Pyjama People

Sydney Morning Herald

Wednesday July 20, 1988

Daniel Williams

EVERYONE knows pyjamas are comfortable, but do they offer something more?Can you look sexy in a little flannelette number?

Many people buy pyjamas, although few are willing to admit it. The pyjama people are out there, retailers say, but they would rather be left alone.

Most women are quietly smug about their collection of nighties and alluring slumber wear, but if you mention pyjamas (the two-piece neck-to-ankle flannelette or cotton varieties) their smiles disappear.

Similarly, a lot of men find that snuggling up in bed in a pair of"jammies" clashes with their image of masculinity. Still, a great number of Aussie men - and some women - own a pair of trusty old pyjamas.

The traditional long-legged pyjama represents about 75 per cent of the male sleepwear market.Night shirts, short pyjamas and a relatively new arrival, sleep shorts, make up the remainder.

But according to retailers, even young, attractive women buy pyjamas. Style sought out some pyjama-lovers and posed the question: is the traditional pyjama sexy - and if not, why do people wear them?

The word from lingerie experts is that while budget PJs won't find their way into the stylish lady's trousseau, they do, nevertheless, have their place.

Bronwyn Dillon, 19, a model with Cameron's, owns several pairs of old-style pyjamas, mainly hand-me-downs from her older sisters. She's proof that an attractive woman can look desirable in virtually anything.

Bronwyn wears pyjamas frequently. Despite her belief that they're not exactly red-hot, she finds them unbeatable in terms of warmth and comfort. "And I suppose," she says, "you can look sort of cute in them." She agrees that for most men there is something endearing about the sightof a woman, especially one who's usually dressed to the hilt and the epitome of elegance, decked out in a pair of baggy, flannelette pyjamas.

Run-of-the-mill night wear has another advantage over slinky lace nighties and silk pyjamas: price. At stores such as Target, you can pick up a no-frills number for about $10. Even the more exclusive lingerie shops - such as Dorith Unger at Centrepoint - stock cotton pyjamas because, according to manager Romain Zimet, many women still buy them for occasions when they're not trying to impress.

At David Jones, the very best silk pyjamas retail at $400. Pure polyester pyjamas, which lookand feel like silk, are priced up to $120, while nighties cost up to $350 and the very best cotton pairs, $250.

According to Margarita Ivanchenko, women's night wear buyer for David Jones: "I don't think any woman who wears flannelette pyjamas has any pretensions of glamour or sensuality. Some women wear them for modesty - they just can't sleep if they don't have pyjamas on. It's also a no-fuss item you can just toss in the washing machine."

But, she adds, the woman who wants to raise a man's pulse by "showing off her bust line, skinny waist and rounded hips" usually selects a nightie. A bigger girl with the same idea might choose silk pyjamas, which also look inviting "but hide flesh and a multitude of sins".

Bottom-of-the-range cotton and flannelette pyjamas tend to be bought more by older women. "There seems to be a trend, which has been reinforced by the mild winter, towards shorter, prettier, more sexy pyjamas," Ivanchenko says. "With the mini skirt coming back, women are getting used to showing off their legs again."

Finding a notable sporting male who wears pyjamas - or at least admits to wearing them - isn't easy.

Socceroo captain Charlie Yankos gave a typical response when asked if he would appear in a photo: "Never wear them, mate. I used to, under mum's influence, but I've come of age. I'm a man."

But team-mate Graham Jennings, 28, was willing to concede that, on a deathly cold night, he might just fetch a pair from the bottom drawer.

But are they sexy? "I suppose they can be," Graham says. "But you're really struggling with the flannelette ones. I think there's a lot of nice pyjamas available for women, but not really for men."

He says pyjamas aren't generally regarded as acceptable attire for brawny athletes.

"In camp I noticed that a couple of guys tucked a pair under their pillow,"he says. "They'donly go on when the lights went out."

However, according to Wayne Hogan, sales manager for Pelaco, there have been dramatic increases in the sale of men's pyjamas in recent years, "which would suggest that there's a lot of closet pyjama-wearers out there". He says pyjamas sell virtually across-the-board, but, again, there's a leaning toward the middle-aged man.

The young male's aversion to pyjamas has had a lot to do with the way the garment has been presented, Hogan claims. Always in spots, stripes and plains, pyjamas have been marketed merely as clothing for warmth, and not as something the wearer can look attractive in.

Pyjama manufacturers have begun introducing pyjamas with more daring prints, motifs and grandpa collars. Occonui-style sleep shorts have also proved very popular.

© 1988 Sydney Morning Herald

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