How World War I Started a Revolution In Sleepwear

In the 21st century, we’re used to seeing people wear pajamas to Walmart, but back in the early 1900s, it was practically unheard of for people to wear PJs at all — even in the bedroom. It took the Zeppelin air raids across parts of World War I in Britain to prompt the marketing of pajamas. Before the turn of the 20th century, both men and women wore nightgowns, so even pajamas for men were relatively new around 1900. When the Zeppelin air raids began in 1915, women and children could suddenly become victims of war in their own beds. Magazines began suggesting that women should wear more practical sleepwear, the kind that made them look presentable should they bump into their neighbors in the streets at 3 a.m. Pajamas were warmer and practical, and their pockets were useful for storing things necessary in an emergency. By 1918, about a third of all women were wearing pajamas to bed, demonstrating their popularity. By 1920, the nightwear had made its way across the pond, and pajamas became fashionable, even appearing on actress Claudette Colbert in the 1934 film It Happened One Night.