Don’t Sweat the Technique

Hiroshi Watatani Upper Pajamas & Polo Coat

Before you get too far into this post please note that if you are the type to shake your fists at the sky bemoaning the lack of sartorial standards in the world today this post may be a bridge too far for you. Take a a little time to compose yourself and see if you can go on. If not that’s ok. If so, I am now going to talk about how the sweatpants and OCBD with a big coat look that we have been seeing a lot of lately is old news. So old even Ronald Reagan was doing it.

9/20/1984 President Reagan wearing sweatpants talking to staff aboard Air Force One on a trip to Iowa

This all may feel a bit too Aime Leon Dore for you (ALD ad above if you don’t know them). Before you dismiss as it some new fangled invention and you need some historical context you can look above to see Ronald Reagan rocking the look on Air Force One. For you ivy style purists students have been doing this since day one. If you’ve been around the ivy internet for a while this post might conjure up images of Hiroshi Watatani’s pajamas and duffle coat illustration above. I think of the old guys that I’d see leaving the YMCA in their sweat suits paired with the same coat they came in wearing over their suits. I used to work in an office building that with quite a few law offices inside. Sadly we’d often all be in our offices early Saturday morning and I saw type of fit there as well. I should have been taking more pics. Hindsight, eh?

Sweatpants & Shetland

Sure this is just another form of athleisure. Is it lazy? I don’t think so. Is it stylish? I think so. I do know that it comes in handy in my toddler-centric lifestyle. I find that it works almost any time where comfort may trump formality ( and a host of other reasons) like walking the dog, meeting friends for early morning coffee, wfh, travel days, most aspects of student life, just sitting around your house, and more occasions in 2024 than I can type. In these situations this style is a go for me. If you follow me on IG you’ve seen me do it a lot.

Here’s how I do it and what I’ve learned. Sweatpants are the central building block. It is best if they are a little baggy. Grey sweatpants are easier to style than navy for me. OCBDs looks great with sweatpants, but don’t tuck them in. Shetlands work over an OCBD or over a long sleeve t-shirt (here’s my long sleeve t-shirt post). Rugby shirts also work well. As far as footwear goes grey New Balance are great, but adding camp mocs, blucher mocs, or loafers is very cool. The baseball cap or beanie (I still call them tobaggaons like a true Midwesterner) is not required and while it is stylish it is key when your hair is a mess. A shortcut is if you have a big coat you can also simply throw it over a full sweat suit and add a scarf.

This post is more solid proof that the old adage “There is nothing new under the sun.” is accurate. However like Nas said on No Idea’s is Original, “It never what your do, but how it’s done.” If you have just scored a big coat this year like a tweed balmalcan, duffle coat, or the current champion of big coats, the polo coat and it’s not getting enough wear, here you go. If you want to one up everyone in their pajamas at Target at 8am on Saturday mornings, done. Me, I’ll be throwing this type of fit on before an early Saturday morning walk with my daughter where I also intend to score a croissant from the French bakery down the street. Maybe this is what they mean by French Ivy?

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

14 Comments on "Don’t Sweat the Technique"

  1. Tom Friedman says:

    The problem with most sweatpants, especially if you drink a lot of coffee (as the author appears to do) is that there’s no zipper, which can present a logistics problem.

  2. Charles Gresham says:

    Wallabees and sweats?? Now you’ve crossed the line…

  3. Fred Twistleton says:

    I agree. Black sweatpants (or trackpants as they are known here), with boat shoes and an ocbd, woolly jumper or rugby top have been staples of casual ensembles of mine for years. I remember variations on the look being popular at my rather preppy boarding school and university going back two decades as well.

  4. Tie Clip says:

    Hi Jerrod, nice article! I’m not entirely on board with the sweatpants in public look because it shows off the capricious crotch area too much on men. On myself I just feel too exposed and vulnerable in sweatpants.
    However I do think that with a topcoat to cover the crotch area, it can be an acceptable look. The topcoat does so effectively, and is carrying the look.
    P.S. Personally I would do the turtleneck tee instead of an untucked OCBD since it has a cleaner squared hem.
    All the best.

    • oxford cloth button down says:

      Thanks! The turtleneck works. I’ve done it. I wear gym shorts under my sweatpants which lock solves your crotch issue. Easy peasy!

  5. Carlos says:


    While I can agree on the premise of this style I can’t. Simply because of the hoards of mid-atlantic high schoolers in my area that make this whole look frumpy in quite an unattractive way. Quite unfortunate for sure because it is easy and comfortable. They do not typically have the OCBD component just that unclean sweaty aroma.

  6. Clay says:

    I’m interested in trying this. Would both sweatpants (with a narrow elastic band) and joggers (with a longer ribbed cuff) work? Is one style preferable to the other?

    • oxford cloth button down says:

      Probably, I’m partial to traditional sweats but if you have joggers I’d play around with some looks.

  7. JDV says:

    April fools is 2 months away.

  8. JDV says:

    Meaning this is hardly a typical post for Jerrod.

  9. John Smith says:

    I enjoyed this post, as much of the fogey in me hates the idea of going out in sweatpants, I think if it is possible to pull off, you did it. I feel like a requirement to pull this look off is to be the father of at least one (1) young child (not dissimilar to outdoor vests, but I digress). Do you happen to know any of those brands of Shetlands in your pictures featured off of the top of your head, in particular the maroon and navy striped one? Also the blue and white rugby shirt? Thanks for everything you do.

    • oxford cloth button down says:

      Thanks, John! Luckily I do have 1 small child lol. All of those sweaters are from Bosie/Harley of Scotland. The blue and white rugby is from Barbarian.

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