I’d Like to Make the Case for Spring Sweatpants

Leandra Medine Cohen styled sweatpants with fancy shoes.

Spring is weird — I never know what shoes to wear. Through the fall and winter, I feel so confident that I’ll have figured it out by the upcoming season, but when spring arrives like janky clockwork, a bit further out every year, I am consistently surprised by the befuddlement I experience when I look down at my feet. Harling recently embarked on an excursion to track down the answer to this riddle, but in case you’re not looking for new shoes, perhaps you’d like to join me in employing a new strategy wherein we disregard our feet and put more pressure on our clothes and particularly, the bottoms.

I arrived at this course of action because I keep a running list of outfit ideas in my iPhone notes (when I experience decision fatigue, it is a reliable way to get dressed without compromising style or thinking too hard about what to put on my person), and three weeks ago, I purchased a pair of windbreaker pants by Isabel Marant (you might recall them from this story on nylon) and effectively launched an entirely new note dedicated solely to outfits that would incorporate them: Wear them with a blazer with no shirt underneath; with a blazer plus white tank; with a pink peplum top; with a floral button-down; with a solid, collarless button-down; with ballet flats; with lace-up sandals; with a gray T-shirt; with pumps and socks; with loafers and socks; with heels; with slides; with slingbacks.

It had been so long since I felt like a single garment could reawaken my closet and, more specifically, my footwear selection, so it got me thinking: What if uncertainty around what the hell to wear on your feet could be solved not by shoes, but by the perfect pair of comfortable pants? Enter, the below three looks.

1. Gray sweatpants and a long sleeve T-shirt, for the boots you’re not ready to store yet.

This should conceivably provide new purpose to the athleisure movement: here we have an innocuous gray t-shirt to complement a pair of not-tight-not-not-tight sweatpants. I’d recommend you tuck them into your boots to create a slight 1920s-jodhpur effect and then go ham on the accessories: floral earrings, a similar brooch, wild sunglasses and a fancy bag. Now where to wear this? Why, on your way to the Carribean, of course! Or lunch.

2. The aforementioned windbreaker pants with a ruffled top.

Here we have pants that are really loud when you walk, which is great if you have sleeping infants at home! That was sarcasm in case it got lost on you. They are just wacky and bright enough that frankly anything goes, like a mustard green cropped ruffled top and metallic lace-up sandals, for example. I’d add the quietest sunglasses you own because that’s what buffet dressing (pulling from all the different food stations to decorate the plate that is your body) is all about.

3. A trench coat and red sweats, very high heels included.

I can never figure out how to wear very fancy heels without feeling like an overdressed shithead, no matter the circumstance. My guess is that I feel this way because I am a clumsy-ass walker, but guess what? Sweatpants have made heels feel so much more palatable! Isn’t that just the most!?!?!?!?!? I mean, THE MOST!?!?!?!? I know this story is about learning from sweatpants, but I think it’s teaching me that I really need to interact with more adults. Moving on! I recommend a white button-down (so many of us have one of these already!) with a trench coat and an ambitious top hat, cue previous reasoning (that’s what buffet dressing is all about). You can add gold bracelets and a necklace too, but your appendages are your own, so if you have something else in mind, go for it.

And with that, I wish you good luck, good riddance and good fortune. Goodbye!

Photos by Edith Young. Modeled by Nika Sobolevskaya of Wilhemina Models. 

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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