Today, I’d like talk about pyjamas – PJs, nightclothes, lingerie – whatever we as women wear to bed. I know I’m treading dangerously close (sigh, again) to topics that I’d rather not discuss with the Mother Sugar public but I think I can do this without being too personal. I mean, we all sleep, right?
I’m just curious to know if anyone else feels a little, well, underwhelmed by the options? Living where I do, I am likely not exposed to the variety enjoyed by my city-dwelling sisters. (Well, unless I shop online.) But when I travel to the Land of Large Malls, it’s not like I look forward to shopping for pyjamas specifically. I do look forward to buying other things when need and funds permit, like shoes, clothes, and books (not quite comparable to crack but perhaps to nicotine).
So why is shopping for pyjamas so… meh?
Here’s my theory. I’m going to call it the Bermuda Triangle of Nightwear.
Okay, so it’s not an elegant theory but here’s how it works. At each point of the triangle is a different category of ladies’ nightwear. In no particular order:
Walk into any lingerie shop in a suburban mall and you’ll see cute cartoon characters, hearts, bows, happy faces, the occasional sporty motif, and plenty of flannel, fleece and jersey. Jammies are cuddly and pair perfectly with fuzzy socks, stuffed animals, and hot cocoa.
Think Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and you’re onto it. Lingerie has a long history and therefore its very own vocabulary – teddy, chemise, bustier, negligee, baby doll, French Maid, Merry Widow, etc. Hot, sexy and pairs well with bare feet, messy hair and a lot of red wine. Ideally worn in the company of others, or at least one other. (Not quite in the way the photo suggests, but to each her own I guess.)
Bloomers and Nightgowns
What your Grandmother would wear to bed. To be fair, I’ve seen some very nice nightgowns and some very classy elderly women, but it seemed the quickest way to get the point across. Think billowing cotton, hospital blue polyester, high collars, and terry slippers. Pairs well with curlers, a thick robe tied at the waist, and Listerine.
And in the middle…?
Um… whatever this is
And more plaid.
And more plaid.
Okay, okay, enough goofing around.
It’s not that I truly dislike any of the so-called “categories” I’ve poked fun at or even all of the options shown above. Nor is it fair to say that everything does fall into an imaginary category. (Especially once the Christmas season has passed and the seasonal prints are passé.) I guess what disappoints me a little is just that it can still be difficult to find options – in person, in a store – that feel much like me. Do I know what I would choose instead? I’m not sure that I do. But shouldn’t there be something out there for most everyone? I mean, look at the variety in all that other stuff – clothing, shoes, handbags. There are infinite possibilities and infinite permutations of personal expression there. Why not in what we wear to bed?
Here’s where it gets philosophical, for me anyway.
It seems like the categories I’ve mentioned above mirror some very old archetypes. We are either pre-pubescent (and wear jammies), or we are sexual (and wear lingerie), or we are sexless (and wear bloomers). This strikes me as being unfair to women in general. I’m boiling this down to the extremes but it does feel a bit limiting and also a bit obvious.
Oh, and the middle of the triangle? What does that subtly reference? Masculinity.
Plaid, checks, and stripes are traditionally masculine patterns in fashion. Don’t believe me? What do lumberjacks wear? Plaid. What did 90’s grunge rockers wear? Plaid. What has been ubiquitous in men’s fashion for the past year? Plaid. Have you ever watched Madmen?
I’m being tongue-in-cheek here but my point is this. At certain times of the year and in certain shopping establishments, it sometimes feel like I am choosing a small corner of femininity that doesn’t really say much about who I am. Or that I am selecting from the mainstream middle which is as much about my freedom not to be feminine as it is about being feminine in all its contradictions and complexities. Fashion is big enough to make room for innumerable versions of the self. Why does that seem to end at the bedroom door?
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Now, I’m going to go put on a pair of slippers, pour myself a glass of red wine, and kick back before it’s time for bed. Nighty, night!