The “What to wear to bed?” dilemma

Nighties (Photo credit: Pete Lambert)

The easy answer, of course, is nothing.

After another fruitless quest in the sleepwear department, I came home with one simple black nightshirt. Black? Seems a bit sad, really.

Josie Natori, one of the country’s top sleepwear and lingerie designers, got into this business in the 1970s when she deemed sleepwear “lewd or frumpy.”

That just about sums it up — still.

Here’s what a woman gets to choose from, at least at Lord & Taylor, one of the U.S.’s better department stores:

Slut city! Gah. The whole red/black lace, spaghetti strap, this-will-slide-off-really-fast thing. This takes a level of self-confidence I never had, even many pounds and decades ago.

Daddy’s little girl. Yes, if you’re 16, or you have no desire to ever have sex with the person who sees you in it. Every nightie is floor-length, only in white, pale blue or pink. It has a little lace, or a lot of ruffles. It covers up all of you. It will keep you warm. It will not get you laid.

— Granny called and she wants her muumuu back. I miss my maternal grandmother fiercely; she died when I was 18. She was loaded and a grande dame and a lot of fun. She lived in capacious silky, colored caftans like these. (I admit, this is the style I prefer, both modest enough to wear for breakfast when visiting others and pretty enough to lounge in.) Easily enough slithered out of, too.

Just leave the Taittinger and roses by the door. These are the real deal, gorgeous gowns in silk prints by Josie Natori, (a canny former Wall Street exec who has made kajillions designing and selling really pretty underthings for women) and Donna Karan. I would have killed for the Karan silk caftan, but $300? I think not.

— Pretty young thing. I was sorely tempted by a lovely little slip by Kensie, a label aimed at 20-somethings, in an unusual cream color with a cable-knit print. It was both affordable, unusual and pretty. Maybe I’ll go back.

— Dorm special. Any combo of sweat pants and hoodie/henley. Cute at 20, giggling til 2:00 a.m. with the girls. Less so beyond.

It’s not much better for men.

I went out to buy some pajamas for my husband and found:

— Duuuuuuuuude! Floppy, baggy, saggy flannel bottoms with a plaid so huge you could read it from the moon.

– Where are my damn slippers? The final line ofย  “My Fair Lady” rings true when you consider the Henry Higgins-ish elegance of silk or cotton pajamas, a la Brooks Brothers. Veddy old-school, veddy debonair. Zzzzzzzzzzzz.

— Hand me my axe. The nightshirt thing. Thick flannel, manly, brawny, whatever.

So our default mode, for both of us, ends up being a T-shirt and some sort of bottom. Pretty boring but comfortable, warm and affordable. I wish I had the guts to wear some slinky little negligee but it’s just not me and never has been.

And if I can’t be comfortable in my own bed, the hell with it.

Here are 16 ggggggorgeous sets of PJs from (where else?) the October issue of Vanity Fair.

Fess up mes cher(e)s! What do you and/or your sweetie wear to bed?

Do you — or your bed-mate — love it?

23 thoughts on “The “What to wear to bed?” dilemma

  1. T shirt and pants – cotton in the summer, flannel in the winter. And (these days with the storm blowing through) usually a pair of thick and fuzzy socks as well. J. is always terminally overheated and thinks my need for bundling is ridiculous. I should point out that he steal the blankets with alarming regularity so the bundling might be a preemptive strike!

  2. Nemesis

    Girlies… Have such novel ‘problems’.

    A welcome respite, Ms. Malled. Thank you.

    All right then… I rather prefer my BirthdaySuit. But I’m ‘OldSchool’. Naturally, when at sea – skivvies are the preferred medium. All the more so when you allow that today’s Navy is CoEd.

    Things were so much simpler… ‘Alas’.

  3. Julia

    I have always loved flannelette to sleep in but now I find it, ahem, too hot. Now my sweetie’s soft, worn cotton XL t-shirt is the one I love best. Actually I have a few in rotation for sleeping, culled from his collection.

  4. Husband is all bare … nothing comes between him and his sheets unless it’s me. (oops, that was naughty, I know) I tend to prefer soft cotton boxers for women, (girls really, even though I left girlhood behind a long time ago) and tank tops with my boxers in summer, or silky brushed cotton t-shirts in winter. I can’t believe I’m telling you and the rest of this world this … and I thought I gave away all my secrets on my own blog!

  5. Miss Molly

    When with the WASband I was too self-conscious NOT to wear clothes to bed. I felt fat and ugly, definitely not sexy. I hated it because no matter what I wore I was always tangled up, too hot and didn’t sleep well.

    Then I met my current guy… I have to chuckle remembering the first time that we slept in the same bed. I came to bed in my usual PJ’s covered head to toe and he was already in bed. I slid in next to him and imagine my surprise to feel nothing but skin… hehehehe

    I wear NOTHING to bed anymore, he never has. I LOVE IT! I’m almost 40 lbs heavier than when I met him and I still feel sexy naked. I sleep so much better and am warmer than ever, but not uncomfortably hot.

    The only down side? Trying to find my robe and slippers when something unexpected (like grand-kids) come into the room and want to snuggle.

    Hopefully that wasn’t TMI but you did ask.

  6. Is it wrong that I’ll admit to frumpy? I usually wear loose flannel or cotton pj pants and a t-shirt, year round. I like some of the fancy (not come hither, but black and white movie-esque) things, but they just don’t make sense for my life. Husband wears his undies, then complains it’s cold. ๐Ÿ˜€

  7. ashikkin

    Prefer cotton knee length nightie but sometimes opt for spaghetti strap baby dolls then find myself slipping back into the first choice before sunrise in case the kiddies storm into the bedroom ๐Ÿ™‚ Sweetie prefers a good pair of boxers

  8. thebrokegirl

    I have a hard time finding blogs that I can get into, but yours has such a funny, witty tone to it. I can tell already that it’s going to be addicting!

  9. For preference, nothing (that’s my husband’s favourite choice for my pjs as well :-)). However…the arrival of the children put a stop to that. It’s not that I object to them seeing me with nothing on, it’s more the practicality of leaping out of bed at dark o’thirty in response to a child’s cry and FREEZING if it’s winter. Or having to clean up a bed which has been wet, or vomited in. Or having to go downstairs to get medicine and the like. And the first 2 kids weren’t great sleepers until they were about 18 months old (the last two were the same). Now that I have a collection of 4 teens and a pair of 6-year olds, it’s a little about modesty as well. So my sleepwear is a thin strap camisole and I have some lovely brushed cotton 3/4 pants which feel nice and aren’t too hot and which I can wear year round. Oh, and my husband is a total heat generator. Loved this post, nice to have a frivolous one!

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