Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fashion Flashback: Pajamas as Formal Wear

Costume designer Adrian and silver screen icon Greta Garbo in his design, on the set of The Single Standard.

After seeing Sofia Coppola in a recent issue of Vogue sporting pajama-like lounge wear from the Louis Vuitton resort collection, I suppose the lounge wear look as made a bit of a comeback.  This trend dates as far back as the 1920s, when American costume designer Adrian Greenberg (simply known as Adrian) popularized the sophistication of pajamas and the acceptability of it as appropriate formal wear when he dressed Greta Garbo in gorgeous striped pajamas in 1929's The Single Standard.

From a 1931 issue of Vogue:
"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." (Source)
Pajamas as formal wear experienced a revival in the '60s, as evidenced from a feature in the June 1964 issue of LIFE magazine:

Back in the late 1930s every working glamor girl like Carole Lombard or Ginger Rogers had at least one pair of party pajamas.  An outfit cut like an evening dress up top with full circular pants instead of a skirt, it gave a look of elegant insouciance.  Now the dressed-up pajama has been revived to supplement long evening gowns - even replace them.
 Here are some of my favorite women in sophisticated and sleek pajamas, from the '30s to the 60s.

 Carole Lombard

Ginger Rogers in silk pajama pants

 Louise Brooks

 Greta Garbo in striped pajamas

 Lana Turner

Ginger Rogers in 42nd Street

Marilyn Monroe in The Asphalt Jungle

Paula Prentiss in Hanna Troy silk party pajamas, 1964

 Actress Joey Heatherton in Anne Klein pajamas

 Nancy Berg in Pauline Trigere pajamas

Photo Sources:  
Golden Age Dames 
A Certain Cinema 
Stirred, Straight Up 
LIFE on Google Books


  1. Pajamas as a formal wear are back in trend. Wearing stylish pajamas to pajama parties, evening outings and family dinners sounds fun. The comfort of pajamas cant be taken by anything else. Even I've bought very elegant pajamas from PajamaMania.com. They have an awesome collection of pajamas and sleepwear. Do check it!

  2. Pajamas, as formal wear? Hmmm... I think it depends on the cloth. I find silk and chiffons a little suitable but the usual stripe pajamas, I doubt it. Just my opinion because I am a bit picky person when it comes to fashion trends. I always go for the basic and seldom goes with the latest style.

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