Parachute Pants Are Back — & They’re Coming For Your Sweatpants

Photo: Courtesy of Browns.
After a year of sweatpants, we’re now seeking out alternate ways to wear elastic pants when our surroundings aren’t the four walls of our homes. As we transition to seeing people and getting outside, we're craving something that's not loungewear, yet isn't denim, either. According to Veneda Carter — a stylist who works with Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, and Virgil Abloh, among others — parachute pants are the way to go.
One swipe through Carter’s Instagram feed, and you’ll find the Copenhagen-born, L.A.-based creative donning the ultra-lightweight, drawstring track pants on a number of occasions, pairing them in an effortlessly curated way that makes them appear both casual and stylish. According to tags, her pair, which are military pants from the ‘90s, is from 194 Local, a London-based vintage men’s clothing shop. That said, like most vintage pieces that come back in fashion, these roomy numbers aren’t just available on the secondhand market. We’re now seeing them pop up in new collections, too.
The modern-day take on parachute pants — that earned their name thanks to their billowy shape and parachute-like material — has appeared in Dion Lee’s latest drop and Aeron’s resort ‘21 line. Streetwear brands like A. A. Spectrum and Paper Plane sell versions of the silhouette, too. According to digital shopping platform ShopStyle, search for “parachute pants” has increased by 40% compared to 2020. Meanwhile, search for “nylon pants” and “track pants” is up 22% and 15%, respectively. “This time last year, we saw searches for loungewear skyrocket as we all went into lockdown, and now, with the end of the pandemic in sight, we’re seeing a shift back to traditional shopping habits for this time of year,” Alison Stiefel, ShopStyle’s general manager, tells Refinery29. “Consumers are ditching their sweatpants and shopping for bottoms that are still nearly as comfy as sweats — like parachute pants and nylon pants — but more fashionable.”
Unlike the parachute pants of years past — balloon pants featuring an exaggerated drop crotch (also known as Hammer pants thanks to MC Hammer) — the versions available today are more elevated and polished. Paired with ballet flats or loafers and combined with cool, vintage jackets or structured blazers, they appear put-together — even if they’re held up by an elastic waist and made from sporty material. Even better, with drawstrings at every entrance point, parachute pants are versatile in that they can be changed from wide leg to fitted at the ankle, and can be worn high- or low-waisted. 
If anything, opting for a loose and airy pair of parachute pants every now and then will give your previously toasty gams a chance to breathe; that is, unless you’d prefer short shorts for that. If that’s the case, we can’t so much blame you. Either way, we rounded up a few worthy pairs to try, below. 
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

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