In the spring of 2016, I went to the Atlantic Terminal Target in downtown Brooklyn to buy a pack of boys’ Hanes white crew-neck T-shirts and added a pair of nondescript black sweatpants. They seemed like an unremarkable purchase at the time, but I’d discovered an indispensable basic. The sweatpants — which are made by Cat & Jack, Target’s in-house kids line — have lasted me an incredible six years and are my hands-down favorite house pants. They are sized for kids, but they’re also especially good for adults on the shorter side who are sick of sweatpants that pool around the ankle. I’m five feet tall and a large, with a 27-inch inseam, fits perfectly. They go up to XXL, which the brand recommends for people up to five-foot-seven.
I’m a sweatpants minimalist, and what I love about the Target sweats is what they don’t have: a drawstring, extra zippers, or embellishments. (They do have perfectly phone-size pockets.) They also don’t develop small holes, pill, or wear thin at the knees. I do a lot of messy DIY projects at home, and some of my loungewear is divided into a messy-task tier and a hanging-out tier; I only dye my hair in pre-stained T-shirts, for example, and I have designated, pre-splattered painting pants. The Target sweatpants fit in both categories: They’ve held up through hair-bleaching sessions, tie dye, minor woodworking, hanging pegboard, furniture-painting, scrubbing floors with white vinegar, and long gardening sessions. They’re not so precious that I’d avoid using them for anything but the most high-proof bleach tasks, but they’re still comfy enough to wear lounging in bed watching The Masked Singer.
Over the years, I’ve expanded my sweats collection, but nothing has beaten out the Target sweats. I bought a pair of similarly-priced red Gildan sweatpants and a matching sweatshirt; the sweatshirt is still with me, but the pants developed small holes around the seams almost immediately. I bought a pair of boys’-size large Soffee’s sweats, which are fine but have significant pilling and only get worn once the Target sweats go into the laundry basket. The only sweatpants that come close are a recycled organic cotton pair from Everybody.world, the maker of some great T-shirts and the wholesale supplier for Online Ceramics, which originally sold for $84 and which I bought on sale; they’re made from a lovely soft, cool material but are a little too large with a too-long drawstring. (Plus the brand is in the process of relaunching, so the sweats aren’t available at the moment.)
After reaching for my Target sweatpants most days for six years, I decided to retire the original pair — I could handle the bleach and paint stains, but they finally started developing small holes around the top of the waistband. Target sells an updated version that has a drawstring and a different fabric composition (my circa-2016 sweats are 80 percent cotton and 20 percent polyester, and the current version’s material is listed as recycled polyester), but I was so attached that I searched for the same exact pair on resale sites. I found them on Poshmark for $8, and when they arrived, I was thrilled — they looked just as good as the originals. I wore them to hang a set of shelves, and both the shelves and the sweats have held up great.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.