In this series of articles we are thoughtfully exploring ideas to help curate your own signature style.
There are five parts in this series, and I've written mini, less-than-5-minute articles within each one for you to explore bit by bit.
This article belongs to auditing.
"The more comfortable you are, and the more you can relax, the more truthful your performance is."
- Courtney Ford
The heat of Urumqi can stifle you.
When people refer to Urumqi, located in the heart of Central Asia, as a 'melting pot', a crossroads of Silk Road cultures, I agree because I definitely nearly melted there during the summers. The desert of Turpan is one of the hottest places on earth, and Urumqi is further away from the sea than any other place on earth.
So, it melts you in the summer. (And freezes you in the winter.). But mostly it melted me - especially being in the high rise towers where AC isn't really a thing (!), at least back then.
One summer, when I lived in Urumqi for my studies, I was lucky to stay with the family of one of my closest friends. Her mum became my honorary Uyghur mum while I was there.
From her, I learned about the rich traditions of Uyghur culture and cuisine... but she also happened to be exceptionally stylish. Whenever I went out with her, I felt I could have been with a sophisticated TV host or actress.
And of the many things she taught me, one of the first was what it meant to have home-wear. As soon as we'd get back from being outdoors, she'd immediately switch from her outdoor outfit to her loose fitting, yet still elegant, home-wear dress. It was still lovely, but visibly more relaxed than what she'd worn out. And she was perfectly comfortable to do home chores and entertain drop-in neighbours in these clothes.
For me, I'd not really reserved clothes just for being at home in before, but soon had a trusty couple of outfits to use for the purpose.
I left Urumqi that year and I haven't been able to get back again yet.
But the habit of having designated home-wear has stayed with me ever since.
Until this year, I didn't really realise how vital It is to get loungewear, home-wear, and sleepwear right - and very clearly separated, even if it's in subtle ways.
In the kind of era we're currently passing through now, it seems we must be comfortable yet functional and presentable all the time at home now.
So let's break down the differences between lounging, home-ing, and sleeping, and how having specific clothes for each of these can help boost your productivity.
Description: As soon as you put these clothes on, they take you to the realm of relaxation. You have little care for what you look like when you wear these clothes. They are not meant to be dressed up, they just ooze comfort and softness. For me, I do not wear any jewellery or accessories with lounge-wear - it is for uber comfort with a little less attention on being stylish and presentable.
Productive tip: Keep and wear loungewear specifically for when you are full on lounging, and won't really have to 'do' anything involving other people or activities. In these clothes, you're not working, not really Zooming (unless it's chit-chatting with a dear friend), not people-ing. With loungewear, making it a very specific time when you wear these clothes is the goal, and it helps boost your energy when you have this time clear.
For me, I do tend to change my clothes after working at home in an outfit all day. This simple act helps signify the end of my workday. In covid times, this action helped create a boundary between work and rest.
I reserve some exceptionally comfortable lounging clothes for home movies, reading, and doodling/writing for fun, and just generally chilling. When I put my loungewear pieces on, there is no pressure whatsoever. The goal is to make me feel as cosy as a little well fed kitten napping in a spot of sunlight.
Loungewear examples: My favourite loungewear pieces are loose fitting jumpsuits like the ones Black Crane creates. I also have a few socks and slipper socks that complete the vibe. Clothes that make me feel like I'm wearing a cloud but are still reasonably functional are fit for loungewear to me. Fabric for loungewear is ideally very soft and very cosy. Jumpers, sweaters, hoodies, anything cosy and comfy goes here. Big note: lounge-wear isn't to be used for sleeping in. Naps only. :)
Description: Home-wear are clothes so comfortable I can wear them at home, but so beautiful and elegant that I could, if necessary, go outdoors, deliver a zoom call/presentation, and have a guest over unexpectedly.
Productive tips: I typically accessorise home-wear. I wear jewellery and/or accessories with these comfortable at home outfits. They make me feel like I'm 'on' for handling work projects and life. In many ways, this tiny act of taking of my rings and earrings at the end of the workday signifies I am shifting into relax mode.
Home-wear examples: To me, home-wear is loose dresses, cotton shirts, loose fitting trousers, thin lace-like slipper-socks to wear around the home is always a part of this too.
Description: These are light and loose fitting in style, best made of natural, breathable fibres or very soft fibres. They should allow your skin to breath and not feel restricted while sleeping. I include sleep wear as a whole separate item, and it has a designated space, because I used to blend lounge-wear into sleepwear sometimes. I've learned it's much better if your sleepwear is kept specially for sleeping and not lounging - mostly for productive reasons again...
Productive tip: The switch from lounge-wear to sleep-wear is another chance to set a boundary, and signify the start of a wind-down ritual. Also, taking all jewellery off for sleeping is good too, at least for me. I feel it's nice to give the jewellery a rest and helps maintain them by avoiding overuse, but it also to helps your have a chance to rest from touching metals.
Examples: it's all in the materials: loose cotton trousers, loose cotton long sleeve shirts, soft viscose shirts or trousers etc.
A note on jewellery: I think jewellery wasn't bought or given to me to sit in a box tucked away and forgotten. I enjoy looking at the jewellery I am lucky to have, I like the feel of my favourite pieces, whether it's a ring or a necklace, or a bracelet. So I wear them often during the day, even if I'm not going out, and they really help signify the end of a workday or the start of sleep, once I begin to take them off.
The subtle difference between these three keys to comfort can have a profound effect on how you feel when you are at home: loungewear, home-wear and sleep-wear.
What works for you when it comes to being at home?