At Home, At Ease, With Style

Last week, several of you asked for some ideas for what to wear at home. This is a topic I’ve been meaning to cover for some time, so thanks for the prompt!

Above: Earrings | Sweater | Cardigan | Lipstick | Pants | Shoes | Bag

What To Wear Around The House (Besides Pajamas)

I’ll admit, most days you’ll find me in a comfortable pair of jeans and a sweater, even if I have no plans to leave the house. Maybe I’m a bit Type A, but I like to feel ready to go out (or answer the door) at a moment’s notice.

Maybe you’ve recently retired, or are caretaking at home, or have other projects that require ease of movement. You want to be comfortable but pulled-together and presentable too, so are looking for clothing that’s a step up from pajamas or sweats.

Because I like to feel ready to pop out the door at any time by just adding shoes and outerwear, I’ve looked for pieces that are comfortable enough to wear around the house, but are also appropriate for running errands or meeting a friend for coffee.


I’m going to focus a little more on pants than tops, as I think they’re the more challenging part of the equation. While jeans work for me at home, many of you have asked for other options.

Athleisure has become mainstream, and lends itself well to a Sporty Chic aesthetic. These pants are available in Regular, Tall and Petite sizes. Throw on a cable-knit sweater and utility jacket for running errands. (Or a pair of snow boots and a puffer coat if it’s frigid where you are now.)

Here’s a linen jogger style pant, available in Calla Lily, Chambray Blue and black. Love the zipped pockets. This has travel wardrobe potential!

Athleta Post Om jogger pant in black. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

The drawstring waist gives this style a more casual vibe, but paired with more fitted and/or structured pieces it could easily be street-ready.

Athleta Brooklyn pant navy. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Many of you have recommended this “Brooklyn” pant for home and travel. It’s offered in several colors, and in Regular, Tall and Petite sizes.

LL Bean Perfect Fit Knit Cords in "Sable." Details and more at-home style at une femme d'un certain age.

I picked up pair of these knit cords to try during one of the Black Friday promotions. They’re incredibly soft and surprisingly flattering. I like them with sneakers. Offered in several colors in Regular, Petite and Plus sizes.

Eileen Fisher stretch crepe ankle pants in Midnight (navy). Details and more at-home wear at une femme d'un certain age.

And if you want a pair of comfortable pants that will dress up or down, travel well and wear well, it’s hard to go wrong with these stretch crepe pants. Regular / Petite, and Plus. (No pockets, though. If that’s a deal-breaker for you, check out these slim slouchy pants: Misses/Petite, Plus.)

Everlane easy chino pants in navy. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

If you prefer something a little more structured, these Easy Chinos are nice option. Offered in multiple colors, sizes 0-16. (I think they run a little large…I tried them on and thought a 4 was best fit.) If you want a warmer option, the Italian Go Weave pants are a similar cut in a wool blend. In general, I find Everlane is a good source for well-made basics at reasonable prices.


Being one those perpetually cold people, I’ve been pretty much living in my cashmere sweaters the last few weeks.

J.Crew everyday cashmere crewneck sweater in Heather Camel. I love these sweaters! Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I’m a big fan of these J.Crew cashmere sweaters. They seem to wear well with minimal pilling. They’re light enough to layer, and offered up to size 3x in a ton of colors from neutral to bright.

Madewell cashmere sweatshirt in blue peri. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

The ease of a sweatshirt, the warmth of cashmere. This is a fun option to pair with those jogger pants!

J.Crew rollneck cotton sweater in Jade. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

If you’re sensitive to animal fibers, here’s an easy cotton sweater, offered in several colors and up to size 3X.

Chicos shirttail hem sweater in Dockside Blue. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Looking for something more lightweight? This bateau neck sweater is offered in several colors, up to size XXL (20-22). It’s also wool-free. (I’m wearing mine here.)

Elevate Your At-Home Look

Here are a few tips to feel more put-together, without sacrificing comfort.

