Sleeping Beauty: Women's Pyjamas

Posted 14.02.17 - Style

Seeing a woman in a proper pair of pyjamas is a thing of beauty.

When we slip into those fresh cotton trousers and shirts, we are immediately in a sanctuary - at home but 'dressed' for relaxation, intimate conversation and play. There's nothing more thrilling right now than a fresh pyjama set.

There is a whole history of pyjama moments to adore, each of which adds to the image of pyjamas as items of casual elegance, of being done up when at one's most relaxed. Consider Yoko Ono in her white cotton set during her 'Bed-In for Peace' movement (John Lennon wore Turnbull & Asser's men’s pyjamas during the protest). Think back to the Pink Ladies' pillow-fight pyjama party in Grease, Marilyn Monroe donning a silky pair to read The Poetry and Prose of Heinrich Heine in bed in the above 1951 photo shoot, and Karlie Kloss' silk set as she stretched elegantly in bed during Angelo Pennetta’s ‘An American In Paris’ shoot for Vogue in May 2012.

Perhaps no one wore them better than Sophia Loren in A Countess from Hong Kong, the Charlie Chaplin-directed film in which a Russian countess stows away in the room of a US diplomat, played by Marlon Brando, on a ship heading for New York. Loren's countess has to stay in the confines of the diplomat's cabin throughout the voyage and for the most part dresses in his pyjamas, a pair of which were supplied to the film by Turnbull & Asser. Loren's sultry grace is only enhanced by the pyjamas, which add a touch of easy charm and vulnerability to the character of the countess.

Women wearing men's-style pyjamas has an air of rebellion. Donning them is a protest against all the noise of our frenetic world. The late Italian fashion photographer Manuela Pavesi habitually wore flowing silk ones with tailored jackets and coats even during winter. And over the past couple of years pyjamas for women have proved to be more popular than ever, with the catwalks awash with creations for both day and nightwear. These luxury versions all draw on the inherent decadence and sense of comfort this seemingly innocuous garment can share.

To date, women have been given short shrift in the real pyjama department. The offer was cutesy not chic (think of rosebud-printed cotton versions, or the boys' boxer short and vest fad shared by teenage girls), and they never seemed as elegant or as proper as men's versions. Turnbull & Asser's women's collection in soft lilac, blue, pink, or white, with buttons and smart piping trims, might just be manna from heaven. Not only do they look smart, they inspire a new set of rituals. They honour the art of 'me time', but are also smart enough to entertain good friends. Let the dreaming and the playtime begin again.

Main image: Getty Images
Second image: AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo

Harriet Quick Writer for Vogue, Love, The Financial Times and Wallpaper*

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