Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. Nothing quite says, “I’m in relaxation mode!” like a pair of pajama bottoms. And if you look around carefully -- or even hastily -- you’ll notice that growing numbers of your fellow countrymen and women are broadcasting their relaxed vibe all day long.
People are wearing pajama bottoms to the grocery store. To the movies. On flights. Even on the red carpet. Our infatuation with elastic waistbands and stretchy, forgiving fabrics is fast becoming a full-blown love affair -- and it’s being attributed, in part, to our recession-induced “cocooning” habits.
We’re staying home more often in the evenings, eating in more, watching movies at home, playing video games at home. More of us are even working from home. With that much at-home time on the agenda, why not be comfortable?
OK, that makes sense. But should we stay comfortable no matter where we roam? Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst for the market research firm NPD Group, describes what’s happening as “the casualization of America.”
“This has reached epidemic proportions,” said Cohen, who studies clothing and apparel trends. “You used to see someone wearing pajamas in the grocery store and you’d feel bad for them because you’d think they’ve been sick for two weeks and are just now getting out of the house. But no, that’s not true.”
Cohen teaches classes at three universities, and he said it’s common for students on all three campuses to show up for class wearing pajama bottoms with short- or long-sleeved T-shirts or hoodie sweatshirts.
Cohen noted that pajama sales are definitely on the rise in the United States, but the numbers can be tricky to track because of the way PJs are being bought and sold.
Forget stuffy, striped, formal-looking sets. These days, pajama bottoms are sold separately for both men and women and are often paired with T-shirts. (Do the T-shirts have to be bought at the same time, or do they even have to match? Heck, no.)
As for the pants themselves, they get described in all sorts of ways by consumers (and retailers): casual pants; dorm pants; lounge pants; loungers; track pants; pajama pants. Some have patterns; some don’t. Most have this in common: They have drawstrings, they’re soft and comfortable enough to sleep in, and they’re selling like crazy.
“Before this, pajamas were really a Christmas item,” said Joseph Goldstein, chief executive officer of the retail inventory evaluation firm R.I.D. Corp. “They sold for six weeks before Christmas as a gift, but any other time of the year it was basically a dead item. Now you have an item that people buy for themselves ... and nightwear is a more thriving business. It’s a 12-month business that used to be a six-week business.”
Well, comfort seekers, if you want to pretend, at least, that you’re not wearing pajamas to the grocery store, you can always give these Pajama Jeans a try.