In Which We Prove That $200 Sweatpants Aren’t Right For Everyone

In sorting out retirement, I started with, “What Can I Wear On The Sofa?” Was this the most important question? Nope. But it was the most immediate, and the most easily answered. I like to start small, when faced with big.

I can now report, as promised and with some finality, that $200 sweatpants are not part of the solution. For me. Witness.


Don’t get me wrong, these are great pants, if only for their soft fabric, beautiful color, and detail. Great pants for someone. But I’m 57 and my waist insists on its proverbial pound of flesh. While I don’t hate my midriff – it has brought me my children and housed a lot of great food after all – I don’t want to build it a cathedral. That flap was just too flying buttress.


I tried on other sweatpant versions, but thought I’d spare you the full experiment. By the way, it turns out that Sturdy Gals don’t like volume around their legs. Perhaps it’s all that snagging in the bushes they are whacking.

I arrived at the idea of sweatpants via logic. Solve for seated discomfort, go straight to elastic waistband. But there’s another way to solve problems, i.e. empirically. Just go about your life and watch what happens. Empirically, it turns out, I wear jeans. Loose jeans. Which means that boyfriend jeans are the real answer. Boyfriend jeans out and about,  a lovely range of drawstring flannel PJ bottoms for the sofa.

Do you care that I wear flannel PJs in my house? I suspect not. But the story might be a familiar one in building a personal style. Start with an idea, prove it wrong, realize the real answer was staring you in the face – or some body part – all along.


Linking to Visible Monday, where people will be wearing much more suitable garb.


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  • You wear them very well, and correctly, I think. You seem to follow the style rule, that if if clothing is worn loose on the bottom, the top must be fitted – and vice versa. I think this look is comfortable, casual, & stylish.

    The $200 price tag is very cost prohibitive for sweatpants. Would you ever consider more budget minded style options for your “less privileged” readers?

    1:50 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Kathleen M, Yes, absolutely. In this case, the idea was expensive sweatpants and were they worth it. But I bet I could have found some lower-price alternatives.

  • They look good, but you don’t look comfortable, and that should be the main criteria (particularly when it’s sofa-wear). I’ve tried a similar style and they just didn’t work for me. They look fabulous on a good friend of mine instead.

  • They do nothing for your gorgeous figure. I think you need to be six feet tall to wear those. Boyfirend jeans on you? Adorable. Ur, stylish. Really you have such a good bod you can wear almost anything.

  • $200 sweatpants are certainly not for me. If I am going to spend money, it’s not going to be on something I clean my bathroom floor in.

    Of course, if I could afford $200 sweatpants, I probably also would not be cleaning my bathroom floor.

    1:51 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Andrea, Ha! Yes, there is that.

  • You look great but if they are not comfy I get it. Jeans Yes!\
    I thought I would LIVE in my Lands” End Performance pants but NO!
    I am so very comfy in distressed and trifted Levi’s from SF…I cuff the bottoms and wear my flats…with a soft white Tee shirt I add some pearls to bring it up a notch and retirement uniform is born.
    How is the Indian cooking project going?

  • I think these would be fine without the fold-over waistband – which just looks a bit messy/fiddly to me. You can definitely carry-off the volume around the legs. I live in flannel PJs and jeans, on and off the sofa.

  • You have a great figure and you can absolutely wear them but to me it looks not comfortable in the waist line and the price is more than outrageous. Try the web site from american vintage. They have ultralite
    and slim jogging trousers in different colors half at the price. I wear it at home and for the gym too.

  • I think they look amazing and would stand by for the company to enlist you as a model for other retired sorts to copy. Wear and enjoy.

    7:35 am
    Marcy said...

    @Tracey, I agree. I think they look great on you…better than on the website’s model by the way.. By the way, I checked these out through your link and they are $75. Maybe they went on sale?

    10:00 am
    RoseAg said...

    @Tracey, I can understand how they might end up on sale!

