The Best Men's Tracksuits Are the Next Great Frontier in WFH Style
Give your sweats a much-deserved break, channel your inner Tony Soprano, and experience the leisurely euphoria of a super fly tracksuit.
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There’s something about the best men's tracksuits, comfortable as they 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 like a hoodie. 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 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 24 best men's tracksuits in 2021. Pick the one that’s right for you, get into it pronto, and give your tried-and-true sweats a well-earned break.
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 $100 total means there’s no other place we could’ve put this icon besides the very top of the heap.
Needles has been one of the most widely admired and deeply inventive menswear labels in Japan for decades, but it wasn’t until A$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 side stripes—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 charmingly retro plaid pattern that’s been flipped in orange and brown.
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.
Go back 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 were more than happy to run around baring their untamed chest hair in 'em. René Lacoste, the wily French tennis player better known as "The Crocodile", might be most famous for introducing the polo shirt to the masses, but his namesake brand's throwback tracksuit offers a fittingly sporty homage to that era. In a rich shade of green synonymous with the brand's immediately identifiable logo, Lacoste's matching set will help you harness the considerable power of tennis player insouciance from decades bygone—on and off the courts.
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. Saintwood'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 white logo embroidery at the chest, and you've got yourself an opulent tracksuit set fit for a king.
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.
Virgil Abloh protege Samuel Ross made a name for himself crafting intricate, architectural streetwear at A-Cold-Wall*, racking up industry accolades and legions of devoted fans along the way. For his latest team-up with the sportswear savants at Converse, Ross brought his distinct eye for industrial-inspired design to this tracksuit, rendering his signature angular lines in a breathable ripstop blend that'll leave ACW appreciators old and new champing at the bit for a taste.
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 Rihannato 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.
There must be something in the water across the pond, because the latest crop of rising British design stars seem to share a deep affinity for the humble tracksuit—and thank heavens they do. Like many of his peers, Nicholas Daley brings an intuitive understanding of the utilitarian appeal of sportswear to his designs, borrowing freely from the genre's easy silhouettes and laid-back cool. In his ongoing collaboration with Fred Perry (an authority in the sportswear space if there ever was one), Daley updates the tracksuit with tartan overlays and nods to British subcultural style, inspired by years of drinking in the way the people around him get dressed.
All the comfort of the fluffiest beach towel in your linens closet, coupled with all the appeal of the swankiest leisurewear in your actual closet.
Few designers cut a full tracksuit the way Grace Wales Bonner does. Over the last few years, the British wunderkind has made the style a calling card of sorts, imbuing the
Because when Japanese brand Facetasm cosigns something—anything, really—you just know it's cool.
Nylon separates courtesy of the brand currently reinventing American fashion.
A floral wool tracksuit ready-made for stunting on your schlubby cotton-clad homies.
Recycled cotton-jersey done up in a wavy abstract print that'd look as righteous hanging in a gallery as it will in your closet.
The best use of a silk scarf since the start of the Babushka Boi movement.