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Do You Want To Sleep In Cartoons?

It’s January. It’s cold all over America. We need to snuggle up. And I’ve got one question for you.

Why are so many flannel pyjamas clown-like? Why do PJ makers assume that when you seek comfort you want to be covered in cartoons? Why cover our jammies with veritable billboards of anti-appeal? I think the question is answered the moment it’s asked.

But let’s pause, let that conversation about women and sexuality and seduction play out in our minds as it has over the years, and then move on to the practical. That’s what Sturdy Gals do, especially in the High WASP culture when we have exhausted our yearly single permitted use of the word “sexuality.”  Onward.

I declare it Flannel Pyjama Season, and I say we should go find ourselves a few nice pairs.

Nope. Those are silk, from Olivia von Halle. Remember? We can’t be sophisticated and fuzzy at the same time.

Brora has these, from Liberty of London. Gorgeous and sophisticated, right? But that’s a wool/cotton blend. Princesses who find peas under mattresses really hate the thought of wool next to their lounging skin.

After extensive research, including some conferring with Mater on Twitter, I did find a pair or two of cotton flannels worth your consideration.

Those Alhambra-esque fuzzies are from Pine Cone Hill.

These in gentle plaid from Elizabeth Cotton.

And these, which I recently purchased and will wear with a camisole like this, are from Bedhead. What the heck. If we’re going with a big pattern I might as well dress like the wallpaper in my London bedroom c. 1967.

That’s another story.

If nothing I’ve shown you appeals, Munki Munki is also in the game – albeit highly um, figurative, and the racks at Old Navy often offer nice patterns, although the flannel will get ratty pretty quickly. Old Navy jammies make a memorable Christmas present for family gatherings – all 18 of you can match.

As a final point, if any of you are dying to go into the garment trade, might I suggest a line of flannel PJs in in one of these patterns?

Until then, we’ll cuddle up warm and at least presentable, albeit a good 20 degrees from elegant. A tradeoff Sturdy Gals have gotten quite comfortable with, thank you very much.

Patterns are from Block Shop Textiles, The Dongan Collection, and Joseph Abboud

67 Responses

  1. While I do love flannel for warmth I have my duvet which is perfect with a nightgown…no cartoons would ever find their way into my bed unless worn by our darling grand daughter!
    Bed Head has some very nice prints out right now and I do like your other examples! Very tasteful Lisa!

  2. We are on the same wave length. I looked for flannel pj’s yesterday since our nights here by the Bay have been so cold. Didn’t find anything I liked but I do like the ones you chose.


  3. Have you given sleeping in wool a try?

    I often sleep in an icebreaker v-neck tee and it is nothing if not comfy.

  4. I am a huge fan of white bedding and flannel is a little too warm for my climate, however it certainly is the time of year for wanting to snuggle. It’s funny that before reading your post today I was searching online for PJ’s. My very favorite look in PJ’s is the pair Cameron Diaz wore in the opening scene of the Holiday. If my memory serves me correctly, they were a white on white stripe. I have searched the Internet and finally found something I hope will not disappoint but have not received them yet from Journelle.

  5. I cannot say enough good things about the pjs (and everything else) from Needham Lane! Not only are their products top quality and fabulous, Dan & Maura provide outstanding service.

  6. We’re pyjama twins! I have those Bedhead bird-print pjs, which my granddaughter likes very much. Getting to spend the day in them is, for me, a treasured luxury. . .

  7. Thanks for an entertaining post and discussion. White on white stripe sounds beautiful. Im sure that brooks brothers or vermont country store or garnet hill used to have some decent looking solid flannel pjs with a little piping.
    Immobilized in Santa Barbara with the flu, I am in traditional Lanz navy floral flannel pjs wishing I hadn’t left the leopard skin flannel pjs with matching robe -and magenta lining- at the family place in Massachusetts. WASPS know a great joke when they find it under the Christmas tree.

  8. I love Pinecone Hill and have their comfiest robe ever. Another good source is Soma. I encourage you all to take a look at their PJ’s.

    2012 Artists Series

  9. It’s odd how hard it is to find plaid flannel pajamas, especially as they used to be such a staple. One solution I’ve found is men’s pajamas though the fit isn’t quite right.

    What I’ve found lately (at Walmart, of all places) are some interesting fleece pajama bottoms. Not quite the comfort of flannel, but definitely warm, and they’ve had some interesting, non cartoony patterns. Including the hot pink leopard print that I’m currently lounging in. The colour feels very young but the pattern makes them feel a little adult.

