Dear Sweats: Thank you for your service. Ever since this lonely, befuddling new era began last month, you’ve been there for us. You’ve soothed us, consoled us, shrouded us in your warm embrace. We’re grateful, and look forward to spending many more comforting hours together however long all this madness lasts. Only, we’re ready to branch out a little—it’s time to reintroduce just a teensy bit more polish to our WFH rotations, and that means getting familiar with the best men’s tracksuits.
Because there’s something about a tracksuit, comfortable as it may be, that just feels more purposeful than a sweatsuit. The fabric is denser and more structured, and there’s a jacket involved—one that you have to go to the trouble of putting on and zipping up, rather than just slipping over your head. And then there are all the baked-in associations. Tracksuits are uniforms for people who get shit done efficiently and ruthlessly: elite athletes, UK grime rappers, mall-walking senior citizens determined to stay in shape, tough guys stretching from the Russian section of Brighton Beach all the way to actual Russia. Oh, yeah, and they also look really, really dope—leisurely and relaxed, but still plenty smart and distinctive.
Tracksuits are so essential right now, lockdown or not, that literally every brand on the planet makes their own swishy, striking take. That might sound like a good thing, only the actual number of available options is so vast that it’s honestly sort of anxiety-inducing—and lord knows you don’t need any more of that at the moment. So we did you a solid and surveyed hundreds of versions, from the tiniest underground streetwear labels to the oldest luxury fashion houses to the biggest athletic conglomerates, and narrowed it down to these: the 23 best men’s tracksuits in 2020. Pick the one that’s right for you, get into it pronto, and give your tried-and-true sweats a well-earned break.
The Best Tracksuit, Period
Were you expecting something else? Since 1967, when Adidas debuted its first tracksuit on the lanky frame of German soccer legend Franz Beckenbauer, there’s been no sportswear ensemble more omnipresent in our culture. From Run D.M.C. to Korn, Henry Hill to Chas Tenenbaum, the sheer simple cool of the three-striped zip jacket and matching stretchy pants hasn’t just endured across five decades—it’s snowballed. And the fact that you can get in on all that timeless style for just over $100 total—or, actually, under $100 right now, if you hurry while this sale is still on—means there’s no other place we could’ve put this icon besides the very top of the heap.
The Best Advanced-Level Tracksuit
Needles has been one of the most widely admired and deeply inventive menswear labels in Japan for decades, but it wasn’t until A$AP Rocky began rocking their butterfly-embroidered track pants on the regular a few years ago that they had a genuine hit on their hands. Since then, they’ve iterated on those coveted OG pants—with their slouchy, wide-legged fit and thick stripes down the sides—and the matching high-necked jacket in all manner of materials and patterns: rich velvets, wild leopard prints, even faux snakeskin. Right now, though, our favorite version is this one, in a trippy oversized houndstooth that’s been flipped in burgundy and lime.
The Best Retro Tracksuit
Sportswear design in the ’90s wasn’t terribly subtle. It was loud visually, of course—with more searing neons than the Vegas strip—but also aurally, because it was generally made using the swishiest, crinkliest nylon available. This Windows 95 screensaver of a Nike set hearkens back to that golden age of mullets on the tennis court, cartoon characters on the hardwood, and the wallpaper from your orthodontist’s office on the soccer pitch. If you’re looking to turn every head in every room you enter—or you’re just looking for something era appropriate to wear while you binge The Last Dance—this is the tracksuit for you.
The Best Even More Retro Tracksuit
Go back just a decade or two earlier, and the tracksuits you’ll find are night-and-day to their ’90s successors. They were understated and crisp, and guys like Steve Austin (as in The Six Million Dollar Man, not the pro wrestler) ran around baring their untamed chest hair in ’em. Saturdays NYC’s latest tracksuit is a meticulous homage to that era: thanks to that pleasing toned-down mix of camel, navy, and red, you’ll be able to use the jacket and pants—together and separately—to cook up more combinations with the rest of your wardrobe than you would with nearly any other set on this list.
