More Thoughts on At-Home Wear

Terra Trevor’s guest post last week and the follow-on comments from readers really got me thinking about what I wear at home and how I feel about it.  I’ve written quite a bit about how our wardrobes should suit our actual lifestyles instead of imagined or wished for lives.   However, for some reason, when I’ve thought about my own wardrobe and lifestyle, I really only took my “out and about” activities into consideration.  I mostly left my at-home life out of the equation and have rarely addressed this topic on the blog thus far.

At home clothing

What do you wear when you’re at home?

Such an omission might make sense for someone who is rarely at home and spends the majority of her time at an office and engaging in after hours and weekend socializing.  This type of woman may not really need to give much attention to what she wears at home.   A few pairs of pajamas or nightgowns may be all she really needs.  But that is not my life at all.

There is No Right Answer to At-Home Wear

There are no rights or wrongs in regards to at-home wear.  Some people like to wear business clothes in their home offices, while others find they can be just as productive working in their pajamas.  We all need to determine what works best for us in terms of our comfort, aesthetic preferences, and activities.  These are the same considerations we should keep in mind for all areas of our wardrobes.

This post addresses my unique at-home situation, as well as my recent musings on what is and isn’t working for me.  It’s my hope that my insights will be interesting and meaningful to you as you consider what you do or don’t want to wear at home.

For the most part, I haven’t worked in an office since 2000.   Over the past 15 years, I’ve worked from home as an employee, independent contractor, or entrepreneur.   At times I’ve worked full-time, at times I’ve worked part-time, and sometimes I haven’t worked much at all.   My jobs have varied substantially, but the common denominator is that I’ve spent a large proportion of my time at home for many, many years now.   In fact, it’s safe to say that for most of those years, I’ve spent over two-thirds of my life at home – and lately it’s been even more.

On “Lounge Wear”

Until recently, when I’ve been at home, I’ve almost exclusively worn what I’ve considered “lounge wear.”   Some people have asked what that term means and there is no absolute definition that I can provide.  “Lounge wear” can encapsulate anything from pajamas to workout wear to clothing that is specifically marketed for that purpose (as one example, here’s what Nordstrom includes in their lounge category).  To make things even more confusing, some people basically downgrade worn out “regular” clothes to lounge wear, including things like jeans and other casual wear.

So I won’t try to offer a precise definition of lounge wear that applies to everyone, but I will tell you what it’s meant for me over the years.   Typically when I’ve worked from home, I would wear the same clothes I’d put on for going to the gym or on a walk.  This has usually entailed wearing a solid-color V-neck t-shirt with black Capri or full-length workout pants.  When I got cold, I’d put on a zip-up fleece jacket, also in a solid color.   To keep my feet warm, I’d wear fleece-lined slippers of some sort.  Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

My Lounge Wear Examples

Examples of the “lounge wear” items I wore for many years.

“Serviceable” Clothes Don’t Necessarily Spark Joy

In contrast to the rest of my wardrobe, the cost-per-wear for my lounge wear items has generally been very low.  I never spent much money on these pieces because I didn’t place strong importance on them.  I didn’t really try to have my at-home clothing “spark joy” in my heart.  I considered my lounge / workout items to be “serviceable” instead of fashionable.  I didn’t want to “waste” too much money on these items because I wanted to spend the bulk of my clothing budget on my “regular” clothes, those garments I wore out and about and around other people.

It’s not that I looked like a total slob at home.  I always showered, put on make-up, and made sure I looked reasonably presentable.  I was never embarrassed to open the door to the UPS delivery man or any other rare visitors who happened to drop by.   I didn’t think I looked terrible, yet I didn’t think I looked good, either.   My at-home wardrobe has always been fairly utilitarian – functional but not at all exciting.

When I posted about my “wardrobe benchwarmers” last year, several readers suggested that I start wearing those pieces at home.  Surprisingly, I had never considered doing that before!   I let the majority of my wardrobe gather dust in my closet while I wore the same rather blah lounge wear day after day.   If I did venture away from home, it was usually only for a few hours at a time, at which point I painstakingly selected the pieces for my outfits.  Those were the clothes I cared about, the ones that I’d shopped for in order to present a positive image to the world.

The Irony and Pure Folly of My Approach

I’m sure many of you can see the irony in the “tried and true” wardrobe approach I used for many years.   I spent the bulk of my budget on things that rarely got worn and almost no money on the garments that I put on each and every day.    I can see the pure folly in it now, yet I gave it virtually no thought for well over a decade!

After the readers’ comments last year, I made some changes.  I started wearing more of my “regular” tops at home, especially during the cooler months.   Many of my casual knit tops started to see a lot more wear with this new approach.  While I continued to wear the same pants and slippers as I had previously, I was happy to be bringing more of my clothes into regular rotation.   I also felt more attractive and well put together and better about how I looked overall.   That one small change made a big difference.

Yet I still didn’t give much thought to my at-home wardrobe.   It wasn’t until I exchanged email with Terra that I realized I was still doing things all wrong.   Terra and I have very similar lifestyles.  We both live in casual Southern California beach communities and we both spend most of our time at home.   When Terra revealed that her largest wardrobe capsule is for at-home wear, a lightbulb lit up inside my head.

Shouldn’t the same thing be true for me?  And why isn’t it?”

It’s Time for a Change!

In her post last week, Terra expressed her deep happiness and satisfaction about what she wears at home.  She also mentioned that she can easily make a few quick changes to be ready to walk out the door for pretty much all of her “out and about” activities.   Unlike me, she doesn’t have to change her entire outfit and agonize over what to put on when she leaves the house.   I found myself wanting what Terra has, and it’s really time!

