Once, when I was between husbands, I asked a man I was dating what had caused the end of his marriage. “She wore pyjamas,” he replied.
I’ve always been inclined to agree that worn in bed they are something of a contraceptive; simple chastity-belt mechanics. But out of the bedroom, pyjamas can do a lot for a girl. Silk pyjamas that is, not the brushed cotton kind, which should be burned in a ritual bonfire. I’ll light it.
Those of us who embraced the childhood joy of Saturday afternoon black and white movies (if only they would bring them back…) will have fond memories of glamorous women lounging around fabulous 1930s apartments in man-style silk PJs.
If it was good enough for Coco…
The trend was started by Coco Chanel, who didn’t restrict her pyjamarama to evenings at home. She also wore them out and about with a chap’s cardigan shrugged over the top, as gloriously recreated on Audrey Tautou in that silly film, Coco before Chanel.
This pyjama style came roaring back this summer, with one of my current style crushes, French actress Elisa Sednaoui, rocking them up for a chic fashion party with a sequinned jacket and heels. Such a good look.
The über-goddess of my style heart, Sofia Coppola, went so far as to design a pair for her pal Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, with matching flat slippers. She also wore them with a boyfriend cardigan. Cool beyond ice. I can’t believe I’m not her.
Anyway, this classic pyjama styling suddenly looks all kind of right and I’m very keen to get back to it. I just wish I hadn’t long chucked out the vintage black silk with white piping pyjama jacket I spent most of the early 1980s in.
For years it was the always oddly right go-to garment, when I needed to throw together a chic but quirky look. But then I grew up and put aside such childish things. Dammit.
Where to buy
Double dammit, because although the pyjama trend roared through the fashion show audiences and style blogs this summer, retailers were caught by surprise. There are hardly any classic silk PJs out there to buy.
There are nasty cheap ones on dodgy websites and terrifyingly expensive men’s ones on Jermyn Street (a crisp £499 at Derek Rose), but not much in between.
Online pyjama specialist Olivia von Halle does very beautiful ones tailored in China, with many leg lengths according to height, which is brilliant. They’re top quality, and I only hope she branches out into revere collars soon.
Yes, reveres, plus silk and piping. They’re my essentials. Plus, I would really like mine to be in a print; in other words, as much like Sofia Coppola’s as possible.
The nearest I have found is the Equipment pair on Net-a-Porter, which has – as always – the best range I’ve found in one place. There are some gorgeous plain-coloured ones on there too.
Style blogger Suzy Bubble nailed the look by mixing up her boyfriend’s silk shirt and pants from Topman. Read her excellent post.
Annoyingly, that range no longer seems to be available, so I’ll be beady eyed in vintage shops looking for some old ones, until the chain stores plug this monster gap in the market. They’re mad if they don’t.
Printed pyjama pants
Meanwhile, the best bet are the printed pyjama pants widely available. Whistles and Zara have the best I’ve seen. Some of them come with matching tops (not pyjama jackets) but I would rather mix them up. It would be a big slouchy cashmere jumper, or cardie, some long strings of pearls and velvet slippers for house-party lounging. Or for evening, with a grey marle T-shirt, gold chains, high heels and my tux jacket.
I might not be quite brave enough to wear them outside during the day yet, but if I did it would be with a T-shirt the same colour as a tailored jacket, a big scarf, my brogues and lots of boho bangles.
And, by the way, all the rules for pyjamas on men are the opposite. They should be crisp cotton, matching, worn only in the house and without the jacket for shaving.