Things are getting pretty blustery over here in New York. Evening chills harbinger the long gloomy nights to come in January, scarves and hats are drawn over faces, friends have started hunkering down for winter hibernation. But there are a few silver linings to the bleakest months, like hot toddies, blazing fires, and cozy pajamas.
At this time of year I always find myself drawn back into a particular seasonal hobby: shopping online for onesie pajamas. It’s my guilty secret that I perpetually hope that a fuzzy one-piece pajama will fall from the sky into my life for Christmas, but I’ve never gone so far as to make this wish known to anyone who, with 5 minutes, a credit card, and an obligation to give me a present, might actually make it come true.
So let this blog post be a coming out and a wish list.
Why are all-in-one pajamas so great? Because they feel cozily and perfectly like the past. There’s a wonderfully rich air of classic Americana about them. They’re an evolution of the American union suit, a one piece item of underwear commonly worn by working men in the 19th century. Though one-piece loungewear has long since gone out of everyday use, it has been revived more recently as a style piece by retail behemoths of classic American apparel like L.L. Bean, Jockey, and J. Crew.
I won’t get so deep into any Freudian perspectives on how else a onesie transports its wearer into the past, but isn’t there also something so familiar and infantilizing about being swaddled in one continuous garment?
And at the same time, onesie pajamas are kind of sexy. They’re the opposite of corsets; they don’t give or define shape, but instead take shape from the wearer. They both can obscure the body under their tent, and they take their form from the body’s protrusions and curves, and so tend to highlight them. They make the statement that the wearer is either effortlessly casual…or is trying rather hard to make a statement–and both attitudes can be appealing.
Luckily for us, there seems to be a giant onslaught of onesies for sale this season, as, especially in the UK it seems, they’ve become a genuinely modern expression of casual lounge and a more mainstream retail category.
I’ve mentally divided modern one-piece pajamas into three categories. First is the traditional, classic union suit, usually in a thin cotton knit, in white or red.
Second is the silly, cozy printed onesie, which is usually inexpensive and bought in the spirit of Holiday fun.
Third, and newest, is the trendy onesie, which may be sold in a better boutique to women who appreciate a carefully cut garment, pay attention to the ready-to-wear trend toward rompers and overalls, and who are not trying to oversell their pajama with a loud print or bright color. These consumers are wearing onesies unironically, as a natural carryover of silhouette from the runways of a few years ago, to the streets of last summer, to the bedrooms of this winter.
This is all a very exciting turn of events for me, and hopefully for some of you too. Whereas a couple years ago, the memory of opening a box on Christmas 1989 and pulling out a fuzzy reindeer pajama may have had you groaning, now the fashion cadence has injected freshness and excitement into the holiday onesie. There is, no doubt, a new updated reindeer onesie just for you, and this year, it’ll make you squeal with delight.
Here is my roundup of some all-in-ones to suit every fancy:
What are your favorites? Do you have any warm or embarrassing memories of wearing onesies? Would you wear one now?