All we want for Christmas is… loungewear
But not just any loungewear, oh no. Thanks to an explosion of new luxe brands, the tracksuit is back – softer, snugglier and (most importantly) chicer than ever. And it’s exactly what you’ll want to wear over the festive break, says Caroline Leaper
YOU KNOW HOW, before the days of Netflix, the national grid would surge during the Coronation Street advert break as half the population switched its kettles on in sync? I have a theory that a similar phenomenon could be recorded at around seven each evening, if we measured the moment that the nation arrives home from work and collectively exhales.
It’s a golden hour for relaxation and in the few minutes you spend getting changed out of your workwear, you send a signal to your brain that it’s over, you’re done for the day. But what do you put on when you change out of your ‘uniform’? According to a survey of 1,500 women conducted for Stella by wellness website Hip and Healthy,
80 per cent of us put on our pyjamas, our ‘comfort clothes’, or a mixture of the two.
Checked PJ bottoms, yellow slipper socks, an old university T-shirt, no bra and a stained grey fleece. It’s not exactly my chicest look. And yet, hilariously, it’s the version of me that my husband spends the most time with, while he too is padding around the house in black jogging bottoms and a hoodie. The strange thing about these clothes is that, even though they are hideous to look at (make no mistake, they are totally unflattering) these are some of the things in my wardrobe that feel the best on my body – warm, soft, stretchy. But I would never, ever leave the house in them.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, several new fashion labels have started to take a closer look at what we’re wearing behind closed doors and are bidding to make it all a bit more aesthetically pleasing (and, dare we say it, sexy). Loungewear as a product category is exploding and the range of items is broader than ever. Gap’s current offering spans no less than 61 pieces, with soft jersey hoodies from £28. Net-a-Porter’s luxury edit contains more than 130 styles, the most expensive being a £995 silk and cashmereblend tracksuit by Olivia von Halle.
Sadie Reid, founder of Hip and Healthy, has centred her new clothing label Luxe + Hardy entirely around the idea that we need
a specific set of clothes to rest in. ‘The transition from our work day to sleeping is an important time for our mental health,’ she says. ‘It’s the moment of the day when we can de-stress, and what you’re wearing contributes to that.
‘Different clothes make you feel certain things when you put them on – for example, activewear changes your mindset to say, “right, go for it” and you then exercise,’ she adds, noting that Lycra sports gear is actually not the right thing to wear during rest hours as it’s too tight. ‘Your resting clothes need to send that one specific message to your brain when you put them on, telling you to relax, you’re not at work.’
The posh tracksuit is undoubtedly the centrepiece of the luxe loungewear revolution. Designer cashmere brands specialising in statement two-pieces are popping up all over the place. Former fashion editor Charlotte Lewis launched her label Ven earlier this year with a mission to design the perfect soft grey hoodie and jogging bottoms, while the new British-made loungewear brand Sutton & Tawney offers
‘It’s the moment of the day when we can de-stress and what you’re wearing contributes to that’
jersey fabrics in beautiful, flattering cuts.
Arguably the instigator of the trend was knitwear designer Madeleine Thompson, who launched her rainbow cashmere sets six years ago and whose sales have doubled in the past year alone.
‘When you think about it, chic loungewear makes total sense because it marries comfort and elegance,’ says Thompson. ‘These are not just being worn at home any more, they have become street style.’
As having time to chill out is now considered the ultimate luxury, it was perhaps inevitable that showing off how you relax in style would become a huge Instagram trend. Thompson’s two-piece sets are tagged dozens of times a week by customers on social media, while a particular grey cashmere-blend tracksuit has brought incredible success for high-street brand Mint Velvet after it was picked up by fashion bloggers and linked to the Danish ‘hygge’ trend.
‘Pronounced “hoo-gah”, hygge is the art of building a sanctuary of cosiness,’ explains a Mint Velvet spokesperson. ‘From a fashion perspective, it is about staying in and changing into something comfortable after a long day.’ Recognising these small actions as hygge, apparently, makes us able to appreciate them more.
So we’re now posting about our downtime on social media too. Oh, the irony. You didn’t think this was about actually switching off and relaxing, did you?
SCRABBLE, MONOPOLY AND TRIVIAL PURSUIT – that’s what I wanted to buy my children this year. But in reality, their wish lists were more Apple stocklist than 1990s Argos catalogue. Many of us have shiny new devices wrapped and ready for our kids to open on Tuesday – but buying an electronic device comes with a level of trepidation that ordering item 383/6754 on p854 never would. Perhaps it’s because, unlike the bicycle that might end up in the shed over winter, or this year’s wonder toy, which will probably run out of appeal (and batteries) by Easter, the screens we give our kids at Christmas are likely to have more profound and far-reaching effects. Games consoles, iPads and smartphones can end up encroaching on so many other elements of children’s lives – schoolwork, family time and sleep included. But most worrying, perhaps, is the power they can also wield over their mental well-being.
