Magazine article The Spectator

Dressing Down

Magazine article The Spectator

Dressing Down

Article excerpt

I have long cherished an -- admittedly rather bizarre -- fantasy. It centres on the world's best-dressed women: Anna Wintour, Daphne Guinness, Joan Juliet Buck, Tamara Mellon, the type celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic for their spikeheeled, cinched-in élan, cameraready women who never have a hair out of place. Well, in my fantasy, when these women get home, they take off their couture, kick off their heels and secretly get slouchy in the sort of clothes I never take off, the sort of womenswear that those who work from home live in: grey T-shirts, tracksuits, yoga pants.

I call it slobwear, but my husband (who is wearily used to the sight of me in these unsightly adult babygros) calls any item of lowerbody clothing that can go seamlessly from bed to breakfast table to school gate 'Andy Pandies' in honour of the eponymous storybook hero's all-in-one blue-and-white puffy ensemble complete with mob cap -- an outfit that I linger over enviously on the page for its obvious snugness, cheery Dutch appearance and utility.

The manufacturers have cottoned on to the fact that loads more of us are working from home and thus have no need of tailoring or office suits or what Americans call 'careerwear'. So a new category has been added to the retail repertoire, as designers race to produce yet more comfy options for us low-maintenance homeworkers:


The loungewear pioneers, in my book, are the Welsh clothing and mail-order company Toast, whose models are always snuggling in cashmere bedsocks and antique linen smocks by log fires, clutching handthrown mugs of hot chocolate, and looking moodily into the middle distance. But now Hush does rose-printed pyjamas I can't imagine ever wanting to take off, and T-shirt trousers with a silky tie-waist, and much else.

American Apparel has T-shirting and nu-rave loungewear (see the photo in which I am clad in American Apparel raglan top and my daughter's Abercrombie & Fitch tracksuit bottoms). Marks & Spencer's cashmere tracksuit is famed among fashionistas up and down the land, who will not travel business class across the Atlantic to New York on Eos in anything else (I'm afraid that the Juicy Couture velour tracksuits, although of a flattering cut, are simply too Wag).

Perhaps this is a recessionary, nesting trend that the Chancellor should be taking notice of. …

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