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An Ode to House Pants

Whether flannel PJs or basketball shorts, they provide an unparalleled level of comfort and emotional support

The second-happiest moment of my day is when I get home from work and immediately deposit all the contents of my pockets — wallet, phone, keys, earbuds — onto the tiny table by my door. The first-happiest moment happens immediately after, when I change out of my work clothes and slip into my house pants.

What are house pants?

Let’s be clear—it’s House Pants. Don’t disrespect them with lowercase. And, obviously, they are the pants you wear around the house. But they’re also much more than that. Your House Pants afford you a level of comfort, familiarity and reassurance no other pair of pants could ever dream of. They’ve conformed to the unique contours of your ass and grip your legs accordingly and without judgment. They provide you a unique level of support — emotionally and physically. They are, like the house in which you wear them, where you feel the most yourself.

My particular House Pants are a pair of gray Nike joggers.

But John, aren’t those just glorified sweatpants?

No. Wrong. Sweatpants are what middle-aged men wear on the elliptical. These are House Pants, and our bond is stronger than iron.

As the name indicates, House Pants are only meant to be worn in the house. The farthest House Pants stray from their natural environment is when you go to grab the mail or your Seamless order (and even that’s pushing the boundaries of House Pants etiquette).

Some will say that House Pants are perfectly suitable to wear outside the house. Indeed, the entire athleisure trend in men’s fashion is predicated on the idea that pants you would normally wear only in the house are acceptable in the wild.

Lululemon and Mack Weldon and other purveyors of fashionable sweatpants would have you believe their pants are ideal for both lounging around all Sunday and walking the street. But these people miss the important distinction between a pair of pants that are comfortable, and pants that are House Pants.

House Pants are not aesthetically impressive garments. They bear the signs of weekends-long Netflix binges, and grease stains from the takeout you spilled on your lap. They are not fashionable, nor do they aspire to be — this is a key part of their charm.

Normally, you wash visibly dirty clothes, but there’s no such urgency with your House Pants. As with my House Shirt (a heavily-stained piece of super-soft cotton), House Shoes (rubber Adidas flip-flops) and House Cup (my special, all-purpose drinking glass), I rarely wash my House Pants. There can be months in between washings, and they usually only get washed when they become so filthy that not even I can bear to put them on again (or when a woman in my life is repulsed and shames me into it).

That’s what makes House Pants special — they represent our true selves, the people we are when left to our own devices, away from the pretenses of an office or bar, and with no colleagues or visitors to impress.

Everyone has their own variation on House Pants. Some people prefer mesh shorts and a hoodie. Others wear robes. I suppose there are some men who still wear a “house coat,” although I’ve never been entirely clear on what exactly that is. My dad had an especially unique take on House Pants, for instance. He’d wear a ratty white T-shirt tucked into a pair of boxer briefs..

Whatever the iteration, the central idea is the same: You have your Work Pants, and your House Pants, and you’re not truly at peace until you change out of the former and into the latter. It’s a sacred ritual shared by many.

If a person visits my home, I will wear a “normal” pair of pants and a fresh shirt, and I will serve them a beverage in a clean glass. But if a person happens to make a surprise visit to my apartment any time after 7 p.m. on a workday, I will be horizontal, wearing a pair of Nike joggers with buffalo sauce all over them.

These are my House Pants. You may not like them, but at least they are Real.