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Loungewear occupies a liminal space between home and “outside” clothes. As comfortable as pajamas with the casual air of a sweatshirt-and-sweatpants set, chances are it’s what you’ve been wearing for the better part of the past few years. The category has a reputation for sloppiness — these are clothes you’re lying around in, after all — but I think looking put together in loungewear is just a matter of choosing the right piece; I’ve paired the baggiest of joggers with the most tailored of jackets without getting any glares. If your favorites are worn out or you just want to expand your wardrobe of soft clothes, you’ve come to the right place. To find the best loungewear of all types, we reached out to people with admirable taste to find out what they like to wear around — and occasionally outside of — the house. We also tried many pieces firsthand (it’s a tough job, testing sweatpants “for work,” but someone’s gotta do it). Read on to find out how we selected our best-in-class picks, or if you know what you’re looking for, use the table of contents to skip ahead.
What we’re looking for
You guessed it: As usual, we focused on finding loungewear offered in a number of sizes. You’ll notice as you read on that some of our recommendations come from the men’s section.
This category is synonymous with comfort, and there are three materials that are probably the most popular: cotton, for breathability; polyester, for durability (and for being less pricey); and fleece, for insulation. Usually, these are blended with other textiles, like spandex for stretchiness. And though these are almost ubiquitous when you search for loungewear, there’s a whole host of other fabrics to consider, such as lightweight linen, sumptuous silk and cashmere, or maybe a performance fabric like nylon (especially for those who consider leggings a second skin).
From the collars to the cuffs, we’ve made sure to detail the special features, including interesting stitching and seams, tie versus elastic waistbands, and all-important pockets.
We’ve denoted each item below as $, $$, or $$$ to signify a cost of under $50, under $100, or $100 and up, respectively.
Best overall loungewear set
Sizes: XS–XL | Fabric: Polyester and spandex | Design: Thumb holes, tie waistband, stitching along leg | Price: $$$
To crown the best overall, we went with a longtime Strategist favorite: Outdoor Voices. The CloudKnit sweatpants (formerly known as the All-Days) have the approval of famed stylist Linda Rodin, who practically lives in them, describing the sweats as “beyond comfy.” Strategist editor Maxine Builder considers herself a “sucker for a matching set,” and her co-ords of choice are also from OV’s CloudKnit line. The sweatpants work for just about any activity, indoors or out, and she’ll switch between the brand’s hoodie, short-sleeve, and long-sleeve tops. The long-sleeve in particular is a favorite of MichaelAnn Cohlmia, co-founder of CBD brand WeedSport. She’s washed the knit countless times and it comes out without “shrinking or warping, and it’s forever soft.” It has a slightly looser cut, so to keep the sleeves from flapping around, the top has thumb holes that Cohlmia compares to a hammock for your finger.
Best (less-expensive) loungewear set
Sizes: S–5XL (men’s) | Fabric: Cotton and polyester | Design: Crewneck, lay-flat collar, drawstring closure | Price: $
If you’re in the market for a matching sweatsuit, there’s probably no better bargain than this Hanes duo. Artist Gabi Abrão, who runs the Instagram @sighswoon, describes Hanes’ men’s section as the “mecca” for those wanting a set resembling androgynous, utilitarian streetwear. (In the men’s version of this guide, fitness instructor Patrick McGrath even says that these co-ords remind him of Aimé Leon Dore.) This pairing is a particular favorite, as the cotton blend and fleece lining have lasted through wash after wash. “It’s just an industrial, practical, no-frills uniform for the house,” Abrão says.
Sizes: S–3XL (men’s) | Fabric: Cotton and polyester | Design: Quarter zip, back patch, ribbed cuffs | Price: $
Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo is a sweatshirt collector, but this Comfort Colors quarter-zip is the one she wrote an ode to. “From the moment I pulled it on, I had my new favorite sweatshirt,” she says. Corsillo compares the pajama-soft sweatshirt to one you’d steal from a college boyfriend, though it’s substantial enough for when the temperature drops, too. Which makes sense when you consider that the brand was started by Barry Chouinard, cousin of Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard.
