The history and origin of pajamas

The history and origin of pajamas

The garment we think of today as pajamas is actually a century old tradition. A pajama should be comfortable and pleasant, accompanying you in your dreams and night trips. And at GILI'S, our goal is always to make you travel and escape. So we have developed a new collection of pajamas for men, women and children! But what do we really know about pajamas?

The past of pajamas

A few centuries ago, only close family members had the opportunity to see a person's pajamas, which is why we have no real examples of what pajamas looked like 500 years ago. We are fortunate, however, to have some clues as to what these ancient sleepwear might have looked like.

In the past, the vast majority of pajamas were very simple. They were usually homemade. Unlike more modest people who were content with simple, light, long robes, members of the nobility wore more elaborate nightwear. Their night dresses were inspired by different cultures: Chinese, Indian, Roman... usually taking the form of dresses with very wide sleeves to maximize their comfort. 

The etymology of the word "pyjamas"

The word "pajama" has its origin in Hindi: "pae jama" or "pai jama", which literally translates as "garment for the legs" and dates back to the Ottoman Empire of the 13th century. Pajamas were originally for them loose pants or boxers with a simple cord to tie them. They were worn by women and men throughout the Middle East and South Asia, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Iran and southern India.

The influence of these pajamas arrived in Europe and France from the 14th century, the latter very quickly adopted by the population. It was 300 years later that almost everyone in Europe wore this kind of nightwear.

Nightwear for men

Between 1600 and 1900, nightgowns or bed shirts were similar to daygowns, with only a deeper opening in the front for comfort. For those who could afford it, their nightgowns had lace around the neck and sleeves, and were trimmed with lace on the sides of the sleeves and along the neck. It wasn't until the 20th century that new varieties of fabrics appeared; cotton, linen, plain silk, flannel, long cloth mainly. 

Over time, nightwear that came down to the ankles became known as "nightgowns", while longer versions that fell to the floor were called "nightgowns". Nightgowns did not go out of fashion until the early 20th century, closely followed by nightgowns; before being replaced by pajamas similar to those we wear today.

Women's Sleepwear

Men started varying their pajama styles long before women did. While men were getting into lace, women were keeping it simple. The traditional women's nightgown was similar to the Japanese kimono or Indian banyan: a loose-fitting dress or coat that fell to the calves, and a small belt or tie that went around the waist to keep it closed. Until the 20th century, variations of these nightgowns were very rare. The transition to modern pajamas during the 20th century involved a move away from formal habits as well as a liberation of female sexuality. Women also began to embrace the unisex look, wearing the same top and bottom sets as men.

Continue the story with GILI'S from home! We have developed a collection of pajamas to wear solo or to match; and always with original prints inspired by the founders' travels. Because traveling is not only for summer, enjoy a moment of escape even in your dreams. Find your men's, women's and children's pajamas directly on our website!