I must admit I was a little scared to write about this. I am well-aware of the sweatpants lobby’s influence, and that a lot of people wear theirs religiously. I know the arguments, too: Life is stressful enough, let us wear cozy bottoms. And you know, I get it. I’ve never owned a pair of sweatpants in my life (except for the vintage Adidas track pants I bought last year to wear with high heels and a man’s blazer), but the longing to strip off a tight skirt or a crotch-tweaking pair of jeans after coming home from work is very familiar to me. Life is stressful, and as much as I adore blazers and suit pants and embellished dresses, it can be a great relief to get out of them after a long day.

But coming home from work is one scenario. Hanging out all day in sweatpants, pajamas or a combination of both is a different story. I can’t do it. This may sound strange, but being overly comfortable for longer than 45 minutes makes me feel uncomfortable. Even as a child, when weekends and winter breaks called for spending days in pajamas, I always felt better after I brushed my hair and put on a nice outfit. Maybe I’m a bit like Carrie in Sex and the City, season 3, episode 7, where she wakes up bathed in sweat next to Aidan, stressed out about the fact that their relationship is going perfectly fine because she secretly misses the drama. I’m the same. Only sweatpants are my Aidan, and crotch-tweaking jeans provide the drama.

“BUT WHAT DOES SHE WEAR ON SUNDAYS?” the sweatpants lobbyists scream. “If she’s never lived in sweatpants, has she lived at all?”

To that I reply, “My friends: try the caftan.”

Wearing a caftan at home is a habit I inherited from my Lebanese mother. (The woman has never worn sweatpants in her life.) A caftan is a roomy, flowy dress that allows the body to expand freely while simultaneously making its wearer look chic. Yet where caftans have a reputation as stylish beach-wear — and beaches are essentially sandy couches — they’re still not worn for indoor lounging.

But why do we spend so much money on chic beach clothes when they gather dust in our closets for the greater part of the year (unless you live on the beach)? Why not kill two birds with one stone and wear our beloved yet neglected vacation wear inside, during the winter? I doubt there’s any better place to enjoy a bottomless Netflix afternoon dressed in nothing but bikini briefs and a wool sweater than the couch. On other days at home, I love to throw on a crisp, oversize white shirt, inspired by this legendary Peter Lindbergh photo. In absence of a beachy backdrop, I pair it with bright tights and an eye mask at the ready — you know, to pull down as soon as Stranger Things gets too strange.

And what about the feather boa you once bought for that beach party in Ipanema? The one that’s been hibernating in the back of your closet for the past four years, waiting for a new beach party invitation to arrive? A gloomy winter Sunday is the perfect occasion to wear it with a cozy cashmere sweater vest. Fix yourself a sundae and turn on Chris Rea’s “On the Beach.” You should feel like you just landed on Hawaii by now. I’d bet my entire stock of straw hats that sweatpants have never managed to take you there.

Photos by Tom Blesch; follow him on Instagram

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  • cbBKNY

    I loved this – I’ve hosted Sunday dinners in a caftan. They make me feel like a Queen.

  • Adrianna

    My thighs rub together, so I’ll always pick leggings over a caftan. I know we should wear our good things because glamour is a lifestyle, but I mainly change into home clothes to prolong going to a laundromat.

    My boyfriend/roommate recently took this picture of me one morning because I looked “sexy.” I’m glad all I have to do is literally lay there. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2415bd27e26d65c36e026b5cd29e06989335f45754dde663388acedf47a1c017.jpg

    • Amelia Diamond

      I love this photo a lot. Also this happened to me once before when someone posted a photo of herself in the comments section but for a split second I thought this was me, even though I read the comment, and it was the couch that tipped me off. What video game were you playing!

      • Adrianna

        lol. my boyfriend used his fancy computer science degree to do some wizardry, and now we can play Sega Genesis and Nintendo games from our childhood. Shout out to anyone who loved Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine as much as I did.

  • Abby

    Yessss this is everything I need! I’ve been meaning to up my “house clothes” game lately but was feeling very uninspired…

  • Amelia Diamond


  • Kimberley Boehm

    I love this article. I grew up around aunts who wore fancy house clothes, which meant a loose dress with embroidered bodices, a lovely bed jacket and brocade mules. I recommend cashmere pants and knitted jackets. Sparkly ruby slippers, too.

