What’s the Story behind Pajamas?

What’s the origin of pajamas?

Recently clothing stores have been packing out their winter wear. Fluffy, colorful pajamas can be found all over. It got me thinking when in history did we humans decide that a separate “outfit” was needed as sleepwear. Here are some interesting facts about the origin of pajamas.

Sleep garments were first worn in the eighteen hundreds by both men and women from Turkey, India, Iran and Persia. The actual word originates from the Persian words pae (pay) jamah(s) meaning ‘leg’ and ‘clothing, because pajamas originated as loose pants, tied at the waist.



During the British occupancy of India, this clothing tradition was carried over into the Western World and by the nineteenth century it was the norm for men to go to bed with long leggings and long sleeved tops.

It was only during the period of World War 1 that women followed in pursuit, wanting to sleep in more comfortable clothing.


The last few years has seen a comeback of one-piece or “onesies” in the pajama market. A one fitting sleep garment was quite the norm in Europe.

Onesie Pajamas from footedpajamasblog

Back in the day, people sewed socks to the bottom of their pajama pants. Not only was it to keep their feet warm during those extreme European winters, it was also to prevent bugs like termites from nibbling on their feet!

We wear pajamas because it is comfortable, loose fitting and designed in such a way to allow our skin to breath in summer, and to be warmly wrapped up in winter. Synthetic materials such as polyester and cotton are mostly used to manufacture these.

Thin Thighs program on Enjoy Life

The pajama market is quite successful in South Africa. Male, female and children’s sleepwear is very commonly purchased and the price range is not on the low side either. For men there are trendy bottoms – whether long or short, with matching t-shirts. The variants for children match those of the men. The ladies do however have a huge selection to choose from. Long dresses, short dresses, two-pieces, some trendy, some old fashioned and some plain sexy!

Velvet Ladies Pajamas

I personally love getting into clean, fluffy winter pajamas after a hot bath in the winter months. Perhaps our previous generations loved it for that very same reason.

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