growing a minimalist wardrobe: loungewear.

November 12, 2014

growing a minimalist wardrobe: loungewear | reading my tea leaves Loungewear. There’s a word I say absolutely never. You know what I do say? Cozy clothes. I have a cozy clothes drawer. It lives in James’s dresser. That makes it sound like I’m impinging on his wardrobe space, but my dresser only has three drawers, and his has five, so really it comes down to fairness. Negotiation in a tiny apartment.

In that drawer you’ll find the usual suspects: hoodies, yoga pants, leggings, pajamas (er, sleepwear), nightgowns, and a very small, rotating assortment of t-shirts.

I’ve mentioned before that this isn’t always what the drawer looked like. It used to be devoid of things that were actually designed for lounging in and was overflowing instead with all of the rejects from my regular wardrobe that I had decided might still be useful. My problem wasn’t so much the clothes I was saving for good as much as the clothes I was saving for ruin. I would hold onto a shirt to use for painting, or gardening, or changing the oil in the car even if I had no intention (or ability) to do any of those things. But when I finally got rid of everything that was more rag than apparel, I opened up space for thoughtful new additions.

Which brings me to matching pajama sets. Which is really the point of this post.

Matching pajama sets are a thing that might remind you of childhood, but for me they’re something that I’ve really only embraced as an adult. I think that a dedicated, matching, comfortable set of pajamas is one of the most luxurious things you can own. But even better than the fact that they make you feel like you’ve been cast as the perky, bright-eyed leading woman in a romantic comedy, they can actually help you to pare down your pajama drawer.

Think of it this way: once you’ve committed to investing in proper pajamas, you’ll likely soon realize that most of the clothes you’ve been calling pajamas have been taking up precious real estate in your cozy clothes drawer instead of making their way to their true home: the rag pile. That’s space that could be filled with a neat stack or two of clothes that you wouldn’t be mortified to have your in-laws see you wearing.

Building my collection of ‘jams has been a slow one, grown mostly through heavy hints and hopefulness that someone might be listening. My absolute favorites are a set of flannel pajamas from J. Crew. They were my gift from James a few Christmases ago and I slip into them most nights of the winter (my navy set doesn’t appear to be available any more, but this year’s set is heather grey and awfully tempting). The best part about these guys is that they actually fit. This dreamy cotton pajama set (their words, not mine, but they do look dreamy) would make a perfect second set. (And not to rush anyone or anything, but I did just see that they’re 25% off today with the code SHOPNOW. Subtle?)
growing a minimalist wardrobe: loungewear | reading my tea leaves PS. I generally reserve the pajama sets for lounging. If you came to my apartment after, say, 6 pm on most winter nights, you’d likely see me in them. For actually sleeping in, I typically choose something a bit lighter than a flannel pajama set. I have two cotton Only Hearts nightgowns that I rotate. They’re super soft. And talk about luxurious.

PPS. I’m not a total monster. There are a few t-shirts and a sweatshirt (fine, two) that I hold on to for purely sentimental reasons. But when we made our move last winter, I was ruthless. And most everything else went.

Growing a Minimalist Wardrobe, STEP 1STEP 2STEP 3STEP 4, and STEP 5. Not to mention, SHOES, and JEWELRY.

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  • Reply Anonymous November 12, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    I love matching flannel pajamas! Especially the J.Crew ones. I'm confused, though — I thought you only bought/advocated buying clothes that are non-sweatshop-produced, fairly-traded, etc. How do you reconcile these? This is something I have a hard time with when I make purchases, as well.

    • Reply Erin November 12, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      Hi there: Glad you've enjoyed these, too! I do my best to support ethical clothes manufacturing as often as possible—both in "real" life and on my blog I love to find and spread the word about independent, creative businesses making beautiful things. I also strive for honesty; these are pajamas that I own and that I've enjoyed. They've held up really well, they fit beautifully, and while not inexpensive, they're at a price point that I can (save up for and then…) afford. Compromise, balance, striving to always do better, that's all wrapped up in there. Does that make sense?

  • Reply Jessica November 12, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    I had my eye on the cotton pajama set last week when it was $78. Now that it's "25% off" it suddenly retails for $98. Boo!

  • Reply Rachel Elaine Redmond November 12, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    I love this! Last year I bought flannel jammies from the Gap for the specific purpose of meeting and staying with my in-laws for two weeks. I also felt super cozy and nostalgic while wearing my flannels with an old scrunchy.

  • Reply Anonymous November 12, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    J. Crew Factory is where it's at:

  • Reply Liv November 12, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    But how on earth am I supposed to get rid of my eleventy billion college Ts? I tell you, I'm not ready. I will sleep in them until they are in pieces.


    • Reply Alexa November 14, 2014 at 6:06 pm

      Right there with you! I will wear my freshman year dorm sweatpants for the rest of my life.

  • Reply Kaylan November 12, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Thanks for your work on this series, Erin, it's so inspiring and helpful!

