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We’ve all done it: looked in the wardrobe when you need to rush out for a social occasion and been greeted with little more than sweatpants and the workout leggings you intended to keep strictly for runs (but now wear solely to lounge around the house). Ten years ago, wearing these items outside the gym would certainly have raised a few eyebrows. But it’s 2022, and your best gym leggings and -yes- joggers are now the secret weapon in your wardrobe arsenal. How did this change happen?

Well, the pandemic hit everyone hard. We all have a (perhaps idealised) version of ourselves before March 2020, with freshly styled hair and a range of carefully coordinated outfits. Then the first lockdown happened, and everyone discovered the joys of elasticated waists. Be honest: people were lucky if they saw you in a pair of jeans for the rest of the year.

Suddenly, your workout leggings were also your food-shop-leggings, your going-for-a-socially-distanced-walk-leggings and your eat-out-to-help-out-leggings. And it’s not just about comfort. Put on your favourite pair right now and go and look in the mirror. Don’t they look great? The best gym leggings and joggers are form flattering, versatile, and best of all, comfortable! They’re the ultimate wardrobe cheat code. But how to get away with wearing them whenever you want?

The pandemic is (allegedly) over, and things are (relatively) back to normal. Some say it’s time to ditch the workout wear and get back into our jeans and trousers. And if that’s your preference then go for it! But if you’ve gotten really attached to your active wear, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t wear it to dinner, drinks or even a date. It’s 2022. Athleisure is going nowhere fast.

Karl Lagerfeld may have once declared that sweatpants were ‘a sign of defeat’, but Karl Lagerfeld is dead. Now Rihanna, Kim K and every other woman on the high street rocks a gym-ready look anytime, anyplace. Elasticated waists are here to stay. But how do you to get away with wearing them without looking like you just finished your workout and couldn’t be bothered to shower?

The key is understanding the benefits of joggers versus active leggings. Both create a very different silhouette, and both are suited to different occasions. To find the best women’s bottoms for you, allow me to lead you through the basics.  

How to style active leggings?

  • Keep it comfortable and casual

Wearing leggings outside the gym is all about embracing effortlessness. Pair them with your favourite trainers, denim jacket or statement tee for the perfect off-duty brunch vibe.

  • Colour match with wardrobe staples

Match your leggings to your jacket or coat to elevate them from gym necessity to easy dress-down Friday ensemble.

  • Add volume in other areas

best leggings for women

Leggings and oversized T-shirts go together like peanut butter and chocolate. You could also opt for a statement overcoat: notched collar leather or a bold-coloured shawl are perfect choices for a fuss-free gym-to-dinner transition.

How should you style joggers?
  • Keep it neutral…

Shop for women's jogger

Wearing joggers to a sit-down dinner? We salute you! That elasticated waist guarantees you’ve got space for dessert. But if you still want a formal feel, go for darker colours- think navy and khaki.

  • but don’t be afraid of colour!

women joggers pants

Baby shower or brunch? Embrace your inner Paris Hilton with baby pinks and blues; all the better when paired with a matching hoodie. Snap a pic on Insta for guaranteed likes. Who doesn’t love a Y2K throwback?

  • Embrace longlines

women's joggers

Leggings are beloved for their slimming effect, but joggers are an underrated weapon in the battle against the bulge. The key is to go for longlines, silhouettes with a wider leg, and high waists. Ideally one with adjustable togs so you’ve got more room for seconds.

In answer to our opening question: when can you wear joggers or leggings? Absolutely anywhere you choose to do so! Fashion has been trending towards casual for years now. Embracing your inner gym bunny is a remarkably easy way to freshen up your look and broadcast a youthful, devil-may-care feel.

Remember: your best gym leggings are also your best brunch leggings, your best coffee leggings, and even your best date leggings. And don’t be afraid of wearing joggers outside the gym or the house either. Next time you shop for women’s joggers, keep an eye on your wardrobe for ways to dress them up for a look that says cosy, coordinated and -above all- cool.

Sean Donnelly