I know it won’t happen overnight, but I want my wardrobe to better reflect my current lifestyle.  Although there is a part of me that wants my lifestyle to change, the truth is that I’m not sure when that will happen.  I continue to struggle with a lot of health challenges that limit what I’m able to do and I need to accept that.   I do the best I can, but the reality is that I am at home most of the time.   Since that’s the case, why not devote more time, attention, and money to the clothes I wear at home?

Now that I’ve seen the light about my at-home wardrobe, I’m more willing to buy higher quality “lounge wear” and wear a greater percentage of what used to be my “out and about” clothing when I’m at home.   I love bright colors, stripes, and prints, so those are the types of things I want to wear at home.   I also love comfortable, cozy fabrics and clothes that stay in place, rather than fussy, flimsy pieces that have to be adjusted over and over and don’t wash or wear well.   I now want the clothes I wear at home to “spark joy” just as much as the garments in the rest of my wardrobe.

The Ugly Duckling Point of View

I will close this post with some additional words of wisdom from Terra.   This response to a reader’s comment is too good not to share:

I’ve also discovered that the ritual of self-care, and dressing in a manner that uplifts us, even when we are alone, especially when we are alone, makes it far easier to get dressed and look our best when we are preparing ourselves to go to work, or a social event. If we feel good about our appearance most of the time while we are at home, it provides a smoother transition when we get “dressed” to go out in public.

Not caring about how we look at home can result in an ugly duckling point of view, and places too much pressure on becoming a beautiful swan in order to go out into the world with confidence. It also helps to let go of unrealistic expectations, and to find a simple beauty and getting dressed routine that sparks joy.”

I no longer want to hold an ugly duckling point of view or place undue pressure on myself to be a beautiful swan every time I step outside the door. What I long for is a sense of balance, and I feel I’m well on my way thanks to Terra!

Conclusion and Your Thoughts

I need to give this all some more thought and analysis (you know I love my numbers…), so I’m sure I will write more about this topic moving forward. For now, I just wanted to share my recent insights and open up more discussion on this important subject.   Stay tuned for more insights and conclusions as time goes by!

I know that many of you chimed on with your thoughts on at-home wear in response to Terra’s post.  But I welcome any additional feedback here, either about what I have written or about your own at-home wear.

As one commenter recently wrote to Terra, this topic is rarely discussed by bloggers and fashion experts.   But it’s very important that we consider it and determine what works best for us.  If you’ve settled upon an at-home wear formula that works for you, please share it with us.  And if you are still working it through and have questions, feel free to post them.  I love the discussions we have here and I find your thoughts and insights very helpful.   In fact, many of my future posts are inspired by reader comments, so keep them coming!

Before You Go…  Something to Share and a Favor to Ask

  • I was recently interviewed for an article in Artefact Magazine called, “The Hidden Life of a Shopaholic.” Click here to read it.  By the way, the photo in the article is not recent.  My closet is not nearly as packed anymore (but I still love stripes).
  • If any of you have read my most recent book, “End Closet Chaos,” and found it helpful, I could really use some additional reviews on Amazon. Books with more reviews have increased visibility and are more readily purchased.  Just a few sentences can really make a difference!  Click here if you want to leave a review (I also welcome reviews for my first book, “UnShopping”).   Thanks so much!

Thank you for reading! If you liked this post, please share it with your friends and subscribe for free updates by email.

I also invite you to join the End Closet Chaos private Facebook group, where you can interact with others about the topics discussed here.

Comments

  1. Deborah (Deby) says:

    Debbie, like you, I have primarily worked at home for a very long time, for me its been almost 20 years. I always felt I was a pioneer of the work-at-home movement! I have been self-employed in some capacity since 1987, when I first went on my own as a freelance illustrator.
    My visual communications business is now part time to my “real” job as marketing manager for a wireless communications business. I am now essentially a mobile worker, in that while I spend some time in the office, most of my time is spent working from my home office and telecommuting with my coworkers.

    What does that mean for how I dress?Even though I work at home, the environment is like an office during business hours because I have a constant flow of employees in and out of my house. My disabled mother has a home health care aide, often employees from our office will stop by my house to discuss things, or I have people coming to work on the properties. Its a very active place during the day.

    So I dress at home like I was going to work. I’ve been doing this for so long, its second nature. I have to remind myself I don’t have to do this on the weekends–that I can be totally casual if I so choose! My style has evolved so that my work look easily morphs into a more leisurely look. I’m one of those people who gets dressed in the morning and then doesn’t think about my clothes unless they are bothering me for some reason. I don’t give much thought to what I look like for the rest of the day once I’ve gotten myself ready. One of the requirements for my clothes is that they have to fit well and be comfortable enough not to interfere with my thought processes once I get to work in the morning. For me work and home are so blended–I’m like your typical “live above the store” personality.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I guess we were both pioneers in working from home, Deby! I first did it when I moved from Colorado to Lake Tahoe and started working remotely. The technology was really sketchy back then (late 2000), but I managed to make it work. From the beginning, I always wore lounge / workout type clothes in my home office, though. What’s always been different for me is that I never met with anyone in my home office or had anyone drop by. All of my contacts were always via phone or email and all of my meetings happened in other locations. I think I just got into the habit of not having my home wear matter, but it was a bad habit. What I’m trying to do now is have more crossover in terms of what I wear at home and what I wear out. I’m also trying to shift my overall style into more comfortable and less fussy clothes, like what you described in response to Terra’s post. I think I didn’t consider comfort enough when I was out and about and considered it too much at home, so I’m striving for balance now. I’d also like to get dressed in the morning and not think about my clothes unless they are bothering me. And if they are bothering me, then they probably need to be passed on!

