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Relax, get comfy and look great

This week I read that loungewear is, as they say in the retail industry, a "key growth category for intimate apparel."

In other words, people like it and want to buy it. It fits their lifestyle.

The experts also call loungewear "homewear," because it's certainly not just for lounging.

I would go a step further and call it do-the-laundrywear, read-the-paperwear, walk-the-dogwear, pick-up-the-kidswear and, my favorite, make-the-weeknight-dinnerwear.

I'm all for it.

These are the kinds of laid-back but not sloppy clothes you want to put on when you get home from work at night. But I wouldn't wear them to work.

The pieces I'm seeing out there are leggings, pants with fold-down waists or hidden elasticized waistbands, fitted T-shirts, soft tanks, hooded pullovers, cowl-neck sweaters and drapey cardigans. The fabrics often are cotton knit with a bit of stretch. Fleece, terry and cashmere are other options.

They're very comfortable but dressy enough to wear around the house. If the doorbell rings at 8 p.m., you're not embarrassed to open the door. They don't look too much like pajamas but you can sleep in them if you want to.

And they layer nicely.

I'm one of those people who like to kick off the shoes, wash up and change out of work or other daytime clothes the minute I get home for the evening.

So I like this trend -- this apparently growing category of clothes that are comfortable but also stylish in a casual sort of way for so-called leisure time. It's often the clothes that grab my attention in catalogs or stores.

Why not look nice around the house?

Years ago, when the term "couch potato" became popular, I wrote a story called "Duds for Spuds."

Loungewear back then was very much about velour and sweats. This was the era when nonrunners relaxed in jogging suits, or TV togs as some liked to call them.

We photographed a cute couple sitting on a sofa wearing the look of the day.

Now there are many more options. I've done a couple stories on loungewear in recent years and the styles just keep getting better.

LOFT, GapBody and J. Jill are among the retailers that sell these types of clothes. Words such as "effortless" and "cozy" describe them.

Picture a "slub terry" cotton pullover in a color called oatmeal heather with a cowl neckline and rolled-up sleeves (LOFT).

Or a cotton and cashmere kimono-sleeve sweater in India ink, ginko or light gray heather (J. Jill).

So, yes I'd like to be part of this "key growth category" in the year to come and invest in some new "homewear."

Then, if I also follow the tips in my story today on enhancing the lighting in our home, I may never want to leave the house again.