Doing it all in your PJs

For decades, all that the pajama manufacturers of the world could do was watch as their market seemed to gradually disappear.

Some of the earliest alarm bells were sounded in 1949, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (?) reported that one-half of American men no longer wore pajamas to bed, a change attributed to returning World War II veterans who had gotten used to going without.

Despite the protests of the U.S. Shirt and Pajama Association, whose spokesman was quoted in a United Press report saying that a pajama-wearer is “much more of a gentleman”, pajama sales generally continued to decline over the years (aside from a spike in the Fifties), being worn by only one-in-four at the end of the 20th century.

Then, as the 21st century got under way, everything old became new again. The same mysterious cultural forces that bestowed upon the world the plaid suits of the Seventies and “the grunge look” of the Nineties suddenly made pajamas fashionable again.

Not necessarily for sleeping in, but for going about all your daily business in — a look supposedly inspired by college students who had mastered the art of rolling out of bed and into class 15 minutes later.

This style found no shortage of takers across North America, where expanding waistlines make elastic, or at least easily adjustable, pajama waistbands handy for both comfort and for not having to buy larger clothes more often.

Pajamas are also a good fit — no pun intended — in Winnipeg, where comfort comes first. In fact, the ability to live life in your pajamas is the newest marketing angle for selling condos in downtown Winnipeg, as the CBC reports:

A new highrise structure is in the works for downtown Winnipeg but most of the details are still under wraps.

Jawad Rathore, president and CEO of Fortress Real Development, said more details will be released soon but he’s not yet prepared to say what the building will look like or even where it will be located.

“I would love to … I know everyone wants those details,” he said. “We’re making a big announcement in about three weeks.” 

All he would say is it will be a mixed-use concept, which means people can live in one building, work in an adjacent building and have retails services at the base. And one thing that is certain, there will be a grocery store, Rathore said.

“If you need groceries you can actually go grocery shopping in your pajamas and your flip-flops in the middle of winter just by walking out the door and heading right down,” he said.

“And people kind of get this goofy, giggly smile on their face that yeah, you can actually do that.”

Having more people living downtown is a good thing; no doubt about that.

We do live in a city, however, that struggles with the diametrical opposite of being vain — that is, with being blissfully unconcerned with how the place looks.

Pride in civic appearance starts with pride in citizen appearance. If the latter doesn’t matter, neither will the former.

Around the world, businesses and governments have started to take firmer stances against the pajamas-in-public craze.

In 2010, a Tesco supermarket in Cardiff, Wales stirred up its pajama-wearing clientèle when management instituted a no-nightwear and no-bare-feet rule for customers, and turned away a 24-year old pajama-clad woman who wanted to buy cigarettes.

“I think it’s stupid really not being allowed in the supermarket with pyjamas on,” Elaine Carmody told the BBC. “So they’re going to lose their custom, with people going to other shops to buy stuff and they’re allowed in with their pyjamas on.”

A protest was soon organized on Facebook, in which half a dozen people “shopped while dressed in their finest nightwear”, Wales Online reported.

The concept of going about one’s daily business in pajamas has met resistance elsewhere, too. In Belfast, Northern Ireland, the head teacher at one school sent home a blunt note, accusing parents who drop off and pick up children while they themselves are clad in pajamas of being “disrespectful to the school and a bad example“.

Chinese officials have begun ‘discouraging’ citizens from wearing pajamas in public, as a New York Times op-ed reported from Shanghai in 2010:

Catchy red signs reading “Pajamas don’t go out of the door; be a civilized resident for the Expo” are posted throughout the city. Volunteer “pajama policemen” patrol the neighborhoods, telling pajama wearers to go home and change. Celebrities and socialites appear on TV to promote the idea that sleepwear in public is “backward” and “uncivilized.”

[ . . . ]

Two journalists from Hong Kong’s Weekend Weekly magazine have already challenged [the pajama ban]. They marched in their silk pajamas along Nanjing Road, a major shopping area in central Shanghai, and sat down in a restaurant. They met only one pajama-wearing comrade, and many people made fun of them (maybe because on a rainy day they were wearing silk jammies rather than the quilted or heavy flannel styles normally worn in cool weather). It wasn’t what they expected in Shanghai.

Most draconian of all: In Louisiana, a local politician has been trying without success to ban the wearing of pajamas in public. Having made little headway, the politician turned his proposed law into a mere resolution that would encourage businesses to turn away pajama-clad customers.

Such a ban has been rejected in Gisborne, New Zealand, where the New Zealand Herald reports that a minority of residents’ habits “shows a lack of self-respect and lowers the town’s appeal.”


About theviewfromseven
A lone wolf and a bit of a contrarian who sometimes has something to share.

One Response to Doing it all in your PJs

  1. Yer Pal says:

    Only Hef can pull that look off.

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