      • Deborah (Deby) says:

        I think the types of separates you choose is similar in many ways to what I wear daily, speaking in terms of pants, tops, jackets and cardigans. Not so much with the skirts, unless its spring/summer here–otherwise its too cold for skirts. You prefer a fuller leg pant to my preference for a skinny leg style, and I seem to have a wider range of colors than you in my pants. You and I share a common theme in our styles of cardigans. I will layer a top under a cardigan as you do, and the silhouettes of your tops are similar to mine, unless I’m wearing a tunic top. Since I wear skinny pants, I usually wear a tunic top or a long cardigan.

        What I’m trying to get to here is that you already have the essential elements of a business casual work at home wardrobe from what I have seen. You should just wear your clothes during your business hours and then change them when its time to wind down, even if you don’t leave the house. Dressing for work everyday even though I may not work outside the house puts me in a different headspace where I feel professional. I don’t get that feeling if I’m sitting around in pjs or workout clothes. Its just not the same, even though its all in your head.

        • I strongly agree, and often do this as well. Yet as a writer, when I am deep into writing, and meeting deadlines, or simply deep into the process of working on a manuscript it becomes all about the structure of my day and being comfortable as possible for very long hours at my computer, and has less to do with what I am wearing.

          • Terra, a lot of my job involves writing and I find I can get in the groove better if I’ve taken the time to get myself together first.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          Good points, Deby. You’re right that I don’t have a lot of variety in my pants colors. They’re so difficult for me to find! But I am moving more toward slimmer pants, at least part of the time. I just find it hard to sit all day in most of the pants I have, so I need to find some more comfortable options. I’ve been wearing my “regular” tops and cardigans at home more and feeling more put together and attractive as a result. I never sit around in pajamas and don’t wear true workout clothes anymore, either. I feel pretty good in what I’m wearing more of the time now, but still would like to make some improvements.

  2. At home I wear boyfriend jeans a colorful tee and flip flops. Then an apron if I am going to play in my art room I dance NIA twice a week so I wear flowy dance clothes. I love my white nightgowns but I don’t feel dressed in them. I can’t hang out in nightwear. I love clothes but have become more realistic about what I really wear. That and having my colors done has lessened my clothes shopping

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Your at-home clothes sound like they fit your life well, Mary. I can’t hang out in nightwear, either. I never put pajamas on until after 9 pm and I take them off after I eat breakfast in the morning. I’m working to be more realistic about what clothes suit my lifestyle and I’m striving to have less of a dividing line between what I wear at home and what I wear outside the home. It’s taking me some time to figure it all out, but I’m on my way.

  3. A fantastic post Debbie and one that has fascinated me for a while whenever I read the term ‘lounge wear’. It’s not a term that’s really in use in Australia, although our at-home clothes certainly fall into this category.

    For many years, I wore older clothes I didn’t necessarily like around the house and it never occurred to me it was worth dressing up when it was only me or family who were going to see me. Then I had an epiphany: dressing well for myself and my family was MORE important than dressing up for people outside my home!

    Since then, I’ve developed a comfortable, stylish collection of clothes, most of which can be worn ANYWHERE. With minor changes, I can wear my clothes at home, to work (dressy casual office code) or to a party. I do keep small capsules of clothes suitable for cleaning the house in, or for fancy events, etc, so these occasions are catered for as well.

    I recently wrote a post about how I consider my entire wardrobe as a set of different capsules. And I’m happy to say, the bulk of my clothes can be worn most days, no matter what I’m doing.

    http://www.extraorganised.com/2015/02/why-you-need-more-than-one-capsule-in-your-capsule-wardrobe.html

    • Di Collins says:

      I live in Australia and was also fascinated by the lounge wear concept. I share the same ideas as you just keeping a dressier capsule for the more formal events I occasionally attend. When I buy a piece of clothing I have to think of three different ways to wear it including a more dressed up variation. Clothes must be comfortable and not have to be adjusted during the day which does make them able to be ” lounged” in. It is interesting to read everybody’s point of view. Love reading your blog Debbie.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I love what you had to say, Kim, and I also really enjoyed your post on multiple capsule wardrobes (I see you’re another fan of Marie Kondo!). This one line that you wrote above is SO right on and hit home for me: “Dressing well for myself and my family was MORE important than dressing up for people outside my home!” This is so true and I think a lot of people don’t consider this. I know I didn’t for such a long time. I am aiming to get to where you are now, with a comfortable and stylish collection of clothes that can be worn anywhere. I was already closer than I thought, but I had to shift my mindset a bit in terms of types of clothes. This is something I’m going to continue to work on and I’m sure I will write about it again. Thanks for sharing your insights.

      Di, it’s interesting that “lounge wear” isn’t really a thing in Australia. I like what you wrote about wearing things 3 ways and having all clothes be comfortable enough to lounge in. Very good points!

  4. Cornelia says:

    While I dress for work at a law firm, I still maintain a certain measure of ‘being presentable’ when at home. Like Terra said, it is important to look as if you care – sloppy clothes will always say you have given up. And I maintain that you can look well in lounge wear so long as you hair is done and you wear a modicum of makeup. And, all things considered, I have never regretted to spend those extra 15 minutes getting ready, whilst on those sloppy days when I caught myself in the mirror, I wish I had. As we age it does take a bit more of an effort. But there is something to be said about self discipline. Still enjoy your blog very much, Debbie. 🙂

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I agree that it’s worth it to spend some time getting ready, Cornelia, even when we’re going to be at home all day. I know I feel better about myself when I take the time (which is every day unless I’m really sick). I have also noticed that it takes more effort as I’ve been getting older, but the self-discipline is important here, as in all areas of life. I’m glad you’re still enjoying my blog, as you’ve been around since close to the beginning!

