As a lover of 1930s fashion, in my humble opinion one of the most stylish garments to emerge from the 20s and 30s were beach or ‘lounge’ pyjamas. They just ooze elegance and sophistication and are visually very iconic. Until the 1920s, pyjamas were pretty much only worn as sleepwear, then sometime in the 1920s they made their way outdoors as a cover-up over swimming costumes on the beaches of the French Riveria. When crepe pyjamas were first worn at the seaside, trouser wearing women were rare sight and still very much confined to beach and promenade areas.
The trend took off all over the globe (the photo above is from the UK) and beach pyjamas soon also became casual-wear for less formal outdoor events in the warmer months. Many women took to wearing them around the home as ‘lounging pyjamas’ when entertaining or just relaxing.
In the 1920s, beach or lounge pajamas were usually a top and trouser set with matching jacket. By the 1930s, one-piece, jumpsuit-style pajamas were very popular and many featured a very wide leg. Fabric like shantung, linen or cotton was accepted for the for beach and lounging pajamas, but as they became widely popular in the 1930s, many were also available in rayon. Pyjamas were made in an amazing array of bold colors and patterns, as you will see in some of pictures and old advertisements I have added here. Many of the patterns were influenced by Japanese and Chinese art which was seen as very exotic at that time.
With lounge pyjamas a new category of clothing emereged: resort wear. With it’s bright designs and lightweight fabrics, resort wear was all about relaxing and holidaying and even today, when viewing the elegant vintage posters advertising these garments, I immediately think of luxury yachts, beaches, boardwalks and sunny weather. I have a wonderful 1930s Australian travel poster advertising Bondi Beach and all the women illustrated wearing beach pyjamas. With our weather here in Oz – they must have a been a blessing back in the day 🙂
Stars like Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford had a lot to do with making lounging pyjamas extremely popular worldwide as they donned them in several of their movies during the 1930s and women everywhere took notice.
I hope you enjoy some of my favourite images here. I regularly wear and own many pairs of high-waisted, flowy, wide legged trousers, which I find extremely flattering, so I’m a big fan of beach pyjamas. Which reminds me; I am still to make a pair from a Wearing History pattern (below) that I purchased early this year. My friend Lauren has done a wonderful job of putting this pattern together, so if you love lounging PJs, you can now indulge yoursel. Also, thanks to La Mode Pyjama for her wonderful blog containing a collection of beautiful photos, vintage advertising, posters and patterns of beach and lounging PJs. It’s where I pilfered some of these pics from 🙂