Because at this point, no one should worry about how they look while socializing
This post originally appeared in the February 8, 2021 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move.
Has this ever happened to you? You roll up to dine outside, or maybe just to picnic with friends in a big park, with one of your fashionable socializing blankets, but when it comes time to grab your drink or start eating the blanket slides off your chest, leaving your arms exposed and bringing the top half of your body back to the chill. Or you drape it around your shoulders instead, but now your lap is cold. Blankets are okay, but they can slip and slide. What you need is to embrace the Snuggie.
The Snuggie, or Slanket, or whatever we can legally call it, is a blanket with sleeves, and has been roundly mocked precisely because of that. After all, what about a blanket needs improving? Why wouldn’t you just wear a sweatshirt? Almost a decade ago, my step-siblings bought a pair for me and my partner as a joke. They came in boxes adorned with “As Seen On TV!” decals and featuring a blonde woman lounging on a couch, effortlessly using a remote control while remaining covered up. And now the joke’s on them, because this is exactly what the times call for.
Frankly, blankets are difficult to use if you’re trying to use them for outdoor dining. You need access to your arms to eat, and a blanket will either slide off your back or down into your lap when you reach for a fork. Since socializing in winter now requires us to endure frigid temperatures, at least in many parts of the country, a layer that won’t stay put just won’t do. But for all the suggestions of personal saunas, snowsuits, and heated vests, Snuggies haven’t experienced the resurgence I expected.
I imagine some of the resistance to Snuggies has been because they are profoundly unfashionable. They are most famously made from bright blue fleece, or, in the company’s new “sherpa” line, baby blue and lilac, and they seem pretty flammable. People are still clinging to the idea that they must “look good” when dining out, even if it means shivering while taking a bite of your lasagna that went cold 30 seconds after it was served to you.
I long ago gave up being fashionable in the winter. My poor circulation was not built for sleek coats and single layers, so I have no shame wearing a Snuggie in the park while I picnic with friends. And at this point, no one should have to worry about how they look when socializing. We’re in a collective mental health crisis, with isolation wreaking havoc and Zoom happy hours not solving anything. As a species, we need to see and talk to people — distanced and masked, sure, but still in person.
The last time I saw a friend in person, for a long walk by the river, I returned home buzzing as if I had been to a party with a hundred people. Getting sandwiches in a backyard with my brother-in-law recently felt like a wedding. And while a Snuggie won’t work on a walk, and it was an unseasonably warm day for sandwiches, I plan on bringing it next time I’m sitting in a park with a thermos full of hot toddy. Both my warmth and my mental health are practical matters, and they require practical planning. And a Snuggie, while hideous, is the most practical outfit there is.
Outdoor restaurant dining may still be too risky with new virus variants, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get takeout, go to the park, and see people. Leave fashion at the door. Be comforted: Bring a Snuggie.