Pajamas, PJs, jams, jammies—whatever you call them: you have undoubtedly worn them your whole life, but did you ever think of how the clothing that makes it SO hard to get out of bed in the morning came to be? While not as innovative as the introduction of denim or zippers in the fashion world, pajamas provide an interesting story. The word “pajama” comes from the Hindi word “Paejama,” meaning leg covering. Today, pajamas are much more than a garment used to cover ones’ legs, and play a vastly different role than they did One or Two-Hundred years ago. In fact, since the first pair were worn, pajamas have undergone some serious transformations, both aesthetically, and in practical use and value.
Before the 1800s, most people did not have clothing specifically for sleeping, instead sleeping in clothes worn during the day or various undergarments. During this time, financial and practical reasons stood in the way and additional clothing for sleeping was hardly given a thought. Despite being worn much earlier in the East, it wasn’t until British colonists adopted the style in the latter half of the 19th Century, that Pajamas, as we know them today, began to develop.
As the 20th Century began, wool and silk pajamas replaced casual sleep attire for men, and women followed suit shortly after. Despite being designed as nightwear, pajamas were often used for a variety of purposes. For men, pajamas were as well suited for hosting a dinner party as they were for slipping into bed after a long day. Men would wear pajamas as lounge coats, covering nicer clothes and preserving their quality. Many men had a shorter robe for during the day, and a longer one for nighttime. While these types of robes were designed for comfort, they were thought of as elegant and regal, a far cry from our definition of pajamas today. Following this trend, women frequently wore pajamas for more than half the day, changing only to make public appearances. Like many clothing options thought of as dignified, pajamas were most common among the wealthy, as they could both formalwear worth preserving, and the extra piece of clothing.
It wasn’t until the 1920s when Coco Chanel burst onto the scene, that our modern concept of wearing pajamas began to come together. By introducing wider legs, and more fashionable styles, Chanel made it acceptable for Women to make public appearances in their comfy clothes. Coco’s innovation allowed pajamas to be worn to the beach, shopping centers, restaurants, and of course, to sleep. Moving forward to the 30s and beyond, Women’s PJ’s became increasingly geared towards comfort. Around this time, Men’s styles shifted to focus on cotton, flannel and linen, which remain among the most popular materials today. Like the rest of the fashion world, designers came and went, each offering a different perspective on Pajamas. One of the more significant trends in pajamas was brought about by Princess Irene Galitzine, who introduced to the world “Palazzo” style pants. Like Chanel’s innovative style, Palazzo Pajamas were cut wide through the leg, and served as the perfect piece of comfort clothing for heading out in public. Today, the style first made famous by Galitzine in the 60s is making a comeback, and becoming increasingly more fashionable for events such as music festivals, days at the beach and even daily wear.
When Pajamas were first introduced to the Western World, they served an entirely different purpose than they do today. Now, people tend to think of Pajamas as anything worn at night, whether it be matching pants and sleepshirts, or sweatpants and an old t-shirt. People from the early 20th Century considered pajamas loungewear, and relied on them to protect formalwear and provide an essence of elegance. As Pajamas have developed, they have reflected social and fashion trends. Over time, materials like Organic Cotton, Bamboo Viscose and other fabrics have been developed to create more affordable and eco-friendly clothing. Like always, and just as we see with Palazzo pants, fashion will continue to repeat itself, and at TexereSilk, we cannot wait to see what the next big trend in pajamas will be.
Conway, Susannah. “Fashion: The History of... Pyjamas - Lounge Back in Langour.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 22 Oct. 2011, www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion-the-history-of-pyjamas-lounge-back-in-langour-1075932.html.
Parkinson, Justin. “When Pyjamas Ruled the Fashion World.” BBC News, BBC, 31 Jan. 2016, www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35427892.
Talarico, Donna. “Changing Your Pajamas: The Evolution of 7 Sleepwear Trends.” Mental Floss, 8 Mar. 2016, mentalfloss.com/article/75603/changing-your-pajamas-evolution-7-sleepwear-trends.