The origin of…Pajamas

“That awkward moment when you take a shower in the middle of the day, and you don’t know whether to put on regular clothes or pajamas.” Anonymous.

       Post 2 Pajamas

In 2012 pajamas made a major appearance on runways (think Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton) and celebrities like Rihanna and Sofia Coppola started wearing them to parties. But wearing pajamas outside is not a new thing. They were introduced in the 17th century as lounging clothing, but soon went out of fashion. At the end of the 19th century, around 1870, British colonials brought pajamas back and men used them as sleeping attire. Also, in Shanghai it is not uncommon to see people wear pajamas in public, where it has been a popular garment since the late 1970´s, when the Chinese adopted Western pajamas seeing them as a symbol of wealth and coolness and not understanding that these were meant for sleeping. In 2010, when the Expo came to the city, the government put a ban on this habit, saying that wearing pajamas in the street is a backward and uncivilized practice.  There was even a pajamas police telling people who were seen in the streets wearing pajamas to go home and get changed. But despite these attempts, the pajamas fashion persists and might have inspired Marc Jacobs to send models in pajamas on the runway!

And in 2013 even technology made its way into nightgear with the invention of the smart pajamas. The Smart PJ´s (“The world’s first and only interactive bedtime clothing that will actually read your children a story”) are pajamas for kids that have dot patterns that work with an app. When you scan the dots with the camera of a tablet or phone, the app will start an interactive bedtime story. But isn´t reading bedtime stories something you´d rather do yourself as a parent?

The word pajamas comes from the Persian word پايجامه (pāyjāmeh, from pāy ‘leg’ and jāmeh ‘garment’) and found its way to the English language through Urdu and Hindi. The Spanish, Italian and Dutch word for pajamas all have the same origins.

1. clothing that people wear in bed or while relaxing at home
2. loose pants that are worn in some parts of Asia and the Middle East (source: Merriam Webster)

Pajamas in other languages:
Dutch: pyjama
Spanish: pijamas
Italian: pigiama


Categories: Clothing

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