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Stop Wearing Pajamas in Public — Now

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If you’re a grown-up person who has not recently been diagnosed with a mental disorder, and you’ve gone out in public in your pajamas, you need to know two things. First of all, you look like an idiot, and secondly, stop doing this. Immediately.

Wearing pj’s in public is not a new thing, nor is the misguided notion that pajamas can be somehow fashionable. Vogue and Elle magazines began covering flannel-print-pajama bottoms as daywear in 2013. Teen Vogue recently published a layout titled "Stylish Ways to Wear Pajamas in Public."

In the long-ago 1940s, pajamas made fashion news, but not as daywear. When the actress Bette Davis turned up in her 1942 film Old Acquaintance sporting her beau’s pajama top as a nightie, it caused a fashion revolution: I. Magnin clothing buyer Bertie Strausser told The New York Times that she sold out of men’s sleepwear the morning after the movie opened, and all of it to young women. The men’s-pj-top-as-nightie fad resurfaced more than a decade later, thanks again to celebrity entertainment: When leading lady Janis Paige took the stage in George Abbott’s 1954 Broadway musical Pajama Game, clad only in the top half of humpy John Raitt’s sleep set, gals went wild and began copying the look. (It didn’t hurt that Raitt followed her onstage wearing only the other half of his ensemble.)

Back then, no one was wearing these get-ups in public.

I get it. You’re in a hurry; your pajamas are comfy; you’re just dashing to Safeway for coffee filters; you plan to spend the day in your bathrobe anyway. Too bad. I am also at Safeway, and just before leaving the house I spent an entire half-minute pulling on this pair of blue jeans and this hoodie, so that you wouldn’t have to see me in the striped flannel bottoms and the holey v-neck I wore to bed last night.

I’m not asking you to show me the same courtesy. I’m demanding it. And not just because you look like a pig, but because I suspect you think you’re promoting some kind of affront to fashion, or maybe giving the finger to what’s socially appropriate, and you’re wrong.

Probably you think they’re breaking rules by refusing to get dressed before leaving the house. When hippies looked like slobs in the 1960s, they were making a larger point about upending the conservative thinking and disingenuous politics that were destroying our nation. Their counterculture garb was an offshoot of a larger counterculture movement, informed by a DIY sensibility (hippies made everything: rugs, bongs, their clothing) and a brightly colored LSD aesthetic.

You’re just being lazy. 

I’m not a prude, nor am I old-fashioned. I’m not asking that women wear multiple layers of petticoats beneath a long-sleeved, high-collared dress, or that guys never leave the house in anything but a three-piece-suit. Mostly, I don’t want to see your slothfulness and your misguided politics, if you even have any, in the produce aisle. I’m looking for bok choy, not for another reminder that I live in a world overflowing with people so sloppy they refuse to get dressed before running errands, and who might, if I spoke to them, try to pass their messy appearance off as something subversive. It’s not. It’s ridiculous, and so — 22-year-old wearing saggy, footed pajama bottoms in the checkout line — are you.

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