Joggers and sweatpants are two types of casual pants that are often confused with each other. Though they may look similar at first glance, joggers and sweatpants have some key differences in their design, fit, fabric, and intended uses.
In this article, we will compare joggers vs sweatpants – looking at their characteristics, pros and cons, and help you determine which type of casual pants are right for you.
Table of Contents
Key Differences Between Joggers and Sweatpants
Design and Fit
The most noticeable difference between joggers and sweatpants is in their silhouette and fit:
- Joggers have a tapered, cinched ankle. This creates a slim, streamlined silhouette from thigh to ankle. Joggers are designed to be form-fitting.
- Sweatpants have a straight, loose leg and elasticized ankle cuffs. This creates a relaxed, baggy silhouette through the leg. Sweatpants are designed to be roomy and comfortable.
- Joggers typically have an elastic waistband that hugs the waist.
- Sweatpants often have a drawstring waist for adjustable comfort.
- Joggers tend to be worn hanging below the waist, with the tapered ankle showing.
- Sweatpants are worn loosely around the waist with the leg covering the ankle.
Joggers and sweatpants also differ in their fabric:
- Joggers are usually made of a stretchy, lightweight fabric like cotton, nylon, or polyester. The fabric is designed to be breathable and moisture-wicking.
- Sweatpants are often made of thicker, absorbent cotton fabrics like fleece or terry cloth. The fabric is intended to be warm and insulating.
As a result:
- Joggers allow more airflow and keep you cooler during active wear.
- Sweatpants retain more heat and keep you warmer for lounging and leisure.
Joggers and sweatpants are designed with different intents:
- Joggers are made for athletic activities like running, working out, yoga, hiking, and more. The tapered design allows freedom of movement.
- Sweatpants are designed for casual relaxation, lounging, and leisure wear. The loose fit provides laidback comfort.
So in summary:
- Joggers are meant for activity, with a fit tailored to movement.
- Sweatpants are meant for relaxation, with a roomy fit focused on comfort.
Pros and Cons of Joggers vs Sweatpants
Joggers Pros and Cons
- Streamlined, tailored fit flatters the body
- Lightweight, breathable fabric keeps you cool
- Ankle cuffs prevent fabric from getting caught
- Allows full range of motion for physical activities
- Sleeker silhouette works for casual everyday wear
- Less roomy than sweatpants – can feel restrictive
- Tapered leg and cuffed ankle makes sizing tricky
- Typically made of thin fabric – less warm than sweats
- Cropped leg shows ankles – not ideal for layering
Sweatpants Pros and Cons
- Roomy, relaxed fit maximizes comfort
- Thick, soft fabric provides warmth
- Elastic waistband adjusts to waist size
- Loose legs allow layering and coverage
- Timeless casual style works for all occasions
- Baggy silhouette less flattering on most figures
- Bulky fabric retains heat – can get too warm
- Often look sloppy if poorly fitted
- Thick fabric minimizes airflow
- Cuffs can bunch around ankles
Comparison Chart: Key Differences
|Tapered, slim through leg
|Straight, loose/baggy leg
|Elastic or ribbed cuff
|Mid to high waist
|Athletic activities, casual wear
|Lounging, leisure wear
When to Choose Joggers Over Sweatpants
For Athletic Activities
Joggers are designed to move with you during any type of activewear. The lightweight fabric wicks moisture to keep you cool and dry even during intense workouts. The streamlined fit won’t catch or cause you to trip.
Joggers are great for:
- Running or jogging outdoors
- HIIT workouts or CrossFit
- Yoga, Pilates, and barre classes
- Dance class or practice
- Hiking, rock climbing, and other outdoor sports
For a Streamlined Silhouette
The tailored fit of joggers creates a put-together, polished look from thigh to ankle. This makes them more versatile than frumpy sweatpants for wearing out of the house.
Joggers work well for:
- Running errands
- Going to brunch or coffee dates
- Travel days
- Casual Fridays at the office
- Evenings out when you want comfort
To Show Off Sneakers or Ankle Boots
The cropped leg and tapered ankle of joggers perfectly showcases your footwear. The cuff hits right above the ankle bone, leaving shoes open to admire.
- Sneakers like Converse, Vans, or Air Jordans
- Chelsea boots, ankle booties, etc.
- Fitness trackers and smartwatches
- Ankle bracelets, socks, etc.
For Warm Weather Months
The lightweight, breathable fabric of joggers allows airflow to keep you cool. They wick moisture and dry quickly if you sweat. This makes them ideal for wearing in spring, summer, and fall.
