The History of Pajamas - A Timeline

Image courtesy of Red Carpet Fashion Awards

It's not the first time we mentioned it, and for good reason. Talk continues across the web about this hot trend, Pajama Dressing. The look appears to be a celebrity magnet, too: Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Selma Hayek, Tilda Swinton all frequently sport takes on the style.  

Naturally we are watching closely with interest - but then again, we’d always believed in great-looking, wearable PJs regardless of the hot-or-not list. In fact, we were kind of fascinated by the origins of pajamas and were keen to better understand how the Pajama Dressing trend has evolved over the centuries. We're just geeks about PJs, ok? So just for our own fun, we thought we’d share a brief timeline with you.

In the beginning, there were 'Payjamas'

PJs, Jim Jams, call them what you will, but the word 'pyjamas' or 'pajamas' (as they are more commonly referred to here in the US) comes from the Persian word 'payjama', meaning 'leg garment'. Huh.

18th century

In the 18th century throughout the middle east, Pajamas were pants tied at the waist with a drawstring, worn by both sexes and often accompanied by a belted tunic - which we’d interpret today as a night robe or dressing gown. Pajamas were picked up by Europeans whilst visiting these countries, and brought back to be worn as exotic loungewear.


It was Coco Chanel who really gave the trend its first steam in the 1920’s. The streamlined, often androgynous fashion she introduced during this period helped to popularize the wearing of pajamas by women as ready-to-wear.

1930s - 1960s

It was a fashion for 'Evening Pajamas' that took hold in the 1930s, a new type of attire for hostessing an informal yet elegant evening at home. Think Greta Garbo or Marlene Dietrich. The fashion re-emerged in the 1960s in the form of ‘Palazzo Pajamas’, thanks to Roman designer Irene Galitzine.


Love, Peace, Equality: all core values of the 1970s which helped give rise to a new kind of unisex styling. Pajamas became more menswear inspired during this decade and silhouettes were relaxed and unstructured. The satin pajamas that had been popular since the 1920s were being rediscovered, but this time by men as well as women. It was Halston that introduced the popular pantsuits of this period, for which he coined the phrase, 'Pajama Dressing'. So it appears have him to thank for the trend's latest Iteration. Go Halston. Long live the Pajama. 

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