The Best Velour Tracksuit
Velour tracksuits were inescapable in the aughts: there were the extra baggy ones that rappers wore in music videos—always from their own labels—and the tight cropped versions from Baby Phat and Juicy Couture that Nicole Richie and Lindsay Lohan would cruise around the Hollywood Hills in. Casablanca’s updated take thankfully resembles neither. It’s plenty plush and shiny, but it’s a whole lot more flatteringly tailored than, say, the kind Slim Shady used to rock at the Grammys. Combine the bang-on fit with that rich shade of green and the low-key orange embroidery at the chest, and you’ve got yourself an opulent tracksuit fit for a king.
The Best Tracksuit, Emphasis on the “Suit”
Trying your darnedest to take this whole working-from-home situation as seriously as possible—while also, you know, still staying comfy? Todd Snyder’s elevated spin on a tracksuit can help. It’s cut from the same fine Italian wool Snyder uses to craft his always reliable suits, only transplanted onto a sportier silhouette via his longtime partners at Champion. The chalk stripes announce that you really mean business; the elasticated cuffs show you’re sensible and adapting to the times.
The Best Tracksuit with Serious Street Cred
Palace’s product descriptions are always a delight, but the one on this jacket rings particularly true: “Wearing all white Palace tracksuits is a sign of excellence.” We wholeheartedly agree, and so will most passersby on the sidewalk—particularly those of the plugged-in, hype-conscious variety. (The pants description is less relevant to this writeup, but still worth pondering: “I wonder if rappers gotta stay in as well.”) The British skate giant made its name on strong graphics, clean design, and a hint of subversive wit, and this icy two-piece has all three in spades.
The Best Tracksuit for Getting Papped In
What velour tracksuits were to the early 2000s, Gucci tracksuits were to the late 2010s. Alessandro Michele’s romantic, eccentric vision has helped reshape the fashion world at large, but his luxe tracksuits have struck a particularly strong chord with famous types: everybody from Jay-Z and Rihanna to Conor McGregor and the Hot Mugshot Guy has been spotted out in one of Michele’s signature monogrammed two-pieces. This newer striped iteration is decidedly more understated, but it’s still plenty extravagant—with a pricetag to match—and is absolutely the kind of thing you should buy to celebrate your first front page hit piece in the Daily Mail.
The Best Avant-Garde Tracksuit
A born-and-raised Londoner, Martine Rose knows the ins and outs of tracksuits better than probably any star designer of her generation. Last year, she proved her chops by designing a note perfect old-school British tracky for her much-lauded Nike collaboration: nailing the palette and the color-blocking with just a minor flourish at the shoulders. Now, for her latest mainline collection, she’s taken things a step further by playfully subverting the form: adding flowy, removable silk brocade sleeves to the jacket, and engineering the pants in such a way that the elastic cuffs seem to look and function more like the heavy cuffs you’d find on dress trousers. It’s the kind of artful deconstruction you can only pull off if you really, truly adore the original thing—and Rose’s love of tracksuits is as real as it gets.
14 More Tracksuits We Love
Make Michael Chang proud.
A gorgeous handpainted print topped off with the Challenge Court—a.k.a. the low-key raddest logo Nike’s ever had.
Flawless ’70s style from the era’s chillest tennis outfitter.
Just like their classic sweats, Champion makes one of the best bang-for-your-buck tracksuits around.
Excuse my ignorance, but does one actually warm up for a regatta? Either way: this set slaps.
Diddy Bop your way straight back to the ’00s.
An ’80s b-boy staple.
Make all your days indoors feel just a little bit sunnier.
A head-turning highlight from Carol Lim and Humberto Leon’s last collection for Kenzo.
Major “low-level East London crook in a Guy Ritchie movie” energy.
Both sides of Miuccia Prada’s genius on full display: hallucinatory madness up top, crisp navy nylon down below.
An old-school banger from one of the coolest running labels around right now.
Is a tracksuit list even a tracksuit list without some Diadora trackies on it?
This one was made to be worn at night—when the silver reflective panels really get a chance to shine.