We've been hanging out day and night in sweats, tees and leggings. Making a distinction between stay-home, work-from-home and bolt-to-the-supermarket clothes felt kind of unnecessary. Now we've eased into a more regular routine, and creating some boundaries between what we wear for sleep and waking hours seems like a good idea. Here are 11 comfy, pretty and practical solutions for hot flashes, frigid temperatures and cozy evenings in front of the fire ... or Netflix.
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PHOTO BY: Old Navy; Target; H&M
1. Tailored pajamas
Getting undressed for bed means an ahhh state of mind, or it should: no bra, shape wear or tight or constricting clothes. So how do you stay comfy but look polished enough for a five-star hotel or house guests? Classy duos like the Old Navy Jersey Pajama Set for Women in black dots ($35, oldnavy.gap.com), Stars Above Beautifully Soft Notch Collar Top and Pants Pajama Set in black ($30, target.com) or the H&M Pajama Shirt and Pants in dusky pink/dotted ($30, hm.com) soften this crisp tailored style with a jersey knit update that won't wrinkle — no matter how much you toss and turn.
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PHOTO BY: LOFT; JCPenney; Nordstrom
2. Athleisure-inspired pajamas
The loungewear trend has added a sporty vibe to sleepwear. If you love wearing elastic-waist joggers, pull-on pants, tanks and tees, then stick with pajamas that mimic them. Look for your favorite daytime details like boat or V-necks and cropped or jogger-style pants in the Loft Cozy Pajama Set in plum jam or misty cloud ($75, loft.com), Liz Claiborne Women's Pant Pajama Set 2-pc, 3/4 Sleeve in peacoat stripe ($42, jcpenney.com) or the Kate Spade New York Crop Jersey Pajamas in black ($78, nordstrom.com). Just add Uggs.
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PHOTO BY: Macy's; Old Navy; J. Jill
3. Sophisticated sleep tees
If you've been snoozing in oversized tees leftover from your ex or kids, upgrade to ones that flatter a grownup woman's body. You'll get the same roomy fit and cool bare legs attitude with a slightly longer (but still above the knees) length that needs no tugging down every time you sit. For a contemporary look, choose tees with a side slit or curved shirttail hem like the Alfani Ultra Soft Ribbed Knit Sleepshirt Nightgown in heather grey or black ($30, macys.com), Old Navy Cozy Thermal-Knit Henley Nightgown for Women in gray marl ($35, oldnavy.gap.com) or J. Jill Sleep Ultrasoft Shirttail Gown in dusk blue/cream ($59, jjill.com).
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PHOTO BY: Bloomingdale's; Nordstrom; Macy's
4. A long, contemporary nightgown
Some women prefer the no-pants freedom and coverage of a long gown at night. Between us, they're not so easy to find these days now that pajamas and short gowns rule. Skip the frills and froufrou (which can look girlish or dowdy at 50-plus) in favor of a chic, loose, minimalist style with a flattering V-neck such as the Papinelle Feather Soft Nightgown in grey ($59, nordstrom.com) or Donna Karan Side Slit Sleep Caftan in black or gray heather ($74, bloomingdales.com), or try a colorful caftan with raised waist like the Lauren Ralph Lauren Printed Caftan Nightgown in blue/novel ($76, macys.com). They're all in light, breathable fabrics like rayon or viscose, with a hint of stretch and side slits to add a flirty flash of lower leg. Stock up before they're gone.
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PHOTO BY: Gap; H&M; JCPenney
5. A light, stretchy robe
Don't be shocked ... but some of us sleep in the buff or just undies! However, you still need something bedside handy to pull on when insomnia or middle-of-the-night emergencies ("Where's my cell?” “What was that noise?") make throwing off the covers necessary. A super light, short and stretchy robe — like the Gap Robe in Modal in light blue heather ($70, gap.com), H&M Jersey Bathrobe in light gray melange ($30, hm.com) or Ambrielle Women's Kimono Robe in heather grey ($38, jcpenney.com) — fills the sleepwear gap and provides a cover-up for a.m. routines, too. Less bulky than a terry robe, they actually look shapely on all — thanks to the light, stretchy and supple fabric. Who couldn't use that?
