What's the Difference Between Loungewear and Sleepwear?

What’s the Difference Between Loungewear and Sleepwear?

Especially if you work remotely, the line that separates loungewear and sleepwear can become quite blurred. While we’re all aware of the studies that say we should change into regular “work clothes” when the workday begins, it’s all too tempting to stay in what’s most comfortable at times. That might mean staying in your comfy pajamas a little longer than normal, staying in your workout attire from your morning run, or simply wearing some yoga pants and a sweatshirt. But what if you could have attire that meets all those definitions? Let’s clarify what qualifies as loungewear and sleepwear.

What Is Loungewear?

Loungewear might be really comfortable, but it isn’t necessarily for sleeping in. Think of loungewear as something that’s comfy enough to binge-watch your favorite shows on a Saturday, but is not necessarily made for sleeping. Loungewear is typically made of sturdier fabrics that are meant to keep you warm during the winter and cool in the summer while offering more modest coverage.

For example, you could certainly lounge around in a cotton nightgown all day, but you wouldn’t want to answer the door in it or go run errands in it. In contrast, proper loungewear is more appropriate for wearing outside of the house, yet it is comfortable enough to wear inside while relaxing. Getting out of your pajamas and into an outfit that prepares you for the day ahead, even if it is just loungewear, does wonders for your motivation.

In short, pajamas are for sleep, and loungewear is for lounging — even if your definition of lounging means “running errands comfortably” or “sitting outside chatting with the neighbors.” Think of what lounging means for you, then make sure your loungewear is a step up from pajamas.

Loungewear Tops

The type of loungewear tops you choose will depend on the season. For summertime, it could be a long tunic, a comfy T-shirt or even a tank top. For winter, it could be a tunic made of a thicker fabric than you would wear in the summer. It could also be a sweatshirt, hoodie, long-sleeved T-shirt, or even a comfy sweater or turtleneck. Notice how all those items are things you’d wear outside of the house, yet at the same time, they still bring you comfort and allow you to feel like yourself if you're chilling at home.

Loungewear Bottoms

Loungewear bottoms will also be weather-dependent, but they’re interesting because they mean different things to different people. If you live an active lifestyle, you might consider workout leggings to be loungewear. In contrast, if casually lounging around involves anything other than professional attire to you, then you might be perfectly comfortable in jeans or jeggings. For the most part, however, yoga pants and sweatpants are what people think of when they think of loungewear bottoms. Again, however, it will depend on your unique lifestyle and comfort level.

What Is Sleepwear?

Just like getting dressed in loungewear puts you in a mental state that makes you more ready to tackle the day, getting dressed in sleepwear prepares your mind for sleeping. Not only that, but it makes you feel comfortable enough to stay asleep as well. For example, you may feel comfortable falling asleep on a cold winter’s night in a warm sweatshirt, but a couple of hours later, you might wake up hot and sweaty. Save the comfy sweatshirts for loungewear and instead invest in pajamas made of fabric that specifically promotes sleep. And keep in mind that not all pajamas are the same. Your clothing should be made of fabric that doesn’t irritate the skin or have features that are in any way uncomfortable.

Sleepwear Tops

When it comes to sleepwear tops, anything goes as long as you’re wearing a top that's specifically sold as a pajama top. If you wear your favorite T-shirt to bed, you might be comfortable, but tossing and turning and rubbing against the sheets won’t do you or your shirt any favors. Instead, you might find that it gets stretched out and that the fabric begins to thin. In contrast, pajama tops are built to withstand the friction of laying between two sheets for eight hours a night. Depending on the weather, you might prefer a tank top, crew neck, V-neck pajama shirt, or even a camisole for sleeping in.

Sleepwear Bottoms

Sleepwear shorts, capris, and pants are typically made of material that’s thick enough to keep you warm and comfortable, but thinner than the fabric of loungewear you’d leave the house in. During the summertime, lightweight cotton or linen shorts are great. In winter, flannel pajama pants are ideal because they keep you warm without making you overheat. Plus, they’re incredibly cute and look great on everyone.

The most important takeaway from the loungewear versus pajamas debate is that it is good to separate them by purpose. Wear clothing specifically marketed as “pajamas” for sleeping, and wear loungewear for anything other than sleeping, working, or attending formal events.


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