Joggers vs Sweatpants: The Real Differences and Uses

Athletic wear and athleisure have been trending fashion statements in recent years. Every celebrity’s airport look is a pair of ordinary-looking coordinates closely resembling workout clothes. People have gotten in on the trend and started looking at joggers and sweatpants as a staple in their closets. 

With the recent work-from-home trend, everyone is looking for comfort over style. So while people with classic tastes might find it shocking to see a pair of running pants worn to the office on the weekend, this trend is here to stay.

Joggers and sweatpants are everywhere – from the gym to the street to the office. So choosing the right pair of pants and styling them is key to pulling off the look you see on social media and television. 

Joggers are not sweatpants, and while you may have heard the words joggers and sweatpants being used interchangeably, they are different clothing items. And since they seem to be close cousins in terms of how they look, it is often assumed that they are the same and can be used and styled the same.

Joggers are different from sweatpants, depending on the material. While joggers are made for all climates, sweatpants are more suitable for colder climates. Joggers come with cinched or elasticated cuff, while sweatpants have a tapered fit. Sometimes, joggers and sweatpants can be different because of elastic. 

The reason people assume that joggers and sweatpants are the same is because both refer to pants that have been specifically designed for comfort and efficiency. For those in the know, joggers and sweatpants have key differences that set them apart from each other. 

Although both are designed with the same target- ease and comfort, the approach could not be more different. And because of the way they are designed, each of them leans towards their respective uses and relies on styling cues specific to each type of pants.

Joggers and sweatpants are not to be confused with track pants. Track pants have been around since the 70s, and this is the time when athletic wear took off as a mainstream fashion staple. With the jogging boom in the latter part of the century, coupled with celebrities like Stallone and Bruce Lee wearing them in movies, more and more people started wearing them throughout the day. 

In addition, the 90s saw sweats being the go-to piece of bottom wear for most hip-hop artists of the time. Finally, moving into the 21st century, it was clear that athleisure was here to stay.

This post is all about demystifying joggers and sweatpants and all you need to know before picking one up.

How are joggers different from sweatpants?

There are many different ways to see how a pair of joggers is different from sweatpants. The fit, fabric, and design vary. Joggers were initially meant for running and walking, while sweatpants were for heavier workouts. Joggers are more lightweight and flexible than sweatpants. 

Fabric: This is probably the main differentiating factor that distinguishes joggers from sweatpants. Sweatpants are usually heavier than joggers. This is because a thicker material is used when making sweatpants. Having a thicker material helps as sweatpants are designed to be worn in the winter or in places that have colder temperatures—because of this, wearing sweatpants when working out enables you to sweat better. 

Joggers made for the Indian market come with about 80% cotton. Working out in joggers outdoors is not advisable if you live in places where the temperatures can get quite cold during winter. The material used to make joggers will allow the cold to seep in, making you very uncomfortable during the workout.

Fit: Another differentiating factor between joggers and sweatpants is the fit. Both joggers and sweatpants are designed for comfort. Therefore, they tend to be loose-fitting. But, with changing trends, the fit of these pants has changed. Nowadays, joggers come in figure-hugging fits with tapered ends. In addition, they can be of varying lengths.

Generally, joggers are characterised by an elasticised cuff at the ankle, and sweatpants have a straight-leg fit. Sweatpants can also be seen with a flared ankle or even Capri length ones. The elastic at the bottom of the joggers is usually broad, making it easy for the wearer to jog or exercise comfortably.   

Design: Sweatpants used to be quite monotonous when it comes to design. The classic version of sweatpants is most likely to come in shades of grey. More recently, navy blue and black have become quite popular as well. With sweatpants being designed initially as loungewear – clothes that you lounge in at your house – comfort was the only quality expected out of these pants. Nowadays, though, sweatpants are available in many designs and prints. Sweatpants come with a drawstring waist.

Sleeker than the baggier sweatpants, joggers are available in a wide variety of colours and prints, and additional design details like stripes on the side are very common when it comes to these. In addition, joggers usually come with an elasticised waist, while some may have a drawstring as well.

Owing to the growing popularity of loungewear, sweatpants and joggers come in colourful prints- camouflage, animal, and tropical prints have all made their foray into the design templates of these popular pieces of clothing.  

Functionality and uses: There is quite a difference in functionality between the two. Sweatpants are designed to make you sweat. During physical exertion, sweatpants are designed to soak up sweat and breathe. At home, sweatpants are to keep you warm during winters. They are the ideal pants for a workout and the lazy relaxation period post-workout. 

The one thing to note here is that the thickness of the fabric differs between the sweatpants themselves. Heavy and dark sweatpants may make sense in colder temperatures, like going for a run in the hills or a hike. On the other hand, thinner and lighter ones may be better suited to more tropical climates and hang out with friends in a social setting. 

Joggers are more form-fitting and are designed to keep you cool through anything, from workouts to warmer temperatures. Joggers are also intended to offer a high degree of mobility. The materials used to make joggers have come a long way with advances in recent materials technology. This has enabled manufacturers to develop various prints and jogger designs, adding to their ever-growing popularity. 

What do I look out for when shopping for sweatpants and joggers?

Choosing either of two depends on the way you intend to wear them. Both lend themselves well to various scenarios, and both are great to work out. However, keep in mind that sweatpants can get quite warm in tropical climates. Therefore, joggers make for a much better choice in this case.

When looking for joggers, choose ones that will structure your silhouette. Joggers are designed to be flattering and enhance your frame. In this case, it is also a good idea to read online reviews of a particular brand of joggers for fabric and quality. Joggers of poor-quality fabric can easily lose their shape after a couple of wash cycles.

General Styling Tips:

Sweatpants and joggers have been around for some time and will be around for a while, going by their popularity. They have moved from something you wear lounging around in your living room and during workouts to street style, and you can wear them when hanging out with friends, walking your dog, going to the store, and so on. The list is practically endless.

With them being such a part of hip-hop culture and street style in general, they lend themselves to being paired with leather jackets, heels, and hoodies. But, again, this is not set in stone; you can class up the style depending on your surroundings. 

Sweatpants tend to lean towards a more relaxed look, and joggers are designed to complement the shape of your body with their tailored fits. The wide variety of prints and patterns that joggers are available in enables them to be matched with many tops and accessories. Joggers are trending right now, so they can be paired with practically anything. You can stay this comfortable while being this fashionable is almost a sin.

Where do track pants figure in all this?

While looking for sweatpants and joggers, it is not uncommon to come across track pants. While track pants may be similar to sweatpants and joggers, they are longer and have a loose fit around the ankles. Track pants are typically made of nylon and tend to be way lighter than sweatpants. And they are not tailored to be form-fitting either, which makes them very different from joggers. Track pants are explicitly designed for athletic purposes.


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