  • Cristina

    It’s like you’re in my head, but a little further ahead of me with the caftan haha.
    I’m longing to upgrade my lounge around the housewear. Lathwear? But I am an active member of the sweatpants union, because my day clothes are like.. pull in tug here tuck there spray gloss fold etc. washing my face and putting on sweats is akin to peeing when you’ve been holding it for 45 mins past when you needed to pee really bad. I think I even make that same exhale. But I really want to update to a nice pajama set, pajama shirt and some joggers with cute sweaters or tops!

  • Aleda Johnson

    I hate wearing pants at home, period. I’m in a nightie or a big t-shirt or just my undies and a crop top. Pants are so restricting!

    Thank god I found a life partner just like me. My fiance is like the dad from the Goldbergs. Walks in the front door, drops his pants. Warms my heart.

  • DelphineGarnier82

    I’m cool with this post. I am okay with wearing sweat pants, but only at home and never out of the house. I don’t mind other ideas for indoor clothes though since I’m extremely unlikely to own more than 2 sweat pants at a time.

  • Alison

    The place I’m renting doesn’t have heat. (You have to love southern CA construction.)

    I am fully behind Big Sweatpants and their army of lobbyists.

  • Kayla

    I need the opposite of this. Outfits to wear outside if you hate everything but sweatpants.

  • Jessica

    I absolutely love my sweat pants. But my husband doesn’t. So I try to switch it up for his sake. My go-to lounge wear on those days are flowly summer dresses, especially if they are silk. In the winter, I’ll just layer a cozy sweater on top to make sure I’m warm, with thigh high socks.

  • Claudia Tetreault-Percy

    Im totally this way as well. I love to put on a pair of high waisted trousers(in a jersey) and a nice sweater to relax in. As well as leopard print pointed toe flats and a bangin’ pair of earrings… right?!

  • Sydney Wagner

    “Why wear sweatpants when you can just not wear pants at all and lounge around in a robe instead?” is my train of thought. Pretty sure I’m the only college student on the face of the Earth who doesn’t own a pair of sweatpants, shrug.

    • mariana

      Robe, no pants, college student. I feel you, sister

  • I, too, am a sweatpants-phobe. I just can’t wear them. My at-home-being-lazy outfits are usually cashmere sweaters (w nothing underneath, because my boobs deserve to be cradled in cashmere) and wide-leg jersey trousers. Though now I’ll probably need a caftan.

    • Tessa

      boobs in cashmere >>>>

  • silla

    Love the idea of being chic while staying at home doing nothing! Makes you feel less like a slovenly sloth

  • Caroline Y

    I usually wear my Maroccan kaftan (bought i Marrakech) with a hoodie called Djellaba / jalaba. http://kasroualili-mode.com/mesimages/f3f9e59620a0a9c305e0f7e525fbe6b1.jpg

  • After reading i realized that i do really hate wearing sweatpants!!) I fount it a very useful info!
    Tx for sharing!

  • lianeandthemusic

    My lounge attire consists of leggings and a t-shirt, which I glamorize on occasion with a fancy robe.

  • Amanda Orlando

    I don’t own a single pair of sweatpants and haven’t in years, because I came to the conclusion that they just weren’t comfortable for me and they cause me to over-heat. I love wearing a pair of thin high rise leggings, or just a long cotton shirt with a good pair of boxers. I’ve tried “adult” pj’s because so many of my friends swear by them… but I just hate wearing pants at home and there’s no way around it!

  • Diana

    there it is again, why are womens clothes so often uncomfortable? Why do we feel comfortable feeling uncomfortable and vice versa? About what exactly are we speaking when we speak about track pants? It is often class and gender. This article discusses class vs gender, one might think. Track pants are cool or not cool because people of “lower” class are associated with it, one can find things about them that are cool, and things that are not so cool. When it comes to gender, women have to be “put together” the term sais it, it cannot be more obvious, also commercials that link appearance to self worth, I hope maybe one day I will understand what it is exactly about when people talk about track pants, prefering beeing put together, or vice versa
    Oh and hi to claire, I often read cest clairette and like the way you write and combine clothes, alway surprising and interesting

  • Deborah Taylor

    I’ve been wanting to buy a nice kaftan for awhile. What I usually wear are vintage Japanese kimonos and Yukatas (summer kimono) with a long cotton sash that wraps around twice and ties as you like. You get the obi look without the stiffness.