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5 Style Hacks to Make Sweatpants Look Chic

When I was in high school, I would only wear sweatpants to class if it was finals week or I was sick (not with COVID-19, of course). But as a college senior attending Zoom University, my fashion style has shifted somewhat from jeans and a long-sleeve shirt with carefully chosen jewelry to any and all pants that are not as restricting paired with any top that is clean.

Related article: Can I Keep That? Transitioning Your Wardrobe from College to Post-Grad

This is not to say that I no longer plan out my outfits the night before, or that I don’t still have fun with fashion. However, when your peers will only see the top half of your outfit and you will probably end up staying in your dorm room all day staring at your laptop screen, it can be hard to justify wearing a cute but not-so-comfortable ensemble. That’s why I have come to celebrate wearing sweatpants and pajama-like pieces “to class” and experimenting with these pieces to still feel put-together and confident. Continue reading to learn more about how to repurpose your favorite loungewear.

Cinched joggers are the new skinny jeans

Not to bash on skinny jeans, but they definitely aren’t my top choice for what to wear when I will be spending my day sitting at my desk and laying in my bed. But I will also not deny the boost of confidence I feel when I find a pair of skinny jeans that fit my body perfectly. That’s why joggers and cinched sweatpants are the perfect WFH (Work From Home) alternative. I find that sporting stretchy pants which gather at the bottom make me feel less I-just-rolled-out-of-bed-three-minutes-ago and more I-am-hip-and-cool-look-at-me-go.

A lot of brands have started selling athletic wear, but I love these joggers from Athleta which I wear at least once a week, as well as these sweatpant bottoms from Girlfriend Collective. These are both on the pricier side, but H&M has a lot of similar options at more affordable prices. 

Of course, you could also opt for a pair of classic leggings, perhaps the OG skinny jean alternative, but joggers give you more breathing room which is ideal for reaching up from your bed to click “next episode” on Netflix. 

The groutfit is back and hipper than ever

Now that you have the bottom half of your outfit chosen, what should you pair with those sweatpants? My advice: embrace the monochrome. Remember when you would be mocked for wearing a gray-outfit, “groutfit,” to school? Well, the times they are a-changing, my friend, and groutfits are back and better than ever.

And it isn’t just all-gray outfits that are trending: matching joggers sets like this one from Aerie were made for students and those working from home during the pandemic. As someone who works in retail, it seems that many stores that don’t necessarily specialize in athletic wear have embraced athleisure this winter. They can probably sense no one really wants to wear a sparkly miniskirt or tight leather pants right now. The majority of customers are searching for the softest, warmest, coziest sweatshirt and sweatpants they can find — whether they make a groutfit together or not.

You can make a matching set with what you already have

But you don’t have to go out and buy a new matching set to rock a groutfit, or any monochrome outfit, for that matter. I recommend taking a deep dive into the dark corners of your dresser and/or closet for those sweatpants and sweatshirts you haven’t worn since high school. If these old favorites still fit and don’t have holes in the armpits or stains at the knees, bring them to the forefront of your closet. I love to pair solid-colored crew-neck sweatshirts with plain sweatpants with minimal lettering for a simple look. For some reason, wearing the same color on top and bottom makes me feel like I have my life together, even if I look like I am dressing up as the gray crayon for Halloween.

 Throw on a cardigan or baggy sweater if you are feeling fancy

Monochrome outfits aren’t the only way to rock sweatpants or whatever pajama bottom you opt for at night. You can still make a fashion statement while being comfortable by pairing your favorite breathable pants with your favorite graphic tee, a cropped knit sweater, or a jean jacket

Let’s be honest, sweaters are the fancy sweatshirt for days when you have to turn on your Zoom camera or are meeting with your career advisor to talk about your post-grad plans. This doesn’t mean you have to give up your newfound monochrome style. I love to wear solid-colored stretchy pants, usually black or grey, with a patterned sweater.

Don’t forget the accessories

Just because you may be wearing sweatpants all day, doesn’t mean that you have to skip out on accessories. Whether you opt for a pair of basic hoops or a claw hair clip, you can play with jewelry and hair accessories to add a je ne sais quoi to your pajama-chic look. Putting on a pair of studs, or pulling your hair back in your favorite scrunchie, are easy and quick ways to spice up your sweatpants while still logging into Zoom on time.

I look forward to when we can dress up to go out to a dinner or party again, but for now, I am perfectly content finding new ways to style sweatpants and sweatshirts and I wouldn’t be devastated if this fashion trend stays with us in a post-pandemic world.

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Elizabeth Berry

Conn Coll '21

Elizabeth Berry is an English and Italian Studies double major at Connecticut College with a passion for journalism. She enjoys overnight oats, traveling to new cities, and reading the night away.
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