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09 November 2010

Inspired By The Personal Clothing Rules Thread. What did you wear around the house growing up? Due to some strange conversations with my peers, I am led to believe my house wasn't typical.


Apparently other people didn't strip down to nothing ( for the under 5s) or underpants (for the above 5s) the instant upon getting home and showering and then graduated to wandering around in a robe come puberty. I never questioned this cause this is what we all did. Unless company was expected, you basically wandered around in underclothes, throwing on a robe if you where past 13, and always of course slept naked, even if you shared a room with two other people.

Apparently this is unusual.
My family never did this. I'm pretty sure none of my friends did, though I did have a friend whose parents were very comfortable with their own nudity, often coming out of the bathroom after a shower with nothing on. I KNOW HOW THAT SOUNDS! I never considered it harmful or uncomfortable, and usually my friend and I would burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter before going back to playing Nintendo.

Can't sleep naked myself. I always woke up way too sweaty, not having clothes to wick the sweat from my body. But I think this part is less unusual, but more so doing it with other people around.

I dunno. Don't worry about it?
posted by gc 09 November | 05:08
My family wore clothes when awake and pajamas when asleep, more or less.
posted by Obscure Reference 09 November | 08:10
Same here -- clothes or pajamas at all times, which is how I still live. I actually love pajamas and would probably collect them if I had the money.
posted by JanetLand 09 November | 08:42
Definitely not - those households were looked on as rather suspect by my Irish-concerned-with-decency family. Always clothes or PJs.

I actually don't enjoy being naked all that much in routine circumstances. I like clothes, they're warm, comfy, and colorful.
posted by Miko 09 November | 08:53
I think comfort with nudity is probably a lot more healthy than what I learned, which is that bodies are horribly embarrassing and obscene and even kissing on television should make me uncomfortable. Nude art was horrifying porn. No, I wasn't raised in some weird cult, just had a parent who had body issues. (I think I'm mostly over that now.)

Trying to pull back somewhat from my own skewed background, I think comfort with nudity is also probably healthier than an inclination to cover the body at all times even when just around family (ie, wear clothing), too. Is that what most households do?
posted by galadriel 09 November | 09:02
Growing up, yeah, it never would have occurred to me to go around in underwear or naked, and it certainly wouldn't have occurred to my mother. I come from a cold part of New Zealand and kiwis are shit at insulating their houses, so yeah. That wouldn't have worked.

Now, I am far more likely to be unclothed when at home. I usually peel off most of my clothes upon arriving inside. In summer I just wear underwear inside for the most part. Right now I'm wearing yoga pants and a bra.

My daughter is going to grow up with mixed signals. Her father is definitely from a concerned-with-decency family, as Miko calls it. She's never seen him naked. Not even when she was like, 6 months old. My mother in law gets concerned because the kid always wants to undress her dolls and keep the clothes off. Yes. The dolls. What *will* the neighbors think!?
posted by gaspode 09 November | 09:27
A friend of mine once remarked "There are naked families and not-naked families. We're a naked family." It sounded good to me: all generations swimming naked in their private lake. I don't think I could join in: I'm from a not-naked family.

We wore clothes or jammies around each other. I do remember I had a shortie robe that my teenage sister passed down to me when I was little. Because it was imbued with Big Sister Coolness I wore it (just from my room to the shower and back) for YEARS, until it barely covered my underpanties... and then I realized that I was Too Nearly Naked and I stopped wearing the robe as a robe and started wearing it as a top.

I'm still not relaxed about nudity in general. With my partner, nudity is easy and frequent, and (partly thanks to boarding school) I'm comfortable changing clothes in front of same-sex friends, but (for example) at a family gathering I would go into another room to change into my swimsuit.
posted by Elsa 09 November | 09:44
From [another online community], we learned to refer to the clothes we put on at home to be comfortable as: a romper.
posted by Obscure Reference 09 November | 09:51
Recently, a little incident illuminated the family feeling about this stuff:

During a family weekend at Mom's, I volunteered to babysit my four-year-old niece while her parents and Mom went out. My SIL warned me that little K. was feeling crabby; she gave me a few tips and mentioned, "She'll probably strip down as soon as I leave. If you can keep her clothes on, great. If not ---" she shrugged.

My mother returned early. She watched a movie in the next room while K. and I played and talked and drew. At one point, K. took off her shirt and resumed drawing. My mother came into the room to scold the kid. (I quietly asked Mom if she wanted to take over babysitting, in which case she could be in charge, but told her that if I was in charge, I wasn't going to make a big deal about the shirt. She withdrew her scolding.)

