Licentiate Column 01/11/12: Baby, It’s Cold Outside

What I think I look like in pajamas. The reality is more heffalumpish. Pic by Nina Leen for LIFE

Are you cold? I’m cold. I’m bloody freezing. My toes have turned to icy nubs that jolt me awake in chilly shock whenever I shift about in my sleep. Two hot water bottles and the occasional hot port have no alleviating effect. The fuzzy pink Penney’s pajamas I discovered in the airing cupboard make me a little warmer, not that that’s any consolation to the people in hot countries who slave away (in some cases literally) to make us our cut-price winter warmers.

I have taken to working in bed. The pajamas stay. I lump on brightly coloured shawls, hats and jewellery – the jewellery is a smokescreen to make me believe that I am making some kind of effort. It’s like aspirin – I don’t know quite how it works, but it really does. I look like a person who has gone on a gap year to Peru and decided that the locals know where it’s at, wardrobe-wise.

I think that this is perfectly acceptable. I still get my work done, I get to stay warm and no-one sees me looking like an ersatz bag lady/Olsen twin. It’s not my priority to look nice, or even presentable, when I’m at home by myself – the priority is to be cozy or, as a friend of mine who lives in Copenhagen says, hygge. ‘Hygge’ is a great word. It may even be a cozier word than ‘cozy’.

When I step outside the house, though, I am less ‘hygge’ than ‘hyggledy piggeldy’. I have yet to master the gentle art of layering that comes so easily to tall, sylphette women and less to to shortish, vaguely lumpish ones with, y’know, curves n’stuff.

Still, we shall struggle valiantly on, trying to strike that balance between beguiling and well-swaddled. Until the average person’s social life revolves around wearing pjs and never, ever going outside, we will have to spend our time socialising, running errands and attempting to have some semblance of a romantic life wrapped in several layers of fuzzy fibres, making a person look like a less jolly Sta Puft man.

It’s not a lot to ask to want to look both presentable and be warm during the wintertime. Here are a few tips.

1) Take care of your bod. Your face is the one part of your body that will repeatedly be exposed – and the elements we are exposed to are harsh ones. Take your multivitamins, change to a richer moisturiser as the weather will dry out your skin and invest in a few hot oil treatments for your hair. A healthy, glowy person wrapped in a soiled blanket will look better than an unhealthy sniffling one in Burberry.

2) Embrace technology. More specifically, embrace the new generation of thermal underwear, which adds no bulk but is still soft, breathable and snuggly warm. Best of all – it’s available in most high-street stores.

3) Proportions are key. Wearing a lot on top? Keep it slim on the bottom. Skinny jeans (with thermal leggings underneath) tucked into mid-heeled ankle boots will nicely balance out whatever millefeuille duvet-like concoctions we can come up with.

Licentiate Column 29/03/12: Fashion for Hypochondriacs

This morning I woke up with terrible stomach cramps. Terrible. Let me tell you, it was like an army of indigestion imps had pitched camp on my large intestine,lit a monster bonfire and started throwing cans of Lynx into the heart of the flames. Agony. Utter agony.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I’m such an utter trooper, I’d probably be dead by now. You see, I have a mysterious condition which makes all illnesses much worse than on regular people. I have hypochondria. Hold your tears, please. Your silent reverence is all I need.

Atfer this morning’s bout of quite-possibly-deadly mild indigestion, I cancelled the hair appointment that I was looking forward to and swiftly returned to bed, pausing only to pop on a ratty jumper in a ultra-flattering shade of greige. As a glamourpuss of Miss Piggy proportions, I thought it only right, dahling.

Whatever happened to all the glamourously sick people? Madame Bovary reclining on the chaise after imbibing poison, a slick spittle of vomit merely accentuating her credit-bought dresses. Ophelia floating through the reeds as imagined by Millais, in diaphanous green and gold. Tallulah Bankhead in silk pajamas demanding the narcotic release of codeine. Penney’s PJ’s have a lot to answer for.

I suppose the question is not what to wear when you’re sick, but what to wear when you’re such a notorious attention seeker that even death has to make you look the fabulous side of pallid. All the deaths described above were self inflicted, with Bankhead’s death a possible suicide by hardcore living. The other two are fictional, dreamed up by authors to fulfill tropes of high drama.

Life isn’t really like that. Sick people look sick, they don’t look like Kate Moss. I’ll bet that even La Moss has a holey, ragged Marks and Sparks tee that’s her go-to airing cupboard staple for when she has the flu.

But, what if being mildly crotchety and paranoid about illness affects your sartorial health? Too much surreptitious faking it can result in split ends, off-white duds and distinctly funky odours. What if, for whatever reason, you want to be a glam invalid?

1. Embrace your hypochondria. Take far too many vitamin supplements? Enhance your inner musicality by jumping up and down to Tito Puente rhythms. You are now a human maraca. Funky fruit hat strictly optional (but excellent for mopping up those free radicals). It will make you look dashing and accentuate a floppy neck.

2. Get crafty with those pajamas. Invest in a hot glue gun and get sticking gemstones to the hems and cuffs of your bedtime apparel. Do an Elizabeth I on it and embellish so much that your pajamas can now stand up by themselves. It’s not like we’re planning to walk around in them anyway, now were we? That would totally defeat the point of hypochondria.

3. Invest in… you guessed it – pajamas. By that I don’t mean buy several pairs of pajamas. Though they’re in vogue right now, they technically count as outerwear. I mean, literally invest in pajamas. Buy shares or start manufacturing poly-cotton blends. If you’re that dedicated to stylish sickness, the turnover will be so great that soon you’ll be reaping the dividends.

Related #1: Fashioning Nightwear

Every so often, I write a column where five hundred words just isn’t enough.  There’s all kinds of pictures and resources that I would love to share.  I’m starting a series of posts the day after each column comes out in print (ehm, that’s Friday then) with some supplementary material.  It won’t be every Friday, but it will be a recurring thing.

If you read yesterday’s post, then you’ll know that I don’t really take nightwear too seriously.  I do, however, have huge love for pajamas.  Pajamas are great.  The best pajamas are the sartorial equivalent of a hug.  The ultimate in loungewear, a nice pair of a pajamas is only one point in the triangle of the perfect relaxing winter evening (the other two points being a hot drink and a good book).

Here’s some pajama related information and inspiration.

The Poetry of Pajamas by A.K MacDonald

When Pajamas Weren’t the Cat’s Pajamas.. Or Were They? from Here’s Looking at You, Kid.

Vintage Fashion Guild Guide to Pajamas.

Pauls Stuart Pajamas, the pajama grandaddy (source)
Claudette Colbert in Clark Gable’s PJs from It Happened One Night.
Lana Pajama Rama (more here)
1940’s Pajama Set from Japan from Moonchild Vintage at Etsy.
Candy Dream 1950’s pajamas from Lasthouse at Etsy (very tempted to buy these).
1980’s Cabana pajamas from A Hula Girl at Heart at Etsy.