Jim jams, PJs, comfies, whatever you want to call them, are enjoying an unaccustomed moment in the style spotlight.
To clarify – that’s pyjamas, not pyjama dressing, the outfits that fashion bloggers such as Susie Lau and models like Caroline de Maigret wear with lots of print, and artfully just-got-out-of-bed hair, or the satin ones Sofia Coppola wore as Marc Jacobs’s guest at the Met Ball last year. I’m talking about what you actually you wear in bed. You know, the kind of clothes you wear purely for comfort, the ones not really meant for public consumption.
In the latest issue of Vogue, Kate Moss reveals the place she feels most at home, a Belgravia pile where, sometimes, she hangs out, and “doesn’t even change out of her pyjamas”. While the magazine stops short of picturing Moss in said jim jams, she is shown lounging on a sofa with a teddy bear. This intimate at-home mood has become a thing at the moment. Fashion interior blogs like The Selby allow us to nose around fashion insiders’ homes, and “I Woke Up Like This” selfies take us into bed with celebrities. Those closed doors are wide open, and where you live, even where you sleep, is no longer a private affair. In short, that treasured, grey and drooping T-shirt is no longer allowed.
The Sleep Shirt, launched in August this year, could be its replacement – it was specifically designed as stylish nightwear. Created by Canadian Central St Martins graduate Alexandra Suhner Isenberg, and based on a nightshirt she found in Spitalfields, it has all the borrowed-from-the-boys cool that attracts fashion insiders like a new superfood. “I like that it isn’t a sexy negligee and it isn’t a gross old T-shirt,” says Isenberg. “Think about how much you wear these clothes. It’s worth having something nice.”
Isenberg says that the launch of her label happily chimed with a mood in the zeitgeist – the combination of pyjama dressing on street-style blogs, a boyfriend silhouette in fashion and the likes of Netflix keeping us on the sofa a lot more. Cosy clothes are more relevant to how we live now. “People are embracing lifestyle a lot more,” she says. “They care about their home so they want clothes to go with that. It’s nice to be lazy about fashion for once.”
Those within the industry are being very active about this lazy fashion – seeing a gap in the market, with supermodels wearing nightwear on the Louis Vuitton catwalk in 2013, and the growth of brands such as Equipment, who provide street-style types with all manner of silky pyjama-style shirts. Asos has launched a full range of nightwear for the first time this season, and the traditional pyjama sets are already popular. Shopbop.com, the American-based e-tailer, has a new pyjama shop, designed for customers to gift PJs at Christmas and beyond. “It’s my job to bring zeitgeisty things to the site,” says fashion director, Elle Strauss. “The Shopbop customer is shopping for herself as well as her friends. Pyjamas are universal. It’s not so intimate as lingerie but a nice gift all the same.”
While Olivia Von Halle’s satin styles provide an old-school Hollywood option, the coolest pyjamas now are chaste: crisp cotton, striped or checked – clothes that have a comfy traditionalism. Think Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday in 1953. “It’s about Sunday dressing,” adds Strauss. “There’s a cleaner approach to what we wear on the street and that has translated to behind closed doors.” Margaret Howell and J Crew are both good for this look – or Asos and Topshop on the high street.
Poplin, a pyjama line launched by Lucy Archibald in 2012, was based on “the sort of classic men’s pyjamas you find in Jermyn Street, but I wanted them to be cut for a woman”. The traditional nature of these designs is played up in the names of the styles – they’re called things like the Audrey, the Bardot and (my favourite) the Mitford. The Bardot – a simple white pair with black piping – is a bestseller of Avenue 32, a website where pyjamas’ newly acquired status as a cool purchase was cemented last month. A collaboration between the site, Poplin and Shrimps, the brand that brought the fun of bubblegum-coloured faux fur to fashion, produced crisp white PJs covered in, yup, a very jaunty shrimp print. Not exactly the kind of thing you’ll find in the nightwear bit of Marks & Sparks. Instead, they had that kind of easy irreverence that’s totes 2014.
Because, of course, it’s a bit of a fashion fib to say you’ll only wear fashion pyjamas post-Christmas dinner food slump, posing for a #nevereatingagain selfie in front of It’s a Wonderful Life. Fashion can’t resist cheating and showing them off IRL too. Your pyjamas should ideally have the potential to wear to bed, and beyond. “This is a medium between what we wear inside and outside,” says Isenberg on the Sleep Shirt. “You can wear it to brunch the next day.” Clothes for day and night, work and play, that’s our kind of trend – one where you don’t actually have to get dressed at all. Winter 2014 is looking very cosy indeed.
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