With the arrival of cooler weather comes the resurgence, in catalogs and department stores, of that most dubious of offerings: the two-piece set of pajamas.
Granted, not all pajamas are as hilariously improbable as the collared, button-down shirt, which makes the person wearing it look like he plans to attend a board meeting in dreamland. But even the more casual PJs, the kind that look like something you’d wear to yoga or third-grade gym class, seem way too hot and constricting for sleep.
I have a theory that pajamas were invented for the scenes in TV shows where couples are sitting up in bed talking, but are actually worn by very few real people. To lay around and watch Netflix? Sure. But personally, I’ve never seen a man fall asleep while wearing pajamas. (That is, of course, based on my own small sample.)
(Not too small, but, you know, not the Whitehall Civil Servant study either. A normal amount.)
The data on pajama-donning and -doffing is scant. What is available suggests that nightwear is, indeed, somewhat of a sartorial Potemkin: Worn to give the appearance of propriety before bed, then cast off as soon as most of its wearers hit the sheets.
In 2004, ABC News conducted a telephone poll of 1,501 American adults and found that, contrary to my theory, a nightgown or pajamas were the most common sleepwear option. But just a slight majority of women chose this option, and only 13 percent of men did. Most men said they slept either naked or in their underwear.