The Pyjama Drama caused by a headmistress in Darlington that we highlighted last week continues to stir up emotion. It was reported this week that the head teacher Kate Chisolm had been subjected to abuse on social media. Although she has received “hundreds” of emails in support, some of her parents decided to turn up the following morning in full nightwear to make a point (the point being?). Others took to social media to brand Miss Chisholm as ‘snobbish’. “I’ve been called an overpaid prostitute and a failed fat supermodel. Both times this was parents saying this to me in front of their kids. If I want to have a word with the parent about a discipline issue, say, some parents have shouted at me, they’ve sworn at me, they’ve told me that I don’t know what I am talking about.” One mother threatening to take her children out of school, said she had seen Miss Chisholm “dressed in a low-cut top, wearing high heels…. What example is she setting the kids?” Miss Chisholm admits that she’s disabled her Facebook account: “I don’t want to see any of the negativity.”
Intense Pyjama Drama, but on a positive note, maybe a soap opera could come out of this. In an effort to raise the quality of the debate, the Guardian considered that pyjamas have become increasingly acceptable quoting, amongst others, the clothing director at The White Company “I live in Camden and frequently see grown women buying their groceries in Tesco Express wearing their pyjamas…Dress codes have definitely relaxed and we value comfort more than ever before, but going out in the clothes you have slept in crosses the boundary of acceptability.”
Is the “Ban the Jamm” movement spreading? Undergraduates at Brasenose College, Oxford, have been accused of failing “to distinguish between public and private spaces” while enjoying breakfast, and have been warned to dress more appropriately. The Express reported that Horndale sub post office in Co Durham, now has a sign saying: “No nightwear to be worn in the shop please.” Gurmit Somal, 40, says they are driving away pensioners who feel uncomfortable next to customers in “less than they wore on their wedding nights”. A staff member at the shop said: “You would see a queue of customers, many of them older men wearing ties, and then in the middle there would be a woman in a short nightie.”
According to a consultant at Mintel, which values the UK sleepwear market at around £476m,“The rise of informality has been a long time in the making…In its most recent incarnation, it has largely been a result of an economic climate that’s made the casual more financially practical, as well as more culturally sensitive. Formal, paradoxically, feels a bit uncouth.” In a tough economic climate, we’re mirroring a period of austerity after the Wall Street crash of 1929, when women began adopting pyjamas as an elegant alternative to cocktail dresses. In 1931, Vogue magazine declared “a woman may and does wear pyjamas to quite formal dinners in her own house, to other people’s dinners in town and country if you know them well, and the more iconoclastic members of the female sex even wear them to the theatre”. And the BBC noted the same period in fashion history reminding us that pyjamas were once considered the height of sophistication.
Once this latest Pyjama Drama has blown over we can get back to a more considered debate about whether pyjamas are appropriate in public.