Cosy, comforting and nostalgic, the humble dressing gown holds new appeal in these strange times.
As dismayed as I am that fashion is descending into an era of trackpants, I do get it. But for me it's not trackpants that I want to wear working from home, but my dressing gown. I rack up more hours in it than anything else, even popping it over my clothes like a giant cardi if I am a bit cold.
My husband and I both have old school vintage wool plaid dressing gowns. Mine's a 1970s Klipper, and his, a much older Wanganui Mills. Both made in New Zealand, and from a time when the wool was woven into cloth here. If borders had closed back then we could have still kitted ourselves out, there. I wish we had the comfort of that self-sufficiency now.
Our robes are heavy to wear, a thick toasty warm wool. A bit like swaddling yourself in a weighted blanket: a sense of calm and comfort envelopes me, nearly as good as a hug. They're a nice bit of nostalgia too, as both our Dads had similar robes. Wearing something Dad would have worn feels reassuring.
I've worked from home for the last decade, and in pre-Covid times if I was still in my dressing gown after 9am and the courier called I was always a bit apologetic, not wanting to be judged lazy while others are hard at work. Just about to get in the shower. Busy morning, too busy to get dressed. I always felt like I had to explain.
Now it feels perfectly normal, no explanation needed. Keeping as relaxed as possible, which isn’t always easy when things aren't normal, just makes more sense.
And being relaxed, if anything, gets me into a more natural flow with my work. The day disappears before I know it. The work gets done. I don't need to dress for the role.
If anything, getting dressed in real clothes feels like it comes with expectations of going out into the world, something I'm happy to avoid a fair few days of the week. Even having to choose what to wear feels like a consideration I’d sooner do away with. When I do have to get dressed, it’s more likely to be jeans and a handknit, more comfort clothes. And easy to put the robe over these.
It's not that I have lost my interest in fashion and dressing up, but it's on hold for now. When we can eventually fly away on holiday (fingers crossed), I'll be making up for lost time, with a full wardrobe and several changes a day just to get through it all.
My dressing gown used to be the thing I'd slip into after I done working for the day, home for good, ready to put feet up. Now my world just seems a bit smaller, staying home feels good.
Dianne Ludwig runs the Instagram @welcomeback_slowfashion, selling vintage and designer fashion. The store is a chance to share her love and knowledge of our local fashion industry and its history.