    1:52 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Tracey, Well thank you. And I think a sale is involved, but also, the $200 price point applied to the whole category – these were on the way low end of that scale. And there were some that cost >$400, so think of $200 as the average.

  • I think they look great on you, though, I get what you’re saying. I don’t know that sweatpants could even appear in stores with a $200 dollar price tag! lol.

  • I changed my entire wardrobe to make it easier to maintain it & that saves money & gives me time to do what I love. I’m a huge fan of Garnet Hill. Esp. the non-drawstring Asian pajamas of organic cotton. I wear the bottoms with coordinating cotton camisoles with velvet trim I pick up at Boden (a UK line) online. If I need to leave the house, I can slip on jeans & a scarf and switch from in-house daytime flip-flops (lots of padding for wood floors) and slip on ballerinas or flat slingbacks. When it’s cooler, I throw on a cropped sweater or blazer. I’m a big fan of leggings worn with a tunic. The elastic waist is comfortable and the tunics looks more finished. I buy many knit tunics from Boden that stop at mid thigh so they’re good enough as a dress. Boden styles them with colored tights: it’s a great look. I avoid buying black cottons; the color rarely holds up. Ironing, hand washing and the chemicals of the dry cleaner are all things I try to avoid. I’m sorry if this post isn’t very clear: I have the flu.

  • With your fab. figure, anything will look good. However, i am with you on comfort clothes, when in one of my “feeling sorry for myself” mood, I always retreat to wearing what I feel good in..I am partial to James Perse, I first step into their store in LA years ago and it was love at first sight, great cool, soft, comfortable clothes. In winter I love my Old Navy flannels.

  • The pants are fine but not fabulous. But the fold-over waist seems too fiddly to me, and perhaps a bit contrived, like over-thinking the what-to-wear scenario, when the answer was there all along. Boyfriend jeans and drawstring pants seem perfect to me although i tend to have a small stack of favorite yoga pants as well.

  • “I don’t want to build it a cathedral.” LOL thanks for my laugh of the day.

  • Your best silhouette is a well-cut straight leg falling, close to body but not tight.

    These pants are the opposite of your usual wardrobe: (fiddly and not even functional) and for $200 you’d get bagged out knee, which you won’t in your flannel loungers.

    1:58 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Duchesse, Duchesse, that’s exactly the silhouette I prefer.

  • I read the title of this post and burst into laughter – are $200 sweat pants right for anyone? I mean, really…sweat pants.

    Having said that, you look lovely in them. Of course, I think you’d look lovely in a potato sack, but I guess that’s not the point. I also think your solution of jeans and/or nice pajama pants is a fine one (probably because it’s what I wear to sit on the sofa).

  • Sweatpants have but one use, and one use only: to wear prior to/during/after engaging in sporting physical activity. They are not for lounging around the house/grocery shopping/a quick trip to the post office. The same goes with pajamas–they are never to be worn outside the confine’s of one’s dwelling, and certainly never on airplanes. A number of the ladies I know (ranging from sturdy gals to artsy cousin types) favor wearing leggings with a long tunic/shirt/sweater to address the middrif (sp?) issue that you note in this amusing post. Reggie

    3:36 pm
    Alicia Saribalis said...

    @Reggie Darling, Yes, love the leggings idea! Especially since Lisa has great legs. The silhouette is modern, the leggings can be a comfortable quality cotton with a hint of stretch. Can be worn with a casual tunic or longish top, or a longer casual vest over a fitted t shirt around the house. All kinds of footwear work. Throw on a pair of casual booties with a cute heel and the field jacket, Lisa, and you will be ready to run daytime errands or meet friends for coffee!

  • Of course you look great in everything and could do those sweatpants if you cared to. I definitely care what you wear in the house and on the sofa and have found your style evolution on the blog fascinating and entertaining. Thank you for sharing. Study gal at home is part of that style. The sofa is part of the style. I am lounging in an armchair, feet on a footstool, in a loose black velvet dress (ankle length, button up front, collared & long sleeved), since it got chilly here, and that is what I wear out and about instead of sweats or jeans. With rugged ankle boots to dress it down. Sometimes in red. You inspired me to try the biker jacket, which would be another excellent layer of warmth, but I just couldn’t go there. Sweatpants just aren’t right for everyone.

