AGED 18, the very first thing I bought from my very first pay packet was a pair of Derek Rose red flannel pyjamas. At pounds 25, they left me little change from the meagre pounds 60 a week wage that couturiers to the Queen Mother, Norman Hartnell, paid me. But they were important. For years before this I had had to put up with “girls'” pyjamas, or worse, Italian girl’s pyjamas that consisted of jersey jogging pant style bottoms and a pull-on top with flowers all over it. Whenever I could, usually when my father was away on business, I would satisfy my need for “proper” pyjamas by sleeping in his pyjama tops. The navy satin self-stripe ones (always kept ironed and folded in case of hospital visits) were particularly coveted. There was never any doubt that pyjamas were the thing to wear to bed.
So it was with some confusion that this week I read that Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue, is wondering when we (herself included, she confesses to falling for the “cosiness” of pyjamas) all got so “dreary” and started wearing “something”, be it a t-shirt, nightshirt or nightdress to bed. Have we gone dreary? What do we wear to bed?
The first person I rang was Derek Rose of Derek Rose pyjamas, who’s been “in pyjamas” for 45 years. What did you wear in bed last night, Derek? I asked. “I wore a ‘shortie’ pyjama – it’s what I always wear, a short- sleeved, short-trouser variant of the pyjama. Last night it was in a yellow cotton batiste with an anchor print on it.”
Then I rang Jamie Seaton, designer of Toast, a mail order company that specialises in lovely pyjamas and pyjama-type trousers for lounging round the house (the big thing for the next century). “The truth? Nothing, I never wear anything in bed. I wear pyjamas around the house but take them off to go to bed.” This is actually very common in France where they change into pyjamas when they get home and then get naked for bed.
Next, I ask Johnnie Boden of Boden mail order, a man who recognises that pyjama pants are the most comfortable trousers in the world and sells them as “pull-on pants”. But last night he wore “nothing. I never wear anything in bed.” PR Consultant Michael Donovan likes the idea of pyjamas but possesses none and slept naked last night. I try two fashion students, surely at the cutting edge of what’s happening and not “dreary”. Sue Confalone slept in “sweat top and knickers” and Stefan Lindemann “in gingham pyjamas to match my bedlinen. I like gingham.” We know now that fashion students are not to be trusted.
Jess Canty, owner of supercool Jess James jewellers went to the land of nod in his “Thai fishermen’s trousers and t-shirt”. Add a fashion stylist – “nothing”, a fashion photographer – “pyjamas” a music agent – “pyjamas”, a secretary – “pyjamas” and me – “pyjamas” and we have six people that wear pyjamas, three that wear nothing and two that wear “something”.
So there you have it, we like pyjamas. But I disagree that there is anything fusty about them. Kept simple and classy, few things are sexier to wear in bed (far sexier than nothing, like an unwrapped present). And anyway, what else is there? Nightdresses are probably responsible for single-handedly bringing on the menopause; nightshirts ride up and anything that has a pull-on top is tricky for sex because, pulled off in a hurry, they get caught on noses and ears and give one an impromptu face lift. But there is one thing far worse and it is something that men do: wearing a t-shirt with no pants to bed. Really, no.