Friday, February 10, 2012

What to wear at home

I have always been interested in how to live a life of style covering all parts of my life. I don’t just want to look stylish when I go out though and be a slob at home in a house that is dull and dirty.

I want to be like those magazine articles that describe what off-duty models wear, and also the ones that interview famous, fashionable faces.

These interviews ask many questions and the famous, fashionable person describes how their typical day might run, how they decorate their home, what they wear when they do their errands. There are little pictures scattered around of their favourite things too. Have you noticed there is always a Diptyque candle pictured in these spreads?

Often the stylish people are described as wearing a practical day-to-day outfit and a face scrubbed of makeup. Come on. They have spent hours getting ready!

One of the topics that interests me though is how to be stylish when at home with my loved one, to be comfortable and practical but sexy and not frumpy.

Once upon a time when I was first married (to my first husband) I remember in the winter wearing tracksuit pants with gathered ankles (and a gathered waist), a sweatshirt and socks at home. The only boxes it ticked were comfortable, practical (and frumpy). Not sexy or stylish.

No wonder that marriage bombed (I sound like I am taking marriage too lightly, I’m not, it wasn’t the track pants that were to blame, not entirely anyway).

Over the years I have been refining my home ‘lounge wear’ two ways: firstly by using items of clothing that are no longer good enough to wear to work or out (but are still in good nick) or by purchasing inexpensive but good quality basics for the express purpose of wearing them at home (first photo at the top of this post).

I haven’t bought anything for a while, and I was becoming in danger of slipping into frump zone. A friend gave me a pair of leggings that I thought I would never wear (due to having worn them in the 80s and apparently you should never wear a trend twice, and also the fact that my bottom is very round).

However, one day I slipped them on with a clingy long-sleeved t-shirt and found that not only were they much warmer than my wide-leg yoga pants (there was no air getting up the legs) but my husband’s eyes almost fell out. ‘Oh’, he said ‘those look very sexy on. You should wear leggings more, they really suit your figure and are so flattering.’

That was last winter. Now it is summer here and too warm for heavyweight full-length leggings. So I went shopping and spent not much at all for my new summer home loungewear.

Last night I debuted a pair of black leggings, ¾ length with ruched sides (at the hem), and a frog/grass green long singlet/tunic top. It comes down over my bum and almost looks like a mini-dress over the leggings. It clings becomingly around my ribs, without being skin-tight. I tried a larger size than normal but it just looked the dreaded frumpy. And a long top balanced out my short-waist.

(picture below, in new lounge wear, grey marle and green)

I was comfortable all evening, could curl up in the armchair like I imagine an off-duty model or actress might (that’s the thing that might inspire me to be slim, being able to curl up that way, because I put on weight around my stomach!) and my man’s first words? ‘That’s sexy’, said appreciatively.

Not frumpy! I am not doing frumpy at 41, I am doing sexy (sexy at home, just for him, I’m not going out to the pub in this just so you know). And I’m not exactly thin, just a good solid medium size. But with a comfortable bra on, one that I don’t mind wearing at home (the underwire doesn’t dig in, hoorah!) and the slimming qualities of the legging waistband I didn’t have any undesired lumps and bumps and could almost pass for slender.

I also bought the ruched ¾ leggings in grey marle, and ankle length pairs for Autumn in navy and black. My other singlet tops were bought in black and navy. Lots of mixing and matching can go on and I will always have a clean set.

I wash my black/dark clothing separately in ‘black wash’ too, which keeps it looking fresh and new. My legs encased in black leggings flecked with white is not good at all, but that will never happen. The thrifty me says ‘throw everything in together, then you’ll only have one wash’ (warm water, power cost etc), the French Chic me counters ‘don’t you want to look after your clothes properly and have them looking nicer for longer?’

So I do it.

An added bonus of feeling chic and elegant and Parisienne was being more mindful of the amount and quality of calories I put in my mouth. I was still comfortable, but aware of my figure. A winning combo for me.


  1. I couldn't agree more, especially since I actually work from home. I still get dressed and put my makeup on for work but then get more comfortable for the evening. Comfortable, not frumpy - as you said. Have a lovely weekend xo

  2. It looks great and most importantly, it seems that you really like them. Leggings at home were a revelation for me because they look great under a comfy tunic, but are so much more flattering than sweat pants.

  3. I laughed several times during this post (esp the Diptyque candle observation -- so true!) I was veering dangerously close to frump territory at home too, I would immediately change into an old yoga outfit after work every night and wear frumps around the house for cleaning on weekends. Ugh. Lately I have made a conscious effort to look presentable always but I would like to purchase an apron to wear over my casual clothes when I clean or cook. I can be fairly messy while cooking and I am a klutz and always spill something!

