La mode

Am I Done Suffering for Fashion?

“No more heels,” echoed Angela Cason, 61, a digital agency owner who has also succumbed to the charms of shearling. Once you wear Uggs, she said, you’re ruined for anything else.

High-end designers have been conceding this point for a while now. Witness the endurance of the fluffy or fur-lined flat sandal craze — most recently, the collaboration between Birkenstock and the former king of pain himself, Manolo Blahnik, which blended both partners’ DNA to produce wide, flat, hippyish sandals in jewel-toned velvet, embellished with rhinestone buckles. Other name-checked labels for shoes included: Madewell, Aerosoles, Arche, Aquatalia, Blondo, Fly of London and, for kitten heels (the only heels anyone mentioned), Isabel Marant.

Looks inspired by loungewear offer the additional advantage of pared-down choice. Even at its most upscale, relaxed fashion tends toward solid colors (no patterns to mix or match), easier sizing, fabrics that work well together and far fewer “levels” to fuss with (casual, professional and dressy all sort of meld together). In other words, relaxed fashion offers low-stress “uniform” dressing for women.

There’s an undeniable appeal to a civilian uniform, a way to cut back on the myriad decisions imposed by our wardrobes (sexy or serious; skirt, dress, or pants; tight or loose). Men avail themselves of uniforms whenever they choose a suit for work, a tux for evening or slacks and a polo shirt on weekends.

For more than a century, women’s fashion has cycled through various attempts at uniforms — from the Rational Dress Society of late-19th-century London (which decried whalebone corsets and promoted the voluminous cycling trousers known as “bloomers”) through Coco Chanel’s swingy separates, the unisex jeans and T-shirts of the 1960s, to the power suits of the 1980s, which offered armor to women newly entering the corporate battlefield.

Ms. Lippert sees a direct correlation between today’s lounge-y looks and those early suits. “It strikes me,” she noted, “that the loungewear trend is a reverse empowerment of the ‘power suits’ for an earlier generation of working women.”