). With the pandemic looming over us like a dark, gloomy, and ominous storm cloud, sweatpants (or joggers) are more than acceptable to wear while running errands, grocery shopping, or taking a socially-distanced stroll. Sweatpants are the new normal — just take a look at Em Rata or Hailey Beiber.
That doesn’t mean this comfortable staple item comes without “rules,” however. If you’re trying to transform your new WFH garb into a stylish, chic ensemble that’s ready to hit the streets (instead of the sheets), there are a few need-to-know tips you should follow, starting with your footwear.
It seems ludicrous to think that sweatpants actually need to be “styled,” but these are the cards 2020 dealt us. According to PureWow’s fashion director, Dena Silver, the best way to zhuzh up a pair of sweats is to “highlight the ankle” (via PureWow). “It sounds simple, but there’s something about a flash of skin (or sock) at the bottom of a loose, casual pant that makes this piece of loungewear feel more like a cool streetwear look and less like something tossed together from the dirty laundry pile,” writes Silver. Of course, this tip only works if the pant in question is cinched at the ankle or cropped in some way.
Silver also recommends pairing your go-to sweats with a semi-clunky sneaker (read: not the dad sneaker) and a pair of white tube socks to get a look that’s à la Mrs. Beiber. If tube socks aren’t your thing, Silver says a high-top sneaker will do. “Another clunky shoe option (that’s pretty in for 2021) is a shorter combat boot,” writes Silver. And, if you’d like to experiment with the idea of wearing sweats to dinner, Silver suggests opting for a pointy pair of heels. Kitten heel mules or pumps should work, but “you’ll want to be working with a sharp point.”
Last year, many of us found ourselves wearing leggings more than ever. These comfortable pants are great for everything from binge-watching on the couch to working out. When not being worn for exercise, though, what types of shoes pair best with this clothing item?
According to PureWow, there are quite a few options. It is really about how the outfit is styled, as the length of a legging and the material of a top can help or hurt a shoe choice. Take boots, for example. Pairing black boots with tight black leggings can create a slimming effect, though faux-leather and spandex ones may sometimes look a little cheap. Utilitarian rain boots can be fashionable and functional and look best when worn with slim-fitting shirts like a button-down. Since hiking boots usually have shorter shafts, socks that stick out over the top of them can make these shoes look taller and add to their rustic vibe.
PureWow also suggests trying out minimalist sneakers, square-toed shoes, ballet flats (pairs which are not cut too low), and kitten heels (worn with cropped leggings).
Another great shoe option, especially for those working from home, are loafers. As stated by Yahoo! Life, these classics can work well with leggings and business-appropriate blouses, making for the perfect video-conference call ensemble. In Marie Claire’s opinion, one can really commit to the athleisure look by opting for workout tops and sneakers (whether exercise will be done while wearing these pants or not). The Zoe Report echoes PureWow’s words of wisdom, putting emphasis on styling choices. For instance, knee-high boots, a blazer and gold accessories can dress up and amp up an average pair of yoga pants.
So keep it casual or go fancy. Always try to purchase quality clothing items (as numerous products, even from brands like Lululemon, have led to complaints and recalls). Mix up that wardrobe regularly (since wearing leggings can lead to some health effects). And don’t be afraid to pair a variety of shoes with these stretchy, stylish, and staple pants.