Pajamanomics or Why I Dread Getting Ready for Bed

This morning I heard a woman on a doctor’s call-in show complain that her husband told her that she shouldn’t wear socks to bed because her feet wouldn’t be able to breathe. It was a bone of contention between them–she said. According to the doctor, the husband’s argument was specious. Feet don’t actually need to breathe any more than hands or elbows do. But it brings up a good point: Are socks appropriate in bed? What, exactly, is proper sleeping attire when you’re part of a bed-sharing couple?

Victoria Beckham sleeps in only gloves and socks. (Some things just should be kept private, don’t you think? I really don’t want to know this. But now that I’ve shared it with you, I feel better.)

I’ve had pajama issues since I was twelve or so–about the time my mom stopped choosing most of my clothes.

I found myself stuck between this:

And this:

(I scanned a cute Christmas jammies pic of my sisters and me–but I have zero idea where my scanner/printer actually sent the file….I’ve only had the printer two years now. Maybe next year I’ll figure it out.)

Between the ages of thirteen and twenty-something, my mind goes kind of blank. Really. In the 1970’s, there were lots of things made of polyester and a version of it called Quiana…

But seriously–no self-respecting teenager would wear this:

And the world hadn’t quite gotten to this level of fantasy:

To be honest, I spent many years sleeping just like this kid–in my clothes:

But when I did manage to dress for bed, it was always in some kind of enormous t-shirt. When did t-shirts come into vogue? It seems like one minute I was wearing a completely dorky gym uniform–no lie, even in eighth grade public school. The one I remember best was made up of red jersey shorts with an ATTACHED red and white striped sleeveless top. Mortifying!

Then, suddenly, we were all wearing these: (Insert your rock band or favorite baseball team or Adidas logo here)

Even now, I tend to think t-shirt first when I’m getting ready for bed. Habit, I guess.

I got married (and married) along the line, so I got lots of presents like this–

Bed, yes. Sleeping, no.

And then the kids came along and it was nursing-in-the-night time:

Gosh, I wonder how we even got past one child…It must not have been winter:

Finally, though, I came to feel that the whole flannel thing was just giving up, you know?

For my fortieth birthday, I went to San Francisco–and Las Vegas (long story). I bought bags and bags full of wonderful pajamas: Silk gowns and robes. Frothier, but more substantial things than the post-wedding attire I once owned. I discovered Flora Nikrooz and Natori (models not included).

Even almost six years later, I have all but the most delicate pieces I bought. I hand wash them and hang them neatly. They’re my treasures.

There’s a catch, though. To wear pajamas that are always pretty and comfortable and season-appropriate, one has to spend a lot of money. Frequently. Oh, sure, the department-store brands are nice until they’re washed nine or ten times and you get jelly on them or orange marker or caulk. We must have everyday things for everyday times.

And so I’m back to pajama-confusion. I don’t even like to look in my overstuffed jammie drawer when the lights are on. Sure, I banished the sweats I wore for way too long after the nursing periods ended. And there’s nary a flannel gown in sight. But I’ve yet to find the perfect pajamas–pajamas that leave me happy, and comfy and yet not repellent to my bed-sleeping partner. (Yes, P. I’m apologizing officially for the sweats and the “Aw, Shuck Off” tshirt I got down in Hilton Head the year before we met. So sorry.)

A woman I know (she ended up in one form in one of my novels) used to brag that her husband would never let her wear pajamas. It was most annoying. She wasn’t even hot-looking and the image scarred me for life. I wonder sometimes if she ever missed pajamas. I confess that her way was much simpler–She probably wouldn’t suffer the same angst I feel every time I approach that dresser drawer.

Someday I will find the perfect pajamas–

They may look like this:

At least then I wouldn’t have to deal with the whole socks-in-bed thing.

Is there a category of clothing you have long-term issues with? Outerwear? Socks?

TUESDAY: The legendary novelist Raymond Benson lets me interview him. After this post, he may be too embarrassed, but I already have it in the queue!


Hey, Paula Matter! Congratulations–Meredith Cole will send you a copy of Posed for Murder if you email me at and send me your address. (Please be in touch within the week, or she’ll have to choose someone else….)

4 thoughts on “Pajamanomics or Why I Dread Getting Ready for Bed”

  1. Hey beautiful,

    Loved this post! It’s true that certain images scar — I remember being about six years old, watching the Richard Simmons show and him saying that he only slept in the nude and couldn’t stand to have any clothes at all touching him during his post-work-out pep talk. Why we needed to know this, I don’t know. But I still remember it. I’ve tried everything under the sun — but I usually stick with the t-shirt option (one particular horror came from a bar in Detroit called Skinnys where a) no one was remotely skinny and b)the t-shirt I won in the raffle was a size 2XX which makes it look like a truly awful dress). I’ve heard women say that they use their nightwear to signal to men whether they want to have sex or not. God, sleeping gets complicated!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I won, I won! I won Meredith Cole’s book! How very cool. Thanks, Meredith and Laura.

    Fortunately, you can’t see me jumping up and down in my jammies (sweats, t-shirt, socks). And, yes, I know it’s 5 PM. I figure I’ll be all set for bedtime.

    Paula Matter

  3. Thanks, sweet Michelle. Like my mental images of Richard Simmons weren’t already terrifying enough!

    Paula–You’re absolutely welcome.
    I had a friend once who said it didn’t make sense to make up the bed when she was just going to get back into it later. My current ensemble includes both Uggs and a hoodie. Might as well be jammies!

  4. Whatever makes you comfortable I think. I’m a fan of the t-shirt. When I’m at home on a weekend and spend all day writing I usually stay in my pyjamas.

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