In a game of free association the phrase “pyjamas in the daytime” is ultimately guaranteed to bring the response “Hugh Hefner” with, perhaps, the PJ-wearing artist Julian Schnabel a distant second. The Playboy supremo, who claims to have more than 100 pairs, has made them an emblematic symbol of a self-defined, louche lifestyle. Now, however, Hef can’t claim a monopoly because the pyjama look is gathering momentum as a trend.
Many of the resort collections currently hitting stores include tweaked versions of pyjamas – with a trimmed-down feminised fit, constructed in fluid silks – more appropriate for pairing with heels and a leather clutch than with bedroom slippers and a jar of night cream. This is not an excuse to roll out of bed and on to a brunch party without changing clothes but rather a way of importing some of the comfort of nightwear into the less forgiving light of day.
From Louis Vuitton’s blue leopard print silk pair to Marc by Marc Jacobs’ print pyjama trouser styles, Suno’s extra-fluid silk drawstring trousers, Lanvin’s plummy purple pair covered with a logo-and-cat print and Tommy Hilfiger’s foulard print silk PJ components, these designs are giving new meaning to day-to-evening wear. And the trend doesn’t appear to be a one-season wonder: for spring Stella McCartney and Etro (along with fast fashion brands such as Asos and Aritzia) are including pyjama-inspired looks as well.
“This is a reinvention of a cool way to wear trousers,” says Laura Larbalestier, the designer wear buyer for Selfridges, which is launching an exclusive line of day pyjamas by Osman Yousefzada next year. “It’s actually a new, modern silhouette. It’s a nice evolution: last year we saw people moving away from the dress. And it’s a new way of wearing prints, plus it’s super comfortable, so it ticks lots of boxes.”
“It’s about people leading a casual lifestyle and wanting more comfort,” observes Saks Fifth Avenue’s senior fashion director, Colleen Sherin. “This is just taking that to the extreme. And since these are by designers, they do feel more polished and luxurious.”
“The trend is also very wearable,” adds Larbalestier. “It’s not like a white miniskirt: a lot of people will look good in it. It isn’t tricky to wear – we’re not talking about halter dresses. A lot of people can look super cool in a pair of pyjama pants.”
While plenty of designers are integrating a PJ-inspired piece or two in their broader collections, some are structuring an entire line around the look. Piamita, a new New York-based brand that is carried in stores like Barneys and Net-a-Porter, is built around easy silk separates with pyjama-details reworked (with a narrower trouser leg, for example) to read more like daywear (tops $250, trousers $260).
“They need to fit well,” explains Karla Martinez, the brand’s co-founder. “Something that looks like you bought it in the intimates section of a department store just doesn’t feel right. You want to feel sophisticated and this way you can be in something comfortable that actually looks really good too.”
Given that classic pyjamas-for-bed are sold in sets, the least challenging way for most people to wear this look is to separate the pieces, pairing the top with an oversized blazer, for example, and print bottoms with a solid top and either flat sandals or a chunky heel.
“The key is that it has to look intentional,” says stylist Annabel Tollman. “If you’re going to wear just the pants, it’s simply easier to pull off. Wearing both halves at once is trickier.”
Indeed, the current popularity of pyjamas worn this way can be traced to Olatz Schnabel, who launched her pyjama collection more than a decade ago with her now ex-husband Julian as ambassador. After several years of throwing on just her PJ tops with jeans, Schnabel decided to add a piece to her line that was specifically designed to wear in public: a pyjama shirt with shrunken buttons, fewer pockets and a not-too-boxy fit ($465, silk PJs $750).
Now, as with most trends, the original luxe styles are beginning to trickle down to more affordable, mass versions but, says Larbalestier, “It’s important to invest, because these pieces need to be made out of really nice fabric to have the right silhouette. The cut has to be good and the prints need to be properly placed”.
“People like them because they’re playful and more fun than wearing a shirt,” says Schnabel, adding that the idea of wearing your PJs by day “appeals to very traditional people as well as very trendy people, everyone from fashion models to surfers to traditional businesswomen. It’s nice to wear those shirts underneath a suit in a neutral colour. It’s the antithesis of uptightness.”