  • Stick to the same color and silhouette guidelines that you use for your work or social wardrobe.
  • Rather than a plain sweater or top, opt for stripes, a pattern, or favorite color.
  • Add earrings, a casual bracelet, or watch.
  • Wear a little lipstick and/or perfume if you like it. Just for yourself.
  • Use an apron or a crafting smock to protect your clothing while cleaning, cooking, or doing any projects that could get messy.
  • And if they can’t be mended or cleaned, don’t keep those obviously stained or worn-out pieces “just for wearing around the house.” It’s not true that no one will see you. YOU will see you, and you deserve better than “worn out,” even just for everyday.

More Options To Wear At Home Or Out & About…

What do you like to wear when you’re relaxing or working at home?

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  1. This is a helpful post for those of us who work from home, too. I try to get some exercise every day but I’m not good at doing it first thing in the morning, so athleisure is a good option for me – I can put on clothes that are workout-ready but also presentable enough for running to the grocery store, so I can stay in them all day until I find the right time to fit in a workout. I need pieces that are a step up from true gym wear — I just don’t feel “professional” if my clothes are too comfy or slouchy, even if I’m just sitting in my home office where no one can see me. Putting on something with a little structure and polish makes me feel like I’m taking myself seriously – it really makes a difference.

  2. I am a big fan of Athleta. Particularly the Brooklyn pant. I have them in 4 colors, colors change a little each season, but they always have the black. Their whole line of “city pants” are comfy yet can be polished with the right tops. They are a little pricey but I watch the sales. Garnet Hill Comfort Trousers are also really great.

    1. Yes, I really liked those polished athletic trousers in olive. They don’t seem to be sold in Canada – indicated closest location as Burlington Vermont which indeed is not at all far away (and a very pleasant destination) but I don’t drive. For me, those would be a great travel option; I like to be comfy on planes or long railway journeys, but not arrive in schlumpy joggers. Especially since they have petites! My cat has short legs too (like a feline daschund) but she doesn’t have to wear clothing over her silky black fur.)

      I’m not sure about stained or worn garments. They should definitely not go into the drawers or cupboard for presentable clothes, but can be very useful if working with bleach, solvents, or other staining or harmful to fabrics jobs. They deserve their own little container, and can be discarded after use.

  3. I love the look of the Brooklyn Ankle pant. I try to avoid wearing elastic-waisted (my husband calls them “expand-o-matic” waists) pants unless I’m doing chores. And, they’re not as polished looking as a fitted pant. The Brooklyn pant looks super comfortable and I’ve had this type of pant on my “need” list. I also love bateau necks so the Chico top has my name on it. Thanks so much for this post!

  4. Great post! Thank you!! I have the Everlane pants and can vouch for their durability. Mine are from last year and still look new. Would love more of these posts as this is the wardrobe for my lifestyle these days.

  5. The Athleta Brooklyn pant is great for wearing at home but even better for travel with long flights. I’ve purchased these in black and navy and with the same color top or sweater, this combo is what I wear on most every flight. Extremely comfortable and the fabric of the pant will give you a “put together” look when combined with any jacket/scarf or coat. I cannot praise these pants enough!!

    1. Denise, this is exactly what I do! I have the Brooklyn pants in taupe, and a similar style (“Aspire”) in black and navy. I call them “magic pants”, because they look nice but are comfortable, don’t wrinkle, and can be rinsed out in the sink or tub and will dry quickly. I wear the pants with a matching color top, a contrasting cardigan, and a scarf; it’s my go-to traveling outfit. Comfy yet polished!

  6. I appreciate this post very much. I tried the Brooklyn pant on your advice a while ago. I’m short (5′) and these hit me perfectly. They look sleek and polished, yet are basically a sweat pant. I wear them for travel. The tuxedo stripe helps lengthen the leg line. Just ordered another pair.

  7. This winter—I’m in frigid territory— I have loved Uniqlo Merino Extra Fine Relaxed V-Neck Sweaters. They are washable and non itchy and great with jeans and boots and a scarf and excellent for layering.

  8. I have been looking forward to this post. Thank you! And I like the term sporty chic. I love Athleta pants. I am hoping to add a few pieces to my wardrobe and cull other pieces that are not attractive. Athleta offers several colors besides black which is important to me. I appreciate your advice about sticking to your chosen colors even with the leisure part of your wardrobe. I also was happy to see your tips on what to wear with these great pants. I never would have thought of a utility jacket. I work from home some of the time and these suggestions are perfect. I saw some other brands you featured that I am interested in. And most of these pieces will work beautifully for travel wear also. It’s all coming together now! Thanks Susan!