  5. I too usually get dressed in the morning based on my plans for that day and then wear that outfit all day long. I may adjust it in the evening if I am going out or change shoes or lose/gain a layer.
    I have a few special items I wear when exercising, heavy housework/painting or colouring my hair, but I change into ‘real’ clothes once I am done.
    I love my outfits and I enjoy wearing them at home as well as out. But I have noticed that after 12 hours, if I am at home for the night, I am ready to get out of my bra! 🙂

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I got a chuckle out of your bra comment, Mary! Your getting dressed philosophy sounds very practical and easy. I think it’s a good idea to wear the clothes we love as much as possible. For those of us who don’t get out as much, that means wearing them at home. I don’t know why I never thought of that before!

  6. Since you are a numbers girl you might consider how much time you spend in each activity and locale and divide that into a wardrobe percentage that you can apply to your closet. I bet the 80/20 is inverted as you suspect. We work so hard to dress well when we first have an interest in the men in our lives, and them we deteriorate our look after that. We say that family and friends are the most important in our live and yet we dress the worst in their presence. I have recently begun to consider what I wear in the lounge category for this reason and adjusting my at home capsule.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Very good comment, Kathy. I think the 80/20 rule was definitely at play for me until I started wearing more of my “regular” clothes at home. The percentages are probably much better now, but I haven’t done the math yet (but maybe I should). I agree that we shouldn’t dress like slobs around our families. I don’t think I ever looked sloppy, but some of my at-home clothes were not all that great. I’m doing better now, but there is still room for improvement. But the fact that we’re considering these things is a very important first step!

    • I can identify with this– I love to dress up, or at least nicely with some style, even at home, and none of the rest of my family really cares about style. I have to laugh because they are always like, why are you wearing that? Why are you wearing jewelry? Are you going somewhere? Um maybe I just take pride in my appearance! Such a difference in perspective. I don’t understand how my sister shows up for Christmas in track pants and a shapeless t-shirt…. sigh.

      • Me too – I get dressed to go out and do my hair and makeup every day, whether I am going to work or not. I put on nice underwear, jewelry, perfume, lipstick, the whole nine yards, because it makes me feel good about myself. Of course there is the odd day when I just wear soft comfy clothes but generally I leave the house every day so I dress for being out in public and to look attractive for my husband (despite his own lack of effort in this area!)

      • Debbie Roes says:

        The way your sister dresses is how many people dress around here, Sarah. I’m constantly viewed as “dressed up” here, but I like to feel more put together. I’m not a jeans, t-shirt, and flip-flops kind of person and I never will be. We all need to be true to ourselves. I think that those who dress like slobs sometimes feel uncomfortable around those of us who take care with our appearance. So they make comments and try to get us to tone the way we dress or fix ourselves up down. That’s their issue. I think we should continue to do what makes us feel good, which is individual to all of us.

        Tara, I’m sorry your husband doesn’t make the same effort to look good for you. Sadly, I think that happens a lot. But I’m glad you’re still doing what feels right and good for you!

  7. Hello! I’ve been thinking on this topic long and hard since reading the guest post, and I have to agree- it’s a damn shame I’ve neglected this side of things as much as I have. The moment I get home, I change into my ‘lounge’ wear- most of which I wouldn’t want to be caught dead in by anyone other than my immediate family. It’s so hard to imagine that I would not care about what I wear at home, where I am a role-model for my daughter and a wife to a wonderful husband who deserves to see me in a better light than the haggard, stained mom that I look like after taking my wonderful business clothing off! I’m going to make an effort starting now, and make updating my at-home wardrobe a priority. I ordered a few things thanks to a great sale at WHBM- many items are $19.99 and were combine-able with a coupon. I still have a hard time SPENDING money on that section of my wardrobe, but it amuses me immensely to think I can wear a $90 sweater at home for lounging in at a fraction of the cost. I also don’t plan to add many things- maybe I’ll do the 5-piece wardrobe (20 total) for my lounge wear as well to keep my shopping in check.

    • I failed to mention that I will most likely always have separate capsules, unlike many of you folk. I have a toddler and cook nearly every night, and I always manage to get pretty dirty. I have clothing in such small amounts (for me!) that staining something I love is just not an option :). I can see in the future having some crossover from my casual capsule and my at-home wear, but never or almost never into the business clothes.

      • When my kids were little I used to wear jeans, shoes or sandals, and a nice v-neck t shirt. I kept an apron on all day over it so I would not get dirty or stained, and if I had to run out on an errand, I could just take it off and I looked ok. I never wore white. These days it is not much different.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          Sounds like a great strategy, Lana. Maybe aprons need to come back into vogue. I remember my mom wearing one when I was a kid, but I never wear one myself. But why not? I serves a great purpose and some aprons are actually pretty cute, too.

          • Totally agree about aprons! My MIL was getting rid of some and I saw one I loved. It has pictures of kitties all over it, nice thick cotton, and blue trim. She gave it to me and I’ve gotten a lot of use out of it already! It makes me smile when I wear it. 🙂

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I think it’s great that you’re already in action on this, Meli. I loved reading your most recent post on this topic. I can see how there will always be some separation between your work and at-home wardrobes. In your situation, it really makes good sense. I think your plan to upgrade the clothes you wear at home is the best way to go. In my life, there should be much more crossover and I’ve gradually been moving in that direction. It all starts with an attitude adjustment. I look forward to seeing how this project goes for you. You’ve made such excellent progress in other areas that I’m sure you’ll do great here as well!

      • Debbie Roes says:

        I wanted to add that I still struggle to spend money on my at-home wear, too, but I’m gradually coming around to it. In my case, I really should since I’m at home so much. It takes time for us to adjust our attitudes, though. I think the approach you’re taking makes good sense. I hope the items you ordered work out well for you!

