We talk a lot about how what we wear affects our behavior. Sayings like “dress for success” accompany us when we’re out shopping for new clothes, or even when we’re standing in front of the closet trying to decide what to wear.
Often, the connection between clothes and behavior, perception, and the like is tied to our performance at work. But I think it’s also worth applying this saying to the clothes we wear when we’re alone (or nearly alone) in the comfort of our own homes: our pajamas. After all, the time we spend sleeping is one of the most important parts of our day.
Personally, I’ve found that wearing pretty pajamas helps me feel more relaxed. It might seem like putting thought into pajamas adds more work to the end of an already busy day, but I’ve found it has a calming effect, especially when I keep my pajama drawer organized. Opening up a drawer of pretty pajamas, neatly folded, is like opening an invitation to rest—and that’s an invitation I’ll gladly accept.
While the idea of pretty pajamas might conjure up images of Mrs. Maisel in her elegant peignoir, they don’t necessarily have to be fancy. One pair of my pajamas could even be described as, well, a bit grandma-like. But when I slip into the pink cotton short-sleeved gown and coordinating floral robe, I feel good in it. It’s my kind of pretty: soft and feminine and a little bit flowy, with a pleasing print and a nice shape. That’s part of the fun of pretty pajamas—figuring out what’s pretty, as it relates to sleepwear, is a matter of personal taste.
After underwear and bras, pajamas are the most personal clothing items we own. And just as beautiful underwear isn’t just for marriage, pretty pajamas aren’t just for the honeymoon. They can be a woman’s little everyday luxury to enjoy for herself. Because pajamas are so personal, they can and should reflect our personal sense of style, whether that is vintage, boho, formal, or casual. It’s easy to elevate your nighttime wardrobe, while sticking to your style and comfort preferences, by swapping what you have for different prints, materials, or cuts.
Maybe you love wearing shorts and tops to bed. Trade your threadbare t-shirt and mismatched shorts for a shorts-and-top pajama set. Or, maybe you’re a PJ-pants kind of gal, but your current pair doesn’t give you the “I feel pretty” vibe you’re looking for. Try pants in a fresh print. A floral or a solid might feel more elegant than, say, cats—and even cat prints can range from childish to downright chic. If you like the relaxed feel of oversized T-shirts, a button-down sleep shirt just might do the trick.
On the flip side, our nighttime attire also gives us a chance to embrace a different side of ourselves than we do during the day. Maybe your days demand a utilitarian casual look, so you slip into something elegant at night, like a silky chemise. If your daytime style is bright and whimsical, you might want to try something more neutral for nights.
Whether you branch out or stick to your tried-and-true favorite style, give yourself the gift of pajamas that fit properly. As with any other article of clothing, they’ll feel better, in terms of both comfort and aesthetic, than something that hugs too tightly or hangs too loosely.
If you’re frugal like I am, pretty pajamas might be something you hesitate to spend money on. Thinking about how much time I spend in my pajamas has helped me get over that.
This was especially true right before my son was born, when I decided to get some new nursing pajamas. I loaded my online shopping cart with two gowns and one top-and-bottom set, but paused as I looked at the seventy-dollar total. Could I really justify spending that much, especially on pajamas that were only for this phase? But when I thought about the months of overnight feedings ahead of me, I clicked the “checkout” button.
Of course, looking at time spent in pajamas applies to all seasons of our life, not just new motherhood. For my fellow penny-pinchers, here’s a breakdown of how much time we might be spending in this easy-to-overlook clothing category:
Let’s say you get the recommended eight hours of sleep per night, and you wear your pajamas for four nights before washing them. (The recommendation is to wash them every three to seven nights). Add to that an hour of lounging around before bed each night and 30 minutes before you get dressed in the morning. In one week alone, you’re spending at least 38 hours in one article of clothing! That’s a stark contrast to a blouse we might only wear once or twice a week, or the athleisure clothes we don for weekends. Thinking about our clothing from a use standpoint, it makes sense to go out and buy some new pajamas—we’ll certainly get our money’s worth.
It’s also worth noting that, as much as the practical side in us may frown on getting rid of perfectly good pajamas that we simply don’t like anymore, it’s okay to let go of them in favor of pajamas we love. In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo argues that wearing pajamas and loungewear we love, even when no one else is around, can help strengthen our positive self-image. She writes, “To me, it doesn’t seem right to keep clothes we don’t enjoy for relaxing around the house. This time at home is still a precious part of living. Its value should not change just because nobody sees us.”
As Fay Schaeffer observed for Verily, pretty things enhance our lives more than we give them credit for: “By using things you love, that you find attractive and compelling, you create for yourself a life you enjoy living. Useful pretty things are an external reminder that living is itself a noble endeavor.”
Pretty pajamas are also a physical reminder to slow down and intentionally take care of myself, because I matter. Thinking about it this way, “beauty rest” takes on a whole new meaning. By literally surrounding our bodies in beauty, we are celebrating our unique and beautiful bodies, even as we sleep.