I’ve never been to bed with a man who wears regular pyjamas like my Dad did. I don’t know whether this fact has any significance at all. One of them wore a huge babygrow and still it took me ages to work out that his strange sexual proclivities had something to do with this fact. For the most part the men in my life have worn nothing or regular T shirts that reveal their cute little backsides. The problem is that as we all grow older the tshirts lose their charm, as the cute little backsides start to droop and take on the elasticity of an elephant’s arse. My Frenchman wears a very chic elongated T but has as yet no need to worry. Or perhaps like his President, known to all across the channel as Bling, he has a personal trainer with a strict backside brief. Is it true that Bling really thinks his thrusting equipment needs attention? Could it be something to do with Carla’s oft quoted confession that she wants a man with nuclear power? Oh dear!
So all the pyjamas I have loved have been on me. My experience is that men much prefer me in pyjamas probably because it takes the semiotic pressure off them- you know what delicate plants they can become when faced with performance anxiety. Sometimes if I feel saucy, I will wear just the top like Doris Day did with Rock in many films. With long legs and flicked up hair. But that was some time ago. What I have given up is going to bed in black satin with my bits hanging out. About time too.
I have measured my life in pyjamas. My all-time favourites were a pair of Japanese cotton ones in plaid gingham, blue white and red on one side and totally lined with blue and white check gingham on the other. How I loved those pyjamas. They washed and ironed like new, had a big top and ankle length trousers and made me feel cool and … Japanese. They cost me four pounds in a charity shop and I wore them until they became threadbare. Even then I couldn’t say goodbye. I cut them into squares and put them in the rag bag for dusters that still make me smile. My second favs were brushed cotton; sky blue with large pink spots. I sobbed my way through the end of two relationships in those and they are still brought out every so often for an airing if times are tough. I think they work like a comfort blanket.
Many years ago when I was doing needlework O levels, I made a pair of pyjams from a Butterick pattern in a material that was cheap because my mother said there was no point in spending good money on something that was never going to work. She was right. The hems frayed, the pockets were lop-sided and the general impression was most unattractive, yet she still shouted at me for what she called ‘parading’ in them before my uncles. I was totally confused by this adolescent traipse into taboo-land. I could have understood it if it had been the baby doll pyjamas that I was careful to cover up if I wandered into grown up territory. It was the time of the Caroll Baker film and they were flimsy lemon cotton with an elasticated neck that could be pulled off the shoulder and sweet little lace trimmed knickers. I spent hours in front of the mirror being Baby Doll in those.
Then there were the tropical years when pyjamas and /or anything comforting was off limits. I’m glad that my love affair with night gear wasn’t spoiled by the painful memories of those years. There I draw a sartorial blank.
Childhood pyjamas were brushed cotton like the sheets and kept me warm in houses without any central heating. Happy nights were spent curled up watching television with a mug of Bovril and my pink or blue flower strewn pyjamas and thick wooly dressing gown.
The leopard print pyjamas came later, after self- consciousness had entered the mix. All through those later years I favoured the semiotic signifiers: latex, black PVC, leather, and leopard skin -but I’m only owning up to the latter in bed. Over the years the chorus of leopardskin has been played out in sea island cotton, silk,chiffon, voile and cashmere. The latter is a late development and satisfies my deep love of irony. Expensive slut. I know it’s a cliche but I also know that women my age are drawn to the wildcat look. We like to remember perhaps or maybe we see it as a trade off, skin for skin? Either way, remember what makes us feel sexy IS sexy.
But increasingly that’s not the point. It’s back to the big brushed cotton and dressing gown combo, wrapped up on the sofa with a mug of milky malt to make me sleep sound. I wouldn’t, quite frankly, be anywhere else on this long journey but it’s great to look back, remember the pjs I have loved and relive the feelings.