Sizes: XS–XL | Fabric: Cotton and recycled polyester | Design: Encased elastic waist, side-seam pockets | Price: $$
Designer Clare Vivier loves her Richer Poorer sweatpants so much that she actually gets excited to wear them. The fleece pants have an ideal not-too-thick, not-too-thin weight, along with an elastic waistband and ankles that add to their overall comfort. And for practicality’s sake, the deep side-seam pockets keep her phone firmly in place. (If you want a complete set, a matching hoodie is also available.)
Best (less-expensive) sweatpants
Sizes S–3X (men’s) | Cotton, polyester | Covered elastic waistband with drawcord, elastic cuffs | $
Strangers stop Strategist contributor Stephanie LaCava to ask about these logoless, old-school-style sweatpants that look like ’70s dead stock. The reality is that these are the standard-issue, half-cotton, half-polyester trousers you’ve probably seen on “your elderly neighbor out for a jog, terrycloth towel around his neck.” LaCava cites the gathered ankle as part of their appeal, given that you can push the stretchy cuff up and down to create different silhouettes, like a pirate-style peg leg. Though, she suggests, the most fun is to wear them with lace-up heels to a cocktail party: “Take them out of their expected context and be discomfited by the glares.”
Sizes: 2XS–2XL (unisex) | Fabric: Cotton | Design: Drawcord waist, side pockets, elastic cuff at ankle, no outer side seam | Price: $$
Strategist writer Erin Schwartz recommends basics maker Everyworld World — which has repeatedly appeared in our archives, including in our guides to the best white T-shirts for women and best black T-shirts for men. Schwartz thinks of these as more formal sweats, to be worn on vacation or when they’re having “a more luxurious weekend,” as they feel simultaneously “chic and comfy.” Schwartz has especially high praise for the cotton the company uses, which they say is in the “elite tier of organic cotton” (and comparable to that of Maggie’s Organic crew socks) with a heavyweight and plush feel that isn’t “crunchy.”
Best cropped sweatpants
Sizes: XS–3X, with petite options | Fabric: Cotton and spandex | Design: Pull-on waistband, side and back patch pockets, scalloped hem | Price: $
I’ve been on the hunt for above-the-ankle, hits-around-mid-calf sweatpants for a long time. As a petite person, it’s an oddly challenging request; I’m around five-two-ish, and joggers usually pool at the bottom on me, while even styles marketed as “cropped” tend to go well past my ankles. I stumbled onto this pair in L.L. Bean’s sale section (and they’re still marked down to the price I paid for them). They’re as close to perfect as I’ll get. The sweats actually hit cleanly above my ankles, with a slim cut that doesn’t go into culotte territory. (The petite inseam is 21 inches compared to the regular’s 23 inches — I bought the former.) But what I like most is how versatile they are — the bottoms go with a cashmere sweater just as well as with a ratty T-shirt. The cotton they’re made from has that traditional and sometimes hard-to-find thickness that you can toss in the dryer and have it come out unscathed. Plus I now own them in every color they’re sold in (charcoal, navy, black, and gray).
Best wide-leg sweatpants
Sizes: XS–XL | Fabric: Modal, cotton, and elastane | Design: Wide waistband, wide-leg | Price: $$
True & Co. is best known for their beloved bras, but late in 2022, the brand launched its Any Wear collection (which is available at Nordstrom and on Amazon), and when they asked me if I wanted to try out a couple of pieces I happily agreed. Its All Day Robe is already a favorite of mine — I included it in our bathrobe guide — and these pants feature the same ultrasoft modal, cotton, and elastane blend that I’ve really come around to. They feel substantial, without being heavy. Funnily enough, they remind me of the yoga pants of my youth with the cumberbundlike waist and legs that flare out only slightly. But the pair is decidedly more modern — with a butt-flattering fit and less swishy legs.
