Lounging – Vintage Style

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I’m not feeling particularly inspired or glamorous right now.

This isn’t my place for wallowing or whining (well, not always) but with everything that’s going on in my life at the moment I’m finding it difficult to keep up with replying to my emails, let alone feeling inspired to write about lovely glamorous things every day.

So on Monday, when I was at home wallowing in a cricket jumper and pyjama bottoms I posted on my Facebook page.

I am not feeling glamorous. How do you all feel about blog posts featuring pyjamas and whisky?

And weirdly the idea seemed strangely popular.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to inflict photos of me in my dog print PJs under a blanket on anyone. It did, however, get me back to thinking about vintage lounge and sleepwear. I’ve thought about it before as it’s nigh on impossible to find vintage style pyjamas. Even if all you want is a nice, bog standard, pair of ladies cotton pyjamas it seems that everywhere has fallen prey to the illusion that women’s waists live somewhere around their hip bones. It IS possible to buy some very pretty night shirts and night dresses, but pyjamas are a struggle.

There was a time, in the 20s and 30s when the wearing of “pyjamas” was very nearly an art form. An article from 1931 republished on The Painted Woman details the types of pyjamas to be worn for every hour of the day including beach pyjamas, lounging pyjamas, cocktail pyjamas and evening pyjamas. Pyjamas seems to be a word used much as we would use the word trousers today. Much of what we would refer to as Palazzo pants, wide leg trousers, or even jumpsuits, appears to be referred to under the catch all term of pyjamas.

What I’m really looking for, I guess, is something *different* from the normal hipster floral or novelty printed drawstring trousers teamed with a vest. Something comfortable I can wear to curl up on the sofa, but still feel presentable should I need to pop outside and put something in the bin.

Maybe it’s because people are less smart in general? Maybe answering the door and greeting guests in jersey, hipster pyjamas and a vest isn’t really an issue in a world where jeans with sparkly writing on the bum are considered suitable evening wear and velour tracksuits are smart day wear? Personally I would LOVE something I could sit around the house in and answer the door to the post man without having to hide behind it.

Extensive searching has revealed very limited options, but I present them here for your pleasure.

First off, on the High Street, all I really found were these “Luxury” pyjamas from La Senza in Polyester satin. She looks like she’s wearing them on her hips, but judging by the amount of spare fabric hanging around they can be worn higher!

Short Sleeve Luxury PJ £30 La Senza

On Etsy, however, I finally found someone who makes reproduction Pyjamas from Vintage patterns. Time Machine Vintage has 2 styles.

These cute 1940s pyjamas are made in cotton, and pretty reasonably priced.

Taylor 1940’s Vintage Style Pyjamas £34.93

If you want a little more glamour, and are prepared to pay for it, then she also makes a pair of satin 1930s lounging pyjamas.

Anita 1930s Vintage Style Lounging Pyjamas £73.04

16 Responses
  • Miss Ruby Demuir, Photographer to the Starlets x
    April 6, 2011

    Pajamas are my largest single extravangance – apart from shoes, that is – oh, and hats 😉 x

  • Wendy
    April 6, 2011

    I am yet to find a nice set that fits and doesnt cost a large amount of money. I do love a nice set of pyjamas!
    Have you noticed that you look a lot like the model on the right in the above picture.

  • Louise
    April 6, 2011

    It’s funny you should write about this. I spend a lot of my time in my pyjamas due to various illnesses and would love to feel smart and glamorous. It’s such a pain to have to get dressed just to hang out my laundry and I feel so bad for my husband when I crawl into bed wearing my old snoopy pjs or an old t-shirt with shorts. Why do I not make the effort at bedtime? I dread the thought of being burgled or a fire because everyone would have to see me in such a state!
    I noticed the lack of decent vintage style pyjamas and was considering making repro ones to sell once I get the hang of my sewing machine.

    • Retro Chick
      April 6, 2011

      Oh you should! I’m sure there’d be a market if they were reasonably priced!

