Loungewear! But Make It Relevant After Quarantine
04.28.20

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In case you missed it (and if you did, we’re fighting) last week I asked what everyone has been spending money on for the past few weeks in quarantine. I even doubled down on the question by chatting with people on the Man Repeller Thoughtline about what they’ve recently bought. The answers felt honest, raw, and generous. Some people purchased things from small businesses they care about most, hoping to give back. Many gave to charity. Plenty bought stuff just because wanting “stuff” feels like a symptom of the idleness that gnaws at us every day.

It should come as no surprise, though, that the common through-line in the majority of purchases was… loungewear. Home pants. Fuzzy fashion. Comfort clothes. Stretch couture.

When we all realized we’d be spending more time at home than ever before, we scrambled and bought elastic pants with abandon, sweatshirts with sagesse. I can say that, on my end, those purchases, which actually occurred long before quarantine, have already overachieved on their cost per wear. I’ve worn every sweatshirt and sweater in my closet at least five times. I know every inch of my sweatpants intimately… and they know me right back.

A question worth answering (even if your stock isn’t exactly new): How can we translate all this loungewear into real out-in-the-sunshine-still-wearing-a-mask-tho life again? I know this community is wondering because you are a group of smart, sustainably-minded folks. My bevy of sweat-things are precious for the comfort they’ve given me, but I need to know that they will still work for me–and look cool doing so–outside the house for years to come. Below are some styling suggestions to get your outfit-idea motor running with the loungey things in your closet as fuel.

1. The Sweatshirt

My Pick: Ah… the trusty sweatshirt. Everyone has parameters for what they believe makes the very best. I happen to believe in crewnecks only. I like French terry cotton because it’s cool enough to wear in warmer months and apartments that keep the radiator blasting in late April (cough cough). This one from Mad Happy I purchased a year ago, along with matching sweatpants, and it has consistently been the best sweatshirt in my closet. The perfect crop, the material that never makes me hot or cold, and the color (I didn’t even know I could pull off creamsicle) have all been just right, in the words of Goldilocks.

My Real-Life Play: Since I’m thinking about everything with summer (perhaps optimistically?), I paired these with the lightest-weight pants in my closet from when Eliz styled me for a story about summer pants (THEY RULE). I went with a print, but I think a crewneck sweatshirt looks just as cool with casual khakis or stovepipe denim. Accessories are imperative and sweatshirts lend themselves to highlighting all kinds of cool necklaces. Layer up!

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2. The Leggings

My Pick: These leggings are of-legend. I ordered them a few months ago when I was looking for a new pair to add to my running collection. I found that I prefer wearing them for inactivity, actually. Black leggings are tried and true, but I think navy and green are just as neutral as black in a wardrobe, ya know?

My Real-Life Play: My coworkers have styled leggings in approximately One Million. Genius. Ways. So, inspired by the likes of Leandra and Katie Sturino, leggings really do go best with a top that makes absolutely no sense with them. Like a NICE top. A top you’d wear to dinner with grandma. And earrings. And little moccasin flats.

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3. The Nightdress

My Pick: I got this dress from a brand called Kala last fall and it breaks my heart that I can’t buy another one! It is the perfect nighttime shift dress, which I have worn both to bed and out to dinner with heels, no joke. Any slip dress kind of satisfies this as well—alarmingly cozy and jaw-droppingly versatile.

My Real-Life Play: Because it’s *short* I’m wearing it with knee-high boots from Brother Vellies that are essentially my children. A statement piece that shouts. A simple knit cardigan can be worn on top when it’s nippy and tossed aside when it’s hot hot hot.

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4. The Sweatpants

My Pick: These sweatpants from the Aimé Léon Doré x New Balance collab were a BIG purchase. Not only were they ‘spensy (how I say expensive), but they were sweatpants, and white. It didn’t make a ton of sense. But, I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of them and the material feels LUXE for sweatpants. TBH, not sure I needed to spring the way I did, but we live and we learn.

My Real-Life Play: I wanted to prove to myself that sweatpants could be dressed up. BIG dressed up. So I paired them with some ladylike Reike Nen shoes and a fancy lady jacket and a fancy lady necktie. I think it all came together well, to be honest?? I defer to you to tell me, but in order to make sweatpants work outside, I think you need some kind of cropped jacket to avoid it looking frumpy, and a shirt underneath that’s fitted. Not a precise formula, but a place to start nonetheless!

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5. The Graphic T-shirt

My Pick: I got this T-shirt for myself because I saw Uncut Gems twice in theaters and it shook me to the ground with how good it was. Consider me a certified Safdie Bros Bro who’s not interested in speaking about it with other Safdie Bros Bros. It’s a men’s size medium so sometimes it’s hard to wrangle, but it’s a veritable work of art and I will love it forever.

My Real-Life Play: The beauty of the giant graphic tee is that it can be worn ad infinitum. I’m sure you don’t really need my help with this, but I recommend pairing graphic tees with unexpected stuff, like skirts or noisy pants or colors that don’t intuitively go with it on the color wheel. I paired mine with gingham pants, bad boy loafers and a vintage belt.

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6. The Rugby

My Pick: It’s hard to say there are alternatives to the Great Rugby Emporium that is Rowing Blazers. This rugby I bought two years ago is a much THICKer cotton than my sweatshirt, and is so comfortable for at-home wear. I’ve found myself fully tackled by the Work from Home Rugby Gang. That’s… the only rugby term I know.

My Real-Life Play: Once again, because the cotton is thick, the rugby needs a pant to offset the heft. I chose these old Uniqlo x JW Anderson shorts that kind of look more like a floaty A-line skirt from far away. Then socks and loafers are just a clear call, imo. I want to look like a French schoolboy searching for hermit crabs amidst the rocks on a beach in Biarritz.

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Any other styling conundrums you have from your loungewear purchases? I guarantee they can be worn out of the house and in the light of day without an athleisure bent. I’m here for you in the comments.

Feature Image: Amalie wearing Sandy Liang fleece, Rachel Comey dress, Labucq shoes.

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