How to wear men’s loungewear
Thursday, 8 April 2021
Fashions move with the times. And ever since staying-in became the new going-out, guys have needed more clothes for just…lounging around. Watching TV. Reading the paper. Running down the shops for a coffee. And this has created an entirely new category of men’s fashion: loungewear.
First things first. This isn’t the same thing as pyjamas. Fashions might come and go, but it’s never going to be cool to pick up the shopping in your PJs. We’re talking well-made, modern men’s loungewear. Cosy knit sweaters.
Tailored hoodies. White athleisure sneakers. Organic cotton sweat pants (without suspicious food stains). Clothes that feel as good as they look—and vice versa.
This is our ultimate men’s loungewear guide. Pour yourself a hot chocolate and get stuck-in.
What is loungewear?
Loungewear isn’t a hard-and-fast category of clothes. It’s really any fashion that puts comfort and convenience first. Usually that means sweaters, hoodies, lounge tees, sweat pants and loose-fitting athleisure gear. In America they call them ‘sweats’. Men’s loungewear tends to stick to a pretty neutral colour palette—think greys, blacks, navy and forest green, with the occasional splash of plum or burgundy. The real trick with loungewear is not sacrificing style for comfort. This is harder than it sounds. Anybody can slob around in old trackpants. The trick is feeling comfortable, but looking sharp.
Can I wear loungewear outside?
Definitely! While most loungewear is made for around the home, you can totally get away with certain pieces outside. Cotton sweatpants with clean sneakers and a simple tee is perfect for grabbing a coffee or picking up the paper. Or you can pair jogger chinos with a lounge hoodie and canvas high-tops. There are a few rules though: if you’re going to wear loungewear outside, it needs to be clean, washed and well-fitted. It’s also good not to go full loungewear in public. Mix lounge pieces—sweaters, hoodies or track pants—with your existing wardrobe to create new casual combos.
What is the loungewear dress code?
If loungewear is going to look good, it needs to fit properly. This is the golden loungewear rule. Sweat pants should taper, just like slim-fit jeans, and finish high above the ankle. They shouldn’t bunch and flop around your sneakers. Hoodies and knit sweaters should fit snug across your shoulders, without any excess fabric. Look for little points of difference like tapered cuffs and hems, or a ribbed neckline. The dress code is: sharp casual. You're trying to look like a guy who isn’t trying too hard.
History of loungewear
Even before 2020 came along, the loungewear trend was on the rise. Brands like Lululemon and Outdoor Voices—as well as high-end athleisure staples like Nike and Adidas—had already pushed through that cotton ceiling. It was now acceptable to wear loungewear not just on the couch, but on the street. Fashion became less about pure style, and more about style’s impact on everyday life. Pieces needed to be more functional. There was a focus on mindfulness and purpose. People wanted to look good on Zoom, on long-haul flights, or just walking down the street, without necessarily ‘dressing up’. And thus, men’s loungewear was born.
Types of loungewear
Sweatpants, trackpants, trackies. Whatever you call them, these guys are the bedrock of the loungewear trend. They’re also the easiest things to get wrong. First things first, you want jersey cotton, or at least a cotton blend (at POLITIX, we use a mix of cotton, viscose and elastane, for extra stretch). Stay away from pure polyester. Your track pants should look tailored and tapered, following the shape of your leg. Ribbed cuffs at the ankle add extra style points, too.
Men’s sweaters and hoodies
Cotton knit sweaters and hoodies are both loungewear staples. And just like trackies, they need to fit slim. You want to be comfortable, but not swimming in fabric. Jumpers should rest just on your waste—not below or above. Stick to neutral shades like black, grey or navy to keep things flexible. And keep an eye out for extra details: tapered cuffs and hems, contrast stitching, ribbed necklines, retro prints, zips and buttoned pockets, embroidered logos. These can all lift lounge sweaters from basic to badass.
With lounge tees, you want to keep things simple. Think block colours rather than splashy prints. And pay some attention to your neckline. If you’re going for a looser, longer shape, you want a scoop neck tee. Otherwise crew and V-necks are both great for regular wear. Again, even though this is loungewear, you’re looking for those slim, tapered silhouettes. Nothing too baggy. When it comes to fabric, always pick 100% organic cotton (we source ours from the Better Cotton Initiative). This will help your t-shirt keep its shape, wash after wash.
Loungewear can actually come in wool, silk and even cashmere. But those are at the higher end of most people’s budgets. Regular loungewear is either pure cotton, or a cotton blend. At POLITIX, some of our loungewear staples (like tees) are 100% BCI cotton, while others are a mix of cotton, polyester, elastane or viscose. It really depends on the piece. Some clothes need to breathe, others need to stretch. If there’s one thing you should probably avoid, it’s pure polyester loungewear. It can’t be recycled, it’s made from fossil fuels, and it doesn’t let your skin breathe.
Loungewear vs pyjamas
When does loungewear become pyjamas? It’s hard to know. Of course you can wear t-shirts and trackpants to bed. The real test is: would I feel embarrassed opening the door in this? If the answer is yes, you’re probably wearing pyjamas. Obviously, PJs are also the one time when fit doesn’t really matter. You don’t care about shape and tapered cuffs—just warmth and comfort. The general rule is: you can wear loungewear as pyjamas, but you can’t wear pyjamas as loungewear.