Bloggers are always getting accused of sitting around the house in their pajamas spouting off opinions. I suppose this is because you can’t take the opinions of someone wearing pajamas too seriously. What these folks don’t realize is the glorious history of the pajama and the qualities which make it the ideal form of clothing for deep and penetrating thought.
When talking about pajamas I don’t include pajama ‘tops’. Those weird button-down pseudo jackets are a stylistic and historic aberration and aren’t properly part of pajamas at all. They’re something a marketing guy added on in the 1950s to raise the price of the pajamas for sales in department stores. A good cotton t-shirt does a way better job of topping your pajamas. Traditionally pajamas are just the comfy, cotton drawstring pants. The term originates long ago in India where pajamas or pyjamas were loose-fitting hemmed pants which tied at the waist. Because they were so comfortable this style of pant spread all over the east and was eventually brought back to England by the nabobs who returned from colonial service and brought their favorite pants with them. They caught on fast in America as well where people were getting awfully tired of the work and humiliation involved in wearing longjohns – pajamas broke the tyrrany of the butt-flap.
What made pajamas the international clothes sensation of the 19th century was their versatility and comfort. Pajamas were not designed or intended exclusively for sleep. They’re multi-purpose, designed to wear all the time for work, sleep or lounging about munching melon and sucking on your houkah. Easy to put on, easy to take off. No need for a belt or suspeenders. The ultimate in practical legwear. Those qualities account for the recent pajama renaissance and their popularity among bloggers. It’s easier to think great thoughts when you’re not constricted by heavy fabrics, zippers, belts and the need to avoid wrinkling a fine fabric. Admittedly, some Victorians looked on pajamas as a bit decadent, but they couldn’t resist the tide of change, and by the 1890s they were ubiquitous, favored by the intellectuals of the Roaring 90s, the perfect clothing for informal wear while reading Oscar Wilde. From there on, into the 20th and 21st centuries pajamas have been a fixture of the leisure wardrobe.
When you go out to buy some pajamas to blog in be aware that not all pajamas are created equal. While there are many fine pajamas out there, watch out for imposters of inferior quality and materials and keep in mind that price isn’t always an accurate measure of quality. There are certain characteristics you want to be sure your pajamas have. They should be made of 100% cotton as they have been down the ages. Cotton breathes, it doesn’t mind being wrinkled, and it’s soft and skin-friendly. They need a good, loose fit in the leg so you can sit in the lotus position in front of your monitor. A drawstring is a must, but the modern innovation of an elastic waist is a big plus. Another very desirable feature is pockets. You need someplace to keep the remote control, some snacks and a copy of Chariman Mao’s Little Red Book.
As a result of my own quest for the ideal blogging pajamas I can give you some guidance. First off, avoid pajamas from big name designers. The pajama is a simple garment and when you start adding bells and whistles and fancy features the simple functionality suffers. Plus, what kind of credibility can you have if you blog in Ralph Lauren PJs? The best Pajamas are low-priced and available in stores with proprietary brands. Simple garments, made for comfort and sold at an appropriate price. One warning. Don’t try to shop for them online. Because they’re a low-priced item they tend to get left out of online catalogs, plus PJs are all about comfort, so getting hands-on with the fabric is an absolute must.
For winter wear the pajama of choice is cotton flannel. The best source bar none for cotton flannel pajamas is J. C. Penney. Penney’s house brand – St. John’s Bay – makes an excellent flannel pajama in lots of colors and patterns. They fit well, have elastic waists as well as draw strings, have fantastic deep pockets and are toasty warm. The pattern selection is nice, including both plaids and stripes, though the overall color selection is a bit dark. Stripes are rather reminiscent of pirate pantaloons, and in fact I altered a pair into knickers for a Halloween pirate costume. Another option for winter is silk pajamas, but I have yet to find any which I really like. They’re quite expensive and they actually insulate better than flannel and from my experience with them they make me sweat, and that really defeats the whole purpose of pajamas as a lifestyle choice.
For summer wear you need a light weight cotton, something like a poplin that breathes and doesn’t stretch or constrict too much. Old Navy has the best fabric in its summer weight PJs. I’ve never seen anything lighter, and the price is right since they always seem to have some on sale. The catch is that they don’t have pockets and there’s something wrong with the way they’re cut. The legs always seem to be just a little too long, no matter what size you are. Several of my family members have tried them and they always drag a bit. On the other hand they have some of the most fun patterns – not just plaids and stripes, but little devils and penguins and shamrocks and seasonal theme designs. The overall best I’ve found for lighter weight PJs are Cherokee brand which are carried at Target. They’re a nice lightweight poplin, have pockets, elastic waistbands and drawstrings. A good selection of patterns are availabe, though nowhere near as many as at Old Navy. Best of all, they seem to be cut a little looser in the leg and not quite as freakishly long, so they make a more comfortable fit. Overall they’re my pick for warmer weather.
Pattern and style may be an issue for you depending on your political persuasion. I’d recommend small, tight plaids for more conservative bloggers and some of the funkier Old Navy patterns for those of the liberal persuasion. Piratical stripes might work well for those who blog on techie topics. And some of the St. John’s Bay winter plaids are excellent if you’re a Scotts blogger looking for an authentic tartan look. And then there are always the silk pajamas if your topics are risque. They always looked good on Hef.
As for those who belittle pajama wearing pundits, I put their gripes down mostly to envy. They wish they could live the life of leisure which allows us to sit at the computer in our comfy and historic legware with brilliant insights circulating freely and unconstricted through our bodies. Don’t damn me for a sybarite when you know that deep in your heart of hearts you wish you could cast off the corporate shackles of suit and tie and lounge in some lovely PJs and let your thoughts roam free.