How Pajamas Became a Fashion Staple

I love diving into a good research project (especially when it’s fashion related), so when I started designing pajamas, I knew I needed to find out more about their history. If, like me, you enjoy nerding out over fashion history, read on for our brief history of sleepwear and how it became the fashion staple it is today.
By Amy Voloshin
February 2022
How Pajamas Became a Fashion Staple
How Pajamas Became a Fashion Staple

Surprisingly, I didn’t really know much about the history of pajamas before falling into designing sleepwear. I’ve sold vintage clothing for most of my adult life, and have studied costume history, but pajamas are a part of fashion history that is often skipped over in fashion courses. 

I’m pretty curious about most things, so of course I dove into learning more about the history of how pajamas originated. I was delighted to learn that they were actually first created in India (where we manufacture our pajamas!). The word pajama originates from the Hindi word pāyjāma meaning essentially: leg garment. These loose trousers were typically tied around the waist and constructed from cotton or silk. 

Apparently, Europeans who were living in South Asia in the 1600’s adopted the style and loved sleeping in them. The British began referring to them as ‘mogul’s breeches’ in the 17th century. In India, both men and women wore cotton pajama pants, and most women in India wear a drawstring cotton pant under their dresses and Kurtas to this day. I’ve seen many outfits in boutiques in Jaipur and Delhi styled in this way, with a wall full of these drawstring pants available in almost any hue. 

Today’s pajamas get as much wear out of the house as they do at home.
Today’s pajamas get as much wear out of the house as they do at home.

In Europe, since pants were typically reserved for men, European women didn’t start wearing pajamas until the start of the 20th century. In the 1920’s Coco Chanel was known for wearing pajamas as clothing for the outside world - and many trailblazing fashion icons began to wear them too.

I personally love pajamas as they are effortless, fun, and are so breathable and cool to lounge and sleep in. And now, with working from home pajama bottoms have become a fashion staple for me and others. I love how pajamas have even found their way into trends – including celebrities like Selena Gomez and Rihanna wearing pajamas and robes out of the house. I’m loving this Agent Provocateur pajama shirts for being comfortable and zoom ready. And, of course our Printfresh pajamas are my ultimate go-to!

Want to Dive Deeper into PF Mag? We Think You’ll Love These Reads:
1. The Printfresh X Pencil & Paper Collab
2. Behind the Print: Bagheera
3. Behind the Print: Camel’s Courtyard
4. The Textile Trends We Love
5. Tips for Finding Great Second-Hand Textiles 

Image sources:
Irene Galitzine, Coco Chanel, 1870 Indian Payjamas, 1920s Beach Payjamas, Claudette Colbert, Madonna, Baby Doll PJs, Gigi, Selena, Zendaya, Rihanna

comments comments

PF MAG: Founder Amy Voloshin is passionate about creating a space that speaks to our brand, shares unique perspectives from pattern enthusiasts and finds ways to promote more sustainable living. Our blog PF Mag covers creative topics on all things lifestyle - including behind the scenes looks, fashion, design, travel, and home decor, as well as interviews with some of the people who inspire us most. 


Stay inspired with thoughtful interviews, design and DIY ideas, recipes, shopping tips, and so much more.