Why You Should Be Wearing a Robe During Coronavirus Lockdown
It really ties the look together, man
I went through an ’80s and ’90s crime-drama phase this past weekend. I started with Thief (1981), moved to King of New York (1990) and eventually wound my way to Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1996 debut, Hard Eight.
Wanting more crime films but feeling like I needed a bit of direction, I told myself I’d pick three films influenced by classic noir movies, and that only one of them could be by the Coen brothers. The latter half of this deal gave me more than a few options to pick from: Miller’s Crossing, Fargo, The Man Who Wasn’t There. But lo and behold, I decided instead to get reacquainted with The Big Lebowski.
Yes, I’ve seen it a thousand times, but it’s one of those movies you can view again and again and you’ll never find a reason to doubt its acclaim or popularity. What was I looking to find on another viewing of Lebowski? Nothing. Why do I keep making tuna melts while all the restaurants are closed or watch the video of Allen Iverson breaking Michael Jordan’s ankles every chance I get? Because some things are just good and they’ll always stay that way.
But this viewing, possibly my 15th or so, did yield something new. It inspired me. I decided that I need to embrace the robe life for a few days. Yeah, that opening scene of the man that was “possibly the laziest in Los Angeles County, which would place him high in the running for laziest worldwide” drifting through a grocery store and writing a check for 69 cents set something off in me. Dare I say that the Dude influenced me? I do. I dare say it.
I’ve been doing my best to make an effort as I work from home. The Adidas tracksuit was one of my better ideas, and I’ve tried my best to get dressed up once in awhile, just like the dudes who know better than I do. Also, since a hat is part of my everyday uniform, I’ve been able to play around with some new ones I’d like to add into my rotation. I’ve fought against embracing sweatpants, and I’ve tried to keep my spirits up by reminding myself that at least I’m making an effort. But right now, as I sit here in a robe and a pair of drawstring pants, I feel a kind of comfort I’m not really that used to at 12:30 in the afternoon.
The robe does one of two things: it either says “I give zero fucks” or it elevates you, lending you the classy sheen of a person of leisure. Neither of these personas is necessarily a bad thing. It can give off a vibe of Sinatra getting his morning paper outside of his home in Palm Springs, of glamorously hungover people hanging around Gatsby’s pool the morning after one of his iconic parties. Or it can give you The Dude.
Wearing a robe is a statement: think Brian Wilson showing up to Keith Moon’s birthday party in one or appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone. The bathrobe makes such an impression that more than 15 years later, I sometimes think of Metta World Peace showing up to Indiana Pacers practice in his bathrobe. I very distinctly recall that moment as the one when I realized that one of my favorite basketball players was out of fucks to give. He went on to play for another 13 or so seasons with his share of controversy. The bathrobe didn’t lie.
So back in the present, the morning after my umpteenth screening of Lebowski, I donned my “Berry” robe from OAS, a pair of Faherty sweats, a shirt from a bar in Miami and a pair of Gucci slides that I bought the first night of quarantine after I mistook a bunch of weed chocolate for the regular, boring type. Thankfully, since I have a few robes and a few pairs of slides that don’t cost as much, I had a few variations on the outfit to play with. The next day, a vintage, checkered Ralph Lauren robe; the third day, a very comfortable terry cloth version from L.L. Bean, some drawstring pants from J. Crew, a pair of psychedelic socks from Anonymous Ism, my Birkenstocks and a bucket hat to top it off. That was the outfit (complete with mask and rubber gloves) in which I did my bi-weekly trip to the grocery store. It made the somewhat grim week feel a little brighter. I was ready to go out in public in my robe. I had achieved a level of robe wearing that was somewhat stylish, but also absurd enough that you’d see me and quickly label me as the neighborhood eccentric. And every neighborhood needs one of those.
Around the same time I watched Lebowski and went on my robe run, one of my favorite follows on Instagram, Tony Sylvester, posted a shot of himself wearing a P.Le Moult, prompting his followers to post their own robe shots using the hashtag #showusyourrobe.
“Right before being furloughed from work, me and some of the team at Timothy Everest (the tailoring brand I work for) put together enough digital and online content to see us through the next couple of months, so I was probably a little manic from trying to get all that work in place,” Sylvester tells InsideHook. “The first day of furlough, I thought I have to put something a little creative and reactive out there.”
And just like that, the robe from P.Le Moult arrived. It was a sign.
“That got me thinking about the role robes and loungewear play in our wardrobes. It was just supposed to be a bit of fun, but it ended up taking up a week of my life as I pulled out a bunch of reference books and went down various rabbit holes.”
To help motivate people, Sylvester posted a number of images, including a 1666 portrait of Samuel Pepys by John Hayls, Tony Soprano with his robe open and his chest exposed, and Andy Warhol in a Brooks Brothers number, black socks pulled to his knees, his trusty tape recorder in one hand and Polaroid camera in the other. There was also, of course, The Dude.
Now, I’m not saying the robe is something you should find yourself going out in all the time, but there is something sort of iconic about seeing a person walk their dog or talk to their neighbor their bathrobe. There’s also something funny about it, and maybe a little rebellious. What I’m saying is that there are times when we’re not really able to have much fun and most of us are stuck working inside, times when maybe the robe life, if done correctly, is for you as well. We can use a little a hearty dose of irreverence, and rocking a robe in public every now and then, if done correctly, could provide that very easily. Then, you go home and you’re still in your robe. It’s perfect.
When I mention to Sylvester that I think the robe has gotten an unfair shake, that we relegate it to something we just toss on before bed and for after we gets up, he point out something to me, something that really hits home: that, above all else, wearing a robe is downright enjoyable.
“I have an entire wardrobe of house clothes and shoes, and pretty much change every day when I get home, so for me, this is the norm. I’m just spending infinitely more time in them at the moment being under lockdown,” he says. “Certainly no complaints from me on that front.”
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