It’s hibernation time – so dressing is about how you feel, not how you look | Jess Cartner-Morley
What should you wear when nobody is going to see you? Spoiler alert: the answer is not “who cares”. This is the hibernation month, but we can still make it fashion. Eveningwear is, until further notice, redefined as what to wear when bingeing a box set on the sofa, not how to shine at parties. The long dark nights, the cold, your bank balance and your new year resolutions make staying home feel like the path of least resistance, and besides, everyone else is in the same boat so it’s not like you are missing out on much.
This kind of eveningwear can be every bit as glorious, in its own way, as a frock and jewels. Hibernation chic is about optimising the way you feel, not the way you look, but that doesn’t mean it has to be schlumpy. I see no logic in making this time of year any more depressing than it is already by dressing in your most ancient tracksuit bottoms and a jumper that has gone bobbly. There is no need to abandon all dignity just because you are at home with the curtains closed. Solo time can be a treat, but only if you treat it as one.
In other words: be 10% more Gwyneth Paltrow. Think of what you wear to stay at home as a form of self-care. Lean into the comfort of being at home, and wear what will make your night on the sofa most pleasurable. Stretch and ease come first. Fabrics must be soft and malleable, so that whether you tuck your legs under you on the sofa, put them up on the coffee table or pretzel yourself into a yoga position on the carpet, you are comfy.
Let’s break this down. Instead of burying yourself under chunky jumpers, start with a fine layer that covers as much of you as possible. The aim is not just to keep out draughts, it is to eliminate the merest possibility of a draught. The luxury of being at home should be that, with enough careful layers, the spectre of being cold that has haunted this winter even more than most winters can be silenced.
Leggings have been pushed off trend by tracksuit bottoms in the public-facing lower-half athleisure rankings, but leggings make ideal homewear, being cosy without bulk. Leggings don’t have pockets, and they can feel kind of exposing to wear in public, but they are perfect at home.
On the top half, you need a long-sleeved T-shirt or thermal layer that is generous in length. You want plenty of overlap with the leggings, the aim being that at no point will you need to yank anything up or down to keep cold air at bay. Not just long sleeves but, ideally, extra-long sleeves. You can’t really feel warm if your wrists are cold.
Once you have a fine base layer it is time to add something plush or chunky on top. A long cardigan, a hoodie, a half zip. It could be a sweater dress – I am quite partial to a loose-knit dress that works with leggings and slippers as loungewear, as well as with tights and boots for the office.
What you wear should be flattering – not to your silhouette, but to your self-image. Wearing your nicest, softest knit helps you to see time spent at home not as the absence of proper fun, but as a moment to recharge your batteries, cocooned in something soft as a cloud. This is why reaching for pyjamas and a dressing gown is not the answer, because the whole point of hibernation wear is that you are actively embracing homebody life, not just killing time until lights out.
A sofa and a Netflix subscription is a hot Saturday night date right now. And the dress code is whatever makes you feel absolutely fabulous.
Model: Eliana at Body London. Hair and makeup: Sophie Higginson using GHd hair care and Tom Ford beauty. Jumper and leggings: The White Company. Shoes: Birkenstock