    I really like your green top, the colour suits you!

    Have a great weekend.

  4. As I type, I am wearing black fitted yoga pants with a brown tunic sweater over another shirt. This is my home uniform because I love being able to move in my clothes--whether I am relaxing, playing with the dog, cleaning. But yes, keeping things looking comfortable and not frumpy is important (I struggle with this somewhat in the winter because it is so @#$% COLD in our house--we both pile on the clothes).

    You are looking as gorgeous as ever. : ) ~~Bliss

  5. Your at home garb looks comfy and very pulled together not at all on the frump territory.
    One can tell that you have given it consideration and thought.

    Such wise observations and so much chicness.

    You are lovely beyond your years Fiona.
    I mean that sincerely.

    I adore your blog and am so grateful that I discovered it.

  6. Your post is right on time! Yesterday i was telling myself how frumpy i look at home and i've been considering ways to be comfortable while still chic.

    I have already used summer as an excuse but since it'll be over by the month, i'd better start getting prepped for it.

    I have a weird feeling our winter is going to be really cold cause most places around the world seem to be going through a big freeze. I'll be looking for some leggings this afternoon. Come winter, i'll be adding some leg warmers and a thick cable cardigan :)

    xo Stephanie

  7. What a lovely photo of you Fiona!

    Thanks for that post re homewear, I too have resisted the "second time around" but, although I'm older than you, some similarities exist in our builds so I'll try these.

    And the black wash works? I wear a lot of black in our shop and get fed up with it greying, I think I'll seek it out.

  8. You look beautiful! Where can your readers get some too??

  9. Mademoiselle Poirot, I wear a small amount of makeup on a home day too and always feel better for it.

    Stephanie, one almost feels slightly Audrey H. in leggings don't you think?

    LR, I have an apron but forget to wear it. I'll have to put it somewhere more handy to grab as cooking splatters are a pain to get out and I don't like to wear dirty clothes.

    Bliss, your outfit sounds lovely - Rocky doesn't shed on the black?

    Hostess, I forgot to mention in the post that my 'down to the toes' photo was a la Hostess of the Humble Bungalow! Thank you for your sweet words.

    Stephanie, exactly. One can add a lovely cosy top/cardy and chunky mohair socks but still look svelte with legging-legs.

    Rose, thank you! Black wash is great, my Mum suggested it and it works well. It doesn't have optical whiteners or fillers I think. I wash brights and darks together.

    Julianne, I shopped at Glassons and spent a grand total of $76 for everything. Leggings were $10 and tops were $12!

  10. I agree that the green looks lovely on you too. I also agree with the timing of the post as we're about to head into autumn after a 'non summer' here in Australia.
    I've been thinking about what to wear at home in the colder months given that I live in the coldest part of the country (Canberra). Last winter was one of the coldest ever and I went around in flannette PJs at home which was no a good look! Not good for the mental health either! So I'll look into the leggings but I do remember how cold it gets in the house despite the heating. Maybe I'll crank it up a degree or so for the sake of chicness!
    Joanne x

  11. Ohh you are lovely!!

    Thank you for reminding me that looking good is half the battle ...


  12. Beautiful photo of your lovely (so absolutely not 41!) face. I didn't think leggings did much for me the first time around, so I haven't picked them up again. However, if you've found something that's comfy and your hubbie thinks is sexy I'd say you were on to a winning combination!

  13. Great post on at-home dressing. I really should give more thought to that, so thanks for the ideas and the gentle nudge. I agree with others, the green looks lovely on you.

    So you think the detergent specifically for black laundry really works? I've thought of getting that as DH and I wear a lot of black, but wasn't sure if it really worked or was a marketing ploy. Maybe I'll spend the money and try some. It will end up cheaper than replacing tired and faded looking clothes thats for sure!

  14. Fiona, you're so pretty! And you've got great pins..! My poor Mr SK, he has to stagger home from work to find me dressed in my finest raggedy Potato Couch Couture!I must up my game! I especially like the fact that you didn't run out and spend $400 on a t-shirt and $600 on leggings. You have shamed me into taking action - my paws are going shopping tomorrow.I may opt for Miss Jessica's Black & White chicness!

  15. That lipstick is perfection on you! Your whole face is aglow.

  16. Oooh Fiona! You put me to shame. It's soooo cold here in Europe at the moment that I can't even think about looking sexy, as opposed to cosy and cuddly ;-)
    Perhaps when the warmer months arrive I will up my game ;-)
    You look gorgeous by the way x

  17. My gosh, Fiona, you have amazing skin. Would you please post your skin regimen and products again?

    I usually wear soft, faded, boot cut jeans at home and a cashmere sweater in the fall/winter. I do this because a) it keeps me warm; and b) husband says I'm awfully cuddly in it. He'll come up behind and just rub his hands on my back. So, cashmere sweaters are a winner.

