If You’re Sick of Jeans and Leggings, Try Track Pants

You know what I’m getting a *tiny* bit sick of? Leggings. You know what I’ll never get sick of? Elastic waistbands. There is no sweeter abdominal delight than an absence of buttons and zippers, in this delicate flower’s opinion.

Enter track pants, the equally comfortable, less played-out successor to leggings’ stretch-waist legacy.

From Adidas’ first tracksuit (produced in 1967) to Paris Hilton’s velour iterations on The Simple Life circa 2003, track pants have petered in and out of the zeitgeist for decades; only recently have they seemed to become interchangeable with – dare I say – denim (??). This is most likely thanks to their appearance on various high-fashion runways like those of Gucci, Chloé and Vetements, not to mention the Instagram accounts of every impeccably cool Danish blogger in existence.

Their cool factor was evident from the get-go, but I initially wasn’t sure if they were me. It’s not that I didn’t think I could pull them off (a concept that irks me on principle), it’s that certain items of clothing (i.e. track pants) already have a strong stamp of personality (i.e. “sporty”), which makes them a less malleable property in the daily game of outfit mixing. So when I considered if track pants would blend with my own sense of personal style and the preexisting wardrobe trappings I have accumulated in the process of molding it, I was hesitant. Maybe even a little intimidated.

But then, last September, I spied an olive green pair for $78 on Nasty Gal (RIP) that made me reassess. They had the signature track-pant striping down the leg, but their vibe was less “teen gymnast drinking a venti Starbucks after practice” and more “old fogey gym teacher from the 1970s” – a.k.a. much more my style.

I bought them and it was love at first try-on. I’ll be honest and admit that blissful, unadulterated comfort is the #1 crux of their appeal. When I’m wearing them, it feels like my legs are swimming in a NASA anti-gravity tank and my waist is encircled in the gentlest of hugs.

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Monogram t-shirt, Nasty Gal track pantsChanel jacket, Valentino shoes, ASOS sunglasses

But their outfit-enhancing potential comes in at a close second. As a color-obsessed dresser who gravitates toward contrasting prints (see: graphic tee + tweed jacket) and feminine accents (see: big-ass velvet bow and red ballet slippers), I found the track pants’ clean lines and boyish connotations to be an ideal complement to many of my favorite clothing formulas.

I’ve developed a couple tricks of the trade, too, for spreading your wings in the world of track pants without looking like Sporty Spice (unless that’s your intention, in which case I salute you).

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Preen by Thornton Bregazzi top, ASOS pants, Charlotte Olympia shoes, Nancy Gonzalez bag, Preen sunglasses

1. Treat your outfit like an aisle at CVS right before Valentine’s Day and pump up the volume: pink (!!!), floral doodles, shoes and jewelry that look like candy and, if you’re feeling extra…extra, a sugar cube of a purse. In other words, don’t let the sportiveness of your pants dictate the overall feel of your ensemble because you wear the pants and not the other way around. It’s your party and you can dress like the inside of a Polly Pocket with track pants in tow if you want to.

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Isa Arfen dress, Saks Potts pants, Robert Clergerie shoes, Roxanne Assoulin chokers, Simone Rocha earrings

2. I know I dissed leggings at the beginning of this discourse, but I’m about to bring it full circle and say that you should actually approach your track pants from a similar standpoint as you would a pair of leggings in the sense that they, too, look really neat layered under dresses and skirts. What you see here is my party look de rigeur. Highly recommend. Feel free to wear a whistle around your neck if you want to mess with people.

Photos by Edith Young.

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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