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PHOTO BY: Victoria's Secret; Macy's (2)
6. Elegant, sexy pajamas
We don't need to slink around in a peignoir, tap pants and camisole or a baby doll nightie. Silky satin, full-coverage pajamas with a slouchy tailored style — like the Victoria's Secret Satin Long PJ Set ($80, victoriassecret.com) or Lauren Ralph Lauren Luxurious Satin Pajama Set in multpais ($79, macys.com), which also comes in plus-size ($86, macys.com) — deliver plenty of sophisticated glamour with common sense. The best part: They're machine washable, so feel free to wear while cooking a cheesy omelet or drinking hot chocolate. They make every woman feel like a ‘40s film star, are amazingly cool to sleep in and won't stick to your skin if you do perspire.
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PHOTO BY: Gap; Old Navy; Bloomingdale's
7. Pajama pants
Although pajama pants and tops are also sold separately, the bottom half matters most. Plenty of women have stacks of tanks and tees to repurpose as a topper for a pair of cozy, comfy knit pajama pants. The best are loose at the leg and in black or gray — like the Gap Ribbed Pants in Modal in heather grey or true black ($45, gap.com), Old Navy Straight Jersey-Knit Pajama Pants for Women in black jack ($20, oldnavy.gap.com) or the Kate Spade New York Cropped Pajama Pants in black or gray heather ($48, bloomingdales.com), so they go with anything and everything. No need for cute graphics or cartoons — keep it simple.
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PHOTO BY: J.Crew; H&M; Victoria's Secret
8. A tailored nightshirt
Anyone who has seen Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's answer the door in a man's white shirt and silky blue sleep mask yearns for a man-style nightshirt. Button-front updates — like the J.Crew Nightshirt in End-on-End Cotton in navy ($68, jcrew.com), H&M Patterned Nightshirt in powder pink/dotted ($25, hm.com) or Victoria's Secret Cotton Piped Sleepshirt in black/orchid mini dot ($45, victoriassecret.com) — are a practical alternative to tees and gowns. They're ideal, too, for anyone not wanting to struggle pulling on a gown over the head due to limited mobility.
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PHOTO BY: Gap (2); Victoria's Secret; Bloomingdale's
9. T-shirt and shorts sets
Before you say “No!” — hear me out. Pajama sets — such as the Honeydew Tank & Shortie PJ Set in black or cosmos ($38, bloomingdales.com), Victoria's Secret Cotton Short PJ Set in black/ivory floral forest ($55, victoriassecret.com) or the Gap PJ Print Knit Top in grey and white mini stripe ($45, gap.com) with the Gap Smocked Soft Knit Shorts in light grey marle ($35, gap.com) — are a hot sleepwear trend. Sure, it attracts teens and millennials, but consider the benefits for us, too: If you are a sleeper with restless leg syndrome or sleep with a pillow between your legs to ease back pain, shorts (or sleep tees) provide freedom of movement and no leg constriction or fabric entanglement.
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PHOTO BY: Victoria's Secret; L.L. Bean; Woman Within
10. Flannel pajamas and nightgowns
This is an acquired taste — and a seasonal one. If you're always cold and love burrowing into flannel sheets and thick down comforters, then the almost velvety, fuzzy texture of flannel is what you want. Try updates such as the Victoria's Secret Cotton Flannel Long PJ Set in pink/black check or white shadow leopard ($60, victoriassecret.com) or Dreams & Co. Sleepshirt in Plaid Flannel with Button Front in classic red plaid ($40, womanwithin.com), or go preppy traditional in the L.L. Bean Women's Scotch Plaid Flannel Pajamas in smith ($70, llbean.com). Add a pair of cuddly socks to keep your tootsies toasty.
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PHOTO BY: Target; Soma; Nordstrom
11. Hot flash sleepwear
"Cooling” sleep tees are a new niche designed for menopausal women who wake up during the night feeling sweaty and clammy. Basically, they use similar perspiration-wicking/odor-banishing technologies to the ones found in workout clothes. Look for short tee styles like the Softies Women's 36” V-Neck Short Sleeve Sleep Shirt with Tulip Hem in gray ($89, target.com), Soma Cool Nights Short Sleeve Sleepshirt in divine leopard porcelain ($42, soma.com) or the Z Well Racerback Tank Interlock Sleep Chemise in blue slate ($48, nordstrom.com). Do they work? I'm honestly on the fence about this one. As a postmenopausal fashion editor who still has hot flashes, I say any sleepwear item that is loose and lightweight and has an open neckline is going to feel comfier than fitted items during heat surges.
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