Is it ok to wear pyjamas in public?
There is nothing better than lounging around in your PJs on a Saturday morning. Or even slipping into them on a Friday evening straight from work. And it’s just a little too convenient to keep them on while you grab a quick late night snack, coat thrown over the top of your night wear because you just can’t be bothered to change. Let’s face it, we’ve all done it!
Through the pandemic there has been even more of a call for comfortable clothing. With more people working from home than ever before, there is a renewed national need for comfort. We’ve all heard about Zoom meetings where someone has a shirt on their top half and pyjama pants on their lower half!
But there is an interesting debate at the moment about whether it is ever ok to wear pyjamas out in public (in the Brand Threads office, at least!). We sell A LOT of pyjamas, so really they should be suitable office attire, in our eyes. But we’re probably slightly biased…
That said, we might be a little shocked to see someone rocking their PJs in the supermarket! So with this in mind, we thought we would explore this topic more – and try to get to the bottom of why people think pyjamas are unsuitable attire for out of the home.
How did the debate on wearing pyjamas in public start?
Debate on the topic gained national attention in 2010 when a Cardiff-based Tesco store issued a statement about appropriate shopping attire after customers urged the stores to ban pyjamas while shopping. The St Mellons store stated that ‘footwear should be worn at all times’ and that ‘nightwear was not permitted.’
However, other Tesco stores did not follow suit. Tesco head office stated that they ‘did not have a strict dress code’ in any of their stores, but they did go on to say that they ‘didn’t encourage people to wear nightwear as this might cause embarrassment to other shoppers.’
Then in 2017, two women were spotted in a supermarket in Manchester going about their weekly shop decked out in pyjamas and dressing gowns. This simple act sparked a frenzy of debate online with many people branding them ‘lazy’ for not bothering to make the effort to get dressed, and with some people going as far as saying it was ‘disgusting.’
The school run was also a target for debate when a head teacher at a school in Darlington sent a letter home to parents requesting that parents did not dress in nightwear and slippers when dropping off their children.
How do we think about pyjamas in our society?
For many people, pyjamas are considered intimate clothing – something you put on at bedtime to wear through the night to stay warm and comfortable. Traditionally, pyjamas were a loose fitting jacket and trousers but pyjamas, nightwear and loungewear now come in all sorts of guises.
Clothing is a personal choice, and many people use clothes as a way of expressing their individuality and style. These days, pyjamas give you the chance to embrace a little fun, allowing you to explore a playful side of your personality. Many adults use it as an opportunity to embrace a favourite cartoon character or a cheeky slogan, trying out more vibrant colours than a normal daytime wardrobe. For most people, only those closest to them get to see this more personal side – while the clothing you wear in the day represents the more reserved side you show to the rest of the world.
So in many cases, pyjamas are thought of as a private item of clothing you share with your nearest and dearest only. For many, wearing these items in public could be thought of as ‘embarrassing.’ The way we think of ourselves in pyjamas and how we think of others in pyjamas is part of a set of social norms that we have developed throughout our lives.
Is it socially acceptable to wear pyjamas in public?
Let’s take a minute to chat about social norms and social pressures. Opinions on what is appropriate to wear in certain situations often stem from what society deems as ‘a norm.’
A social norm is an unwritten rule of beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that are ‘deemed’ acceptable in a specific social group or culture. In the UK, we have different socially acceptable norms to other countries, many of which are a big part of our culture. There are many social ‘rules’ in our everyday lives, which is why we may feel confused when faced with a situation that isn’t within our usual rules – like rules on which clothes can be worn when.
Respectable ‘out of the house’ attire norms are what dictates to us whether we feel it’s socially acceptable to wear pyjamas in public. Many of the comments in the original debate were based on the idea that when people leave their home, they should be wearing suitable clothing and not clothing that is meant to be worn within the home only. With this in mind, many of the comments associated pyjamas with being ‘slovenly’ or ‘not caring about their appearance.’ Pyjamas are for home. That’s the rule.
Except rules change – especially unwritten ones. Cultural attitudes shift over the years – what was deemed as respectable to wear thirty or forty years ago seems outdated in modern times. Fashions come and go, and the ‘rules’ change and develop with them. These days, many trends encourage a more laid back style; baggy trousers, sportswear as smart wear, socks and sandals…
Of course there are ‘rules’ of society and actual legal rules. So while many may still be ‘frowned upon’ when wearing pyjamas in the supermarket, is there any actual law stopping you from doing it?
Is it illegal to wear pyjamas in public?
The simple answer is no. However, there are certain situations where the law dictates that we wear appropriate clothing. One of these situations is driving.
While it’s not illegal to wear pyjamas while you’re driving, it is illegal to wear clothing or footwear that isn’t considered safe. Slippers, for example, are a pretty big ‘no’ when driving as they may slip off and get stuck under a pedal. In the same way, it’s important to consider the implications of wearing loose long trousers while driving. In fact, any clothing that may get in the way of you operating a car safely could be deemed legally unsuitable. So while no law specifically prohibits driving in PJs, if yours are loose-fitting and you’re wearing them with slippers, they may not be a safe (or even legal) choice for the school run.
Choice is what it’s all about
There is a general movement in our society these days towards being yourself and being comfortable in your own skin, having the freedom not to be judged by society. Misconceptions and outdated social norms are being challenged on a daily basis, and a movement towards acceptance of all people is definitely afoot.
We firmly believe in doing what makes you happy in life, and choosing the way you present yourself to the world should be just that. A choice.
If you choose to don your favourite pair of Disney pyjamas for a jaunt to the supermarket, who are we as a society to judge? You may be a tired new Mum who really needs emergency baby wipes and getting dressed is the last thing on your mind. You may be a bride in urgent need of a last minute gift bag for one of your bridesmaids, and putting on clothes is simply going to ruin your freshly-done hair. You may even just like your pyjamas better than your regular clothes!
We know a thing or two when it comes to pyjamas
At Brand Threads, we may be just a little bit more experienced in pyjamas than most. In fact, we’ve been in the business of character clothing since 2001. So if you do decide to wear your PJs out and proud in Britain’s supermarkets, we have an outstanding range to choose from. We really care about what we do, which is why many of our pyjamas are made from organic cotton – so you know you are getting a quality pair of jim jams that will be kind to your skin.
We also really care for our environment and practice sustainability in all aspects of our business. We support environmental projects, including planting a tree for every order. In fact, we are able to plant over 20,000 new trees a year.
And we don’t just do pyjamas…we also have clothing ranges for men, women and kids of all ages. So if you don’t fancy a trip out in your pyjamas just yet, you can always wear something else we stock instead!