No matter what you throw on before bed, it must be comfortable. Sometimes, the best clothes you have are Old Navy flannel pants and the same sleep shirt you’ve had in rotation since freshmen year of high school. Though for others, the drip doesn’t stop. From silky sets to drapey robes, the beauty sleep really looks like sleeping in beauty.
Being fashionable starts when you wake up, slip off your PJs, and pick out your outfit for the day. Right? Wrong.
Many fashionistas are starting to pay more attention to their sleepwear. From functional loungewear to lacy slips, there’s been a spotlight on sleep and comfy clothes in the past few years. The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 meant that people were spending more time at home and not always wanting to change into more traditional outfits for the virtual workday.
Enter brands like Skims, who have made a name for themselves in transforming the concept of at-home-wear from the typical oversized T-shirts and boxers to stylish, classy pieces that can also be worn outdoors. This trend fulfills a demand for the rising customer inclination towards comfort in everyday wear, while staying stylish.
Additionally, many fashionistas are also hopping onto the trend of wearing sleepwear as outerwear. ‘90s style slip dresses, matching silk sets, and kimono-style wrap dresses have all exploded in popularity in recent years.
So, what makes for the perfect pair of pajamas? While some might boil it down to just how they look or feel upon first impression, fabric choice and construction are just as important.
Sophomore and biology major Abigayle Guyer looks for quality first when buying a great pair of pajamas.
“Not all companies make their pajamas ethically or with safe materials,” Guyer said. “I usually try to find good materials like bamboo or silk.”
Bamboo textiles have been taking the sleepwear industry by storm ever since they emerged on the scene in the early 2000s. Bamboo’s light, breathable fibers are perfect for sleepwear for many reasons. It’s soft as silk, while also providing top-notch insulation, keeping wearers cooler in the summer and warmer during the colder months. Lastly, it’s the most eco-friendly fabric in the world, because of how renewable bamboo plants are, and because it’s 100 percent biodegradable.
Linen is another fabric that is well suited to sleepwear. Like bamboo, linen is known for its breathability and ability to keep its wearer cool in warm weather. It’s a light fabric, yet it’s two times more durable than cotton, which can make linen pajamas a great investment despite their cost. Additionally, linen pants or button-down shirts can often double as beach coverups or casual staples that can be paired with a variety of other items.
So, these quality materials are great, but aren’t exactly the cheapest. Plus, it’s just sleepwear – why should we care so much about the clothes we’re wearing when no one can even see us?
“For one, safe, good materials are so much better for your skin,” said Guyer. “We spend much of our day being exposed to different chemicals.”
It’s true that wearing cheaper materials can have detrimental effects on skin health. For example, according to a 2015 study done at Stockholm University, polyester, which makes up an estimated 60 percent of clothing worldwide, can contain thousands of harmful chemicals. Sleep is the period of the day when our skin is the most sensitive, so it’s important to be mindful of the types of materials we’re exposing it to.
Though natural fabrics like silk, linen and bamboo come with a heftier price tag, they’re more durable, healthier and have more eco-friendly production methods than synthetic fabrics.
Aesthetic-wise, Guyer loves the look of a matching set.
“I like finding a PJ set that is cute and put-together,” Guyer said. “Simple, classic, with no crazy designs or anything.”
Sophomore Morgan Vickaryous, who has launched a small self-owned sewing business, loves creating feminine, dainty slip dresses for pajamas. The first sleepwear piece that she created was a satin dress that she thrifted and then reworked more to her liking.
“I was inspired by silky slip dresses that I would see in old movies,” Vickaryous said.
Much of modern sleepwear remains inspired by vintage pieces. Classic films like “Rear Window” with Grace Kelly’s gauzy robe and satiny blush-toned nightgown have influenced pajama trends for decades now. Lingerie brands like Intimissimi and Cosabella, for example, are massive producers of daintier, sexier sleepwear pieces.
But again, why does it really matter what our sleepwear looks like? Shouldn’t it just be functional and comfortable? According to Vickaryous, there’s more to it than that.
“They portray a delicate, feminine vibe, and show close attention to detail even in an item that all you do is sleep in,” Vickaryous said. “It’s a sort of luxury for women in that they get to do it for themselves and no one else.”
Take Your Pajamas To The Street
- Dress your satin nightgown up and throw on an oversized blazer, jewelry, and strappy heels. For more effect, wear a slicked back ponytail or bun to juxtapose the informal quality of the nightgown.
- Wear your PJ pants with a swimsuit top for the perfect laid-back beach look. A relaxed, flowy pant will go perfectly overtop a one piece or paired with a bikini top and makes for a perfect outfit for a beach-side lunch or a boardwalk bike ride.
- Style a button-down pajama top with tailored pants. Again, contrast is key. A silky long-sleeve button-down pairs perfectly with fitted slacks and heels. This is the perfect outfit for an elevated cocktail-party or dinner look.
- Elevate a satin cami top by pairing it with jewelry, a chic hairstyle, and cute bottoms. Silky tops juxtapose denim particularly well, so try pairing your tank with straight jeans, nice sandals, and a matching bag.
- A button-down that doubles as a dress: This variation is another stylish way to formalize a sleepwear piece. Take a longer-button down (it should reach at least your upper thigh) and cinch it at the waist with your belt of choice. Pull and adjust the fabric to your liking for a tailored look, or leave a few buttons undone for a more casual feel.
words_virginia suardi. design_adriana león. photo_valeria barbaglio.
This article was published in Distraction’s Summer 2023 print issue.