  9. This is a very timely topic for me, as I am struggling to define my at home style as a new retiree! I am going to check out the Brooklyn pant, with so many strong recommendations.

    1. Linda B, I’m in the same boat. Retiring next month and thinking about what I can wear that I can go out in, if necessary, at a minute’s notice. I like Athleta styles so I’m going to head over to our local store to have a closer look.

  10. Susan these are wonderful tips! I haven’t bought Athletic pants for a long time and I think the two styles that you and your readers have recommended look interesting and potentially workable for me! Thanks so much! Just and FYI I do wear a heavy denim apron for painting in oils and because my studio is out in the garage, I wear a coat that is my dedicated ‘painting’ coat. I’ve been wearing the oh so comfy Vuori performance joggers around the house but your examples steps up the style for sure. Thanks so much!!

  11. Exposed ankles just aren’t a good thing this time of year in cold, snowy climes. If you’re prone to cold feet, short pants make things worse — even if you’re not leaving the house.

    I tend to wear “winter pants”, as I call them. Anything tight goes out of use as we hit the coldest weather of the year. All pants must be full length, and have sufficient room for an extra layer. Tights keep me comfortable, even indoors.

  12. My favorite comfortable pants which I believe look good enough to wear to work are ‘T is for Talbots straight leg yoga pants. I prefer last years version with the pockets at the back versus the newer version with the side pockets. The waist band is very comfortable.

  13. I’m wearing a pair of black Brooklyn pants as we speak. I have a broken leg and the pant tucks in my walking boot nicely while looking polished overall. The pants are incredibly comfortable and ideal for travel since they take up almost no space in a suitcase and can be dressed up or down.

  14. Thank you, Susan! This is so helpful. I love my jeans but am always looking for casual but slightly elevated pants. So many good ideas here!

  15. Great post! Having spent decades in the business world wearing old school corporate wear, I find that after many years parenting and working from home putting on anything with a tight waistband is a challenge. And – while I like the idea of those Everlane chinos, I have a hard time believing that that particular waistband can look good on anyone who is not 5’11” with a 25″ waist, as that model is. At least – difficult if one is not wearing a well designed, structured and draped topper. Perhaps that’s just me, though. I’d wear a cashmere sweater every day for at least six months here in rainy Portland, OR if I could!

  16. I looked at the Brooklyn pant last week, but dismissed it because of its rise. I’ve a long torso, so pants that fall below the waist often feel too low and give me muffin top. Can someone speak to how low the rise is? I might consider them in a Tall.

    The Everlane chinos look like a good candidate. Thanks for all the bottoms suggestions.

    1. Reneé, I am fairly tall ( 5’7”)and have a long rise. I ordered the Brooklyn pants in a long, which not only gave me the longer rise, but also gave me more length in the legs. I’ve complained on here before about seemingly ALL pants being ankle pants these days!

  17. Great post. You’ve proposed lots of lovely suggestions. I am a big proponent of dressing well for yourself when you are at home. I started doing this a year or so ago and I feel so much better about myself. I never did wear sweat pants or sweat shirts, but I did tend to extend the life of a top or two that had seen better days by wearing it at home. When I changed my perspective and started dressing nicer for myself (and for my husband), I was amazed at how my attitude improved and when I looked in the mirror, I feel pleased with what I wore. I’m in south Florida so I usually wear a nice pair of leggings and a pretty tee and ballet flats. Although I don’t wear that outfit to the grocery store, I always carry my nylon Longchamp bag there. It’s lightweight and I can throw it in the backseat and not worry about harming one of my good bags.

    1. What do you do when you are working with bleach or other things that stain (“heavy” housework)? I certainly don’t wear stained or worn-out clothing when working at home or doing dishes, but I’ve been heartbroken from destroying good casual clothes. That was my only disagreement with Susan’s generally extremely sensible advice on working at home or being somewhat “off-duty” there. By the way, Sam, you can simply pop a casual skirt over your outfit and it will be fine going out anywhere but more professional or formal occasions. No backseat on my bicycle but I do wear skirts and tights or leggings, or slim work-worthy jeans or other trousers. I do wear leather shoes and booties (foot problems) but never leather bags. They are all nylon or some other quality synthetic that looks casual but suitable for work.

