What is a Sweat Suit?

Janis Adams
Janis Adams
Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Once simply used as wear for athletic activities, sweat suits are now worn for not only casual comfort wear but also as fashion wear. A sweat suit includes informal pants and a jacket or top made of material that is non-restrictive and designed to create convenience, ease, and comfort. A sweat suit is an ensemble that is equally popular among men and women.

For both men and women, the sweat suit ranges tremendously in differences by design. For both genders, there are those suits with pants that come with an elasticized cuff at the ankle. This ensures that when they are worn for biking or running that the wearer does not trip because of getting caught in the pant leg. Some elasticized pant legs will include a zipper at the bottom to afford the wearer an easier time getting in and out of the pants, as well as enabling him or her to loosen the bottom of the pants to varying degrees by raising or lowering the zipper.

A sweat suit can be made of nylon material, heavy or thin cotton, and a host of other materials. Those made of nylon are lighter weight and often will feature the added bonus of being either water resistant or water proof. The heavier material is usually chosen to complement the design of the specific sweat suit. For example, a sweat suit made of fleece would be worn for inclement weather when snow is in the forecast, whereas a light cotton one might be used for travel on a plane to warm weather destinations. Velour sweat suits tend to be dressier and also tend to be pricier than some of those that are strictly worn for their comfort value and not for the style or designer they represent.

A sweat suit can also be designed for dressier or more formal wear, for example those that are made out of silk. While these obviously would not be worn for an athletic event, they still afford the person wearing them ample ability to move comfortably. Designs like the silk version are good for those who are recovering from an illness or surgery but still want to dress in a fashionable manner. While their designs and purposes range greatly, as do their price point index, sweat suits have one thing that is common to all: They are made for the comfort of those choosing to wear them.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


I'm pretty much a fan of any kind of sweat suit myself. I like velour sweat suits for fashion and more traditional sweat suits for the gym. I even like the nylon kind for going for a run. I've never tried a silk sweat suit yet, but I probably would. I think the only thing I wouldn't wear is a vinyl sweat suit, but thankfully I've never seen one of those before!

Another thing I really like about sweat suits is usually they aren't too expensive. You can find a lot of really nice sweat suits for a good price at more discount stores.


@JessicaLynn - I don't really mind velour sweat suits for women, to a point. I think they can look cute, but I really, really hate the ones that have something written on the behind part of the pants. It just looks so trashy!

Honestly, I think our society has been leaning towards a more casual style for years now. Most offices don't make people wear formal business wear anymore and many schools have relaxed their dress codes a bit. I think sweat suit popularity is another aspect of this casual trend.


I might in the minority here, but I really hope the sweat suit as a fashion statement for women dies soon. I get so sick of seeing women walking around in workout gear like it's some kind of fashion statement. Put some real clothes on for goodness sakes!

I noticed this trend even more when I was in college. So many girls were wandering around campus in awful velour sweat suits of all colors: yellow sweat suits, red sweat suits, purple sweat suits etc. I know most felt like they were being somewhat fashionable, but I just think it looks sloppy anywhere outside of the gym.


Has anyone else noticed that sweat suits for men tend to be warmer than those made for women? I am a woman, and I have bought a small sweat suit from the men's department before, just because it was so much more insulated!

My husband works in a refrigerated warehouse, and he had to buy some sweat suits to wear at work. He found these pants lined with fleece on the inside that are incredibly comfortable and warm. The top is made of the same material, and it has a hood.

I tried on a small size of the same sweat suit, and I loved it. I bought it, and the pants keep me so warm that my legs sweat a little if I get active!

A lot of the sweat suits in the women's department are thin. I suppose they are intended to be fashionable. It seems that even the cotton ones can't compare to the warmth of the men's sweat suits.


My grandmother's wardrobe is full of velour sweat suits. For women like her who spend a lot of time around the house entertaining visitors, it is the ideal outfit.

She has always loved to look classy. The plush texture of velour gives her a glamorous touch while wrapping her in comfort.

She no longer wears tight clothing, because she has issues with her circulation. Her velour sweat suits have drawstring waists, so she can loosen them as much as she needs. The leg cuff is straight, with no elastic, so there is a lot of freedom there, as well.

The top is a plush jacket with a zipper. She often wears it zipped halfway to show her silk blouse underneath.


@golf07 – My husband hates those sweat suits with elasticized legs, and he has actually bought me several suits with flared legs to replace mine! He told me that the tight cuff was so unattractive to him, and normally he isn't picky about what I wear, but something about the old-fashioned sweat suit repulses him!

