What China did yesterday, the world seems to be doing today. And this is one pajama party which doesn’t look as if it’s ending in a hurry. We don’t know whether the trend will turn mainstream in India, but it has definitely found takers in fashion circles here and abroad. Like most looks, it started out on edgy designer runways as a resort wear option. In its 2012 resort collection, Louis Vuitton gave model Arizona Muse a Coco Chanel look, but traded the immortal mademoiselle’s tweed and ivory silk for “dayjamas” with blue leopard spots and a fuddy-duddy cardigan. The old menswear classic was accessorised with a matchy-matchy helmet and Prince Albert slippers.
Director Sofia Coppola, best friend of LV designer Marc Jacobs and reportedly the mastermind behind the look, was photographed in southern Italy in the jammies, and voila, the pajama party began in earnest. Stella McCartney made her models do a pajama parade for her show, and clearly liked the look so much that she wore paisley-print pyjamas to the launch of the Team Great Britain kit that she’s designed, alongside Adidas, for the Olympics. Singer Rihanna was another early adopter of the PJ look, patronising both McCartney’s and Pucci’s creations.
When did men’s nightwear become high-end fashion wear for women, you may ask. You may think the answer is ‘last year’ but the trend really began back in 1929 when American costume designer Adrian Greenberg dressed Greta Garbo in striped pajamas in 1929’s The Single Standard. In one shot, pajamas became acceptable as formal wear and climbed up the sophisticate’s must-have list. In the 1930s, Vogue wrote: “A woman may and does wear pyjamas to formal dinners in her own house, to other people’s dinners in town and country if you know them well, and the more iconoclastic members of the female sex even wear them to the theatre.” Pajamas as formal wear experienced a brief revival in the ’60s but then, suddenly, they were gone — at least from the fashionista’s closet. But, as everyone knows, fashion — like the economy — is cyclical. Loose, printed silk pajamas and shirts with matching piping started showing up on runways last year. Given the non-fitted look and the bedroomy feel, it didn’t seem like a trend that would take off. But now that floral pants and striped pajamas are filling up the shelves of high street stores, even sceptics have to admit that the trend seems here to stay. There are many spins on the look: H&M, for one, has tied up with Marni to introduce pajama shorts, Topshop is selling ‘printed pajama trousers’ while Zara and Mango have hangers full of wide-legged pants and tops in stripes and florals.
Interestingly, it seems to be an age-blind offering, as popular with 40-somethings as with 20-year-olds. The truth is it works only with the slim-hipped. Also, how you wear it is key. Coppola may have got away with wearing the entire set but, unless you’re an award-winning director, it’s best to start out wearing the pieces as separates. Pair PJ tops with skinny black trousers or a pencil skirt for a non-bedroom look. Experts suggest choosing pajamas in a silky material to give it a dressy vibe; accessorise with high heels and a tailored jacket. If you must wear the entire set, stay away from sneakers and put on strappy flats if you’re tall, and statement stilettos if you’re not. The top should sit just below the trouserline, or be tucked in. Top up with stacks of bangles or one eye-popping necklace.