Rarely do comfort and style coexist amicably. Except during sleepaway camp, of course.
Summer camp was the time to wear your pajamas as often as possible. It was regarded as a privilege — a “pajama privilege” — afforded on the most special occasions. As such, pajamas were not something to be taken lightly; along with one’s stationery collection, they were a marker of status — nay, the marker of status. They could win you a title as color war captain or, at the very least, a gaggle of girls all seven years your junior who would be willing to French braid your hair — while doting on you and telling you how pretty you are — at the drop of a hat. At camp, where Lucky Charms were one’s sustenance and water aerobics the hardest class to get into, pajamas were our currency. They could be traded for a fresh slice of New Hampshire pizza or, if you were lucky, twenty honey sticks and two Ferrero Rochers.
Perhaps that’s why the only snack I had to my name was a 7-month-old, beaten up box of Fiber One cereal.
While other girls strutted about in their Paul Frank and Roxy matching PJ sets, unearthing their feather pens and doodling in their holographic, monogrammed stationery, I could be found in mismatched, haggard, decades-old university wear — passed onto me from my dad and other relatives — while munching on a dry bowl of cup-n-noodles. I was not, as they say, a happy camper.
Nor was the pajama landscape any less fierce back home; I’d listen to Santana and Rob Thomas on loop, dreaming of the day I could call a pair of Joe Boxers mine. But until then, I would dutifully lie during every sleepover at a friend’s house that I had “left my Joe Boxers at home.”
I can only surmise that it was my vast array of scrubs (for which I had my uncle, surgeon at Mass General, to thank) that got me invited back. Though it could have just as well been my upper lip shadow that was beginning to sprout (and which, I might add, just titillates a group of 10-year-old girls).
It must have been a gradual shift, but the day that pajamas no longer mattered — the day that I could finally admit that I’m most comfortable sleeping in the nude anyway — was surely a happy one. Yet here we are again, with pajamas in high demand, and I’ll be damned if I don’t do it right this time.
The good news is that the pajamas making the rounds now are as perfectly acceptable worn out as they are worn inside. I believe “sleek” was the word someone used to compliment my new PJ shirt that I wore out to dinner just the other night. It’s a hell of a lot roomier than my (former) favorite Victorian lace blouse that, when fully clasped, barely allows oxygen down my esophagus. And, unlike those Levis that I finally sold to the closest Buffalo Exchange that would take them, wearing pajamas full time does not require dehydration.
Even styling a pajama shirt is easy. It stands out on its own (which means it doesn’t require any extra fluff) and looks best when dressed down – with a pair of jeans or leather pants.
Below, some of the best pajama shirts out there to get you started.