The big sweatpants debate: where do I stand?

We recently had a big family get-together. This usually happens only a couple of times a year, even though my parents and sister are the only ones that haven’t moved to Frankfurt YET. Meaning, they are fully to blame for the infrequence of family meetings. As every family weekend, this one was spent 75% at my aunt’s dining table, eating, drinking coffee, talking. In the evenings coffee gets replaced with wine, another delicious vegetarian meal is served, and discussions get more heated. So it may not come as a surprise that a recent debate about what clothes are appropriate for relaxing at home got really emotional. I’m not joking at all! The older generation was appalled that for the young ones changing into sweatpants as soon as they come home is considered normal behavior. „This is the decline of civilisation!“, my mom exclaimed. My aunt might have quoted Karl Lagerfeld with his comment about sweatpants being a sign of defeat. The young ones just cited „comfort“ as the main reason for doing so and refused the requests to stop wearing sweatpants.

My boyfriend is a fervent advocate for sweatpants at home, changing into them immediately when he crosses the doorstep. He is often visibly confused when I wear normal clothes at home: „Why do you look so fancy?“, he asked me just this morning. I was wearing what you can see in the picture below: a comfortable black dress with a dragonfly print, black tights and slippers. After three years together, he still does not understand why I mostly prefer to wear „normal clothes“ at home. Before meeting him, I was firmly team „no sweatpants“, didn’t own a pair, didn’t like them. The idea of changing into something else at home horrified me almost as much as it did my mom.


I have somewhat softened in my stance on this topic, though. I don’t mind it when my boyfriend changes into something comfortable at home, for example. And I do often wear lounging clothes when I’m relaxing at home on weekends or in the evening. Heck, I even own a pair of gray Adidas sweatpants and have worn them fairly often. But I have recently come to terms with the fact that while they are comfortable, they don’t make me feel comfortable. Instead, I just feel sloppy.

But there are certain outfits I find ideal for relaxing at home. Like Claire Beermann I love to wear dresses for this purpose. The dragonfly dress above is just one example. While I don’t have a specific „house dress“, I can see the appeal!

Second, a pair of really nice pyjamas can be a perfect lounging outfit. In my opinion, it’s essential that they are cute and luxurious (instead of ratty and worn-out) if you want to wear them for lounging without feeling sloppy. Even in 1936 a similar distinction was made by Marjorie Hillis in Live Alone and Like it:

Question: Is it permissible for a youngish unchaperoned woman living alone to wear pajamas when a gentleman calls?

Answer: Assuming that she knows one pajama from another, it is entirely permissible. There are, however, sleeping pajamas, beach pajamas, lounging pajamas, and hostess pajamas. The first two are not designed to wear when receiving anybody, masculine or feminine. The last type is correct for wear when your most conservative beau calls, even though he belongs to the old school and winces when a lady smokes. The third variety comes in all sorts of shadings, from an almost-sleeping type to a practically hostess pajama. Those with a leaning towards the bed are suitable only for feminine guests, while the others would not shock Bishop Manning.

I just had to include this tidbit and suggest you quickly acquire this book. It is utterly charming! I would classify my lounging pyjamas as leaning more towards the bed and I’m now very curious about beach pyjamas and hostess pyjamas! My only lounging pyjamas are a 100% cotton pair by Esprit (a German highstreet brand) that have a Ralph Lauren-esque look. I feel like a real lady when I wear these! Right now, I’m on the hunt for a second pair of lounging pajamas that are suitable for warmer months.  Unfortunately, the pair I want is sold out in my size right now. But the brand, Desmond & Dempsey, has lots of amazing options.


Finally, I feel comfortable and presentable in specific yoga pants & shirt combos under certain circumstances. Maybe I’m just fooling myself with distinguishing them from sweatpants? I have two pairs I wear on days when I feel unwell or after unusually exhausting days. I present to you the most laid back look in my closet: purple yoga pants and a blue Adidas sweater.


When I look at this outfit right now, I think I might have to retire it! While it’s not quite sweatpants, it feels too close. I’ve actually worn these pants when I’m out and about as they are actually very flattering and can look quite nice when paired with a fitted top. But in combination with a baggy sweater? Looks quite sloppy to me.

So where do I stand in the sweatpants-debate? Somewhere in the middle, I guess! While comfort is obviously more important to me than to my mom and aunt, I don’t feel like myself when I wear a baggy sweatpants and sweater combo. Apparently, even yoga pants and a sweater is too casual for me!

What do you wear at home? How do you feel about sweatpants? Do you own a pair of hostess pyjamas?


2 Kommentare zu „The big sweatpants debate: where do I stand?“

  1. Aaah, this is a big one! There’s so much around it: class, mostly, and notions of propriety, laziness, etc. I think I have a childhood trauma due to fact that when growing up wearing a tracksuit beyond sporty activities was a clear signal of low social status and possibly criminal aspirations, fake Adidas white stripes on black being the most recognizable. Don’t think I’ll ever get over that one + the ’sloppiness‘ self-stigma. My home set is leggings or very casual shorts + a sports bra + a t-shirt + a sweater and woolen socks if needed; I would only take garbage out or go upstairs to line dry in that one, no shopping or errands.
    Also, now I’m really curious about the hostess pajamas…

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