Tracksuits, jogging bottoms, training pants. What do you call them and how many have you got? The chances are, you’re wearing at least half of a tracksuit now, or you were until quite recently.
The fact is, they’re easy to wear, incredibly comfortable, and versatile enough to wear in a multitude of situations. But there’s a lot more to tracksuits than first meets the eye. Let’s take a look at their origins and the subculture surrounding them to discover more. Here, we look at why tracksuits are so darned cool, explore the essential dos and don’ts when wearing them, and discover just how you can style them for (virtually) any occasion.
The tracksuit is a staple in every guy’s wardrobe, whether worn as a statement piece, a gym essential or the perfect airport outfit. boohooMAN.com is fast becoming the online tracksuit destination that has something for everyone.Penelope Armstrong (boohooMAN Senior Menswear Designer)
- The origins of the tracksuit
- How are tracksuits worn today?
- How to wear a tracksuit?
- What to wear with tracksuit pants?
- What to wear with a tracksuit top?
The Origins of the Tracksuit
Come the Apocalypse, all that’ll be left are cockroaches and tracksuits, reckons ShortList.
That’s because, well, tracksuits are everywhere. And they’re not going away. No longer the go-to choice just for chilling at home or working-out, tracksuits have found their way into most aspects of our lives. Men, women, young, old, rich, poor; there can’t be many people that don’t own a pair of tracksuit bottoms or an entire tracksuit comprising a top and bottoms. But it wasn’t always this way.
The birth of what we now recognise as a tracksuit can be traced to 1967 when Adidas collaborated with German footballer, Franz Beckenbauer. Until this time, tracksuits were worn only by athletes in need of practical warm-up clothing. Close-fitting and with stirrups under the feet to keep them in place, they weren’t a pretty sight. Even into the 70s, you’d be unlikely to see anyone other than footballers or PE teachers wearing tracksuits.
With the 80s came breakdancing and hip-hop, Run DMC wearing Adidas, Italian sportswear and football casual. The fitness craze of the 80s encouraged even more people to don leisurewear and get moving, whether it was aerobics or jogging.
The shellsuits of the late 1980s and early 1990s were a bit of a low point. Sadly, they had elasticated-waist trousers, featured gaudy flashes of colour, and were made from flimsy, shapeless nylon. Happily, the damage they did was not irreparable. Tracksuits continued to feature majorly in pop-culture from Sporty Spice to Blur’s Damon Albarn and Oasis.
Then, with the 2000s came the birth of UK grime music. Grime music formed as a way for the young marginalised black community to speak out about their experiences. The likes of Stormzy, Skepta and his ‘tracksuit mafia’, Dizzee Rascal, Lethal Bizzle, jme, and Wiley have taken us literally by storm and, sporting tracksuits, have ensured that grime and its associated apparel have been incorporated into mainstream culture.
How Are Tracksuits Worn Today?
Nowadays, you don’t even have to play a sport to appreciate sportswear. However, the popularity of gym memberships, Instagrammed-workouts and fitness regimes means they have become even more popular. In a never-seen-before sports luxe trend, Hollywood A-lister Armie Hammer wore a Gucci tracksuit on the cover of GQ, reporting that he had even worn a tracksuit for a black tie dinner. Singer Rag’n’Bone Man and his fiancee Beth Rouy wore tracksuits and trainers for their wedding – as did all of their guests.
But for many, the appeal of the tracksuit lies in its roots. The unspoken limitations of the tracksuit are what gives it its edge. You know, without being told, there are certain places and certain situations where it would never be ok to wear a tracksuit. Hand-in-hand with this concept, when you choose to wear a tracksuit, you choose to keep it simple. You reject elitist fashion brands and ostentatious snobbery and instead adopt a take-me-as-you-find-me mentality.
But that’s not to say you’ll look anything less than sharp. As long as you keep a few things in mind, you’ll look en pointe in your tracksuit, whether you venture out or stay in.
How to Wear a Tracksuit?
There are two things you need to know here. First, velour tracksuits are back on-trend this year. Second, unless you’re Armie Hammer or Rag’n’Bone Man, there are situations when wearing a tracksuit is not advised. Even taking into account more relaxed dress codes these days, you should avoid wearing a tracksuit to:
When to Avoid Wearing a Tracksuit?
- Work – unless you work in the sport or leisure industry
- Job interviews
- Formal occasions and events
- Certain clubs and restaurants
Now that we’ve cleared that up, here’s where you can wear a tracksuit – and some tips on how to shine when you do.