  8. Debbie, in addition to my designated “at-home wear” I also wear clothing from my “sports wear” and “nice wear” capsules at home, depending upon what I will be doing. My home/work lifestyle near the beach in a canyon area includes much dirty work. But if I lived/worked in an apartment or condo I would wear my nicest clothing at home on a more regular basis. Based on my current life I think of my at-home wear as my “regular clothes.” The big different between my at-home wear and my smart casual/nice clothing is that my at-home wear is machine washable. Whereas my smart casual/nice wear is either hand washed in cold water, or on the delicate cycle in cold water, and hung to dry, or dry-cleaned. But the bottom line for me, no matter where I am or who I’m with, is to include clothing that makes my heart sing and brings joy.

    • Oh, I guess sports wear is not the right word, I don’t wear exercise-wear at home. I meant my sporty nice casual clothing. Casual Eileen Fisher type of wear.

      • Debbie Roes says:

        I think sportswear is the correct term, Terra, but most people don’t really use it anymore. The casualization of America (and especially the places where you and I live) has led to new stratas of clothing classification. I think a lot of the Eileen Fisher type of clothing would have been categorized as sportswear before, but now many people consider it to be “dressy” or at least “smart casual.” I think I knew what you meant, but it’s good that you clarified in case others were confused. It seems like we need some new terms to match the evolution of fashion…

        • That’s why I wish E.F. wasn’t so expensive. Many pieces in her line can be worn for very casual, smart casual, or dressed up. It covers all the bases. Alas. I’m lucky enough to have a few pieces. And fortunately I’m into being minimal because at those prices, even on sale, a few is all I can have!

          • Debbie Roes says:

            I only have two EF pieces, a dress and a skirt. I would like to get more, as I really like so many things about her clothes. I will aim to get a couple of pieces each year and gradually build things up. I’m not quite minimal yet, but I’m getting there…

          • I find EF at second hand stores all the time, of the 9? pieces I own only one was bought new. The brand frequently runs big and tall so I always try on first! If I wore black [which I don’t at all] or grey [hardly ever] I could own a ton. 🙂

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I think that thinking of home wear as your “regular” clothes makes perfect sense for you, Terra. It would be a great attitude adjustment for me to think that, too! I think I’m going to shift how I do my accountability and LIWI updates and closet inventories with that in mind. One thing I have done is designated workout clothes and have stopped wearing them for non-workout activities. Some of “lounge” pants could be worn for workout, too, but it’s helping me to separate the two categories as I shift my attitude and practices for dressing at home. My next goal is to get more sporty nice casual clothing, but that will be a gradual process. Thanks again for getting me thinking in a new way about this important topic!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I wanted to add one thing here. I have gotten into the practice of wearing my nicer tops at home on cooler days, but not so much when it gets hot. We don’t have air conditioning and I get hot easily on warmer days. I think that as the hot weather approaches (hopefully it won’t be as crazy as last year!), I need to add some appropriate things to wear at home during that time. I like the idea of cotton sundresses for summer home wear. That is what I’m going to aim for, I think.

      • We also do not have AC and it can get hot depending on whether we have an on shore or off shore breeze. I also prefer cotton sundresses to wear at home but they are hard to find, especially in a 2 petite. Let me know if you find a good source for affordable sundresses in a fabric that breathes.

        • Deborah (Deby) says:

          I have AC but am too cheap to turn it on unless the outside temp hits 90˚. I have ceiling fans in every room. To augment them, I have several floor fans with rotary grilles that swoop the air around the room and cool it down quite satisfactorily. If you have not heard of these types of fans, you should look into them. They are efficient.

          • Debbie Roes says:

            I haven’t heard of those types of fans, but they sound great. I will definitely check into them, especially if we have another summer like last summer!

        • Debbie Roes says:

          I will, Terra. I know that small petites can be hard to find, just like talls. Perhaps someone else will chime in here as well. But if I see anything that looks good, I will definitely let you know.

  9. Now that I am often working from home I am really cautious about getting into a loungewear rut. Summer is easy because I really like cotton sundresses and usually wear them any time office clothes aren’t needed. I haven’t been able to find a winter equivalent yet; I’ve stuck to mostly jeans and sweaters, or jeans with a tee and cardigan, but I don’t like it quite as much because jeans almost daily gets quite boring.

    I also try not to buy workout gear that would double for slightly-better-than-sweats clothes. So, no yoga pants (I don’t do yoga) or comfortable cotton tees for me. Instead I stick with performance-focused clothing that would be ever so slightly uncomfortable to wear around the house for a full day. That works to dissuade me from grabbing them when I’m not planning on going to the gym.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Sounds like you have a really good strategy in place, Sara. I’m trying to separate my workout clothes more from what I wear at home, too, although most of my workout clothes are still pretty comfortable. I love the idea of wearing cotton sundresses at home during the summer, so I’m going to keep my eyes open for such things. I was looking for dresses at the mall recently and they all looked so dressy or corporate. Maybe as more summer stock comes into the stores, there will be better casual options to choose from. I don’t like to wear jeans at home all day long. Maybe I would if they were more comfortable, so perhaps I just have the wrong types of jeans. My situation is tricky, though, due to nerve problems I have in my legs. I’m fine with wearing knit pants at home, as long as they are better quality and things I’d also be open to wearing out of the house.