    In the summer I have two maxi dresses in jersey that I dress up with a little cardigan or long stole. The jersey makes these dresses "cuddle" worthy, too.

  18. I couldn't agree with you more! I've discovered that not only nice-looking, but QUALITY home loungewear is worth spending the extra money on.

    In the past I would buy super-cheap t-shirts and yoga pants, but after a few washes they would be faded, stretched out and definitely NOT chic looking. So, now I approach buying comfy clothes for lounging the same way I do my "outside" clothes. I'll spend more for quality. I certainly spend enough hours in them to justify not wanting to feel or look frumpy. Plus, as my kids get older, they'll notice (they are now 5 and 3) form an image of their mom in their mind's eye. I'd rather that image but somewhat pulled together and chic, rather than frumpy, old and disheveled looking.

    I would add another category to this discussion as well: Socks. I'm over buying cheap sockers that fade, stretch and pill after only a few washes. Not chic! I spend a pretty penny on some wonderful Bleu Foret socks (made in France) that are available in some department stores here in Canada, and feel so much better in them! I guess it's like buying quality, expensive bras and undies. Even though no one else know what I'm wearing under my clothes, I FEEL so much better!

    Sorry about the long post. You have a great way of putting into words so many things that are in my thoughts! Love from Canada -- Helen

  19. Wow, that green colour looks stunning on you! I definitely need to upgrade my lounge wear. I'm not too fond of leggings, so I'm thinking more along the lines of a wide-legged yoga pant style but in a sturdier material like ponte knit or something similar, combined with a boat-neck, long-sleeve top or a short-sleeved top and a cute cardigan, at least for winter.

  20. Hi Fiona,
    I have just come across your blog and am loving it.
    This post is so true; I know exactly where you are coming from.
    About 10 years ago, I didn't have any loungewear at all and used to wear all my 'proper' clothes around the house, even when doing housework.
    Then I met my now husband and he introduced my to 'dressing down' and 'casual wear'.
    Unfortunately, over the years this then became 'old clothes that have seen better days/could really do with throwing out'.
    One day I thought to myself 'why do I not treat myself to nice clothes for lounging round the house'? and so I did.
    I now have a nice selection of comfortable grey pj bottoms and leggings, basic tees and camis and a selection of cardis for when it is cooler.
    I have also upgraded my sportswear for when I do zumba and yoga because if I feel I look good then I will feel good and hopefully work harder.
    Sorry to have blabbered on for so long but I really connected with this post and look forward to reading more of your blog in the future.
    Hannah x

  21. It looks like you have a beautiful skin ! I am younger and I have more lines :-s

  22. Joanne, We've had a non-summer here too and now the weather has turned Autumnal. I find tucked in layers good in winter - a long skinny top tucked into leggings with a zip top or fitting wool jersey on top, mohair or wool socks tucked into Ugg type boots or something more stylish. If my feet are cold then I am cold.

    Anonymous, thank you!

    Shelley, you are sweet and so right. If I'm happy and he's happy then we're ok.

    Jacqui, I would definitely recommend you at least try it once to see if you like it. It may be partially because I'm washing all my blacks together but I think the black wash also helps keep white/greyness at bay.

    Sulky Kitten, you're so lovely and funny. A winning combo. I didn't buy anything white because it yellows before my very eyes and I like my whites to be pristine. Perhaps it's the sheer volume of body moisturisers I throw on? I use a lot. Jessica said your combo is chicest of the chic.

    Jane W, merci! It's a discontinued Dior one but I'm sure I'll find another when it's gone. It's pinky red to look at in the tube, but sheer when you put it on.

    Vanessa, thank you lovey. We don't get snow here so wouldn't even know cold. It doesn't get anywhere near freezing point so it's a bit easier to dress for style.

    Rebekah, I use inexpensive products from the supermarket, but always use them, twice a day and have done since I was 13. I used to have lovely products like Estee Lauder and Dior but have decided to be thrifty and my skin seems fine. Currently I am using Weleda, Neutrogena and Skinfood (Skinfood is an NZ brand but I think it's also available in the UK). I pile on the body lotion every morning after my shower and use body creme on my neck and decolletage before bed. I also put grapeseed oil (vit E) on my melanoma scar on my leg at night.

    Helen, thank you for your comprehensive comment. And how lovely that you want your children to see you looking nice.

    Nanne, your plan sounds very chic.

    Hannah, your loungewear journey sounds like mine! Thank you for your comment.

