10 highlights from the history of pyjamas
What do you wear to bed? Whether it’s a worn old T-shirt, a silky nightie, a pair of boxers or absolutely nothing, you’ve probably had more opportunity than ever before to chill in your sleepwear during 2020. But where did the idea of having special “bed clothes” come from?
Apparently, the idea of pyjamas originated in Persia. In the 18th century, Europeans visiting Persia noticed that people there wore “paejamas” (meaning “leg garment”), which were pants tied at the waist, paired with a tunic and worn by men and women alike. Intrigued, the Europeans took them home, sparking the beginning of a pyjama craze. And we’ve never got over our love of PJs since.
Here are 10 moments from our enduring love affair with sleepwear:
- Grace Kelly was the portrait of sweetness as high society fashion consultant Lisa Fremont who helped her boyfriend (Jimmy Stewart) while he recovered from a broken leg in the film Rear Window in 1954. But audiences gasped when she opened a tiny leather case and drew out a silky negligee, ready to spend the night with her beau.
- Doris Day starred in The Pajama Game, the musical film version of the hit Broadway musical, in 1957. The movie poster featured her wearing a short, pajama top adorned with red hearts. The story was set in an Iowa pajama factory where Day (an employee) fell in love with an executive.
- Barbra Streisand attended the Oscars in 1969 wearing sheer sequined bell-bottom pajamas designed by Arnold Scaasi. The look went down like a lead balloon, securing her a place on the worst-dressed list for the evening. She later claimed later that she had no idea they were so transparent.
- On 24 February, 1992, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain married Courtney Love on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. He famously wore green PJs, which he later said was because he had been “too lazy to put on a tux.”
- Also in 1992, the famed children’s TV show, Bananas in Pyjamas, premiered (and we’ve all had an earworm of its theme song ever since!). The banana twins wore matching blue and white striped pyjamas.
- In 23 Going on 30, released in 2004, Jennifer Garner (playing Jenna Rink, who goes to sleep aged 13 and wakes up aged 30) pulled off a pink satin lingerie slip so well as her newly older self that she wore it to the office with a trench coat and heeled sandals.
- In 2008, Sarah Jessica Parker cemented her role as fashion icon reprising the part of Carrie Bradshaw for Sex in the City: the Movie. In one memorable scene, she wore only a purple silk tank and a strand of pearls as she read Love Letters of Great Men to Big in bed.
- In 2012, Taylor Swift inspired fans to hunt down the colorful squirrel pajamas that she wore in the music video for her hit song, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”.
- In September 2014, a world record for the largest pyjama party was set in Cheshire, UK. An amazing 2,004 people took part in setting the record. The record for the largest gathering of people wearing one-piece pyjamas was set just under a year later in Shantou, Guangdong, China, with a total of 1,879 attending.
- In September 2018, US magazine proclaimed sleepwear as the new streetwear (as has happened in the 1930s and 1960s previously), as demonstrated by celebrities like Rhianna, Selena Gomez, Kate Moss and Sarah Jessica Parker stepping out in their jammies.
For more fun sleep facts and expert sleep advice, visit our Sleep Blog.