  • Paperdoll
    April 6, 2011

    I got some lovely satin PJs from Debenhams for christmas, ivory with a floral print, great for lolling around on the sofa with fingerwaves in my hair! M&S had some similar ones with a green print on a couple of weeks ago. Lol..X

  • perdita
    April 6, 2011

    I hate ugly nightwear and tend to choose by pattern and fabric quality (interesting, Primark cotton I can bear… but jersey has to be top notch or it looks and feels revolting). Of vintage styles, I prefer ‘paddington bear’ (ie ‘old man pyjamas’), of modern I prefer a nice fitted jersey top (not an old t-shirt!) and some wide-leg cotton bottoms.

    Night-shirts (the ‘giant t-shirt’ kind) give me nightmares, they remind me of Daisy Bucket out of ‘Keeping Up Appearances’!!

    I deliberately wear my PJs ‘slung low’ as most of my daywear is work wear and tailored etc’. A draw string waist is a good way of doing this without resorting to larger sizes or builder-bum! The comfort is the main factor: for me sleep PJs are fundimentally different to ‘saucy’ PJs or daywear because they DON’T function for anything bar comfort. No-one’s meant to see mine (bar His Lordship). Plus I move round a lot in my sleep, seem to get very hot and nothing’s worse than being awoken by an accidental, self-inflicted wedgie! Which I have found a risk with vintage-y style modern PJs. If the doorbell rings, I cover up with a robe (I have a whole load, as they must match the PJs, be weather appropriate and always neat and pressed).

    Smart or not, I don’t think i could face the postie in uncovered PJs. What an old prude I am!!

  • Penny Dreadful Vintage
    April 6, 2011

    Isn’t the range of pyjamas in this country dreadful. They are all pink or pastel blue with cartoon animals on them! It insults my intelligence deeply. I always used to wear men’s pyjamas, but even these have gone downhill as they tend now to be a tee and pyjama bottoms rather than a proper set. All I want is a plain striped or check set of flannels! You can get them from places like the White Company, but I faint at the cost. x

  • Fashion Limbo
    April 6, 2011

    I have the same feeling, would love to wear something at home that is decent enough to be seen when the delivery guy knocks at the door, last time it happened I was so excited about a zara online purchase that I opened the door with a Calvin and Hobbes pyjamas and my leopard print robe… unpretty is not the right word….

    Very interesting post, the La Senza one is quite cute but would love to find more independent retailers like the Etsy ones doing this.

  • Laura Connell
    April 6, 2011

    Your post shows how inspiration can hit when we least expect it…and the value of being honest with oneself! If you had pretended to feel glamorous we would never have had this post but an inauthentic piece instead. You also make us feel not so bad about having a less than perfect day, so thank you.

  • Myca
    April 6, 2011

    Check out


    Its pricy, but might give you hope that there is glamourous loungewear out there…

  • Sarah
    April 7, 2011

    You’ve hit a nerve here! I don’t want to sleep in a Snoopy t-shirt, let alone answer the door in one!

    One day I will learn how to sew and will make these 30s pyjamas, in various fabrics and colours (starting with a silk satin, and maybe a linen for summer), and then just live in them forever:

  • Mim
    April 7, 2011

    If you keep your eye out M&S have nice silk satin ones in the run-up to Christmas. My newest ones are from BHS! (http://www.bhs.co.uk/mall/productpage.cfm/bhsstore/75791/218641) Okay, they’re made from a synthetic fibre, but so much nicer to loaf around in than something made from T-shirt fabric.

  • Fiona - Straight Talking Mama
    April 7, 2011

    I love PJs in the same way I love slippers, I’m weird I know. I also can’t find decent ones so I have over the last couple of years been collecting PJ patterns and had also plan to start making & selling them on etsy, not sure on cost yet because of time & material but I’ll let you know when I do, I’m also starting straight skirts and cute blouses, but when time allows!!

  • Lisa
    April 7, 2011

    I totally agree.. I LOVE lounging pajamas, 1940s pajamas and all natural fiber pajamas. Though I sell beautiful vintage pajamas, I, of course, usually wear tee shirts and pilly flannel pajama bottoms to bed. I need to try to look like the women in the ads..I’d probably sleep better 🙂

  • Lady Cherry
    April 11, 2011

    I empathise, lm feeling pretty rushed off my feet at the moment too. But if you are going to lounge, dog print pjs sound like just the thing 🙂