Style Counsel: The Housecoat Reimagined by

Issue 12 · Spring Forward · March 26, 2014

Style Counsel: The Housecoat Reimagined

Issue 12 · Spring Forward · March 26, 2014

I spend a lot of time working at home, and there are mornings when I wonder if it's worth dressing for a full day or better to slouch around in tattered sweats. I opt for the latter on most occasions, but I'm always thinking: What if the UPS driver shows up? What if a friend happens to be in the neighborhood? And there is something to be said for putting yourself together, even if it's just for...yourself. This led me to the housecoat, a term first used in 1913 to describe an informal garment for women to wear about the house. This option, somewhere in between dressed and undressed, has gone missing from modern life—until recently. Meet the utility dress.

A slouchy answer to the housecoat, the utility dress is a style that's having a moment in western fashion, but its origin is in traditional Japanese house clothes and workwear. Like the rural Japanese workers in photographer Taishi Hirokawa's book Sonomama Sonomamait's possible to wear an Issey Miyake- or Yohji Yamamoto-like garment and still get work done. The dress is often made from linen and cotton (for breathability), and is shapeless in the best way (for total comfort); here are nine examples we're ready to slip on:

Muku Navy Check Pleated Dress in Linen | Remodelista

Above: The Navy Small Check Pleated Dress is made of 100-percent linen with three-quarter sleeves and hidden buttons; €140. It's by Muku, a fashion company run by two Lithuanian women designers.

Arts & Science Gather Big Bottom Dress and Standup-collar Big Tunic Dress | Remodelista

Above L: From Japanese designer Arts & Science, the Gather Big Bottom Dress is 100 percent cotton and shown here in sand beige. Above R: Also from Arts & Science, the Standup-collar Big Tunic Dress is 100 percent linen; shown in natural. Both are from the S/S 2014 Collection. For more about the brand, see our post, Posh Japanese Workwear, by Way of Paris, and visit Creatures of Comfort or Tiina to purchase.

La Garçonne Moderne Workwear Smock in White | Remodelista

Above: From online fashion retailer La Garçonne's own line, La Garçonne Moderne, the Workwear Smock (available in white, black, ink, and clay) has dropped shoulders and an oversized fit and is made from 100-percent Japanese cotton; $495.

Le Vestiaire de Jeanne Uniform Pleated Dress | Remodelista

Above: French brand Vestiaire de Jeanne's Uniform Pleated Long Sleeve dress has pockets at the sides and falls just under the knee—a loose fit to throw on in the morning. The dress, made from 100 percent linen, is €150 for the adult size. For more, see our post, Effortless Dressing à la Française.

Pip Squeak Chapeau Bib Dress in White Cotton | Remodelista

Above: From Pip-Squeak Chapeau the Long Bib Tunic Dress is made in Brooklyn of 100 percent cotton batiste; $340.

Jess Brown Gardening Tunic | Remodelista

Above: Jess Brown's Gardener's Tunic in raw (shown), black, or metallic linen has a silver cord tie; $256. For a tour of Brown's house, see West Marin's Accidental Doll Maker.

Dosa Short Tulle Dress in Black | Remodelista

Above: Dosa's Draughtsman Tunic is a loose fit made of dark blue organic cotton; $320 from Farfetch.

Uniqlo Linen Cotton Dress | Remodelista

Above: A collaboration between Inès de la Fressange and Uniqlo, the Women's Linen Cotton Long Sleeve Shirt in navy is a half and half blend of cotton and linen at an affordable pricE: $39.90.

Fog Linen Work Adele Long Dress | Remodelista

Above: Fog Linen Work's Adele Long Shirt, Linen Denim has a rounded collar and a buttoned V-neck; $192 from Fog Linen Work.

For those who can sew and read Japanese (a narrow demographic, I know), Japanese dress sewing books are an excellent source for creating similar garments. I recommend Anytime Dresses and Travaux et ModeWhat to wear under your utility dress? See The Debrief: 8 New Classics for Your Underwear Drawer.

Have an opinion? Care to comment? We'd love to hear what you have to say.