All dressed up and nowhere to go.

By Betsy Cribb
Updated May 01, 2020
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There comes a time in every woman’s quarantine when she realizes that even her favorite leggings lose their luster after a while. Enter the housedress. In the early to mid-20th century, the housedress, also called the morning dress, was a popular choice amongst the homemaking set. Made from washable, often printed fabrics, the dresses were casual enough for household chores, but were still tailored enough in case of a visit from the dishwasher repairman or a last-minute jaunt to the neighborhood grocery. While unexpected guests aren’t a part of life as we shelter in place and cloth masks are the new pièce de résistance for trips to the Pig, housedresses are as practical as ever.

For starters, dresses rival athletic wear for comfort (no buttons! no waistband!) and win on breathability. We’ll take 100% cotton over Lycra any day, please and thank you. Plus, unlike athleisure, which can venture into full-on leisure territory faster than you can say “bless your heart,” a dress—even a super casual one—inherently feels put-together. A dress is a wearable pep talk; a dress says, “Yes, you can work from home and teach your children fourth grade math and run the dishwasher thrice daily!”

Now let’s be clear here. I’m not talking about a taffeta cocktail dress or a structured sheath with no room for movement. There’s a time and place for those, and home during a shelter-in-place order ain’t it. When I say housedress, I’m talking flowy cotton maxis and blousy midis. I’m talking roomy mumus and light-as-air caftans. When I say housedress, I mean unrestricted movement and unbeatable comfort that just so happen to be masquerading as real clothes.

Dresses also require zero decision-making, a real blessing when you’ve hit Day 4,702 of staying home and you have a trillion other more important things on your mind. A dress is a one-and-done operation. It’s literally the easiest option you have in your closet!

For me, wearing a dress is a sanity-saving measure and confidence boost. I’ve missed the ritual of waking up and choosing an outfit in which to tackle the day. I’m a big believer in ye old look-good, feel-good ethos; and nearly two months in leggings has done a number on my motivation. So from here on out, I’m taking a sabbatical from my loungewear and throwing on easy, breezy dresses instead. Who’s with me?