Best track pants
Sizes: XS–XL | Fabric: Cotton and polyester | Design: Drawstring waist, harem-style shape | Price: $$$
For an updated take on the Juicy Couture track pants, two New York staffers directed us to Suzie Kondi. Vulture writer Devon Ivie says these “very groovy, very flowy” velour sweats are her favorite for when she wants to “pretend my apartment is CBGB and dance around to Talking Heads ’77.” Emilia Petrarca, senior fashion writer at the Cut, also approves of the label’s velour loungewear, describing them as her “fancy sweatpants.” Petrarca told us that she debuted a now-sold-out red pair at a holiday soirée she threw — and has since gone on to wear them while hosting several dinner parties.
Best lounge shorts
Sizes: XS–XL | Fabric: Cotton and polyester jersey | Design: Elastic, roll-down waistband, V-notch leg opening | Price: $
Strategist senior editor Simone Kitchens’s stint as a cheerleader introduced her to Soffe shorts, which “signaled ‘cool-girl’ far more than the two-tone Umbros” she used to wear to practice. These are probably too light to wear anywhere that might involve a subway trip, but are ideal for staying in when even denim cutoffs are too much, Kitchens says. But if you do want to take them out, she calls them an acceptable dupe for Patagonia Baggies. Just remember to leave them unrolled, she suggests, for a look that’s more Dazed and Confused, less early-aughts.
Best sweat shorts
Sizes: XXS–6XL | Fabric: Cotton (French terry) | Design: Contrast pull string, sun embroidery | Price: $$
While social-media consultant Rachel Karten still mourns the loss of Entireworld, her craving for minimalist, retro-inspired terry-cloth designs is now satisfied by California brand Big Bud Press. Karten says she loves that these sweat shorts have a classic white pull string and miniature sun embroidery underneath one pocket. She also finds them structured enough for daily dog walks — with deep pockets for treats, keys, and phone — but also “comfy enough to get me through several Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reunion episodes on the couch.” She wears them so often that her boyfriend jokes that they’re “permanently adhered to my body.”
Best boxer shorts
Sizes: XXS–3X | Fabric: Cotton | Design: High waist, pockets, logo waistband | Price: $
And if you’d like a short that’s even lighter, consider these J.Crew boxers. Though they’re technically pajamas, former Strategist writer Chloe Anello was surprised at how much they didn’t look like sleepwear, or like traditional men’s underwear, as these have pockets and no front opening. (One of her neighbors was incredulous when she explained that these were boxers until she showed them the waistband.) “While they may not look like them, the shorts are exactly what you want from a boxer,” she says, adding that these swing out from her hips to keep her legs cool and don’t grasp at her waist if she sweats. Though they’re a touch see-through, that hasn’t stopped her from buying them in bulk. I’ve also previously sung the praises of these shorts in our roundup of the best pajamas. They feel I’m wearing nothing — which is exactly what I want when I’m doing nothing.
Best boxer-brief shorts
Sizes: S–XL (men’s) | Fabric: Cotton and polyester | Design: Tagless, logo waistband, boxer-brief style | Price: $
A couple of other panelists named men’s boxers and boxer-briefs as go-tos for wearing around the house, with Hanes mentioned twice. Abrão recommends the Comfort Soft shorts in particular, as their slightly high waist and mid-thigh hem makes them “like biker shorts without the tightness.” She notes that because of the “enormous amount of room in the crotch area,” wedgies are not a problem, calling them an “in-between from being in your underwear and being in real shorts.” Jenni Lee, founder of luxury-sock brand Comme Si, is another Hanes devotee. She opts for the now sold-out full-cut boxers, which are similarly tagless, made from cotton, and come in a pack of four. For video conferences when she’s in “business up top, comfortable on bottom” mode, she’ll wear them with a button-down shirt.