  • Reply Samantha - Fluffyland Craft & Sewing Blog November 13, 2014 at 2:36 am

    That model looks like she's about to burst into tears! It must be because she knows she has to take the comfy PJ's off once the photos have been taken. But really… she looks very forlorn.

    I'm working to pare down my comfy clothes – mostly because of my stash of clothes that I don't like, but save for around-the-house days. Do I want to look like a bum, even around the house? PROBABLY NOT. Thanks for the motivation!

  • Reply Meghan Flannery November 13, 2014 at 3:08 am

    Do you own a robe? I did when I lived in the burbs, specifically for things like getting the mail, but now I live in Brooklyn and haven't needed it.

    • Reply Eloise November 13, 2014 at 6:31 am

      I own a lovely mid weight cotton robe – perfect for throwing on just out of the shower if I need to get to my baby quickly etc……. 🙂

  • Reply Eloise November 13, 2014 at 6:30 am

    I love this post, Erin. Very timely, as I've been feeling desperate to rid myself of the 4 stretched, stained awful t-shirts I sleep in. I just need to research and purchase replacements before I toss the old ones. I love your idea of having matching pyjama sets 🙂
    So how many lounge/sleep items do you own? 2 nighties, 1 J-Crew Pyjama set……..any others? x

  • Reply Sasha Kretova November 13, 2014 at 11:09 am

    This is such a helpful series, Erin! I am guilty of keeping all those old t-shirts and sweaters for sleeping in and wearing at home. As a result I have too many of them, they occupy too much space and most of them are not even very comfy. And every time a mailman rings the door I have to change in a couple of seconds, because I just can't appear in front of a person I don't know wearing that old stretched stuff. I really need to invest in good looking quality loungewear. Especially that I am working from home and that is what I wear most of the time.

    • Reply Lexie November 13, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      I live for evening to slip into my flannels. I adore them and after 5 in my house it's flannels. My budget is much less J Crew more Kmart where I get the most fabulous printed flannels every year for 12! Right now I have my pink leopard prints on and am warm comfy happy . Mine are also made in the USA.

  • Reply Anonymous November 13, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    I work from home, and my work wardrobe frequently consists of flannel pyjama pants, a tank top (or pyjama top) and a cardigan (this might actually be the outfit I'm wearing right now …). My CSA delivery guy, regular mailman and next door neighbour have probably all seen them! I do put on proper clothes for video conferences though.

  • Reply Kelly November 16, 2014 at 12:19 am

    I'm on a MISSION this weekend to clear out my bedroom of all the clothes! I have bins of clothes I never wear, mostly b/c they are too small. I'm motivated to build a new capsule and say goodbye to clothing that I will never fit into. A bit overwhelming but surprisingly….EXCITING!!!! So far today, I have done most of my laundry, have gathered 5 shopping bags to give away and a full bin to sell. I saved the excellent condition clothes I love and hope to wear next season. My issue: My closet is almost EMPTY!!! i have nothing left!! Advice???

  • Reply Anonymous November 16, 2014 at 2:50 am

    Hi Erin,
    I've been following your blog for a year & you've been a good influence on me. I've followed your tips on organizing clothes. Today I needed to find hat & gloves & remembered I had organized them in a small bin in my closet & even had the gloves matched up with old hair ties.

  • Reply Small Acorns November 17, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Hi Erin,
    I just wanted to say thank you for this series of posts. They have been so useful! We are about to move out of our tiny apartment to a not so tiny (but still pretty small) place out of town. I have spent the last couple of days sorting through my wardrobe and your advise has been brilliant. I am going to take it forward to our new home and try and keep to a minimalist wardrobe from now on! I also like the idea of cozy clothes drawer. I am going to have to steal that idea!

  • Reply tors grantham November 18, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    I love this series (and matching pjs), it's incredibly helpful and inspiring as I try to figure out a workable wardrobe. Matching pjs and I were introduced by my mum when I was in my early 30s and I've never looked back, they're great for snuggling on the couch!

  • Reply Amy@OldSweetSong November 19, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    I was JUST saying that I really need to up my "cozy clothes" game. And yes I said "cozy clothes." I want pants that could maybe be worn outside even though I never would only so I don't feel like I'm wearing pajamas ALL DANG DAY.

  • Reply Sherri November 20, 2014 at 2:04 am

    Have you found your recommended long sleeved basic yet? Thank you, I love this series of posts!

    • Reply Erin November 24, 2014 at 12:17 am

      Still searching! Just ordered the new cotton longsleeves from Everlane! Hoping that does the trick!

  • Reply Sherri November 23, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    I have the Dreamy cotton pajamas from J Crew and I love them. The quality and comfort are worth the money. I have been trying to find comfy "loungewear" for years, trying everything from Gaiam to Garnet hill and Only hearts. I have found it very challenging to find something that is comfortable to both lounge and sleep in. Thank you for the recommendation Erin, these are it!

    • Reply Erin November 24, 2014 at 12:17 am

      Glad to hear it!


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