Pants for kid that look like pants and feel like sweatpants/leggings?
October 29, 2014 9:18 AM   Subscribe

My comfort-loving preschooler (boy) only likes to wear sweatpants and leggings. I am of the opinion that sweatpants should never be worn in public, and most leggings are probably not warm enough for winter. Can you help me find comfy, warm pants that also look good?

We have some jeggings (leggings that look like jeans) but they are pretty thin and not very warm, plus he tears holes in the knees in under a month. He's basically in leggings every day at this point because he refuses to wear regular pants (jeans, cargo pants, etc) and I refuse to let him go to school in sweatpants. But as the weather gets cooler I know I will get complaints from him that he's cold, so I want to be prepared for winter with some pants that will pass the comfort test.

He's a size 4T or so (legs are 4T long, but he's kind of skinny and has more of a 3T waist, so elastic is preferred).

Links to items on Amazon would be great, but I also have access to Target and Walmart.
posted by rabbitrabbit to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (33 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
What about fleece-lined jeans and pants? You can find these just about anywhere, but I know Land's End has them for sure. If he likes the flexibility that leggings offer him this might not work so well, but if he just likes the feel it could be great. I also am a big fan (personally, as an adult) of wearing leggings under my leggings when it's cold out. SUUUUUPER warm, still comfy.

He is a small child though so maybe consider relaxing the ban on sweatpants occasionally? The schools in my neighborhood actually have sweatpants as part of the uniform, it's really not the worst thing in the world.
posted by phunniemee at 9:25 AM on October 29, 2014 [10 favorites]

My brother was like this as a kid and turned out to do okay in dressier pants, because the fabric was less rough, just in case that helps.
posted by Sequence at 9:27 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

How about corduroy?
posted by hollyholly at 9:31 AM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My daughter hated rough-textured pants for a while. We went with:
-- windpants (bonus: drawstring AND elastic)
-- fleece-lined jeans, when we could find them
-- athletic shorts with leggings underneath. (Fleece-lined leggings help a little with warmth/durability.)
-- open leg sweatpants that take longer to "read" as sweatpants
posted by gnomeloaf at 9:39 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

My 8 year old with sensory issues has been wearing these flannel cargo pants from Boden since Kindergarden. He basically lives in them from October through May. They're pricey, but super soft, super sturdy, elastic waist, and he gets millions of complements on them.
posted by anastasiav at 9:40 AM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Gymboree often has jersey lined cargo pants with an elastic waist. My kids have them and if they're clean, they're wearing them. Very comfy and often available on sale or at the outlet. Sorry about the lack of linkage.
posted by checkitnice at 9:45 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Check out Hanna Andersson - jersey lined cargos, no sweat sweats, and micro fleece pants. Their quality is amazing! Seriously amazing. My kids get serious wear out of Hanna's - they grow out of them, never wear them out.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 9:49 AM on October 29, 2014

Will he wear leggings or pj bottoms under the pants? I put my toddlers in that combo when it's cold out.
posted by cestmoi15 at 9:51 AM on October 29, 2014

He's a kid, you should really consider sweatpants as a viable option. Not if he's meeting the queen, obviously, but for preschool? They are 110% fine.

Try higher quality brands, like mini Boden or Hanna Andersson. Softer fabrics might help.
posted by lydhre at 9:55 AM on October 29, 2014 [17 favorites]

Best answer: I think you should consider allowing him to wear nicer sweatpants. Perhaps you'd feel better if they didn't have elastic at the ankles, or were made of less-slouchy higher-quality fabrics?

I also tried fleece-lined jeans for my kid, who isn't even 1 yet, but clearly finds his movement impeded by anything other than kint pants/leggings and sweatpants. The jeans didn't work for him (not good for crawling!), but they might work for your kid.

My younger sister went through a phase of wearing a leotard and tights to school every single day for 2 years. So did several of our friends. I had my own dressing quirks as a kid, too - there was a year when I made my own harnesses to carry around notebooks and scientific equipment, when I was 9. (Yes... really.) Now, especially now that I'm a parent myself, when I see children dressed in mismatched, or unusual outfits, I don't think to myself "Geez, this kid's parents can't get it together". I think "Now there's a child whose preferences and choices are being honored." You're entitled to your opinions and choices as a parent, of course, but if you're concerned about judgment from others... you wouldn't get it from me, and in fact I'd be silently high-fiving you for letting your kid wear whatever he wants.
posted by Cygnet at 9:59 AM on October 29, 2014 [12 favorites]

Long underwear might feel like leggings, and he could wear elastic-waist pants over them. That way he gets the ease of pulling them on and off bc of the elastic without the rough fabric of pants/jeans against his legs.

