When I was a kid my favorite Christmas tradition was opening up a new pair of pajamas on Christmas Eve. Sometimes my sisters and I all ended up with matching pajamas, while other years we each had a different style that suited our interests and personalities. Perhaps because of that tradition I’ve always seen the value in picking out the perfect pair of pajamas, both for myself and for loved ones. That perfect pair combines the right amount of warmth for your sleeping environment, the optimal material, and the perfect color or pattern.
Nowadays pajamas aren’t just for sleeping. Many people, like myself, throw on pajamas as soon as they get home and only change into real clothes at the last moment before walking out the door or welcoming guests into the home. Some people even wear pajamas, or almost pajamas, out in public. With these casual styles becoming more and more commonplace it’s not surprising that that sleepwear industry brings in 29 billion dollars a year. Every year there are more and more options for both men’s and women’s pajamas, so we broke down the styles and most popular materials to help you understand all of the options on the market.
Of course if none of these options are right for you there’s nothing wrong with sleeping in nothing at all. According to studies about 31% of American men and 14% of American women sleep in their birthday suit, which will take all the stress out of what to wear at night. If you choose this route you won’t be alone.
You can sleep in anything. Some people sleep in nothing, some in their regular clothing. But there are lots of different types of sleepwear that are made to keep you comfortable and match the sleep style you have. Having the right sleepwear will help you sleep better. Match your sleep style to the style of sleepwear that’s going to work best for you.
Yes, there are quite a few different types of pajamas and sleepwear options for both women and men.
This is our list of the different categories. We kick off with a list for women followed by for men.
A. Types of Pajamas for Women
Sleepshirts are designed to be big and oversized, loose around your boy. This creates an airy, comfortable fit, and feel. Sleepshirts can be made in a button-up or T-shirt syles. They’re usually made with soft fabric that won’t irritate the skin. Sleep shorts are typically short in length, with hemlines above the knee.
Nightgowns are a bedtime classic. They can be made in a variety of styles, but spaghetti strap designs and cap sleeves are very common. Nightgowns can be made from a variety of materials from cotton to silk. They’re designed to be somewhat loose and lightweight to keep you cool while you sleep. Nightgowns can range in length from very short styles to ankle-length.
The most traditional style of sleepwear for women, nightgowns are not as common today as they used to be. However they’re still the most popular sleepwear choice, with 55% of women choosing nightgowns. I’ve gotten some nightgowns as gifts from older relatives and they tend to stay in the back of my dresser because they ride up while I sleep and just aren’t very comfortable. Some women swear by them though, so it’s really up to personal preference.
One positive of nightgowns is that they come in just about every length, material, and style. From silk spaghetti strap styles that are the same length as a mini skirt to think cotton long sleeved versions that reach your ankles, nightgowns, or nighties, can be as diverse as dresses worn in the daytime.
Jumpsuits, a popular choice in regular clothing, have made the leap to sleepwear. Usually made in shortie styles with spaghetti straps, jumpsuits are fitted but lightweight. They’re typically made without a lot of fabric and somewhat minimal coverage. They’re made with cinched waist designs in more form-fitting styles that don’t have a lot of excess fabric.
Nighties are nightgowns made with a lot less fabric in short, low cut styles. Nighties are often made with very lightweight material, such as silk and chiffon, and may sometimes come with a matching bra, underwear, or both. Nighties may be adorned with lace and they’re often made in see-through styles. They’re very lightweight and comfortable. Nighties are often made to be somewhat loose-fitting in airy designs that allow a lot of air to get to your skin.
Sweats are a sleepwear classic. Perfect for colder nights, sweatpants and sweatshirts are made to be fluffy and warm. They’re usually designed to be somewhat thicker than other types of sleepwear to give you insulating warmth and softness. Sweats are a crossover item that can be worn any time you’re awake as well.
Let’s wrap it up with lingerie which is another viable sleepwear option for women.
Button-down pajamas for women are similar to men’s styles. Traditionally they’re made of a thicker fabric like flannel and have long sleeves and long pants. They may be plaid, solid covered, or have a different pattern but the top and bottoms are usually made of the same material.
Coordinated Pajama Sets
A popular pajama style for women right now is coordinated pajama sets. This includes a nightshirt, either long sleeve or short sleeve, and a pair of bottoms, whether shorts or long pants. Lots of women like a short sleeved shirt with a cute image or a funny saying that captures their personality. The shirt is typically a neutral color, with the pants being brighter with a fun pattern or print.
In the summer you can swap out the long pants for shorts and then in the winter you can add a long shirt, or pull a loose sweater over the top while you’re awake. The flexibility of this pajama style is one of the benefits. You can customize the style and material to your liking.