    2:05 pm
    Lisa said...

    @alh, I imagine you cut a very stylish, and very original figure.

  • I do like the look of these sweatpants (can they be called that @ $200?)and you can wear anything. But we have to choose our own bests, and bf jeans sound like a terrific uniform! Thanks for sharing with Visible Monday.

  • Ugh, so sorry for the letdown, but FANtastic knit pants, very cool, especially with that fitted black top [body suit?] you’ve paired them with. Maybe that’s part of the problem, to show them at their best the pants would definitely require minimalist fitted tops. Kathy Leeds mentioned she’d ordered these too, looking forward to her evaluation as well. Still looking for the midriff you cited, lookinglooking, can’t find it…

    10:52 am
    kathy said...

    Hi Flo,
    Sent mine back – same problem as Lisa’s, although I don’t see the problem on Lisa.
    But agree with her about all the extra leg fabric as well.

  • Sweatpants are not for most people really. I would say, though that perhaps a tunic with leggings would be comfier and more stylish in case the doorbell should ring. Think J Jill for some decent choices. Though really, I could almost picture you in those chic lounging sets from the early 30’s so often seen in those glamorous old movies.

  • Yep, I wear jeans for casual comfort, flannel pjs (BedHeads) at home. For whatever reasons, sweatpants have just never worked for me, although I used to give them another try every 5 or 10 years. . . .I agree with everyone above who says that you look good in the pants, but if they don’t make you feel your best, what’s the point? That’s not real comfort, is it?

  • I certainly agree that $200 sweatpants don’t make the cut. What I’ve found now that I’m mostly retired is that I wear, much to my surprise, those skinny jeans that I had to buy when I needed jeans while on a trip and that’s all the resort had in its shops, along with a t-shirt or sweater or sometimes even an informal jacket. If I tried wearing pajama bottoms at home I would never get anything done – I find that I am able to accomplish something only if I’m dressed. I guess all those years of going to work in business suits put that idea in my head.

  • I never had too much hope for those, but I’ll give you credit for having tried them on and then being open enough to document them in a photo.

    I bypass a lot of things based on their appearance on a hanger without ever giving them a chance. You’ve demonstrated an adventurous spirit in giving them a go.

    Are they going to daughter?

  • Well, I sent mine back too. Same problems. I’ve been wearing flannel PJ bottoms forever for home, and thought I’d up my game with these blue sweats.
    Back to flannel PJs and just for the record, I often wear the flannel PJ top too.
    I know – I can be a real slob.

    2:06 pm
    Lisa said...

    @kathy, I think we need to get some really gorgeous flannel bottom patterns on the market.

  • I’m with Reggie on the leggings + longer shirt/tunic/sweater. I recommend the Pilcro “Serif” baby-wale corduroy leggings/pants from Anthropologie. They are cut like a skinny jean (though not the kind that cling all the way to the ankle), super comfy and stretchy while still retaining their shape, and much more substantial that regular leggings. Because of the jeans styling, they don’t read like the dreaded “leggings-are-not-pants” if you wear a top that doesn’t completely cover your posterior upholstery. They come in a variety of colors, and even prints (last year I bought some paisley ones as well as some navy ones with a vaguely bandana-botanical print in cream; this year’s score is forest green with a foulard print). If corduroy doesn’t move you, they also come in velveteen.
    Lisa, I find myself struggling today with what to pack for a warm-weather getaway and would be very interested in a post on what you’re taking to Kauai!

    2:07 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Artsy in Boulder, I will see if I can get a post together. Otherwise if you search for my old posts on Maui, and on the Carneros Inn, I think examples exist. Also see “coverups.”

  • Not to mention that $200 sweats are no way to rebuild the family fortune :) I don’t think these are flattering and that is my top criteria when making a choice. I could never do sweatpants myself, since the temptation to sleep in them come bedtime would be too much for me–then the sun would rise again–do you see a pattern emerging here?

