Quarantine fashion: Buyers ditch PJs for elevated loungewear

In this April 11, 2020 selfie photo by Jacey Duprie wears an outfit she featured in her fashion blog from her home in Los Angeles. After weeks stuck in isolation, bodies molded into beds and couches glued to TVs and computers, with little to delineate weekends from weekdays, a pronounced fashion trend is emerging in loungewear. (Jacey Duprie via AP)
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When Los Angeles-based fashion blogger Jacey Duprie finally emerged from days in sweats, changing into black jeans, an ankle-length camel sweater and Gucci loafers, she counted it as one of those “very big victories that used to be small victories.”

Since people have spent weeks stuck in isolation, their bodies molded into beds and couches with little to delineate weekends from weekdays, a fashion trend is emerging. Loungewear is comfy, everyday clothing with just a bit of refinement. Unfussy and minimal, but pulled together enough for a video conference call with your boss.

The trend has tapped into something deeper, revealing that even the slightest effort at putting together “an outfit” during quarantine can provide a mental boost and a sense of normalcy.

Loungewear had been quietly seeping into mainstream fashion even before the coronavirus outbreak’s stay-at-home orders.

It is similar to athleisurewear, but takes casual comfort up a notch beyond platform sneakers, athletic Ts and oversize hoodies. It’s less about sporty separates and yoga pants. Think relaxed tailoring, slouchy trousers, soft, silky fabrics, cropped sweatshirts with something special like a puffed sleeve or floral embroidery, or drawstring tassels on baggy linen pants.

“People are getting a little more creative with how they’re interpreting loungewear,” said Goop fashion director Ali Pew. “They want to feel pulled together.”

The Goop wellness empire, run by Gwyneth Paltrow, recently advertised a “stay home” sale that was heavy on flowy, maxi dresses in fun prints by Ulla Johnson and Natalie Martin, cozy jumpsuits with a bit of flair, and lots of wide-leg culottes. The company’s own brand, G. Label, offers clothes for off hours like weekends and vacations.

“It’s something you would traditionally wear on vacation at the beach, but now it translates to something that’s easy to wear around the house or on an afternoon walk,” said Pew.

Trendy online retailer ASOS said sales of its not-so basic tracksuits in premium fabrics, special washes and with elevated sleeve details are up 200% compared to the same time last year. The brand’s $35 oversize joggers have sold out in five colors. Cardigans — in bright colors and neutrals — are also having a moment, according to a company spokesman.

At the luxury online retailer Net-a-Porter, lingerie and loungewear had the largest sales increase worldwide of any category besides beauty products. Track pants were again a key driver, up more than 1,300% compared to last year, the company said.

Edited, a retail data company, said tracksuits and matching sweatsuit sell outs were up 70% in April compared to February. And sweatpants were up almost 80% in April, the company said. Sell outs are when a product is out of stock and unavailable for purchase for at least five consecutive days.

“Retailers are really pushing it in communications on Instagram and on emails,″ said Krista Corrigan, an analyst at Edited. “We are just seeing massive, massive spikes from brands in athleisure and loungewear right now.”

Matching sweatsuits, especially monochromatic muted colors like nudes and blush, are trending, as well as tie dye and utility trends like dressy sweatpants with pockets — a new take on cargo pants.

“The customer is not just buying these for practical use, but also for the purpose of looking on trend, whether it be for social media or just because they want to feel cute in the house,” said Corrigan.

And it’s not just basics. Couture designers, too, are taking cues from stylish couch potatoes.

Christy Rilling, who has designed gowns for Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lawrence, created “Stay Home Robes” using silky remnants from couture gowns. The $1,280 gold, patterned robe made from the lining of the Narciso Rodriguez dress that Obama wore to the 2016 State of the Union address sold out, along with several others, she said.

Beyond fashion, the trend reflects a sense that daily routines once taken for granted, like getting dressed, also serve an emotional purpose.

A psychological shift occurs when we change clothes, said Damsel in Dior blogger Duprie.

“It’s kind of like dress for the job you want. In this case, it’s dress for the mood you want to have all day,” she said. “Even if you only have a few minutes to spare in the morning … having that one thing that is a constant in your life can really offer stability and consistency in a very unstable environment.”