Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Night Pajama Party

Further to my last post, a great discussion of 1930s lounge pajamas from the FIDM (for you, Debi!!)

Lounge pajamas, c. 1935

During the 1920s, pajamas moved from bedroom to beach. Though pajama style pants were suggested by Paul Poiret as avant garde dress during the teens, pajamas were worn primarily as sleepwear until the 1920s. Sometime during the mid-to-late 1920s, pajamas appeared outside the bedroom as swimsuit cover-ups on the beaches of the French Riviera. Beach pajamas soon became a double-duty garment for the relaxed resort lifestyle, one that navigated easily from beach to cocktail party. In 1931, Vogue magazine declared, "A woman may and does wear pyjamas to quite formal dinners in her own house, to other people's dinners in town and country if you know them well and the more iconoclastic members of the female sex even wear them to the theatre."1
For women who aspired to a resort lifestyle but didn't have the necessary means or leisure, pajamas could be worn for entertaining or relaxing at home. Worn in these situations, beach pajamas became lounge pajamas or sometimes "lounjamas."2 During the 1920s, beach or lounge pajamas were usually two-piece ensembles accompanied by a matching jacket. By the 1930s, one-piece, jumpsuit-style pajamas had emerged. These one-piece lounge pajamas from the FIDM Museum collection are shaped with a self-fabric sash and fasten with a 3-button closure on the left side. Like menswear of the same period, these lounge pajamas feature a wide leg.

Lounge pajamas
c. 1935
Gift of the Manlove Family
According to period fashion illustrations, beach/lounge pajamas were similar in appearance to sleeping pajamas. This visual similarity must have led to some confusion, as a 1931 New York Times article suggested using caution when purchasing beach or lounging pajamas, as anything "that faintly suggests the boudoir is taboo."3 Lace or silk satin indicated nighttime pajamas, while a more rustic fabric like silk shantung, linen or cotton was appropriate for beach and lounging pajamas. As lounging and beach pajamas became widely popular in the 1930s, lower priced versions were available in rayon. Though pajamas were available in a tremendous variety of colors and patterns, textile patterns that borrowed freely from China and Japan were especially popular. The lightweight, printed silk textile used in the FIDM Museum beach pajamas is a typical example.

The emergence of garments geared specifically for the resort lifestyle led to a new category of clothing: resort wear. Alongside fall/winter and spring/summer, resort became a fifth "season" for which garments were designed. Not an actual season, resort wear suggested a particular state of mind: relaxed, chic and affluent. Resort wear was and is loosely defined, characterized largely by its bright colors, patterns and suitability for temperate climates. By definition, resort wear is closely related to vacationing, usually in close proximity to water. Because of its association with a lifestyle, rather than a season, resort wear is a firmly aspirational category of dress. Even if worn out of its intended context, resort wear conjures images of beaches, sun and sand.

1 "Pyjamas-When are they worn?" Vogue 1 June 1931: 71.
2 A term coined by Bullock's department store in advertising copy.
3 "To Be Seen On Southern Beaches." New York Times 1 Dec. 1929: 169.

Final note: see one of my absolute favourite (and often mentioned) blogs, The Painted Woman  for more on the subject


Anonymous said...

So neat! Bullocks W. had the greatest '30s advertising... they and Eaton's that is.

Miss Rayne said...

Great article

Cassiopeia said...

Awesome. Loving those pyjamas - and the article itself is fascinating! :D Xxxc

Em said...

Lounjamas here I come! Thank you for this very interesting post.

Maggi said...

These are too neat, I would definitely wear them!

superheidi said...

Maybe you already found it, but there's a whole blog, "La mode Pyjama: Pyjamapolis", dedicated to the subject. It's french, but if you don't master the language, you can drool over the pictures. :-)

Carys said...

Great post, so informative!! I have never learned so much about the thirties as I have from your blog, it's such a great reference for information on that decade, thanks so much!
From Carys of La Ville Inconnue

garofit said...

thank you for another great article, and giving center stage to piece of clothing which more than deserves it; while for me resort wear is aspirational only (lifestyle wise), the lounge pyjamas as such ought to be la piece de resistance, so much are they in complete agreement with my laid-back-staying-in-wants-to-be-pretty-without-effort ways.

BaronessVonVintage said...

I am glad you enjoyed this re-posted post. I personally thought the author did a great job of tracing the evolution of the loungewear....and I agree that the sample pjs in the FIDM collection is swoon-worthy!!

Lounjamas = great concept!

garofit, ditto that!

superheidi: yes, I do follow that blog (et je comprends le francais alors je peux lire les mots aussi). Lovely images there, but there seem to be some odd glitches on it as well.

BaronessVonVintage said...

1930s Girls: yes, Eaton's was the best! My grandmother worked in the women's and children's shoe department of one of their stores for several decades, so I'm very partial to anything from Eaton's!!

Debi said...

Yipppeeee! I am the happiest girl ever! LOVE this post! Thank you!!