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.