The thing is, they were … fine. Stretched out and saggy and fraying at the seams, sure, but they were sweatpants, so functional seemed good enough. And since they were fine, I kept wearing my college sweats more than a decade after my swim coach issued them. No one saw me anyway, so I figured it didn’t matter if I was a schlub at home.
And then it was March, 2020, and nothing felt fine. People were sick, things were uncertain and the best thing I could do was hunker down. I was antsy and inside too much. Worried about the world, trying to do my part to stay close to home, trying not to claw the walls when it felt like they were closing in.
I was also not getting dressed enough—even though I am a writer who works from home in the best of times. Something about the mental load of the pandemic and my isolation sent me into a slump. I was wearing my grubby sweats far too often.
But what I’ve tried to take out of the past year is to make the best of reality and to not fight against the things I can’t change. So, I tried to make my surroundings as good as possible, including my go-to lounge pants.
Persuaded by the REI hive mind, I decided to try the Vuori Performance Joggers, which got rave reviews from the team here (along with customers) for their fit, fabric and flexibility. “I feel like no matter what your body type, these joggers fit better than any sweatpants I’ve owned my ENTIRE life,” REI Video Director Amy Enser told me. That kind of feedback made me feel like they were worth a wear.
I picked up the Vuori joggers and shoved the swim team sweats to the back of the drawer. That weekend, in the face of unrelenting rain and another viral surge, I stayed home. I got antsy, I cooked, I walked, I worked out, I got sweaty. I lay on the couch. I lay on the floor. I tried to just relax, which I’m not very good at. I put the joggers on Friday night, and found myself reaching for them again on Saturday morning, and then again on Sunday. When it was time to do yoga in my living room, I still had them on, making it easy to slide into my poses; they did not ride up or down, when I contorted myself into a corner to read, they didn’t bunch or give me a wedgie. When movie night rolled around Monday, I gave the joggers a sniff test and curled up on the couch, ignoring the minor eye roll from my partner.
They are stretchy, and the polyester-spandex blend fabric manages to be both warm and cool, depending on what I need. Cropped, but not too much, they hold their shape, so they’re more graceful than traditional cotton sweats. And—I can’t believe I’m saying this—they’re easier to put on than leggings, which feels important in 2020.
They are even more comfortable than my old threadbare sweats, and they’re far, far more acceptable for neighborhood walks and grocery store runs. I’ve worn them through several wash cycles, slow weeks and cold camping weekends. Turns out, my devotion is neither unfounded nor just my own.
“Right now, it’s not uncommon for me to wear them all day, sleep in them that night … and then maybe not change out of them until sometime the following day. (I’m not sure whether that reflects highly of the pants, poorly of me, or maybe both?),” said Michelle Flandreau, senior editor for the REI Uncommon Path and Expert Advice, who now owns three pairs. “Bonus: They don’t stretch out or get saggy.”
They are very good pants, but it’s not necessarily about the pants. I don’t think joggers are the answer to many questions, and I definitely don’t think buying something new is the key to solving big-picture problems. But I do know that things are tough, and they’re going to keep being tough. For a lot of us, the thing we can do right now is stay home and try to learn how to be patient, and to take comfort in that. For me, letting myself have some softness has helped.
What we wear shapes how we feel, and that comfort and ease can be hard to come by right now. It’s about being clear-eyed about your situation, trying to take care of yourself and not clinging to things that don’t necessarily serve you. Pants, or otherwise.
For more odes about our favorite stuff, check our Gear I Hold Dear series.