We all know what pajamas are in modern times, but where did this trend of clothing just for sleeping originate? If you have ever wondered where these cozy garments came from, then we have you covered with a few fun facts regarding the history of pajamas!

1- They originated in India

When looking at the history of pajamas, there is no way to pinpoint the exact starting point. There is no patent or claim for inventing the first pajama! There are records of people in India wearing special garments to bed dating as far back as the Ottoman Empire.


above: Girl in India Wearing Pajamas and Kurti By "by the Hon. Miss Eden, drawn on the stone by L. Dickinson." - plate 18 of Emily Eden's Portraits of the Princes and People of India, 1844 British Library

The original "pajamas" are loose, lightweight trousers fitted with drawstring waistbands and worn by many Indian Muslims, as well as Sikhs and Hindus, and later adopted by Europeans during British East India Company rule in India

2- The word isn’t always spelled the same way

The word “pajamas” wasn’t always spelled that way. In fact, in England, they are still pyjamas. The word pajama comes from the words pae jama in Hindi which means leg clothing or leg garment.

3- Classification changed in the mid-1800s

When looking at interesting facts about the history of pajamas, it is worth noting that things shifted considerably in the 1800s. While pajamas were once seen as only for the wealthy, more people started wearing them because the poor couldn’t afford heating so they used them to stay warm while the upper class used them to show their status by choosing exotic materials and designs the lower class couldn’t afford.


This made pajamas more mainstream and would lead the way for sleepwear becoming a staple in the wardrobe of just about everyone. During this time, pajamas for women and men were long gowns in England, but there were also what we now call long johns worn by men in particularly cold climates.

4- Early 1900s saw lace and bows

In the early 1900s, PJs were becoming more decorative. This period saw the first embellishments of bows and lace on pajamas to make them about style and not just function. This was the time leading into the Roaring Twenties when glamour would take center stage, even in your sleep.


5- The 1920s brought big glamour

In the 1920s, pajamas were about glamour thanks to the public’s fascination with movie stars and hot new designers like Coco Chanel. This was a time when jammies were meant to be elegant and fashionable to the max. Most PJs of this era featured lace, played up texture elements, and were worn with long robes reaching all the way to the floor. This era wasn’t meant to last though as WWII would make such glamorous jammies less practical and attainable. Pajamas would go back to being simpler in nature for most people in the post-war era.

6- The popularity of tailored pant sets expands

The iconic scene in It Happened One Night when Claudette Colbert wears Clark Gable's tailored men's pajamas helped this style of pajama become a favorite the world over.

tailored pajamas

The button up shirt with matching pants was perfect for men and women looking for comfort to sleep in style. This new style revolutionized the category known as sleepwear to make it the perfect blend of function and style the whole night through.

7- Family Matching Pajamas become mainstream

For years the tradition of wearing matching family pajamas existed on social media. Recently, this tradition has really exploded with companies everywhere getting in on the action. Families are making their Christmas card pictures more unique with family Christmas pajamas, having holiday pajama parties, or adding a bit of fun to the tradition of giving pajamas on Christmas Eve. Whatever the reason, this tradition is growing in popularity and families everywhere are adding a bit more fun to their holiday traditions!

family matching christmas.jpg