(My eight year old boy only owns sweat pants. Like, literally, does not own a single pair of real pants or jeans. I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that now.)
posted by selfmedicating at 9:59 AM on October 29, 2014

Not cheap, but sturdy and attractive.
posted by judith at 10:14 AM on October 29, 2014

Response by poster: All right, all right, I might relax the no-sweatpants rule. Cygnet has a good point that I should honor his preferences. (Particularly since a lot of the options presented here are kind of ridiculously expensive -- seriously, like $50 for pants that will be worn for 4 months?! I was thinking more in the $5-10 range.) And I did not know fleece-lined leggings were a thing. Any links to decent open-bottomed sweatpants or fleece-lined leggings would be appreciated.

I don't think I want to go the two-layer route, he's pretty newly potty trained and getting both underwear and pants up and down is hard enough sometimes without introducing an added layer in there too.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:29 AM on October 29, 2014

As the mother to a five year old and a three year old, I really think you will save yourself a lot of grief if you let him wear sweatpants. In the first place, they are cheaper. In the second place, they are really comfortable. In the third place, school at that age consists of a lot of chances for clothes to get ruined --- paint on cheap sweatpants is no big deal -- paint on jeans....bit of a deal.

And if you live anywhere that is closer to Canada than to Mexico, odds are there are plenty of other kids -- and adults wearing sweat pants a good time of year. I spent all of last winter, in fact, wearing sweatpants over my work pants because it was too damned cold. And I don't wear long underwear.

I also think you'll find the more rigid you are about such things as this, the more likely you're going to be fought on it, too. There are going to be plenty of mountains to climb later --- let mole hills be mole hills.
posted by zizzle at 10:31 AM on October 29, 2014

Best answer: Go to the Kohl's website and look at the Jumping Bean brand of pants in his size. They are soft, comfortable, and take a beating. You can find them at really good prices with their sales.
posted by schnee at 10:49 AM on October 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Maybe hit up your local thrift store's toddler section to check out the types/brands of pants that are there. That's how I discovered some of my toddler's favorite styles of outfits and brands that fit him better. I personally prefer to get him knit pants as he is still doing a lot of crawling around as a new walker and jeans or other stiffer pants just seem to restrict his movement too much. And if you buy it at the thrift store for $2, no big deal if there is a rip in the knee later.
posted by jillithd at 10:51 AM on October 29, 2014

I'm not crazy about letting my son where sweatpants to school either, so I understand where you are coming from. I'm not sure what we're going to do yet as our cool weather hasn't come, but yeah, jeans are kind of stiff and elastic waistbands are really helpful for my son is just mastering being potty trained. I got him some fleece pants from the Gap last year that are really pretty nice looking, they don't come off as sloppy like sweats might. They were something like this (bigger boy size), but I'm sure I didn't pay more than 10-12 for them:

Looking around for them, I also saw these in the toddler section which look pretty comfy actually, I'm going to watch for them to go on sale:

Finally, my mother in law seems to be a big walmart shopper and is always bringing my son sweatpants, I think b/c they are soft. They are usually the Garanimals brand, and I'll give her credit, those things are indestructible (and probably really inexpensive).
posted by snowymorninblues at 10:57 AM on October 29, 2014

If you want a pair of nice pants for him, these pants from Tea Collection are great. They're made of terrycloth but read much closer to dress pants than sweatpants. They're really comfortable, and not fiddly at bathroom time. We lucked into some secondhand, but I sprung for one new pair as well.

I hear you on the price issue. Hit up seasonal consigment sales if you have them, and if you can find a good thrift store it's worth stopping in on occasion.
posted by telepanda at 11:07 AM on October 29, 2014

What is it that he likes about sweatpants and leggings, specifically?

My sister, now an adult, has always had sensory issues and won't wear normal pants either. We were able to figure out that it is specifically the feeling of a structured waistband that she dislikes. She would prefer a stretchy material as well but it's the binding feeling of the waistband that freaks her out. Solution: velcro-closure slacks. No zippers, buttons, or snaps, only velcro. She wears a lot of linen, too, which has the right texture for her but looks more like grown-up clothing. Not sure what the options are in kid-wear these days, but finding out what he prefers about the experience might help you shop for clothes that have the required characteristics but still look presentable in other ways.
posted by epanalepsis at 11:15 AM on October 29, 2014

Came in to recommend Kohl's - I see schnee has beat me to it. My son is also very skinny with long legs, refuses to wear any kind of pants with a button, and I buy most of his pants in Kohl's. They're comfortable enough for him and look presentable enough for me.

Also, I find some pants in Marshall's but that of course is hit or miss.
posted by lyssabee at 11:23 AM on October 29, 2014

I've had good luck with ponte knit pants. Ponte is stretchy and comfortable, but don't look schlumpy like leggings.
posted by Soliloquy at 11:54 AM on October 29, 2014

Best answer: My older kid lived in the Old Navy fleece pants and their jersey pants for a while. They also have jersey-lined pull-on pants and some fleece-lined pants. The prices are in line with your budget, especially if you get them on sale, which seems to happen every few weeks. The quality isn't super high, but most of the ones we got are in shape to be handed down to his younger brother.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 11:56 AM on October 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Hannah Andersson has great sweat-like pants that are warm enough for cold weather. Not necessarily cheap, but not gouging either. They also have fleece pants and cords, all with elastic waists, that are pretty good for sweat-loving kids and in the same reasonable price range.
posted by acm at 11:58 AM on October 29, 2014

Pick your battles. If you fight him over every little thing he wants to do that you don't like, it will alienate him, especially when he gets older. Kids make clothing choices that their parents don't like- that's just the way it is. If his dressing as he likes isn't a health or safety issue, let him do it.