When to Choose Sweatpants Over Joggers
For Lounging and Leisure
Nothing beats the comfort of sweatpants for casual relaxation at home. The soft, warm fabric and roomy fit allows you to truly unwind. Sweatpants are made for:
- Movie nights or Netflix binges
- Reading or lounging around the house
- Sleepwear and pajamas
- Sick days when you need extra coziness
For Layering and Coverage
The baggier fit and looser ankle cuffs of sweatpants make them perfect for layering. You can easily wear them over leggings or thermals when it’s cold out. The legs cover more of your ankles and shoes as well.
Sweatpants work well for:
- Wearing under snow pants or salopettes
- Layering over long johns or leggings
- Covering boots like Uggs or snow boots
- Keeping you warm in frigid weather
For a Casual, Laidback Look
Nothing says “I’m relaxing today” like a pair of sweatpants. They have a carefree, downtime vibe perfect for weekends and days off. Sweatpants are great for:
- Running errands lazily
- Casual hangouts with friends
- Travel days when you want to be comfy
- Looking cute but low-key
For Cold Weather Months
The thick, insulating fabric of sweatpants locks in heat to keep your legs warm. They help retain body heat when temperatures drop. Wear sweatpants in fall, winter, and early spring when you need that extra warmth.
Style Tips and Outfit Ideas
- Pair joggers with crop tops or fitted tanks to balance the slimming tapered leg.
- For cooler temps, wear joggers with oversized sweaters, flannels or jean jackets on top.
- Dress up joggers with blazers, chambray shirts and strappy heels for night outs.
- Stick to solid color joggers for an elongating look. Prints can overwhelm the tapered leg.
- Balance out loose sweatpants with tighter tops – clingy tees, crop tops, tanks or sweaters.
- Add some structure up top with denim, leather or bomber jackets, button-downs, etc.
- For colder months, wear sweatpants with oversized hoodies, parkas and puffer coats.
- Try graphic prints, tie-dye, camo and statement logos to liven up basic sweatpants.
Finding the Right Fit
To get the best fit and wear from joggers vs sweatpants:
- Go for your true waist size – joggers should hug your natural waist.
- The leg taper should hit just above the ankle bone without bunching.
- Look for some stretch and mobility through the hips and thighs.
- Ensure any cuffs don’t pinch or constrict your ankles.
- Size up 1-2 sizes for that signature roomy, slouchy sweatpant fit.
- Make sure the waistband can be adjusted and accommodates your hips.
- The leg hem should hit around your heels without dragging.
- Ensure the rise suits your preferred waist height (mid, high, etc).
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the main differences between joggers and sweatpants?
The main differences are:
- Fit: Joggers have a tapered, snug leg while sweatpants have a loose, baggy fit through the leg.
- Fabric: Joggers use lightweight, breathable fabric while sweatpants use thicker, insulating fabrics.
- Purpose: Joggers are made for athletic activities while sweatpants are for lounging and leisure.
Are joggers meant to be worn outside?
Yes, joggers are designed for both exercising and casual everyday wear. Their streamlined silhouette works well for errands, weekends, travel, and casual occasions outside the house.
Can women wear joggers or is it only a men’s style?
Joggers are definitely not just for men! Both men’s and women’s joggers are widely available. The tapered leg flatters most body types. Joggers give a slim, flattering silhouette for women paired with crop tops or fitted shirts.
Why are sweatpants considered sloppy?
Ill-fitting, oversized sweatpants can look sloppy and frumpy if the wrong size and shape. Look for sweatpants made of quality materials, with tapered legs, and an adjustable drawstring to give a neater, put-together casual look.
Are sweatpants only meant for home and sleepwear?
Sweatpants are designed for optimal comfort and relaxation but they can also work for casual wear outside the house. Elevate basic sweatpants with stylish crop tops, sneakers, and bomber jackets for running errands or meeting friends while staying comfy.
The Bottom Line
While joggers and sweatpants fill different roles, both can be versatile additions to your casual wear wardrobe.
Joggers are your new go-to for athletic, active pursuits and showcasing streetwear style. Sweatpants are optimal for lounge days and keeping cozy in cold weather.
Choose joggers when you want a streamlined silhouette and sweat-wicking comfort. Pick sweatpants when you’re craving that slouchy, relaxed vibe.
So next time you’re looking for casual pants, think about when you’ll wear them – for fitness or for leisure – and let your activity guide you toward joggers or sweatpants. Both are classics done better than jeans when you need some comfy downtime!