Town & Gown: Finals Week Dressing (AKA Roadtesting The Formal PJ)

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finals-embedI distinctly remember giving in to Ugg boots. At the time, it hadn’t felt like acquiescing. If I told you that I agonized — for hours — over whether the sand- or chestnut-hued iterations would better suit my wardrobe, would you believe me?

Flash forward five years, and the reverence may be gone, but the sheepskin shoes remain. On a day-to-day basis, I deny their very existence. If I could help it, they’d never emerge from the dusty corner of my closet that they share with a pair of Spongebob Squarepants Slippers. But, for one week a semester, Uggs have a grudgingly literal foothold in my daily uniform. Deep into autumn/winter, well before swimwear or spring/summer, I push aside the rest of my wardrobe and make room for the calendar year’s saddest season: Last Resort.

Exam period doesn’t lend itself to statement-making style. Try churning out a term paper for eight hours straight in a pair of neon skinny jeans and experience a (J) Brand of torture at your own risk. During finals, the library is occupied by an array of sweatpants, leggings, and hoodies so oversized that they bypass “boyfriend-fit” and settle into something approaching “Shrek-dimensioned.” It’s not pretty. And it smells vaguely like desperation.

Apparently, designers have caught a whiff. So offended are they by this sartorial eyesore that they’ve seemingly styled their latest collections with studious undergrads in mind. Co-eds, rejoice. Carrie Bradshaw and the '90s may have celebrated exposed bras, but 2011 has successfully pushed the innerwear-as-outwear envelope. By some magical means, sleepwear is officially ready-to-wear.

In a recent Vogue editorial, Sofia Coppola was photographed in Louis Vuitton silk pajamas that she designed. Celine sent striped jammies down her resort '12 runway. The definitive voice in style, Alexa Chung, included a palm-printed pair in her latest Madewell collection...and they sold out. Smoking slippers stepped out of wood-paneled libraries everywhere and into the collections of Christian Louboutin, Dolce Vita, and Alexander McQueen.

Hugh Hefner. I rest my case.

Skeptics: The aesthetic isn’t confined to the rarefied web pages of Style.com. In a local J.Crew, I spied a mannequin wearing a tangle of necklaces, a pair of stovepipe jeans, and a gingham flannel pajama shirt tucked into a sumptuous leather belt. American Apparel is currently hawking tasseled slippers, and Forever21 has at least eight pairs of palazzo pants featured on its site. The silhouette lends itself nicely to curling up at your desk with a good textbook. (Is “palazzo,” like, Italian for “pajama”?)

So, when you wake up in the morning to head to the stacks in a pair of drop-crotch pants and the Steven Alan pajama top you could never justify buying until now, know that the fashion community is behind you. Maybe slick on a coat of mascara while you’re at it — you never know when Scott Schuman will ask to snap your picture. I, for one, am spending exam period reveling in Rachel-Roy approved flannel sleepwear and fair-isle leggings. And given the wealth of alternatives, I may be able to finally ditch the Uggs — in favor of the Spongebob Squarepants slippers, of course. It’s been a long semester, and you’ve worked hard. Throw yourself a PJ party. You deserve it.