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Mens Skinny Sweatpants: A Definitive History and 2019 Buying Guide


It goes by many names.  Mens skin­ny sweat­pants, mens tapered sweat­pants, mens yoga pants, etc.… What­ev­er you call them, these fig­ure enhanc­ing sweats are a rel­a­tive­ly new fash­ion phe­nom­e­non that most did not see com­ing.  Back in the day sweat­pants were meant to be over­sized, heavy, and most impor­tant­ly com­fort­able.  Today, tech­no­log­i­cal improve­ments to syn­thet­ic mate­ri­als have made prod­ucts that con­tain span­dex more wash­able and durable than an organ­ic mate­r­i­al such as cot­ton.  These stretchy, tapered leg sweat­pants are of course com­fort­able but they look wild­ly dif­fer­ent than the sweat­pants your dad was used to wear­ing.  Tour your local gym today and you’ll find most guys rock­ing very tapered sweat­pants.

In this guide, we aim to pro­vide you with a bit of his­to­ry around the trend and steer you towards the best prod­ucts on the mar­ket, from entry lev­el basics to pre­mi­um / lux­u­ry brands.

Mens Skinny Sweatpants: When Did The Trend Start?

It’s hard to point to a spe­cif­ic date but in our opin­ion the trend start­ed with Lul­ule­mon and their infa­mous yoga pants.  As the sto­ry goes back in 1997, an entre­pre­neur named Chip Wil­son went to a yoga class in British Colum­bia. As a new stu­dent, what Wil­son not­ed dur­ing his first ses­sion wasn’t the Yoga itself but the Yoga pants.  The instruc­tors as well as the stu­dents were wear­ing pants that looked as if they were paint­ed on and gave a very flat­ter­ing appear­ance to the pos­te­ri­or.   At this point, the prover­bial light bulb went off and Wil­son began pro­duc­tion of his pos­te­ri­or enhanc­ing pants that he brand­ed Lul­ule­mon.

home of skinny sweatpants

The first Lul­ule­mon store in Van­cou­ver, BC

As women’s ath­let­ic wear became more fit­ted and tapered, mens ath­let­ic wear quick­ly fol­lowed suit.  Men in yoga pants seemed a bit out­landish at the time but Lul­ule­mon began mar­ket­ing its mens line more active­ly around 2008 and it’s pants were notice­ably slim­mer than any of the oth­er known entrants on the mar­ket.  The tra­di­tion­al, main­stream ath­let­ic brands, i.e. Nike, Adi­das, Under Armour, Puma fol­lowed suit and “ath­leisure” wear was born.

Ath­leisure is a fash­ion term used to define cloth­ing that is meant to be worn in a mul­ti­tude of func­tions, i.e. work­ing out, casu­al­ly, at the work­place, social­ly, etc…  Ath­leisure is a cat­e­go­ry of attire that includes mens skin­ny sweat­pants, shorts, sneak­ers, and leg­gings / tights.  The idea behind ath­leisure wear is that it has the appear­ance of work­out attire but is sig­nif­i­cant­ly more fash­ion­able.

A Guide to Wearing Mens Tapered Sweatpants Correctly

1)  First off, they should taper clean­ly through the legs, i.e. from the knee through the cuff.  This is what dis­tin­guish­es tai­lored sweat­pants from nor­mal sweat­pants.  Taper­ing does not mean they should be cut­ting off cir­cu­la­tion to your calves.  You should still feel com­fort­able and not feel any con­stric­tion.

2)  The thighs and crotch should be some­what loose.  Where­as the fit in the low­er leg should be slim, the waist / crotch area should be more com­fort­able.  These are still sweat­pants and meant to be worn casu­al­ly.

3)  If you have the oppor­tu­ni­ty, try them on or ensure that the web­site has a great return pol­i­cy.  Most rep­utable online retail­ers will include a return postage label with­in their pack­ag­ing.  Find­ing the right fit in tai­lored sweat­pants is going to be dif­fer­ent than nor­mal sweat­pants.  Each brand has their own fit style that you’ll only dis­cov­er after wear­ing them.

4)  The mate­r­i­al should feel soft and lux­u­ri­ous.  High qual­i­ty ath­let­ic wear feels dif­fer­ent than the work sweat­pants you may be used to.  Look at the label to learn the com­po­si­tion of the mate­r­i­al.  Ter­ry cloth is a great mate­r­i­al if you want 100% cot­ton.  Some brands are made from new­er age mate­ri­als that will include span­dex or micro-fiber mate­ri­als that will pro­vide addi­tion­al ben­e­fits, such as mois­ture wick­ing and heat dis­si­pa­tion.

5)  Make sure the bot­tom hem has elas­tic cuffs.  With­out elas­tic cuffs, the ‘cool fac­tor’ of the tapered long isn’t there.  Addi­tion­al­ly, elas­tic cuffs will make your sneak­ers real­ly pop.

Now that you know what to look for, check out our rec­om­mend­ed tapered sweat­pants; from the entry lev­el to the pre­mi­um.

Best Entry Level Mens Tapered Sweatpants (<$50)

Target — Victory Fleece Jogger by Champion ($30)

mens tapered sweatpants by Champion

Cham­pi­on — Vic­to­ry Fleece Jog­ger

A great, styl­ish pair of bud­get friend­ly jog­gers.  At this price, you’re like­ly going to find a mate­r­i­al that is a mix of cot­ton / poly­ester — which is the case with this pair (70% cot­ton / 30% poly­ester).  This pair from Cham­pi­on is sold exclu­sive­ly at Tar­get and comes with a draw­string, side zip pock­ets, and a hid­den cell phone pock­et.

Best Mid Level Mens Tapered Sweatpants (<$100)

Mack Weldon — Ace ($78)

Mack Weldon - mens skinny sweatpants

Mack Wel­don — Ace

As fel­low online retail­ers, we’re big fans of Mack Wel­don which is one of the new­er, start­up ath­let­ic wear brands that spe­cial­izes in mens skin­ny sweat­pants.  Mack Weldon’s sig­na­ture sweat­pants are made from lux­u­ri­ous French Ter­ry cloth cot­ton which are enhanced with a tiny amount of stretch (span­dex).  These pants also come with their sig­na­ture, uber com­fort­able waist­band along with a stealth pock­et and an inset, ribbed cuff.

Best Premium Level Mens Tapered Sweatpants

Lululemon — Surge Jogger ($118)

men in yoga pants

Lul­ule­mon — Surge Jog­ger

As the brand that start­ed the rev­o­lu­tion, there’s real­ly no beat­ing Lul­ule­mon in this cat­e­go­ry.  The Surge Jog­ger is our favorite pair of mens skin­ny sweat­pants if mon­ey is no object.  The Surge Jog­ger is made from a cot­ton / syn­thet­ic mix that fea­tures a four-way stretch and sweat-wick­ing prop­er­ties.  Each Lul­ule­mon pair of sweats also has it’s pro­pri­etary hid­den pock­et tucked neat­ly beneath the back waist­band.  This light­weight jog­ger also fea­tures zips at the cuff for quick change outs.



Like we said, it’s tough for us to pick a sin­gle pair of mens skin­ny sweat­pants that we’d go with. Depend­ing on the occa­sion and bud­get, you real­ly can’t go wrong with either of the pants rec­om­mend­ed here.  Just fol­low our basic guide­lines on fit and mate­r­i­al and you’ll be on your way to wear­ing your tapered sweat­pants both fash­ion­ably and appro­pri­ate­ly.


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