If you think you’ve read a lot about sleepwear lately - or witnessed brands on your feed revealing their designs and vision for an intimates or sleepwear line - it’s because the research is steadily flowing in on the rise of sleepwear popularity, and has been for some time now. It’s what I’m calling the ‘post-pandemic effect.’
To risk making the most obvious statement ever, these past two years have changed the trajectory of every industry and trend. And just one of the many things set in motion by this is our consumption of sleepwear and loungewear. I’ll claim, among many others writing about fashion, that this is due to the year we were all locked in our homes with Zoom calls that only shot us waist-up. We could don silk jammies every day of the week. It’s no surprise that sleepwear is now street-wear-worthy. I’ve always loved a flowing robe that a ‘50s feminist housewife, who is planning her divorce, taking back her freedom, spraying Dior and making a cocktail at 3:00 PM, would wear. Would I wear it out to grab coffee with friends before this pandemic? Probably not. Would I wear a sleek matching set and flowing robe now? Yes!
Image: Vanity Fair
Size-of-market forecasts for post-pandemic consumerism show the sales of sleep and loungewear will only continue to grow - regardless of the fact some of us have returned to the office. That research names a specific analytic of 9% CAGR growth by 2024 (WGSN). But I was confused by this metric. I don’t know about you - but I’m tired of being “cozy.” I want to go out and actually do something! So how is this market growing? Maybe because it’s not about the feeling of comfort and indoor, at-home coziness that’s driving these sales - it’s the acceptance of wearing these styles regardless of if you’re out on busy city streets or attending a dinner party. The trends are changing, people. We’re emerging in 2022 with a new set of fashion rules, or rather, the loosening of these rules.
Take it from a Vogue icon, you can trust matching silk pajama sets on the red carpet as much as you can at home. Grace Coddington, model and former creative director at large of American Vogue, knows quite possibly everything there is to know about imagery. So I’d say her word on fashion is pretty much gold. She wore the above pictured silk pajama set that turned heads to the 2015 Met Gala. The magazines the morning after called it a “bold maneuver, a statement about nonconformism, the parameters of formal dress code, personal agency, and artistic expression,” (Glamour 2015). Strong words for wearing pajamas - but in this author's defence, it’s arguably the fanciest and most luxurious carpet in the world; so it was certainly a statement to show up in a traditionally after-dark ensemble. It just goes to show that fashion is meant to be adapted with confidence, and if you do wear it with strength, it just might swing a trend into favor with the high fashion gods (the writers of Vogue and Glamour, for instance).
Image: The Hollywood Reporter
Coddington has since continued her love for the comfy cozy, opening her capsule collection with Louis Vuitton in 2018 in New York's Meatpacking District. Titled “Catogram”, the capsule featured bags and silk pajama sets based on Coddington’s illustrations of her beloved Persian feline friends from her 2006 book “The Catwalk Cats.” If that's not a sign that pajamas belong on runways, I don't know what is.
The Match Effect
Image: Vanity Fair
I think we love a good silk set because we're goners for anything matching. In fact, they're taking over this spring and summer season across the board, and pajamas, traditionally, adhere to that pattern. Style them with a solid color or a vaguely patterned trench coat over top - or go the full mile and pull on an equally leisurely robe (more on that later).
Image: The Avenue Magazine
The Loungewear Crossover
With the rise of loungewear and sleepwear consumerism comes the blurring of the lines between them. We’ve gotten a taste for daily comfort, no way are we throwing that out because we have to return to the office! Leggings, second-skins, and athleisure are not restricted to barre studios, baby. My cropped sports bra is available in spring florals so I’m going to pair it with a high waisted silk trouser that is arguably pajama-like. It doesn’t matter - I look fabulous and I feel even better. Brands that haven’t begun exploring ways to cross high fashion with athleisure are far, far behind. Take the pajama-inspired loose suit, for example...
The Looser Silhouette
The oversized blazer and wide-leg trousers are a hit this spring season, and it's nothing new. It was everywhere a year ago, this year defined by elements of ‘70s flared legs and and the ‘90s “boyfriend fit.” Pictured above is a button-up from a March 2020 (throwback) Vogue article encouraging us to embrace pajamas in fashion. If they only knew how much we would. Buttoned-up is only a suggestion when it comes to pairing trousers, mini skirts or jeans with the silky, oversized fit of the button-up shirt. This spring, it’s all about loosely fitting tops and daring hemline skirts, the magic being in the free-form contrast.
The Revolutionary Robe
From the idea of just “throwing something on” to get things done in the morning comes the robe and the button-up duster. The duster specifically is a wardrobe piece leftover from the 'dusters' of the early 20th century and was subsequently used throughout every decade following. I’d wager it was because women were so busy taking care of everyone in their household it was safer to throw on these early dress cover-alls to protect the goods!
Fun fact for you, dusters were originally used by both women and men as driving coats to protect their clothes from everything kicked up by the horses while they were in their "cars" heading somewhere. And here I thought it was because they are floor-length, so they helped out on the sweeping-up-dust front. Maybe my house is just a mess?
Luckily, times have changed and we're not always traveling by open-concept cars. A button-up “duster” that your grandmother still wears or a silk robe to tie on while you make your coffee might be the greatest invention since the cordless hair straightener. After coffee, style them for going out by wearing them over shorts, jeans, leggings, trousers, literally anything.
Image: Of Leather And Lace
Well, regardless of what the markets say is booming, wear whatever you want. That's the takeaway here. We can change trends in high fashion based on what we want, and what we want right now is comfort and versatility. That should always be the aim when putting together an outfit (although it's not always the outcome), and this trend will only help us accomplish that. It's high time we brought pajamas back to the high fashion game.