Living in New York City right now feels like the equivalent of living in an about-to-be-popped bottle of Champagne. It’s practically bubbling over with excitement of a potentially raucous summer, filled with vaccines, rooftop picnics, and, maybe, even some parties. Just as exciting is the prospect of what we’re going to wear. Much has been written about this being the summer of slinky, bold, party dresses—almost as much as had been written about sweatpants a year ago. I will be splitting those down the middle and focusing on hostess attire: dresses, caftans, maybe even some sleek pajamas. I don’t want to pack into a bar, I just want to host a fabulous dinner party and look the part.
I’ve been constructing this fantasy for some time now. Last summer, my moodboard was filled with images of women in bright caftans, statement, Edie Sedgwick-worthy earrings, and colorful tapered candles. I’d dream of wafting around a spacious villa (notably not the place I currently reside in) refilling wine glasses, carefully cutting up and serving a Victoria sponge cake, asking loudly “do you want some more?” over gales of laughter. It feels like a movie, and I intend to dress the part.
The idea of a hostess outfit as somewhere between loungewear and partywear has been around since the 1920s. In 1925, Vogue decided pajamas were de rigueur, especially should you be able to acquire an Elsa Schiaparelli housecoat and pajama pants set. In the ’60s, caftans and palazzo pants became the hostess outfit du jour. Since then, the idea of dressing up for company tends to mean something fancy and not all that comfortable (though, most of the time, I’m not dressing up at all).
This summer does feel special, and I would like to mark it as such. But, I’m not quite ready to surrender the comfort I’ve grown accustomed to the past year. A fantastic, vintage, printed caftan or (my ultimate dream) a late ’60s printed pants and tank top set is really only a sidestep from the luxurious loungewear of 2020. Vive la palazzo! Vive la hostess dress!