1. How to Wear a Tracksuit for Sports, the Gym or Lounging?
Perfect for keeping you warm when training outdoors, tracksuits are spot-on for any sport or activity. When you’ve warmed up, you can easily toss a zip-through tracksuit to the side and get on with the task of winning, or pushing yourself harder.
- Tracksuits with ankle zips are handy with trainers.
- Reflective panels are fantastic for runners since they make you more visible in the fading light.
- Match with sporty trainers and sweat-proof tops.
Best Tracksuits for Sports, the Gym or Lounging
- Skinny fit tracksuits
- Muscle fit tracksuits
- Zip through tracksuits
- Hooded tracksuits
- Tracksuits with reflective panels
2. How to Wear a Tracksuit for School, College or University?
Whether you plan on studying hard or partying harder, tracksuits are ideal to wear when you study. Throw your tracksuit on in the morning and you’ll avoid the what-shall-I-wear? dilemma every day, particularly as they coordinate with so many different colour t-shirts.
- Sweater tracksuits, overhead tracksuits, and smart bomber tracksuits are a great option.
- Match with printed t-shirts and hi-top trainers.
- Pop on a cap and you’re all set to negotiate your way across the campus to your next lecture – or to grab your next beverage.
Best Tracksuits for School, College or University
- Sweater tracksuits
- Overhead tracksuits
- Smart bomber tracksuits
3. How to Wear a Tracksuit for a Day Out?
Looking to impress someone? Skinny tracksuits and muscle fit tees will show off a hard-earned physique and help ensure they want to plan another day (or night) out with you.
- Opt for oversized hoodies to stay comfy whatever the weather.
- Match with printed t-shirts and chunky trainers.
- Don’t forget your hat and shades!
Best Tracksuits for a Day Out
- Skinny fit tracksuits
- Muscle fit tracksuits
- Oversized tracksuits
4. How to Wear a Tracksuit for Travelling?
Since tracksuits often have pockets for your valuables and they allow you to sit or stand in comfort, they’re ideal for travelling. Plus, they’re easy to wash, fold and pack, and will still look great even if an ironing board isn’t to hand.
- Oversized tracksuits will allow for ease of movement whether you’re running for your flight or hauling heavy bags.
- Short tracksuits will keep legs cool and match well with trainers or plimsolls.
- Special trainer socks won’t show over your trainers.
Best Tracksuits for Travelling
- Oversized tracksuits
- Loose fit tracksuits
- Short tracksuits
- Tracksuits with pockets
5. How to Wear a Tracksuit for Going Out to a Club, Party or Festival?
Your goal here will be to turn heads and make an entrance. Look for printed tracksuits, logos and velour, and match them with designer trainers and fancy accessories and jewellery. As long as you style it right, your tracksuit is the perfect choice for hip-hop clubs, concerts, parties and festivals.
- Bucket hats, chunky gold necklaces, rings and bracelets make the ultimate statement.
- Show off tattooed arms with short sleeve tops.
- Dare to wear fluorescent or neon trainers.
Best Tracksuits for Going Out to a Club, Party or Festival
- Printed tracksuits
- Logo tracksuits
- Velour tracksuits
- Coloured tracksuits
What to Wear with Tracksuit Pants?
Tailored, tapered legs and quality cotton mean you can now wear your jogging bottoms in a whole new way. Choose a light colour polo shirt if you want to smarten things up a bit. Serious fashionistas can even match their joggers with a smart shirt. We love navy joggers with a blue Oxford shirt and white trainers.
Remember, in general, formal shoes NEVER go well with tracksuit pants, so choose plimsolls, pumps, trainers or hi-tops instead.
Consider teaming one of these alternatives with your tracksuit pants:
- Crew neck sweater
- V-neck jumper
- Fitted button-down shirt
- Wool overcoat
- Bomber jacket
What to Wear with a Tracksuit Top?
The beauty of tracksuit tops is their versatility; you can wear one with virtually anything. Tracksuit tops are great to stuff in your bag when you’re hot, and when it’s cold hoodies are ideal because you can draw the hood up around your ears.
If you’re wondering what you can wear with your tracksuit top other than tracksuit bottoms, try these suggestions:
- A smart shirt and tie
- Denim jeans
- Skinny fit or tailored trousers
- A long wool coat
- Wear under a smart coat and hang the hood out over the top of the collar
- Zip up a zip-through all the way up to your chin
- Shorts or swimming shorts
Whether or not you’re a sport or fitness fanatic, you can rock a tracksuit. Follow our tips and don’t be afraid to push the boundaries; you’ll discover new ways to wear this wardrobe staple for even more of life’s adventures.