I grew up wearing them, so I thought nothing of it. However, I do agree that a straight or flared leg is more attractive.

One reason I stuck with the elasticized cuff of my old cotton sweat suits was to keep out the cold air. However, if I was going to be spending much time outdoors in the winter, I would have to wear thermal underwear anyway, so that is no excuse. With my new flare legged sweat suits, I have more room for the thermal leggings!


@sunshined – I also put on a sweat suit after work. Even if I wore my most comfortable trousers that day, a sweat suit will still be more comfortable.

It seems that all other types of pants are too restrictive for me. If I buy them to fit, then they rub against my waistline or push against my internal organs. If I buy them a little loose, then I have to wear a belt, which cancels out any comfort factor.

If I could get away with wearing a sweat suit to work, I would. However, I have to dress up a little, at least. I have been known to wear a crushed velvet sweat suit with a flared leg on a Friday, though, and no one complained.


@LisaLou - I think it depends on the place and the style of sweat suit you are wearing. I have seen my share of old, sloppy sweat suits at the mall and the grocery store.

There is nothing more unattractive than a woman wearing a baggy white sweat suit with stains all over it. I have a hard time understanding how people can wear something like that and feel good about themselves.

I have a water resistant sweat suit I wear when I exercise outside. If it looks like a chance for rain, I will wear this sweat suit. It is important to wear loose, comfortable clothing when you are excising.

I have also seen some luxurious silk sweat suits that are very attractive. Wearing something like this would be much more appealing than many of the cotton ones that are sold.


I don't have any more sweat suits in my closet. This was a personal choice for me when I made the decision to finally lose some weight.

For many people this sounds crazy because wearing a sweat suit is so comfortable. I think constantly wearing sweat suits was bad for my weight loss program.

The reason is because I found myself eating more when I was wearing lose, comfortable clothing. I also felt frumpy when I was wearing a sweat suit and decided I needed to change my wardrobe and my eating habits.

I know there are some nice looking sweat suits available, but I think a lot of them also look kind of sloppy. For me, there is a difference in how I feel when I am wearing fashionable clothing instead of an old sweat suit all the time.


@sunshined - I also have a hard time finding sweat suits for women to fit me. I have even found myself looking in the children's section. Those will usually work as long as you can find them without hearts, flowers and butterflies all over them.

There have been a lot of changes in the styles of sweat suits over the years. I remember when most of them were solid colors with the elastic around the bottom of the leg.

These are the type of sweat suits I try to avoid because there are so many other styles and colors to choose from. I feel much better with a sweat suit that has pants with a flared leg.

These look more fashionable and are also more comfortable for me. When these are worn with a matching top, I feel comfortable wearing it most places without feeling like I am under dressed.


When I wear a sweat suit for women I look like a primary colored trash bag. but my friends Shirley can wear one and look like a runway model fashionista. I don't get it.

Shirley has always been a pretty woman and she turn a lot of heads no matter what she wears. But I have never seen another woman who can rock a sweat suit as well as her. She knows it too. She wears sweat suits a lot more than you would expect from a pretty woman not training to be a boxer.


I hope that sweat suits never go out of style. Even if they did, I think I would still wear them.

There is nothing more comfortable for me to wear than a sweat suit. When I get home from work, the first thing I do is change my clothes and either put on some jeans or a sweat suit.

On the weekends, they are perfect for lounging around the house in or running errands. My only complaint is that I am short, and have a hard time finding petite sweat suits.

With most sweatsuits, the legs are too long for me and I have to get them altered. When I find a style and brand that fits me, I usually buy more than one.


I have heard of wrestlers wearing special sauna sweat suits to help them shed water wight before tournament. This practice is pretty wide spread despite the fact that it poses serious risks for the wrestler.

The combination of the sweat suit, usually made of rubber, the sauna, and often an exercise bike, means that the athlete is sweating and exerting themselves to an extreme degree. There have been cases of collapse or even death. Its just high school wrestling, nothing to jeopardize your health over.


I know that full sweat suits are commonly thought of as workout out clothes, but I use them as pajamas in the wintertime.

Despite my best efforts, my apartment gets really cold. There is no solution without accepting a gigantic heating bill. So every night before bed I put my sweat suit on and crawl under the covers. I still get a little chilly from time to time but it helps a lot.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Woman with hand on her hip
      Woman with hand on her hip