It’s an issue that’s been on my mind of late, as my daughter recently entered her last year of primary school, which according to the national norms means she has come of smartphone age. (Although this festive season – thanks to the majority of parents in my daughter’s class making a pact not to give our pre-teens phones until the end of the school year – it’s one device that’s been off the agenda.) Countless recent studies have linked the rise of smartphones and socialmedia usage with anxiety and depression in tweens and teens, the rates of which have skyrocketed recently.
It’s something that mental-health charity Young Minds, one of the causes chosen for this year’s Telegraph Christmas appeal, is working hard to understand. Many factors are at play when it comes to young people’s well-being, says Emma Thomas, the charity’s CEO, but the rise in social media is not to be ignored. And it’s not only children whose
Is there a fancy phone, tablet or games console waiting for your kids under the tree? Naomi Greenaway finds out what you need to know to protect your children’s well-being – and your own sanity – before the wrapping comes off
mental state tips over the diagnosable line about whom we need to worry. It’s all those who are just missing that little spark of happiness, too.
Just a few weeks ago, England’s Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield, addressed the Commons and spoke of the ‘avalanche of pressure’ children and teenagers feel under to be popular and successful on social
‘If my son puts his phone down for five minutes, he feels like he’s missing out. The chatting can go on until midnight’
media. And a recent groundbreaking study by the University of Sheffield found increased social-media usage causes lower happiness levels in children. ‘We found that as the time spent chatting on a social network increased, there was a comparable reduction in happiness reported across several different areas of young people’s lives, which included their appearance, their family, their school and also their life overall,’ explains the study’s lead author, childhood psychologist Dr Philip Powell.
But most parents of teens don’t need the experts to highlight the power of smartphones and social media. One friend, mother to an 11-year-old boy who recently received his first phone, admits it has been the most challenging time of her parenting life. ‘Since he’s had his phone, his mood has been constantly up and down,’ she says of her son. ‘If he puts his phone down for five minutes, he feels like he’s missing out. Often the chatting goes on until midnight, then when he gets to school the next day he still feels he’s missed out. It’s heartbreaking to see how it pulls him down.’
‘My son’s groups get quite nasty,’ says the mother of a 13-year-old. ‘They post far ruder things than they would say, and my son can’t escape it even at home.’ Another mother describes how her 15-year-old daughter falls victim to FOMO (fear of missing out). ‘She’s a sensible girl but it’s constant,’ she says. ‘She’ll see a picture of her friends somewhere she’s not been invited to and it can change her mood for the whole weekend.’ Her 12-year-old son, meanwhile, spends every waking minute on his phone. ‘If I could turn back time and set boundaries from the start then I would. I want my son back.’
‘Once screens are in hands it’s much harder – although not impossible – to get into good habits,’ says Noël Janis-Norton, author of Calmer, Easier, Happier Screen Time. ‘But ideally set boundaries and expectations before giving a device, so it doesn’t become a source of conflict.’
Discussing screen-time boundaries on Christmas morning, however, doesn’t feel very ‘ho-ho-ho’, which is why Rachel Vecht, parenting expert and founder of educatingmatters.co.uk, advises talking these over before the big day: ‘Make any reservations known beforehand – the potential for homework or family time to suffer – and ask children what guidelines they might follow. Get them to make the case. And you don’t have to ruin the surprise. Keep it hypothetical.’
So what are these habits and boundaries that will help your children live digitally healthy lives? Read on...
WAREHOUSE J u m p e r,£ 3 3 .6 0 (warehouse.co.uk) ARKET Wrap cardigan, £99 (arket.com) MINT VELVET Cotton/cashmere sweatshirt, £69, and bottoms, £59 (mintvelvet.co.uk)
BODEN Cashmere bottoms, £150 (boden.co.uk)
Below Millie Mackintosh wearing a Mint Velvet tracksuit on InstagramCashm ere hoodie, £225, and bottoms, £315(chintiand p a r k e r. c o m ) CHINTI & PARKER
THE WHITE COMPANY Cashmere-blend sweater, £98 (thewhitecompany.com)
LUXE + HARDY Jersey top, £190, and bottoms, £95 (hipandhealthy.com)
EBERJEY Tie-waist bottoms, £66 (eberjey.com)
SUTTON & TAWNEY Cashmere bottoms, £265 (suttonandtawney.com)
VEN Cashmere bottoms, £145 (ven-store.com)