  10. I love your ideas! As much as I love flannel, however, I prefer to sleep in knits, even here in the cold Northeast. I highly recommend Hanna Andersson’s pajama’s. My boys grew up sleeping in “Hannas” and her Swedish cottons are sublime. Some of her patterns are probably too kooky for your tastes, Lisa (unless you’re a fan of Marimekko-type prints), but many are really lovely. I wait for her sales and buy a few pairs every year or two.

  11. Hello, I needed that laugh!!! Oh, so true!! and the wall covering comment! Hilarious… Brunschwig & Fils wall coverings!!! How true! I am in tears!!
    But if you want flannel and comfort.. perhaps not-so-much sophisticated… Old Navy had these great flannel pants and beehive, long-sleeve pullovers to match that are cute a delicious. Navy with multi-colored polka dots, and a hot pink pull over.. looks great! I am in South Florida, not so cold. But my AC runs at 70 at night. I need a cold room to sleep well… so I wear my flannels under a silk duvet and I am so comfortable it is super sleep conducive. Not too hot. Just right! Oh, and socks. According to medical studies, people who sleep wearing socks sleep better!! did you know?
    Swwet dreams and thank you for a great posting!!


  12. I buy Old Navy sweat pants. They are thinner than most sweats and make wonderful jammy bottoms. Paired with old long sleeved tees and Ta -da. Great and cheap winter jammies for the frozen tundra

  13. Just back to say I think it’s funny that, as you mention above, we were Twittering about bird pyjamas. . . . Tweet, Tweet. . . (simple things amuse simple minds, what can I say?!)

  14. Thank you so much, Lisa! I recently went pajama shopping and had the same observation. I’m 48 years old and I don’t want kiddie patterns. I want something sophisticated. These are great finds. I also found Hue brand to have some decent options.

  15. I’d just love to find a pair of flannel PJ’s in a simple tartan, like the ones I had from Land’s End a decade or so ago. My current pair have little winter scenes, the least obnoxious I was able to find.

  16. Yes, cold New England nights require some type of cozy sleep attire. And my PJs should not match those of my small sons. However, DH likes flannel sheets. Those of you who are old enough to remember flannel graphs will know that flannel PJs and flannel SHEETS do not mix. Flannel sticks to flannel. Leads to very uncomfortable situations. Several years ago I found the perfect pair of PJs. The outer layer is silk/satin, very similar to the first “adult” PJs pictured above. The LINING is a very light, soft flannel. PERFECTION!!! The satiny side slides around nicely on the flannel sheets. The flannel side keeps me warm and cozy. They came in a very lovely light blue polka dot and another pair in navy. No cartoon characters.

    1. Virginia, do you know the brand of your pj’s? I once gave my mother a nightgown of that fabric, and she wore it until it fell apart. I’d love to find another one for her. Thanks.

  17. I’d like to chime in with my long-time favorites, the Green Cotton Asian Wrap pajamas from Garnet Hill. I’ve had two pair for 7-8 years and they just get softer and more comfortable every year. Lovely, grown-up patterns, too!

  18. All good points made Lisa. I am a Bedhead fan and I have the robe to match your pajamas. I just took my pink Eiffel Tower Bedhead pajamas out of the dryer and I can’t wait to put them on again this evening.
    It is most definitely the season for cozy.

    1. I don’t actually SLEEP in it. I sit in my sofa in it. And the good stuff doesn’t really pill.

  19. I prefer to sleep in a nightgown, but it’s even harder to find a long-sleeved, long nightgown than flannel pj’s without cartoon characters. I’ve finally given up and sleep in cotton knit pj’s — and I’m hoping that maybe in the still-in-transit Xmas box from the family has a new nightgown in it.

    1. I also prefer nightgowns and it is hard to find one that is not sexy in a “mating signal” sort of way, made of grannylike pastels with too much lace and flowers, synthetic or cartoonish (the truly horrible have a “funny” line that kills the passion of even the most enthusiastic husband.).

      The perfect thing to wear at night is clearly for a woman, comfortable for the season and refrains from making it clear what will happen that night.

  20. I tend to sleep in a tshirt and sweats when it’s really cold (I know; I’m so ghetto), but I really like those purple plaid PJs. Perhaps I should acquire some.

  21. Great observation. I always find myself looking at flannel PJs wondering why betty boop showed up in the ladies department.
    Flannel sheets and down comforter are my solution.

  22. I wear thermal shirts, sweats, use flannel sheets and a comforter.

    But I’m always looking for cosy flannel pj bottoms I will try Old Navy.

    Nothing at Lands End?