It really struck me how my mother viewed a shirtless child as Something Wrong, for no reason I can identify. She's big on controlling kids for the sake of controlling them. Then again, she had five of us clattering around the house, so maybe arbitrary control is valuable when you're guiding a herd.
posted by Elsa 09 November | 09:54
Oh my family was so dressed at all times that it was a little much, like, let us uphold the standards of prewar decency despite the annoying fact that it is the 70s now. We only got naked in the shower. Full pajamas or nightgowns to sleep in, wake up, immediately get dressed (no walking around the house in pajamas) in, ideally, a khaki skirt or a kilt, a turtleneck, a navy blue blazer, argyle knee socks and penny loafers. On weekends you can wear jeans or corduroys - that are immaculate and ironed and your button down or polo shirt has to be tucked in. I never even owned a T-shirt until I was probably 16. Sometimes on a Saturday my dad would go around - get this, it is shocking - without a tie! Yes! No tie for maybe three or four hours! Whoa! Then they would go out for cocktails and he would heave a sigh of relief and put his tie back on. Or, if there was a dinner party, he would be all rakish and wear, oh god, an ascot. My mother up until the end of her life changed her clothes three times a day: morning around the house clothes, afternoon errand running clothes and dinner/cocktail clothes. I knew she was starting to get really sick when I came over and she was in pajamas and a bathrobe.

There were specific school clothes and specific play clothes and then very often, although thank god not every night, we dressed for dinner. If we were traveling somewhere, on a train or plane or something, we were dressed UP. If we were going to town we were dressed UP. All this was probably why I embraced raggedy torn up clothes with such delight in my teens and twenties but I have to say, I still can't even walk to the mailbox or take out the trash in a bathrobe without feeling like I am Sloth and Evil incarnate.
posted by mygothlaundry 09 November | 10:06
I have always had two sets of clothes. Clothes that you kept as clean as possible and wore to go into the outside world and comfy, messy clothes for around the house. No pyjamas until you were ready to go to bed.
posted by typewriter 09 November | 10:17
Oh and for another data point after growing up like that (and I have left out the enormous conflicts I had with my parents over clothes, that went on even into my 30s) with my own family I pretty much let them wear whatever they wanted as long as I felt they were warm enough. This enabled us to to get in our required numbers of mother/child clothing battles.
"Wear a sweater!"
"No I won't"
"It's too cold for shorts and flip flops!"
"No it isn't!"
Both my kids were partial to stripping down and running around naked when they were very young - all preschoolers pretty much are - and that never bothered me. I don't have a whole lot of body modesty myself - I think I look pretty good naked, certainly better than in a bathing suit - so sometimes I wandered around naked, sometimes not. Now that they're adults I don't do that anymore, because, you know, eww. I took them to the nude beach in Vermont when they were little and we went camping with lots of naked hippies and nobody seems to be deeply psychologically scarred although my daughter keeps threatening to write a book about her childhood.
posted by mygothlaundry 09 November | 10:17
I have always had two sets of clothes.

Oh, yes, this is my way, too. I wear Going Out clothes for, y'know, going out, and Schlumphy Clothes for schlumphing around the house. Though, truth be told, if I'm just schlumphing around, I'm probably pantless. Our apartment gets pretty darned hot in the winter (landlord is currently trying to fix that, which would be swell) so I'm often in a tank top and boxers. When the doorbell rings, there's a pause while I locate and pull on my schlumphy pants.
posted by Elsa 09 November | 10:22
mygothlaundry - you and your daughter should co-author a book. Think about it. It could be brilliant - you're such a wonderful writer.

Growing up, my family immediately changed into "comfy clothes" for around the house - basically pajamas, depending on the season. No underwear. We left bedroom doors open at night, so I don't think I slept naked growing up.

Dressing rooms - often co-ed/theatre stripped (ha!) me of whatever natural modesty I may have once had.
posted by rainbaby 09 November | 10:31
Grew up at the beach in a warm climate so whatever shorts (we called them trunks) and white t-shirts we happened to have on.

Slept in underwear and t shirt. . .sweatpants, if it was cool enough but usually it wasn't.
posted by danf 09 November | 10:43
Well, my Dad was Mr. Nudity. It was a family joke. Even when he was in clothes, it was usually his ancient "boonie" shorts, which were so ripped and torn that they were probably more obscene that dad in his natural state. My mom lived in sweaters and skirts that she had knitted herself. As for me, what I remember most clearly is my drop bottom footie PJs, which I wore well into my teens. But in general, us kids were in school clothes during the day and PJs and bathrobes only at night and on Sunday AMs for our family waffle brunch.
posted by bearwife 09 November | 12:21
My mother up until the end of her life changed her clothes three times a day: morning around the house clothes, afternoon errand running clothes and dinner/cocktail clothes.