My mom and I fought all through my teenage years over how I dressed. Finally, at some point (I think when one of my friends got pregnant in high school), she realized, I could be worse. Our relationship got a lot better from that point on.

Do you have Once Upon a Child where you are? It's a chain of kids' consignment shops. I get most of Lil' Neville's clothes there (she's 2). Young kids grow out of stuff so fast, the stuff people sell is often still in pretty good shape.
posted by Anne Neville at 12:00 PM on October 29, 2014

Best answer: We've had some of the Old Navy fleece- or knit-lined pants and they've been a hit with my sensory-opinionated kid (unfortunately, they wear out quick at the knees, but slower than leggings must). If you feel all right about those shiny athlete pants, your world opens up considerably, because being designed for comfort, lots of them have warmer linings. We have a few pair; I can check the brand when I get home.

And a slightly sidewise recommendation that also works for us is comfortably-cut corduroy pants with elastic waists. The fuzziness on the outside seems to be an acceptable substitute for fuzziness on the inside.
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:22 PM on October 29, 2014

Best answer: We're in a similar boat, and dude's got lots of fleecey pants like those mentioned above. I think most of them are Jumping Bean brand or Old Navy. (These:

We've also had a lot of luck looking at the girls' section of consignment stores/Target/Freddie's for thicker leggings/yoga pants/whatever. I found some Land's End yoga pants, black, at a consignment store that are amazing -- thicker than leggings, pretty comfy. I don't know whether you could find something similar elsewhere, but it's worth a try.
posted by linettasky at 12:33 PM on October 29, 2014

Ok, this is going to sound really straight from the 1970s - but go to your nearest Sears and check out the Toddler & Young Boys "Toughskins" brand pants. Sears stocks Cargo pants made of sweatpant material; open-leg sweatpants in great camouflage prints (which don't look like sweatpants); Athletic pants aka "windpants"; and soft twill, elastic-waist cargo pants. Plus, 90% of the time you can buy boys' pants at Sears on sale for $10 or less.

My son also refused to wear any kind of "dressy" pants (nothing with a button & zipper fly!) up until 4th grade when a classmate gave him some hand-me-down jeans. But from ages 3 1/2 to 9, I bought his pants almost exclusively from Sears.

My second, pricier recommendation is Lands End IronKnee pull on pants, which run around $30-$40 retail a pair depending on material & pattern. These are fantastic kids pants - true to their name. Lands End often runs sales or offers promo codes; you can get the price down around $22 - $25 a pair. My mom & my in-laws loved to splurge on these pants as gifts for the grandson! Or, if you come across them in a thrift store, snap them up!
posted by Ardea alba at 12:49 PM on October 29, 2014

In cold weather, I dislike the drafty feeling that comes with long pants and short socks. I prefer knee-high socks to keep my legs warm. If this is part of your preschooler's issue, maybe he could wear tall socks under comfy, regular pants? Would also serve as an extra, warm layer that would not interfere with access when it's potty time.
posted by terooot at 12:56 PM on October 29, 2014

I just bought my toddler girl pants from children's place that look like jeans made from sweatpants. Maybe take a look at their website? They often run 40% off sales and have free shipping.
posted by echo0720 at 1:02 PM on October 29, 2014

90% of my 3 yo son's pants are from Old Navy, especially during the colder months. He has sweats and fleece pants (like the one linked to by a previous poster) and all have non-elastic ankles. They are super versatile - he wears them at home to schlump around, but he's also worn them to preschool. Along with a non-pajama shirt, they look perfectly fine. I also get him Old Navy's lined cargos. I tend to have better luck online when it comes to selection, especially since their site has a lot of stuff that's online-only (but can still be returned to the store if you don't like it). I haven't had a pair wear out yet. And Old Navy has lots of sales and coupon codes, so I tend to get him pants and sweats in pretty much every color and call it a day :)
posted by DrGirlfriend at 4:39 PM on October 29, 2014

my son has quite a few pairs of pants from baby gap with elastic waist bands. they look like jeans, but with the top of a sweatpant. (kinda like maternity jeans?)
posted by sabh at 5:16 PM on October 29, 2014

they call them pull-on pants. like this. also, agreeing with everyone that your toddler can wear sweatpants to school. these aren't messy at all!
posted by sabh at 5:42 PM on October 29, 2014

Seconding schnee for Kohl's -- these cargo-style wide-legged fleece pants might work.
posted by kittydelsol at 4:18 AM on October 30, 2014

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