  10. I am lucky because my office is casual, most people wear jeans and tees everyday. I tend to dress more put together than everyone else though. And so my at home wear is usually the same as one of my work outfits, with the exception of having a few pieces I think are too “revealing” for at work, and I reserve those for my days off. I have never been one to go around the house in stained or holey items, all my pjs are in great condition and again, even on days off I get dressed for the day and only put on pjs after I have showered for the evening. I think a lot after reading your articles and I realized last week that the area I have neglected is my bras and underwear. I guess because no one else sees them I didn’t want to spend money on those instead of tops, pants, shoes or jewelry. And it wasn’t only ones that were worn out but so many were uncomfortable but I felt guilty throwing them away. Weird, I know. I have decided to dress for myself more than for other people, which is what the at home wear article is all about. From now on everything including underwear must be comfortable or its going! I have really been going thru my undies and have thrown away so many. And I have also replaced all my old bras with new, comfortable ones. Instead of buying “pretty” items that are scratchy and pokes me I will now value comfort first. I wonder if that would be a good post topic or am I the only one who used to only buy new underthings like every two years?

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’ve been one to neglect bras and underwear, too, Laura. I have gotten better in this regard, especially with bras, but there is still room for improvement. I’m making a point of immediately removing uncomfortable underwear and throwing them in the garbage (when I’m at home, of course). I used to just “settle,” but I’ve realized that it’s hard to love an outfit when my undergarments are sub-par. It can really skew our view of the whole picture. I think this could be a good post topic, as I’m sure you and I are not alone. I have mentioned undergarments in my posts here and there, but perhaps a full post on the subject is in order. I think it’s important for EVERYTHING we wear to be at least an “8” or higher and that includes underwear, bras, pajamas, and workout wear as well as our “regular” clothes!

      • Here here! I renew my supply of bras and underwear regularly and spend money on good quality, attractive items that hold up well. If your underclothes are uncomfortable or not fitting properly, you won’t look or feel your best. It really is worth it.

  11. When I’m at home I wear yoga pants/leggings and sweatshirts in the winter and shorts and t-shirts in the summer. Everything needs to be machine wash and tumble dry. I tend to spend my time doing things like yard work, cooking, painting, and cleaning so I don’t want to mess with hand wash only. I don’t wear makeup at home (It only takes me about 2 minutes to put it on if I need to go out) and I let my hair dry naturally to give it a break from styling tools.
    I know I don’t feel good if I stay in my pajamas all day or if I skip a shower and throw my uncombed hair into a clip. Everything I have is stain and hole free. What I have seems appropriate for what I’m doing and it’s comfortable. I don’t feel bad about it, so I think I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I think the types of activities we do at home should govern what we wear, Tonya. In your case, if it doesn’t feel broken, then why fix it?! If everything you wear is in good shape and you’re happy with it, more power to you. I don’t think I will ever wear “business clothes” at home and there will probably always be SOME separation between what I wear at home and what I wear for out and about activities. But I am mostly sitting in front of a computer all day, so I can wear some nicer clothes. I will probably always hesitate to wear hand wash or dry clean garments at home, but then again, I’m hesitating to even buy such things these days. I want my wardrobe to be easy to care for and comfortable to wear. Comfortable is sometimes looked at as a bad word by stylists and style aficionados, but that’s probably because to lots of people it means wearing very sloppy clothing. It’s definitely possible to look stylish and attractive AND be comfortable physically and that’s what I’m aiming for at this point. As an aside, I really need to adopt your make-up and hair routine. I’m FAR too high-maintenance!

  12. Hello! I especially liked this post because of the self-awareness you generously shared with us. It’s very inspiring to see you grow right here in front of us. Very courageous of you too. I would have difficulty putting myself out there in a blog before I felt I had fully ‘mastered’ my topic. But probably by then, I would no longer be interested in maintaining a blog about it! Anyhow, kudos to you.

    What you said about loungewear helped me fully realize what it is about my recent forays in closet editing that I found most satisfying. For the very first time in my life, I feel that I have finally arrived at a something like a functional, comfortable, ‘my style’ and cohesive wardrobe made up of just enough pieces to allow for fun without overwhelming me.

    It all began with a 30$ gift card I received this last Christmas from my sister-in-law. The gift card was for Simons, a well-known upmarket small chain here in Quebec, Canada. I went to the store in January to spend the card, but after the holidays, I did not want to spend more money. Simons is like a modern Selfridges : it has every type of clothes and accessories that you can imagine : office, casual, teen, lingerie, pajamas, coats, bags, scarves, you name it. Within each category, the choice is abundant. Its stores are as large as department stores, but actually nice, with clever staging and lavish architecture. The one near my house even has a couture section featuring runway clothes. Nevertheless, I was resolved to go in there and spend only the 30$ from the gift card — you can imagine the challenge and the temptations.

    My plan was to stick to the loungewear, pyjamas, socks and lingerie departments seeing as these sport the less expensive items and would incur less temptation. I said to myself : just have some fun, it’ll be loungewear so it doesnt have to fit in with the rest of your wardrobe. So I did, and I came home with some very nice loungewear and the cutest bra I had ever seen, all for 35$ (it was sale season). It was the first time in my life that I bought such ”unimportant” or ”low-status” things during sale season. I usually go for, and use my money on, flashy and expensive tops or bottoms that are marked down quite a lot.

    Over the following couple of weeks I noticed I was wearing my new pieces all the time. Only then did I make the important realization : for the first time in my life I had bought dedicated loungewear. Also, for the first time in my life, I had bought a bra because I really liked it, and not because it was ”a bra that I need to wear under this type of top’. And lo and behold, I was feeling uplifted while going about my house chores. I spend most of my time at home, so it was a noticeable improvement in my life. But this was just the start : it triggered a cascade for wardrobe uplifts.

    Before what I call my ‘loungewear evolution’, I had downgraded to loungewear some clothes that I did not like enough to put in my regular going-out-of-the-house wardrobe. As a result I often ended up spending my day in pyjamas because I was not thrilled by my house clothes and I had this silly, unconscious notion that wearing my nicer clothes around the house was impractical. I would often change into clothes just before my partner was due to come back from work. I was embarrassed by this even though nobody knew. I realize now that the stress of being ‘caught’ in pajamas was sapping my energy, concentration and general well-being.

