Joggers vs. Sweatpants: What’s the Difference and How to Style Them

difference between joggers and sweatpants

Sweatpants have been around for a long time. They were invented in the 1920s for sports and flexibility. By the 1980s, they had entered the fashion scene, and everyone from hip-hop artists to grade school children wore them regularly. Joggers are a relatively new addition to casual, athletic wear. Are they interchangeable? How do you wear them?

We’re going to talk about the differences between joggers and sweatpants and when and how to wear both.

For a visual, feel free to check out several of our collections of sweats and joggers here

What are sweatpants?



Sweatpants came on the scene in the 1920s in France to give athletes more flexibility in their sportswear. They became very popular in America in the 60s and 70s and exploded in the 1980s as a part of everyone’s workout gear or extra casual wear. They get their name for their common ability to wick away sweat, so sweatpants usually come in cotton or cotton blend fabrics. Sweatpants were originally something only worn during lounging or sport. Up until recent years, it was still considered, by mainstream minds, to be too casual or frumpy to wear sweatpants outside of the home if you weren’t working out. The COVID-19 pandemic really gave leisure wear like sweats their time to shine as more people were stuck at home or working remotely. Designers quickly worked to create their own sweatpants in fashionable colorways and silhouettes as people began to embrace the comfortable garment in practically all environments and scenes. Even high-end fashion houses carry sweatpants today, and it is pretty common to see celebrities wearing them.

To be considered sweatpants, a few features are considered the universal standard. The material is often a cotton or cotton blend jersey knit with a loose to a baggy fit. These pull-on pants are elastic at the waist and can have a drawstring waist. Men’s sweatpants usually have pockets, and women’s sweatpants may or may not. Sweatpant pockets are generally on the side and lower than other pant pockets.

At Back2Basics, we carry a wide variety of sweatpants with pockets, like the Vintage Sporty Sweat for women by Morrow.

The sweatpant silhouette is usually straight-legged or relaxed with uncinched ankles. Some sweatpants do have elastic banded, cinched ankles, and these were fairly popular decades ago. This feature can make it confusing when understanding the difference between sweatpants and joggers.

What are jogger pants?



Jogger pants are everywhere now. They burst onto the mainstream scene around 2010, first in men’s casual wear and then spread to women’s and children’s options.

The first difference you’ll notice between sweatpants and jogger pants is the silhouette. Joggers have a typically tapered, slim fit with cinched, pegged, or cuffed ankles. If joggers have pockets, they are most often front pockets.

Jogger pants, or joggers, are named so because of their original purpose: to wear them while running and exercising. They were also popular among cyclists because of the lack of loose fabric getting in the way.

Today, jogger pants are a common sight, and people wear them in many ways and settings.

The Rhone Commuter Jogger is one of the most popular jogger pants on the market for men, with its streamlined silhouette and flexible fabric. Joah Brown Joggers are one of our favorite brands for women's joggers. 

What are the main differences between jogger pants and sweatpants?

 A lot of people will use the terms jogger and sweatpant interchangeably, but they are actually two distinct, different garments that just happen to have a lot in common in both appearance and how we wear them. Let’s break down some differences.

Jogger vs. Sweatpants: Fabric and Seasons

Sweatpants will usually be thicker than joggers and sometimes can be lined with fleece for extra warmth. While sweatpants were initially used for working out or playing sports, they still offer warmth and moisture-wicking properties. Sweatpants are, in general, less breathable than jogger pants due to the thickness of the fabric, so joggers can be more comfortable to wear in warmer temperatures, while fleece-lined sweatpants will keep you warmer in winter. Joggers, now that they’re worn for everyday wear as well as athleisure, come in a wider variety of fabrics beyond sweatpants. Joggers often have a polyester blend to help with flexibility and stretch that still holds the original structure line of the pant.

Another reason sweatpants are usually considered less work or going-out appropriate than joggers is that sweatpants often have branding down the legs, which to some may or may not be too casual for certain situations and places.

For cute, fun, branded sweatpants, check out these Aviator Nation 5 Stripe Women’s Sweats with their iconic rainbow stripes. 

How to wear jogger pants vs. sweatpants

Since sweatpants are so comfortable and casual, they dress best with similar garments. A slouchy, oversized sweatshirt and sneakers are the go-to lounge-around-the-house outfit. If you want to wear sweatpants but want to look a little put together, try a fitted t-shirt or crop to balance out the overall appearance. Tennis shoes are the leading footwear for a sweatpant outfit, of course.

Joggers can be dressed up and down with a little more versatility than sweatpants. Feel free to pair them with a sweatshirt or t-shirt and flip-flops for a super laidback look, but there are also many elevated options. This makes joggers an excellent choice for commuters, students, and people who don’t have time to run home and change after work. They look great on men with a fitted t-shirt and jacket or button-down shirt. Women, try a pair of joggers in a fun color with a neutral body suit. As far as footwear is concerned, joggers are perfect for showing off your favorite sneakers, sandals, or even heels.


Sweatpants and jogger pants are two distinctly different garments and shouldn’t really be used interchangeably, even though they do have similarities. Since athleisure wear is becoming more popular, future generations will have no problem telling the difference between the two. In contrast, those who have been around long enough to see sweatpants and then joggers become a thing see them as similar since they’re the main looks of today's more casual dress.

Wear sweatpants at home, hanging with a friend, going to the store, or working out. If you want to look a little more put together, choose joggers and dress them up as much or as little as you want. Joggers are the perfect flight outfit because you can look cute but still feel like you’re in your pajamas.

Of course, how you wear your casual clothes is up to you, and your confidence in yourself will always be the best accessory. At Back2Basics, we specialize in high-end, high-quality basics you’ll want to live in.