Fashion, Licentiate Columns

Licentiate Column 19/01/12: Pajama Girls

Fashion is a reflection of the times we live in. Hemlines go up and down with the stock market, colours go from bright to sombre depending on the national mood. And nothing, nothing could be more proof that the world will end in 2012 than the newest trend to hit the streets running.


Not lounge pajamas. Not bedtime pajamas. Not even, ‘teenage girls and exhausted young mothers go to Tesco in their pajamas’ pajamas. We’re talking about pub pajamas. Business meeting pajamas. Perhaps in the not too distant future, wedding pajamas.

In the earlier part of the twentieth century, owning a pair of swanky pajamas denoted a leisure class. Too rich to don business suits to work, a moneyed woman would often entertain in a pair of wide-legged silk slip-on trousers and matching jacket, often with heels and copious amounts of jewellery.

Pajamas became the casual clothes of the Hollywood elite, with stars such as Ida Lupino pictured in publicity photographs, resplendent in pajamas, gold slippers, turban and intimidatingly long cigarette holder. Pajamas became a frippery to covet for the adoring fans, like a domesticated pet leopard or a mink-lined silver Bentley. It was just so ostentatious, the idea of day pajamas, that a simple item became a total luxury.

A trend will be resurrected every few years by designers, but this is the first time in several decades that it has trickled down to the high street. Not since the dreaded 70’s leisure suit has the high street seen such an influx of patterned trousers and shirts in slouchy cuts and super-comfortable jersey and airy silks.

River Island, Topshop and even Penneys will be introducing pajama-style suits in the coming months. To cement the pajama as a definite craze for spring, e-tailing giant ASOS are marketing them as a top trend, with cut-out collages and flashy graphics of willowy models in clothes that are more sleepy than sexy.

I love it. As the kind of person who routinely pops to the shops in, um, shall we say off-centre outfits, it would be extremely hypocritical of me not to.

I’m not for a second suggesting that anyone needs to dust off their brushed cotton Rainbow Brite PJs for a night on the tiles (although if you tried it, I wouldn’t stop you).

Wearing pajamas in public is generally taken to be a sign of laziness, of an unwillingness to take care of oneself and definite rebelliousness. A person who proudly wears pajamas will not care one jot about what other people think of them. The pajama trend is not as complicated.

Think of a normal women’s trouser suit. Tailored, possibly even a little bit boring. Now, loosen it up a smidge (only a smidge, mind), get rid of all zips. Make it in a comfortable fabric and add a pretty pattern. Spots, stripes, florals – anything goes. That’s the pajama trend. It’s a suit, but not as we know it.

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