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I Tried 30 Pairs of Jogger Sweatpants to Find the Perfect Pair

Illustration by @CrayolaMode. 

In the spring of 2015, I made one of the most important purchases of my life: a pair of jogger-style sweatpants. After a decade of being very loyal to leggings — the holy grail of athleisure — I bought said joggers at Zara on a whim. They looked comfortable. These pants became my weekend uniform; they were easy to move in and certainly great to eat in. That was to be expected. What surprised me were the nonstop compliments my glorified sweats received. Leggings had become so “basic” that sweatpants (in a trendy silhouette, paired thoughtfully with the right sneakers) made more of a statement.

I took that statement and ran with it, sporting my new look everywhere I went. Sunday morning yoga class? Joggers with a sports bra. Afternoon trip to the museum? Joggers and a leather jacket. At one point my friends staged an intervention after I wore my joggers with a turtleneck and cashmere sweater for weeks straight. They proclaimed the look “Steve Jobs Chic,” and apparently “Steve Jobs Chic” was not appropriate for a first date.

I see where they were coming from, sort of, except that the compliments kept coming, so why wouldn’t I wear the world’s comfiest outfit all winter?

I ended up buying four more pairs of the same exact pants and kept them on constant rotation for two years. If The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants had been written post-athleisure revolution, I’m fairly certain the movie would have been about these sweatpants. (And I would have played the role of all four “sisters.”) Due to a series of mysterious and unfortunate events, however, I entered 2017 with a single, worn-out pair.

A new hunt began; I wanted to find the same ones I’d long-loved but couldn’t find their match at Zara. Nothing seemed to come close elsewhere. The search led me to a hard-hitting question: What makes the perfect sweatpants perfect?

I was able to answer that quickly:

Comfort. Do you need to tear them off your body the second you walk in your front door, or can you forget they’re on you forever, possibly to the point that hygiene gets weird?
Versatility. If I can’t wear them to a spin class AND a restaurant with tablecloths, no thanks.
Price. Do they cost more or less than a month at Equinox?
Shape. Do they flatter the body in question?

With those guidelines in mind, I tried on 30 sets of joggers that ranged in fabric, price and waistbands (elastic vs. drawstring) until I found the perfect pair.

The winner for all-around best sweatpants are the Terez French Terry Fishnet Joggers. They’re soft enough to wear as pajamas, stretchy enough to wear for a workout and the fishnet detail makes it possible to throw on a cute sweater and call it an outfit. I could live in them.

As for my runners-up: The Kate Middleton (See? Same thing), The Urban Athlete and I Woke Up Like This, Looks Expensive But Isn’t.

Tell me which pair you’d never take off, or if you have better suggestions, let me know in the comments below. After all, we’re in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Jogger Pants together.

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