    Fashion Mom, you are too hard on yourself. You look a lot slimmer than me. I think fat is my secret. Plenty of camembert to plump up my lines! At least there is one good thing about not being truly svelte...

  23. Miss Fiona,

    You were totally my fashion muse when I went to WalMart today and picked up very inexpensive tanks/tees in pastels in leggings in grey/black. $48 for four shirts and 3 pants. These will be great to slip into for getting home and if I have to leave the house, a long cardi and ballet flats...BAM! I'm good to go!

    Am very much enjoying your blog from the other side of the world (the States). Please keep it up and thanks so much for reminding us we don't have to actually live in France to slow down, enjoy life and find the good in the "train-train quotidien!!!"


    PS I echo everyone else who say you are gorgeous and look much younger than your actual age! :D

  24. Annie Banannie, thank you so much for your lovely comment!

    I also appreciate your thoughts on what to wear with it if you have to go out. I don't want to have to change to go to the supermarket but would feel like I was underdressed (as in undressed) if I wore my at-home outfit. Funnily enough I was thinking of that exact conundrum today (deep I am not).

  25. Loving your whole blog, thanks so much! May I add - homewear for evenings - go luxe yet comfy in black leggings with long loose black cashmere type knit, like a sloppy joe tunic, that covers everything and you can loll around comfy, but glam it up with gorgeous lingerie and your sparkliest earrings. I got this from Dariaux's book 'Elegance', where she points out you don't have to be going out to wear your lovely things. Wear them just for your husband.

    Also, underwires should never dig in. Try Fantasie. Once you have the right fit you can feel easy yet look gorgeous any time.

    Btw I'm 55 so chic is more important than ever. Being thin wouldn't stop the sag, so my clothes are getting simpler whilst I draw attention to where I want it with fine accessories and immaculate grooming.

    I love it that you describe how much effort you put into chic every day and how worthwhile it feels. Part of chic is the physical results of what we do but also it is having made the effort that somehow creates the inner confidence that radiates out as chic.

  26. Hello madoldbat and thank you for your comprehensive comment! I love your idea of a glamorous home outfit for the evening. I often do wear earrings, so it's just the clothing I have to keep on top of, not to slip down into frumpdom again. Your last sentence is wonderful too. Merci!

  27. At almost 50, I have just realised that I am short waisted and that's why belts are always wrong on me!
    Long tops work so well for me too - you are glowingly beautiful.

  28. Obviously late to the party! Just discovered you via your book on Amazon (that, yes I purchased). I've been going through all the older posts and this one is something I've been researching - how not to look mega frumpy at home. Being a bit short (5'2") and *ahem* shall we say zaftig? I have to be careful what I wear. These would never do on my body right now but it did give me ideas what I can wear (and also to get rid of the baggy pants). I'm so enjoying your website. I know I'll love your book, too!

  29. LBDDiaries, never too late - the party's still going strong! I believe any body size can wear leggings - just pair them with a stylish oversized 'slouchy' top or a tunic top. Leggings give you the same comfort and ease of movement as sweatpants/baggy pants but look nicer I think.

    I wrote another post on the topic of loungewear too -

    Alternatively you could do a more fitted top and looser bottom (palazzo pants or straight pants) if that feels better for you.

    I think the biggest thing (it certainly is for me) is that we think our home clothes/loungewear should magically appear in our wardrobe for free, that it seems wasteful and frivilous to go on a shopping trip and spend money on something that is only going to be worn around the house.

    I bought a few nice items last month specifically for home wear which were quite inexpensive and I love them. It feels good to work out what you want to wear at home and either shop your closet and/or go on a shopping trip, then keep them specifically for home.

  30. Good solid tips. You’re one of the few bloggers who can think for herself. I will pin this even though your style is polished/tailored and my style is boho. I want to come back and read this again later.

  31. Great Post,

    Your post is right on time! Yesterday i was telling myself how frumpy i look at home and i have been considering ways to be comfortable while still chic.

    I have already used summer as an excuse but since it'll be over by the month, i'd better start getting prepped for it.

    I have a weird feeling our winter is going to be really cold cause most places around the world seem to be going through a big freeze. I'll be looking for some leggings this afternoon. Come winter, i'll be adding some leg warmers and a thick cable cardigan :)

    Thanks and Regards!
    Priya Singh.

  32. Amazing Article,

    It looks great and most importantly, it seems that you really like them. Leggings at home were a revelation for me because they look great under a comfy tunic, but are so much more flattering than sweat pants.


  33. Striking pink and purple, plum and cobalt is my color even if my husband keeps on telling me it is red that suits me the best. You definitely know your color.. looks stunning on you .
    Paul Brown


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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