  18. This is such a helpful post. I will enjoy looking at each of these items via the links provided. Thank you so much! If you have similar ideas in the future, I would enjoy additional posts on this topic.

  19. Well, this is right up my alley, since I do keep grandkids a lot at home, but still like to be presentable! Athlete is my go to, but thought I might try a pair of the L.L. Bean cord just to change it up a little. I’m 5’3″…would you suggest ordering a petite? Reviews suggested they shrink a bit in length so wondered what your experience has been? Thanks so much! Love this post!

    1. Hi Susan, I’m 5’1″ but with long legs for my height, and they are full-length on me. Have not washed them yet, so don’t know if they shrink, but you can always line dry to avoid shrinkage.

      1. Yes, I’m the same “height” as you, but I have a relatively long torso and short legs. I definitely take petites in jeans and trousers, regular in tops, though often the sleeves are too long.

  20. Have you tried American Giant pants? I have had three pair (two kick-flare, one jogger) for over a year and they still look brand new. They are thicker, better quality fabric than my Athleta joggers. I wear them every week. They dress up or down, great quality, comfy, and, Made in USA! Wish they had more colors…..

  21. I’ve had good luck with Land’s End pants this winter. Their cord leggings are super comfy and warmer than regular leggings. I’m 5’9” and order the tall. However, the regular length works better for me in the pants. They have an elastic waist and run a little large. They go through the dryer, too without shrinking. I’ve been enjoying the more patterned pants with a comfy sweater at home, but can stylishly pop to the store or have meet a friend for an impromptu lunch. I’ve picked up several pairs on sale for less than $25.

  22. Great post on a great topic but I despair (wistfully!) at just the thought of wearing cashmere sweaters at home. I’m retired but on the go all day & I move from housework to garden chores to watering indoor plants to scrubbing litter pans etc to projects such as painting the bedroom with little break between. There’s no way I’m going to change clothes for each of these activities so I need something that’ll carry me through: jeans & a sweatshirt usually. Everything has to be casual, comfortable, warm in the winter & WASHABLE. Yesterday I ran into the garage to get something I’d left in the car & my partner, who was out there working on one of his motorcycles, asked if I could help him wrestle a big bike up a ramp into the bed of his truck. Twenty minutes later the bike was in the truck & I was sweaty & dirty, with smears of grease on my sweatshirt & jeans. I think I can get it out of the jeans but the sweatshirt’s a write-off. Also: cat claws & dog drool. So, no cashmere or nice sweaters or expensive pants. I’ve decided I’m just not grown up enough at 61 to wear “good” clothes around the house (although I do wear jewelry & good perfume every day, so not all’s lost). LOL! Maybe in my next life I’ll attain the “elegance” that’s eluded me this time around. But I appreciate the tips — some of the pants you’ve mentioned would be a nice change from jeans. I’d love to see more on this topic.

  23. wash the sweatshirt and keep it for other messy and dirty jobs, in a container just for them.

    1. Lagatta, that’s a great idea, actually. I used to keep one of Himself’s old denim shirts hanging out there for JUST this sort of nonsense — he’s a big tall man & his shirts fit me like smocks, so it was perfect — but it eventually found its way into the rag bag & I haven’t replaced it. Merci!

  24. Great post–this is a difficult category for me. I love jeans but live in Chicago where it’s cold 6 months out of the year–denim in cold weather feels chilly and clammy. I also cannot wear wool or cashmere next to my skin so wool blend pants are out unless I wear underpinnings, which are not comfy. Years ago, there was a fabric called “cotton cashmere” which was a knitted brushed 100%cotton, very comfortable and warm with no actual cashmere fiber. I’d love to find something similar again. Sadly, currently I have not found anything as warm as old school 80/20 cotton/poly sweat pants. So, I wear the sweat pants, and try to elevate with a nicer top, and try to stay warm!

  25. I ordered the Ilia lip conditioner from your link recommendation, and love it, I love the color and feel of it. Can’t tell you how many lip products I’ve tried and disliked and wasted my money on, but this one is a winner. Thank you for the recommendation!