    The nice loungewear I got from my 30$ giftcard taught me the value of having enjoyable ‘me-time’ clothes and I’m happy to say that a couple of months later, this sparked a major wardrobe edit where I got rid of things that were objectively good clothes for me (flattering fit, appropriate for my life, reasonably comfortable, not stained or pilled or damaged in any way, etc) but which for a mysterious reason were not giving me joy. Those are the hardest to get rid off and yet the most important. We don’t really consider wearing the moth-eaten sweaters at the back of our closets anyway, so those hopeless cases are not the ones taking up mental space in the morning. (Though of course they should go too.)

    Since then, I started wearing my more comfortable nice tops at home, and almost all of the clothes I bought for spring were bought with the revolutionary idea that they will be both nice as outing clothes and yet comfy and practical enough that I will want to put them on at home.

    Bottom line : from this I learned that while we’re all trying to downsize and declutter our closets, sometimes adding a new piece that sparks joy *before* removing other stuff provides a benchmark against which to compare our old clothes and makes the whole process of eliminating clothes more obvious, less painful and way faster.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful success story with us, Zoe! It brought a smile to my face to read about your evolution in terms of lounge wear and your wardrobe at large. You’ve made great strides as a result of that $30 gift card! I can tell that you are feeling much happier at home these days and I can relate. It’s amazing how small changes can really make a big difference. What you wrote at the end was a very good point. Sometimes we do have more strength to downsize our wardrobes after we bring in a piece of two that “sparks joy.” This is in line with my philosophy of wearing my favorite clothes when I shop. I aim to only buy things that I like at least as much as what I have on. I’ve saved myself quite a few mistakes since I started that practice. I think I might share your tip in a future post, as it might really be a breakthrough for some people. One can also take their favorite EXISTING wardrobe pieces and contrast them against the lesser items that they’re hanging on to. It’s like Bridgette Raes’ excellent question: “Under what circumstances would you wear that item over something else that you like much better in your closet?” (paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it) In some cases for myself, I realized that I would ALWAYS wear my preferred piece, so why hang on to the sub-standard items?

  13. I’ve been looking into options that are “sneaky” – like pants that look fancy but are stretchy, stuff like that. An ad keeps popping up on my Facebook feed for dress yoga pants – I think they are essentially ponte pants cut in a trouser cut. Kind of pricey though!

    I also found a rayon layering weight t-shirt at a consignment shop that I’ve been wearing to death, it’s casual enough to wear with jeans but fancy enough to put under a blazer for work. I LOVE double-tasking clothes like this! I’m definitely going to try to go in that direction more in the future. But I’ve been having a hard time parting with some of my worn out exercise clothes. I couldn’t tell you why!

    And my third recent favorite is the cotton-silk button up from Gap. It’s MACHINE WASHABLE and probably the most comfortable fabric I’ve ever worn in my life. I was joking about trying to sleep in it the other day. I’d love to hear if anyone knows of other brands that have this type of fabric. It straddles that perfect line between practical and luxe, I think.

    • Several brands are carrying very comfortable “real” fabric mixes these days–both Everlane and LLBean do cotton/cashmere blends light enough to wear through spring and wonderful to layer. . .

    • Cheers, Sarah E & Amy! I use this kind of strategy too. Don’t laugh (you can laugh) but I like to think my maternity jeans are pretty “sneaky” – medium wash basic bootcuts – with a comfy fabric-covered elastic waist. They’ve been especially great for cold-weather layering.

      Actually, they were half my jeans/pants wardrobe for the last year or so, along with a pair of boyfriend jeans. I bet I wore them each well over 100x last year. I know it may sound extreme, but I just can’t find pants/jeans lately. Along with 4 yoga pants and 3 shorts, that’s been my bottoms capsule. (I have some health issues too, so that works ok for my lifestyle, although another choice or something new eventually might be nice 🙂

    • Debbie Roes says:

      The “sneaky” clothes you mentioned sound great, Sarah! I love when I find things like that, too. I think I’ve seen the ad you referenced. Yes, quite expensive, but might be worth it. I am tired of sacrificing comfort for style. I want everything I wear to be comfortable these days, and I believe that it’s definitely possible to be stylish and comfortable at the same time.

      Amy, thanks for sharing the brand recommendations. And Claire, thanks for chiming in about he maternity jeans. I actually think that’s actually a good idea and may work well for some people. I have trouble finding pants/jeans, too, but they’re usually tight in the hips and thighs and too big in the waist/tummy area. Stretch in pants helps a lot with the comfort, so I can see how the maternity pants would be easy to wear. And you can’t beat the cost-per-wear you’ve gotten from them!

  14. I am a fuddy-duddy that doesn’t understand the attraction of “leisure-wear” or “lounge-wear” as a category of clothing but then my idea of casual clothes are jeans (I own 1 pair) or casual pants that can go on a hike or to the market. My sister, who has worked from her home office since 1980, gets up and gets fully dressed (make-up, jewelry, shoes) to walk down the hall to her office. (She’s been doing this long before the advent of video conferencing, which she does frequently.) I also work from home and wear pants, sweaters, blouses, etc. (I am a slightly less formal person than my sister.) I have kept some of my old “office” clothes for meetings with clients and so on. Fortunately, elements of these clothes are interchangeable (color, style, etc.).

    However, that said, I agree that if you spend most of your life in lounge wear, then the amount of $$ and energy spent shopping should go here, with a MUCH smaller wardrobe component for the rest of your clothes. Why spend $$ and a lot of tops, pants, jeans, and skirts that won’t get worn — or worn enough to justify the purchase?

