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

The Sunday Telegraph - Stella - - #ONEDAY -

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)

il­lus­tra­tions: josie por­tillo

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