Nonstop Naptime: Sleepwear Goes Outside
Fashion trends come and go, and it would be silly to read too much into them. Often, they're just a swing of the pendulum, a backlash to whatever came before. But the new sleepwear as streetwear trend does strike me as an inescapable metaphor for our collective emotional state.
We are not just tired, but exhausted. The turmoil of the US election, Brexit, Islamophobia and the refugee crisis has reached a crescendo. It's like an unending bad dream we can't shake off. We want comfort. We want Mommy. We want to go back to bed. No wonder we're drawn to silk pyjamas and furry slippers. They create a sense of calm and security. They're part of the bedtime ritual that children relish, even if they insist they're old enough to stay up late.
Wrapped up for bedtime, we can now go out for lunch or an evening out on the town. We will feel chic but snugly. We can waft around being simultaneously trendy and ready for a grown-up to tuck us in.
The new brands cropping up to promote the sleepwear look are banking on this trend to stick around, and why shouldn't it? International politics are increasingly terrifying. Plus climate change. Attico and For Restless Sleepers are two of the brands leading the charge. Here's how the latter company explains itself:
“With F.R.S, the pajama finally leaves the realm of the strictly private and its specifically nocturnal purpose, transforming itself into an attitude comprising lightweight fabrics that look good anywhere. In so doing, it reveals itself as a display of independence, reflecting a new and surprising self-declaration.”
Well, that's pretty direct! I like the self-declaration part. They don't specify what that declaration is. It could be, "Screw you, I don't have to get dressed!" or maybe just a silent plea for a bedtime snack. For Restless Sleepers goes on to define its wares:
“The creative itinerary on the theme of the pajama proposed by F.R.S is more about a fun new interpretation that leaves behind the old clichés, instead of referring to the hackneyed garment we know so well. In doing so, it makes an independent and precise declaration of taste.”
Whatever. Their pajamas are gorgeous, but mostly what distinguishes them from "the old clichés" is their price. The pj shirts start at $700, with the matching robes starting at around $1,300. Attico is a bit more affordable, and has branched out into shoes and dresses but long robes are one of their staples. Their silk slip dresses look like nighties, retaining the original nightwear theme.
We may be able to credit Rihanna with launching this trend. Remember her furry pastel slides? They've spawned a million imitations, but before she unveiled them in a Puma ad, nobody was shuffling around in slippers and expecting compliments. Speaking of slippers, Gucci's fur-lined mules are now more popular than their signature handbags. At around $800 a pair, they are glorified old-world gentleman's slippers, signaling both luxury and lethargy.
Everywhere you look, designers are abandoning athleisure looks for the trendier sleepwear aesthetic. Pants for spring and summer are loose and silky. Shirts are long and untucked. Why not be comfortable, right? If worst comes to worst, you can sleep in them. Etro and Valentino have jumped on the bandwagon with beautiful pj separates in the $2,000 range.
I personally have a collection of silk pj's and robes that come from thrift-shops, thoughtfully donated by people who probably never dreamed of wearing them outside the house. They're not easy to find, so I’m guessing that most people wear them until they're threadbare and then throw them away. That just makes the hunt more compelling. For now, I'm conflicted about wearing them in public, but I'll probably give in and do it. I hope I’m not mistaken for an it-girl! I'll wait for a fat day when my jeans feel too tight.
All I really want is to go back to bed, to block out the horror of Trump and the Russians. Like Hugh Hefner, I'm too lazy to get dressed if I don't have to. I want to burrow in and sleep until it's over, but first I want a nice bedtime story and most of all, my blankie. Who knows, maybe blankies will be the new fashion frontier?