    I might mention something here about the volume of clothing and the cost (actual and psychic) of maintaining a large wardrobe. I have a very convenient laundry room and I do laundry frequently because I have such a dinky wardrobe. I am very careful about clothing maintenance because I expect my clothing to last years if not decades. My clothing is very nearly in constant rotation; very little sits in my wardrobe unworn.

    To me, “lounge wear” is staying in my jammies past 10:00 a.m.!!!

    • I am the same way, pjs for nighttime and then I get dressed for the day in regular clothes that I could go out in. I don’t own any “loungewear” since most of my wardrobe is comfortable jeans, skirts and tops which I can mix and match and don’t require drycleaning. And wardrobe size is important to me too, I have been accumulating but not getting rid of anything for a while and in the past couple of months have been working hard to turn that around. Like you I want to know that all of what I have is being worn regularly.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’ve read about people who dress in full-on business clothes to work in their home offices. More power to them if it helps them to feel more professional and be more productive, but that’s not something I want to do or feel the need to do. At-home clothing, as with all clothing, is a very individual thing. We all have to find what works best for us. I totally agree that we should spend our money on what we will wear most often. I feel silly for not having done that enough in the past, but I’m happy to be turning it around. If I can find some jeans that are comfortable enough for me to wear all day long, I would happily do so, but I have unique challenges there (with pain issues). Laundry considerations are important, too. I try to never buy “dry clean only” items because there are plenty of good machine washable options out there these days. Finding high quality pieces is always a challenge – in all wardrobe categories. You’re lucky that you have well-made clothes from yesteryear that have stood the test of time, Dottie. Clothes these days just don’t last as long no matter how well we take care of them 🙁

  15. I have just done a very rough count and seem to spend about 10-12 days a month ‘at home’, either working or relaxing, other days generally include a work or social event of some sort.
    I always wear trousers, and at home swap them for rather scruffy track suits, mainly because most of my trousers develop creases if I sit around in them – something which I find really annoying. I recently bought some NYDJ black bootcut jeans, which cost a lot more that I normally spend (3x as much!) , but are amazing, they never crease or stretch out of shape, but are very comfortable. Definitely gives me a pointer as to where I should invest money; in good basics that can work, as Kim put it, ANYWHERE. I kind of knew that, but always balked at paying a lot for an ‘everyday’ item – it won’t happen again.

    • PS I should have explained that the jeans have a % of lycra or similar.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Congrats on finding some amazing jeans, Alice! I know a lot of people swear by NYDJ. They don’t work for me very well, but I am very hard to fit in jeans. I agree that it’s totally worth it to pay more for basics we’re going to wear all the time. We often get things backwards and spend the most on special occasion wear we will rarely wear. I hope you enjoy your new jeans and will benefit greatly from the lesson you have learned!

  16. I also have a loungewear category for my at home wear. Mine is closer to pj’s than sportswear for sure. And often I will wear my pj setsthemselves to lounge in. Say I get home from work and remove my uniform at 8:30pm. Changing into interim lounge for 3 or 4 hours before donning sleepwear seems a bit overkill. I also sense just a hint of some putting undue pressure on themselves to be fabulous all the time. We need to also cut ourselves some slack.
    That said, if I’m not leaving the house all day, most days, yes, staying in sleep wear can really bring you down. Morale sinks, you feel sloppy, and like you never got prepared for your day. I have lived this side of the coin, too, when not employed living in FL for year long stretches. So it really depends on one’s situation as to what constitutes proper at home wear. Bottom line, NONE of our wardrobe should be ratty or worn out IMO. My PJ sets are adorable I think (and so does BF since he keeps buying them for me every Christmas!) and although I wouldn’t want to be answering the door in them ideally, I’m also not embarrassed to. http://www.polyvore.com/pj_salvage_print_flannel_pajamas/thing?id=70844642
    There are ‘transitional’ pieces that straddle lounge, layer, or workout for me that get a lot of wear, too. Like a tank that maybe I slept in under my flannel pj set, but then goes to the mailbox under a hoodie with jeans. That kind of thing.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I agree with you about cutting ourselves some slack, Mo! I’m sure you look adorable in your PJ sets, but of course you’re adorable all the time anyway… There is a happy medium between looking sloppy at home and being “all decked out.” That happy medium will vary by the person and I continue to maintain that there are no rights and wrong. We just need to feel good ourselves in what we are wearing. I don’t think anyone really feels good in ratty or worn out clothing or when they wear things they’d be embarrassed to be seen in. I know I feel much better since I’ve stopped doing that. We are all worthy of feeling good about how we look all the time, but that doesn’t necessarily entail wearing “business clothes” in front of our home computers. But if that’s what feels great to someone, I would never say they shouldn’t do it. It’s just not for me. But then again, I don’t wear business clothes anytime anymore. “Smart casual” or sportswear maybe, but I can’t remember when I last wore a suit (and I’m quite happy about that).

  17. Guess I never showed exactly what loungewear for me right now is lol. Things like Gilligan O’Malley modal pants and Mossimo Long and Lean Tanks from Target, a Gap Body hoodie and Hanes bandini bras. Some demoted t shirts but never in bad shape, just maybe not on the A team anymore but completely fine still. I have actuallyrecently tossed some of the other demoted tees that were in a color I never liked or fit oddly on my hip or some such thing because even though they were now for lounge, I still wanted to feel and look good in them 🙂

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Your lounge wear sounds very appropriate for your lifestyle, Mo. As someone who used to live in Tahoe, I know the vibe and the lifestyle there. Good for you for tossing the demoted tees. I have done the same thing recently and feel a lot better wearing colors and styles that are more to my liking at home. Some things just shouldn’t be in our wardrobes at all!

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