Even though I'm sometimes amazed at what seems like the formality of norms like these from previous generations, I'm not sure I'm all that different. There are days I change clothes three times: like, fancy work clothes, followed by workout clothes, followed by lazing-around clothes or perhaps nicer clothes if we're going out somewhere, to a movie, food or something like that. More often than not, though, one of the niches is occupied by Pajamas. Where my grandmother put on a "housedress" for the morning hours, I just stay in my PJs.
posted by Miko 09 November | 12:31
Yeah, miko, I hear you. Yoga pants have been a godsend to my slothful lifestyle: I just wear them more or less 24/7 but when I was working I would easily change clothes at least twice a day and often three. The changing has not changed, just the formality of what is changed into. And as I get older I kind of miss the formality: I'm actually shocked sometimes these days by what people think is appropriate wear. The first time I went to the county courthouse I was totally taken aback - there were people in court dressed like they just ran out from cleaning the sewers or something. And airplanes too - when I was a kid if we flew anywhere it was time for serious clothes. When I was really little that was gloves and a hat but even into my teens my parents would have died rather than get on a plane in anything less than what we would consider office wear - and upscale, formal law office at that.

As a data point, this is me and my mom dressed for dinner at my parent's house in 76 or 77.
≡ Click to see image ≡

And this is resentful slightly older me with my father, also dressed for dinner, probably in 79 or 80. This was taken at a beach resort.
≡ Click to see image ≡
posted by mygothlaundry 09 November | 12:50
I see you're wearing flipflops, mgl -- my mother NEVER let me go anywhere in those except across the street to Elizabeth's.

Never having gotten/had to do it, I kind of like the idea of dressing for dinner.
posted by JanetLand 09 November | 13:09
You must've lived where it was someplace nice and warm!

Raised in ground-zero territory of 1970s feminist America, I was raised to believe "looks don't matter, it's what inside that counts." So I wore ratty jeans and sweatshirts everywhere--church, high school public-speaking competitions, birthday parties. Fortunately, by the time I had to do job interviews, I had figured out that yeah, they do matter, sometimes. And I still sometimes wear jeans to church, because the church is cool that way.
posted by Melismata 09 November | 13:12
Melismata, I just realized that I still always dress up for my (rare) synagogue visits. Always! The synagogue may be cool with something more casual, but I'm still not cool enough to go with that.

Also, I love loose PJs and a cardigan around the house, but still only wear my exercise gear to exercise.

Good to realize I am still locked in my little personal clothing rule ruts. At least I finally got OK with wearing pants suits, not just skirt suits, at work.
posted by bearwife 09 November | 17:03
We wore clothing or pjs. None of this hedonistic running around nekkid for us! Even while living alone I never wandered around naked; I always wore a t-shirt and shorts or bottoms of some sort.

The mister and I sleep nude and I'm fairly comfortable being naked in front of him, but again, we wear clothing while up and about.

The only other person I'm okay with being naked in front of is my mother and that's only from the waist up.
posted by deborah 09 November | 17:06
My family was a clothes and PJs situation, generally, although my mom was fairly OK with being naked.

My daughter used to run around naked without any worries, but in the past month or so she has become worried about her dad seeing her "privates." And when she has to go from one room to another naked, she covers said "privates" in a cartoonish and totally hysterical fashion. She's almost 8 years old.

She thinks it is fine for us to see each other without clothes, which seems a little strange to me because our bodies are almost as different as hers and her fathers.

So I guess what I'm saying is that sometimes external programming takes over how a family behaves.
posted by jeoc 09 November | 22:02
comments like mygothlaundry's make me think I was the feral half-man and everyone else was living inside Keeping Clean And Neat
posted by The Whelk 09 November | 23:44
Also I remember the sleeping nude thing was somehow related to health, like if you wore clothes you got overheated or re-absorbed your sweat or something. I have no idea, it's just something we did.
posted by The Whelk 09 November | 23:48
Like we also never had an open window or a fan on cauge the draft would give you a cold, I figure it was a lot of half-remembered folk stuff.
posted by The Whelk 09 November | 23:50
You aren't alone.
posted by dg 10 November | 01:45
My parents were from New England, I grew up Catholic, and we were really not naked people. Not at all. I live in the Frozen North, and have a lot of windows, so I am mostly a person who wears something. The best part of impending winter is wearing a flannel nightie. All day, some days. A new flannel nightie has nice thick flannel, and feels wonderful. An old flannel nightie is thin and really soft and feels wonderful. It's all win. I think I will go change now.
posted by theora55 10 November | 20:20
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