  • Even in pounds sterling (£125.35p) my mind boggles at paying that for trackie bottoms!!My chinos are my ‘friendly’ users dawn to midnight where’ere my bottom lands.

  • Have you looked at Target in the sports wear (running and such) department? They sell really nice cotton black straight leg pants with 2 white stripes down the leg. Elastic waist with drawstring. They’re comfy and wash/dry well. My last pair was $20. Also REI sells reasonably priced comfortable clothing that can be worn outside.
    My personal favorite clothing continues to be men’s lounging PJs, but my beloved really hates it when I go outside in them.

    5:45 pm
    Flo said...

    “My personal favorite clothing continues to be men’s lounging PJs”

    Behold, Allison! I have finally found a sister in the bond!

    I’m wearing my husband’s PJ bottoms as we speak. Since we’re having a cool spell [here in north Florida], I’m currently wearing his plaid flannels in a terrific black/sage/ecru tattersall check. Nice ‘n loose. Normally most of the spring and summer, I wear his cotton madras PJ bottoms.

    I can’t even confess to the rest; well, ok it does involve beloved’s castoff khaki twill shorts from a former waist size [that fit my hips exactly]. It’s true. But don’t tell LPC or any or her readers that I’m wearing said husband’s shorts OUT of the house. Yes, out of the house, down the sidewalk, into the grocery and back…

    Do you think our role model even remembers how many times she’s sent us confidently out the door with her trademark rally cry: “Impunity!”

  • Flo – my sister in pants! I salute your sartorial style.

    2:08 pm
    Lisa said...

    @Allison, Flannel bottoms, worn with a shelf-bra style camisole. Don’t tell me it’s not cute:).

    4:57 pm
    Flo said...

    Question not directed to me but, yes VERY cute indeed. Wayyy cute!

    And besides, you ARE a bride of only a few months. Your grandmother, great grandmother and ancillary fossils such as I would term these acquisitions ‘building your trousseau.’ Loungewear is most important in that regard.

    Oh wait, glad I caught this comment before setting it loose. In today’s New York Social Diary, something new has come on the market that may be just up your/others’ laid-back trousseau alley. You can go see it firsthand when you’re down seeing your Mom.

    Scroll past the Ativan ad, it’s a new line called BestDressedMonk:

  • There’s nothing wrong with how they look, though the fold-over waistband strikes me as a bit too contrived for your style. But yes, it boils down to emotional as well as physical comfort, and as that old Al Stewart song goes, “if it doesn’t come naturally, leave it.”

    Lounging, what’s that? ;-) I so rarely find myself in sprawling mode, but have a pair of ancient stretch crepe ankle pants from Eileen Fisher that work just fine. The rest of the time, for casual wear I’m in jeans.

  • So true! I made the mistake of wearing a grey sweatpant type yoga pant to paint the house one day when my boyfriend jeans were in the wash. I felt disgusted by myself so much that I had to change as soon as said jeans were dry.

    xo Mary Jo

  • I’m not a huge fan of sweats with ankle cuffs. I’m not sure who they flatter. You wear those sweats well, though. I, too, spend a lot of time in flannel PJs or cotton jersey loose pants when I’m lounging at home. They’re just so comfortable.

  • Lisa, you can wear most anything, with your lovely figure. However, I’m not a great fan of those sweats for anyone!

  • No to the overpriced sweatpants! I honestly can’t imagine where you’d point an arrow on your body to say that there’s a problem as you’re obviously in excellent shape, but still…

    Personally, I have a pair of cheap sweatpants that I change into sometimes when I get home from work and my tights and skirt are digging into my waist. I’d never leave the house in them!

    Casually, I wear stretchy skinny jeans. I know some people swear by ponte leggings as being a reasonably study knit fabric (not showing off lumps and bumps) but also comfy. I think I need the extra structure of jeans not leggings or ‘jeggings’ but you’d probably be dandy in them.

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