Best lounge dress
Sizes: One size (fits sizes 2–12) | Fabric: Cotton | Design: Square neckline, bell-shaped sleeves, embroidery, button placket | Price: $$
If strolling around the house in a nightgown is more your taste, turn to the grandmother-chic nightgowns from Brooklyn-based general store Salter House. Café Forgot co-founder Lucy Weisner considers the brand a favorite for its “Victorian, Picnic at Hanging Rock” vibe, comparing its soft, semi-sheer cotton to that of 19th-century undergarments. Lauren Mechling, a writer and the creator of @thecloglife, previously described their offerings as “very sleepy Portuguese aristocrat.” There’s a replica of the first nightdress that founder Sandeep Salter owned featured in our guide to the best pajamas, but I’m recommending this nightdress here since it was recently restocked and I happen to own it myself. I’ve joked before that it’s what I’d wear as an Emma extra, but it really does make me feel dressed up on days when I’m mostly relaxing at home. It’s really refreshing to wear, even during sun-dappled afternoon naps. The cotton is definitely gauzy — I’d have to put a robe over it to pick up my mail — but I don’t mind that much for lazing around. And the delicate embroidery, which includes a little boy holding a lamb and a plum tree branch, hasn’t lost one thread, even after a couple of rushed hand-washes.
Best lounge jumpsuit
Sizes: XS–XL | Fabric: Modal and spandex | Design: Drawstring waistband, side pockets, keyhole back cutout | Price: $
Quince, makers of one of our favorite pairs of silk pajamas, sent me this jumpsuit to try out. I tend to stay away from jumpsuits because they never seem to hit me where they’re supposed to, especially lengthwise and at the waist. Though this one reaches my ankles (so it isn’t as cropped as seen on the model), its proportions feel intentional — the jumpsuit fits everywhere else just right. I can adjust the waistband a little higher or lower, if I’m trying to look more laidback and looser, and then tie it in place. The modal-and-spandex fabric blend means it’s breathable and stretchy. But it’s definitely a sleeker — a word I usually don’t associate with loungewear — one piece. I can wear it outside the house and no one would bat an eye.
Sizes: 4XS–4XL (or 00–40) | Fabric: Nylon and Lycra | Design: Contoured waistband, adjustable straps | Price: $$
Strategist contributor Francine Maroukian and writer Dominique Pariso both approve of this Universal Standard unitard. Maroukian describes it as “simultaneously utilitarian and luxurious,” with never-slip straps and an upper-rib-cage seam that supports the chest. The fabric hugs the body in a way that’s still liberating. She adds, “If I didn’t appreciate it so much, I might actually forget it was there.” It’s probably best as an underlayer when worn out, acting as “one smooth column of color that eliminates the need for distracting and uncomfortable paraphernalia like camisoles, slips, or tights.” It was Maroukian’s review that helped persuade Pariso to start compulsively shopping for unitards. The nylon-Lycra blend moves with her when she’s roller skating or doing Pilates, but since it’s sweat-wicking and antimicrobial, she doesn’t feel the need to take it off when she’s done.
Best lounge robe
Sizes: XS–3X | Fabric: Turkish cotton | Design: Gauze-y texture, waist tie, hidden side pockets | Price: $$$
Sometimes when you’re home, only a robe will do. This Turkish cotton one from Parachute has a pleasant hotel-room effect, says Lale Arikoglu, Condé Nast Traveler’s articles director and co-host of the podcast Women Who Travel. It’s light enough to wear when the weather is warm, with a supersoft texture. And since it doesn’t look like the standard bathrobe, Arikoglu says she doesn’t “feel particularly ashamed if I’m still wearing it at, say, 3 p.m. on a Tuesday.”
Editors’ note: Some sizes are sold out, but you can sign up to be notified when yours is back in stock.
Some more women's loungewear we've written about
• Gabi Abrão, artist
• Chloe Anello, former Strategist writer
• Lale Arikoglu, Condé Nast Traveler’s articles director
• Maxine Builder, Strategist editor
• MichaelAnn Cohlmia, co-founder of CBD brand WeedSport
• Liza Corsillo, Strategist senior writer
• Devon Ivie, Vulture staff writer
• Rachel Karten, social-media consultant
• Stephanie LaCava, Strategist contributor
• Jenni Lee, founder of luxury sock brand Comme Si
• Casey Lewis, former Strategist editor
• Francine Maroukian, Strategist contributor
• Lauren Mechling, writer
• Dominique Pariso, Strategist writer
• Emilia Petrarca, senior fashion writer at the Cut
• Linda Rodin, famed stylist
• Erin Schwartz, Strategist writer
• Clare Vivier, designer
• Lucy Weisner, co-founder of Café Forgot
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