    I’m off for a bath and a pair of sweats-dammit.
    xo Jane

  23. I’m a nightgown woman only and wear long sleeved Calida when it is cold. They are made from the softest cotton knit imaginable. PJs of any variety are just not feminine enough for me. I know–all of us see that differently.

    1. Oh I had a Calida nightgown that I ADORED! I used to hang out in nightgowns when the kids were young. Not quite sure when I switched to PJs. I sleep in nothing, BTW, as I have always been a thrower off of sheets.

  24. Another Garnet Hill fan here. Bizarrely, they’ve already put their flannels on clearance, but you can usually rely on them to have at least one or two lovely, not at all cartoonish prints per season.

    (I also love the green cotton pajamas and will be shifting back into those once these blasted chilly temps in the SF Bay Area climb up again.)

  25. I’ll bet those wool/cotton jammies are pretty soft. I usually take the top off in bed and just sleep with a knit-t so I could go for those.

    I hope you Californians aren’t suffering too much with the extreme temperatures. It’s supposed to be cold there in the summer, not in the winter!

  26. This is a pet hate of mine. It’s very hard to find flannel pj’s in Australia, and the main, slightly more upmarket, designer in Australia leaves me cold with horrendous cartoonish prints across his range – he even did adult onesies last year. I kid you not, for both men and women. I’m in my late 30’s and the range just doesn’t appeal at all. I remember the first time I had a baby in hospital walking into some seminar on something or another and all the other new mothers were sitting in a circle wearing the latest designs from this designer, all cartoonish and bright. So ridiculous a sight it is still stuck in my mind 7 years later.

    Personally, I love a bit of Liberty print, so the Brora ones win for me.

  27. The silk pajamas are my favorite. How can you sleep with all the bright colors and patterns going on! lol! I’m not a true pajama lover because they don’t move very smoothly when one tosses and turns. It seems I’m always twisted up in them within just a few minutes. My daughter gave me a stretchy cotton set for Christmas from Urban Outfitters that I love, and they don’t argue with our flannel sheets. Socks when it dips into the 40’s and below at night, and a wonderful duvet keep it warm and toasty!

  28. Ha! That “Sesame Street” song “One of These Things Is Not Like the Other” is playing in my head right now. I’m sitting here…busted!…in turquoise flannel PJs with a bright print featuring tree branches, green leaves, and blue and pink birds. As an inveterate Artsy, I adore color, and find the bright prints so joyful on a blah, icy bleached-out winter’s day. Really helps me get through the season. I agree, though, that the prints could PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be a little more adult.

  29. I never thought I’d say this but you have given me a PJ ‘Ah-Ha’ moment. I never thought of being sophisticated and fuzzy. I grew up around plaid flannel shirts and when my boys were little, flannel sheets with cute bears roasting marshmallows over the campfire were fuzzy and warm. Seems I need to put on my big girl jammies and turn it up a notch! Keep warm, my friend. :)

  30. Ooooh I love a good flannel set of pjs and have a favourite set from TOAST in UK… It is very cold here at the moment (-4 C which is 25 F degrees) and so I have the flannel duvet and pillowcases out from TOAST too… Love your bird pjs particularly.. And a belated happy 2013 to you. x

  31. I really really like your birds wallpaper-like pijamas. My mom just got me new flannel ones, light blue with little white clouds. Simple and classic I guess.

  32. I’ve found plenty of flannel nightgowns and PJs this year with sort of funny, almost vintage looking prints on them. I even have an older pair with “movie counter” type candy on them, on a hot pink background. I enjoy them and find them amusing.

  33. While I love my red flannel pajamas with penguins on them, I agree that there is a need for grown up pajamas. We have had such unusually cold weather this winter that warm pajamas have been required wearing.

  34. Oh my word you are correct. I am need of a pajama makeover. I make the mistake of buying pants and then trying to find things that match. It DOES NOT work.

  35. Forgot about Pinecone Hill! I first saw them in (name-drop) Nantucket, in a little shop that also sold a $400 Manuel Canovas swimsuit that I wanted till I saw the price tag. The PJs seemed like a bargain after that, but I still left empty-handed. My flannel Bedheads are going strong after some seven years; my cotton sateen Bedheads are just as sturdy.

  36. Wow, what a long thread – ! I don’t sleep in pajamas, but I do like lounging around in them, trading work clothes for them at the end of the day. I have an ancient navy silk pair (men’s) that I love, for the warmth of the silk and the length of the top (which also has pockets). Agree completely with your pattern requests – speaking of which, why am I not sewing really great pajamas? Thanks for the inspiration!

  37. I have been looking for a bed jacket. Do they still exist? I do a lot of reading in bed and would love my top half to be a little warmer.

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