An Argument for Forgoing Pants in Quarantine

Never has there been a better time to give your favorite, disintegrating pair of jeans a nice, long break.

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Under most normal circumstances, wearing pants is an advisable, if not imperative facet of daily life. But any semblance of normalcy was abandoned when the coronavirus struck and stay-at-home orders were implemented, and whether we need to wear pants while enduring the confines of our homes was thrown into question.

For those now working from home, as efficiency and executive coach Nicola Brown recently explained to me, “You can probably get away with dressing more casually to work at home. There’s no need to haul out the ironing board if it’s just you and your computer all day. But pay attention to what’s on the agenda: If you quickly throw on a shirt before an important business meeting via video conference, and then have to get up part-way through the event to referee a fight between children, you might really wish you weren’t wearing pajama pants.”

Really, this is the only instance I can see where donning a flattering, or at least ordinary pair of pants would be necessary — when someone peering at you through your computer could end up catching a glimpse of your decaying undies. Otherwise, though, I argue that, as you weather quarantine within the confines of your home, pants are completely unnecessary, if not damaging to your mental and physical health. 

As I once penned in an ode to sweatpants, “Tight clothes, like certain jeans and briefs, can compress the nerves in the thighs, causing pain, tingling and numbness. A loose pair of sweatpants, on the flip side, is much more comfortable for obvious reasons. Not to mention, eating in a pair of pants that presses up against your abdomen can trigger heartburn and acid reflux, ‘particularly and especially when somebody overeats,’ reflux specialist Jamie Koufman warned Everyday Health.” And since eating is one of the only pleasures we have right now, you better be wearing something comfortable (not pants) if you really want to enjoy it.

Once you finish eating, not wearing pants can help you sleep, too. As “The Sleep Doctor” Michael Breus explained to my colleague, Brian VanHooker, “You want to sleep in loose-fitting PJs. Clothes weren’t designed to be worn while sleeping, as buttons, zippers, etc. aren’t particularly sleep-friendly.” Or better yet, you can forgo the loose-fitting PJs altogether and just sleep in nothing at all.

As for how maintaining bare legs helps your mental state, my colleague Magdalene Taylor previously noted that donning pants — and clothes in general — has become a subconscious reminder of work and sadness for many of us, whereas taking them off usually prompts us to feel relaxed and happy, like we just fell into the couch after a long, strenuous day. Skip the sadness altogether by just leaving them off in the first place.

On a final note, many of our clothes, including our pants, are absolutely horrible for the environment, and if not wearing pants for a while helps even one of your pairs last a little bit longer, that means one less pair situated in a landfill somewhere. And hey, every pair matters.

So if you have been wearing pants all this time, whenever you finally send them through the wash, consider hanging them up and letting them retire for a while. It might be hard saying goodbye to your longtime companions, I know. But both of you will be better for it in the long run.