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We can safely say this: We told you so. We recommended, whilst in lockdown, avoiding athleisure and getting dressed for working at home. Sometimes, though, comfort takes precedence over everything else. The man who without fail would’ve suited up in chinos, a shirt, and a blazer for the office has now spent the past four months in sweats and T-shirts, donning something with buttons on top for a Zoom call and promptly taking it off afterwards. Yet, many people have started returning to work. Perhaps your employer requires you to. Or you’ve been given the option to come back – although not required for now – and fully embraced that – mask, sanitiser, and all rules with it. As a third and likely scenario, someone in your company sent out a memo recommending that employees look more presentable for their clients over Zoom. And it dawns on you: Maybe you think HR hasn’t seen your sweats, basketball shorts, or track bottoms, but it sure seems like it.

Enter the drawstring trouser. It’s not a new concept, and casual fashion has run with it on and off. If part of your teens or adult years were spent in the late ‘90s, you might remember Gap’s and Old Navy’s drawstring jeans and cargo pants – although they were clearly geared toward a younger consumer, rather than a thirty- or forty-something wanting to stay comfortable. Then, designer tracksuits in the next decade meant that drawstrings, elastic waists, and wider fits could be priced nearly as much as a proper full-on suit. Now, though, those thirty-somethings, more than romanticising a barely there trend from their youth, are wanting a compromise. No, you don’t want to give up and spend the rest of your life in athleisure. Studies have shown that you might even feel miserable for doing so. Yet, whether you gained the Quarantine 15 or a waistband feels too restrictive, you’re just not ready for regular trousers and jeans.


In the present, when you picture a man in drawstring trousers, it’s either someone in sweats or pyjama bottoms he’s been wearing over the past three days. It’s a bit of ease and not caring – but there’s also a bit of desperation and can’t-be-bothered attitude. He’s comfy – but he’s also someone who doesn’t want to get dressed. Whether you’re actually going somewhere or simply want to dress decently, drawstring trousers look like any other style from the exterior. Often, they are cotton twill, or for summer, you’ll see styles in a linen blend for better breathability. Nylon, denim, or a fabric with a hint of polyester and spandex may also be employed: To sum it up, there’s no specific formula, except for that you don’t want to look like you’re headed to the gym. Once you get beyond the physical fabrication, the silhouette is one of the most discrete around. You’ll spot joggers, chinos, slim to relaxed trousers, and even cropped options. However, nothing is too oversized as to look slouchy and, more specifically, like you just rolled out of bed.


Over the past couple of years, much has been made about how workplaces no longer truly use business casual dress codes. We’re thankfully past the hideous blue shirt and pleated trousers years of the ‘90s, and likely due to startup culture in the 2000s, smart-casual means that well-maintained denim, “work” trainers, and even a decent T-shirt pass muster. The current and sudden shift to working from home should sound yet another death knell: Although sweats might not (and might never be) workplace appropriate, a little more comfort can’t be frowned upon. In turn, an elastic, drawstring waist isn’t casual enough to be a workplace violation, especially if clients can’t see your lower half during a Zoom call.


Although drawstring trousers encompass a wide range of slim to regular styles, some falling to and others above the ankle, the jogger remains the default. Considering joggers first emerged roughly seven years ago as an athleisure style, it’s relatively logical that we still see them as sweats and track bottoms. Nevertheless, the tapered silhouette, cuffed around the ankles after providing extra space in the legs but not enough to look like full-on harem trousers, has gotten a “smart” upgrade. Rather than exclusively utilise a heathered knit material, “smart” joggers are constructed out of twill or nylon. The silhouette remains the same, except for it has a bit more structure and doesn’t give off “going to the gym” vibes.


Drawstring trousers included. The multipurpose garment – the shirt that can still be casual, the suit separates that can be broken up, and the chinos with tech properties, for instance – is proving its worth within the menswear world. Nothing should ever be a single-occasion piece, and drawstring trousers match this. Simply put, style and professionalism shouldn’t mean a stiff, restricted fit. Rather, a bit of elastic and a waistband you can adjust add relaxed vibes to a range of materials and cuts, and further break down the walls between your casual and work wardrobes.

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