For all the people who rediscovered their love of loungewear in the dark, house-bound days of 2020, may I present your new savior: The muumuu.
Friends, gather round and hear my gospel, for muumuus are magical things. Muumuus love you. They get you. They make space for you. Muumuus are the sartorial equivalent of Oprah interviewing Brené Brown. To a muumuu, you don’t need to change. You’re exactly where you have to be, baby girl. You’re doing just fine.
Feeling bloated? Muumuu. Want to cosplay as a soft version of the Paper Bag Princess? Muumuu. Need to feel swaddled like a dang baby even though you’re 30 and the world is ending? MUU. MUU.
Comfort Is Key
If last year taught us anything, it was that comfort is key. Life is too short and precarious to wear 100% cotton jeans (never again!). I will not be alive long enough to justify another day with a bra digging into my ribcage. High heels? Don’t make me laugh. All I want is for someone to cut a circle in the middle of a vast swath of fabric and then gently place it over my head, allowing my tent-like garment to double as dress and dwelling.
I will become a beautiful, soft turtle-woman. My muumuu is my shell—my protector and my home.
I Bow At The Altar Of Meryl’s Muumuu
Muumuus give us everything: space, love, softness. They are a force of good in this cold, cruel world—and yet, their reputation is heinous. “A muumuu?” the fashion critic sneers, “What was Meryl Streep thinking?” I will tell you what Meryl was thinking: She was thinking, “I have to sit through another award show and dagnammit I will be comfy at this one.”
Look at this woman, power-posing in a glorious bedazzled muumuu. Meryl doesn’t just look good. She feels good. She feels her power. It takes a great muumuu to bring out a Wonder Woman pose—but it takes a great lady to rock a muumuu so hard. This muumuu and Meryl, they just click. And I can tell you why.
It is because muumuus, like excellent muumuu-wearers including Whoopi Goldberg, Maya Rudolph, and James Baldwin, are on the right side of history. Muumuus challenge society.
Threat Level: Muumuu
Muumuus laugh in the face of the male gaze. They eat power suits for breakfast. They are devoted to comfort and function, not socially-mandated signs of hotness like Sir Mixalot’s requisite measurements of 36-24-36. Be a lumpy tube of flesh for all I care, the muumuu says as she embraces you in fabric and acceptance.
And unlike wimpy middle-ground comfort clothes like those Lululemon leggings you wear when you intend to work out, but actually end up marathoning trash on TLC, muumuus do not mess around. There’s no charade with a muumuu, no pretence toward exercise, no looking like you’re on the go. A muumuu is for rest, ceramic arts, volunteering at the local co-op grocery store, hatching plots to end capitalism, and puttering around the house. Nothing else!
First Muumuu, Worst Muumuu
But let’s not oversimplify things. Despite their glory, muumuus have been used for evil. Judgmental missionaries invented the muumuu back in 1800s Hawaii as a quick way to make Indigenous women cover up. And the bad press kept coming. Fat-phobic pop culture used muumuus and the goddesses who wear them as bywords for the “grossness” of overweight bodies.
These are shameful origin stories—but like beloved, now-redeemed villains including Loki and Deckard Shaw, I truly believe that the muumuu can overcome its dicey associations.
The Muumuu Revolution
There is enough good to outweigh the bad here—and again, I point you to iconic muumuu-wearers throughout history: Lilo from Lilo & Stitch! Betty Draper shooting pigeons! Billy Porter at the AFI Awards! Heck, if you think of the loose, Regency-era gowns as proto-muumuus, then even Elizabeth Bennet, one of the greatest feminist heroines of all time, got on the muumuu bandwagon.
Dope people wear muumuus because muumuus are dope. They are garments made to resist the vagaries of this sublunary world. Muumuus don’t care about looking sexy, muumuus don’t care about high-powered business, muumuus don’t care about trends and the environmental fallout of fast fashion. Instead, in this go-go-go world, muumuus offer a reprieve. They offer rest. And as the feminist Marxist Kathi Weeks reminds us, resting bodies are revolutionary bodies.
Vive la muumuu libre!