When a woman walking towards me exclaimed, “You’ve got to be kidding,” I immediately went to explain that, yes, I knew I was wearing pyjamas and, no, I hadn’t escaped from a mental-health clinic. But before I could, I saw her ear-pods and realised she was on the phone – probably discussing The Bachelor finale – and hadn’t even noticed my uber-casual outfit.
Pyjama dressing isn’t new: Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel popularised it in the early 1920s, Vogue’s Grace Coddington wore Michael Kors jammies to the Met Gala in 2015 and the street-style set have been wearing the look at fashion weeks since the dawn of Instagram – but the pandemic has taken sleepwear to whole new levels. Now we have nap dresses, bathleisure and party PJs. “Nightwear” sales are up by a wild 1000 per cent this year. After three months at home changing from my day pyjamas to my night pyjamas, stepping back out into the real world – wearing a bra – was a real shock. So I jumped at the chance to wear PJs for a week.
Easing into it, I started the challenge in a St Agni silk set paired with Mara & Mine slippers, then worked my way up to the Sleeper party pyjamas with the feathered cuffs, which I wore to my most stylish friend’s birthday.
“You’re not seriously wearing that?” my boyfriend said as I walked out the door. He stayed a safe four paces behind me on our way to dinner and refused to sit next to me on the bus. At the restaurant, my most stylish friend fawned over my feathers, and I gave my boyfriend a “sucked in” side eye. By the second glass of wine, I’d forgotten all about my risqué wardrobe choice. By the third, I was busting for a piss so I rushed to the ladies room where a stranger (who’d also had at least three wines) asked me where I got my cool outfit from.
I was triumphant at breakfast the next morning – and my boyfriend didn’t dare comment on the cotton Penney and Bennet loungewear set I wore to our local cafe. Changing into a silky Ginia dress for our Sunday date night later that evening, I thought I heard him mumble, “Is that a nightie?”
Apart from a few moments of self-consciousness, my week of pyjama dressing was the most comfortable seven days of my life. Not having to squeeze into a pair of jeans (or unbutton said jeans at my desk after lunch) was a freeing experience. Drawstrings are the future. You heard it here first.
My favourite reactions to my sleepwear-as-outerwear experiment include an old lady on the street who looked me up and down and said, “What are they? Pyjamas?”; the man who ran out of a shop to take photos of me, no doubt to message his kids saying, “What’s up with your generation?”; and my editor, who upon realising I was writing a fashion-challenge story, said, “Oh, I thought you were having a mid-mid-life crisis.”
At the week’s end, I was excited to slip out of my outside pyjamas and into my old Qantas PJs with the barbeque- sauce stain down the front. I slept peacefully that night and didn’t dream about Kelvin Coyle from high school shouting at me across the oval, “See ya later, Yogi Bear.” Challenge: complete.
This story originally appeared in the December issue of marie claire.