As the days shorten, it’s time to look forward to hunkering down beside the hearth. Stephanie Smith examines the style phenomenon that is loungewear.
Perhaps it was the dawn of the DVD box set, or slumber parties, or student life or all-day breakfasts. Whatever it was, staying in and relaxing at home – often entertaining while relaxing at home, too, inviting the girls round for a meal followed by a film and popcorn – became an acceptable pastime at pretty much any time of the day, evening or night, and a whole new wardrobe was required. Loungewear was born.
Staying in this may be, but it’s nothing to do with a dropping of standards. This is easy, elegant dressing. Think layers, long, loose and languid, but luxuriously so, never grungy or messy. These are clothes for chilling in style, not slobbing out on the sofa with a box of cereal and the curtains closed.
Lounge pants are an essential component and a good basic starting point. The accomplished lounge wardrobe will contain wide-leg variety, sleek jogger style and possibly leggings, all in a palette of greys, navy and neutrals that can be mixed and matched easily. Jersey is comfiest, flannel is versatile, in that you can easily take a chill-break into town or to the park without changing, but cashmere is super-cosy and expensively impressive if you have chillout guests over.
In terms of tops, a decent lounge wardrobe needs vests, long sleeve and short sleeve tees and tunic tops, especially ones with a flattering dip at the back hems, so you can wander around your own pad and anyone else’s without fear that your bottom is hanging out all by itself. All fabrics must be super-soft and touchably luxurious – modal supplies softness and warmth in a practical fabric but again, silk and cashmere are to be coveted.
Then come the wraps, capes and ponchos, which have obligingly become indoor/outdoor wear to adapt to our modern love for the hybrid lifestyle. Look for fine-knit cashmere ones (see The White Company, Jigsaw and Pure Collection). PJs must be silk or silk blend where possible, for statement slumber party dressing, although brushed cotton and jersey are perfect for late Sunday mornings en famille and a dressing gown is always a bonus, whatever the length – jersey, silk and cashmere or fine wool ones are fine for wafting about the house all day, should you wish.
Knitwear is of course an essential element of loungewear, in particular the long cardigan, to throw on over your lounge pants and vest top. As for your feet, ballet pumps, slipper boots and bed socks are all acceptable indoors, but swap for sturdy Uggs if there’s a chance that you might be venturing outdoors.
Talking of which, if you are planning to go outside in your loungewear, try to look pulled together, which is best achieved by keeping colours tonally co-ordinating and fabrics luxurious. Loungewear is comfortable, but also elegant, and if you get it right, it shouldn’t look out of place in a restaurant at lunchtime, so stick to the luxe fabric leggings, wide-leg trousers, tunic tops and knitwear layering rules.
Remember, there is no excuse ever for going outdoors in your pyjamas, not even silk ones – not to drop the kids off at school, not to go to the corner shop and not even to collect a pizza. You have been warned.