T-Shirt and Pants
For those who aren’t picky about how they sleep, any loosely fitted shirt and pants with an elastic waistband will do the trick. I personally prefer to grab any t-shirt out the drawer and pair it with a comfortable pair of shorts or pants. There are no wrong choices when it comes to sleepwear as long as you’re comfortable, so choose what works best for you.
Footie Pajamas (Onesies)
Fun, warm footie pajamas are as popular for women as men. You can find styles that look like unicorns, Christmas elves, and practically anything else you can think of. Christmas themed footie pajamas are a popular choice for ugly Christmas sweater parties and you can even find Halloween costumes in the form of footie pajamas.
Materials Used for Women’s PJs.
Whether you prefer a shirt and pants or a nightgown, you’ll have your pick of materials. From casual to fancy and warm and cozy or cool and breathable, there’s an option for everyone.
This silk nightgowns are a popular summer choice and work well if you live somewhere hot or don’t have air conditioning. They’ll provide just enough coverage without making you sweat. Silk pajama sets make great gifts for the right person and look as nice as they feel. Some people love the feel of silk on their skin but others don’t prefer it–it just comes down to personal preference. If you sweat a lot the silk may stick to your skin and make you uncomfortable.
Cotton fabric is one of the most classic pajama materials especially if you’re looking for something comfortable and summery. It’s light, loose, and breathable. Cotton sleep shirts are among the most popular for women’s sleepwear because their so comfortable and cool. Cotton pants make great lounge pants to wear around the house during the day too.
If you’re looking for a classic, stylish gift for the women in your life, satin pajama sets are a great choice. You could even go with a matching set for the two of you. Satin is a shiny material that makes it look exquisite, especially in a nice monogrammed button down set. Like silk, satin is a love it or hate it option where some people love the feel and some people can’t stand it. It may not be as comfortable for lounging around the house and doesn’t provide as much warmth as fleece or flannel.
A lot of the coordinated pajama sets you’ll find these days are made of polyester or a polyester blend. It’s a diverse fabric that works well for more fitted shirts with prints or cute sayings. Polyester fabrics also tend to be cheaper, so if material isn’t important to you, this might be the way to go. With blended fabrics the possibilities are endless, and you can find the right combination of softness and warmth.
Fleece pajamas are the pinnacle of warmth. Whether it’s fleece pajama pants, footie pajamas, or a shirt and pants set, you’ll be warm, cozy and relaxed. If you tend to be hot-blooded you might actually get too warm inside. If you’re sleeping somewhere that lacks an adequate blanket supply, fleece pajamas will be your best friend.
Bamboo and Hybrid Options
As with men’s pajamas, advances in fabric technology have revolutionized the world of pajamas. Bamboo fabric is a new eco-friendly trend that’s still rising in popularity. Bamboo clothing is ultra soft and flowy, perfect for lightweight pajamas. Since the technology to make the material is still relatively new bamboo pajamas will not come cheap, but they combine ultimate softness with environmentally friendly technology.
Other new options include fabrics specially designed to wick sweat away from your body or employ cooling technology to keep you comfy and cool while you sleep.
B. Types of Pajamas for Men
Underwear isn’t really proper sleepwear. Up your comfort level when you go to sleep by dressing for the occasion. Start wearing actual sleepwear and start having something to wear when you’re getting ready to go to bed at night. With good sleepwear, great sleep is possible.
Men’s sleepwear doesn’t vary as much as women’s pajamas do, with most men wearing a shirt and pants in different styles and materials. Your choices really revolve around how warm or cool you want to be, and whether style or comfort is most important. There are also unconventional options out there though if you prefer to stray from the beaten path.
For the cold winter months a popular option is a long sleeved button down shirt with long pants. Typically the shirts are collared and the sleeves and pants are sometimes cuffed. These sets are often made of flannel but can also be found in cotton, velvet, polyester, or other blends. They’re comfortable for wearing in your home during the day as well as for sleeping. You can find traditional plaid patterns, child-like printed patterns, or sophisticated monogrammed sets.
Button down pajama sets are great for keeping you warm in cold weather, both for sleeping and for lounging at home. They also work well for anyone who wants clothing between their skin and bed sheets to prevent irritation. Whether you’re looking for sophistication, comedy, or simple comfort, there’s a button down pajama set out there for you.
T-Shirt and Pajama Pants
Many men go a simpler route and opt for a t-shirt with pajama pants. Everyone has their own style, but many stick with a classic white t-shirt for comfort and simplicity. For pants, there are thicker flannel options or more breathable cotton pajamas. Anything loose, soft, and comfortable is fair game.
Unlike button down pajama sets, t-shirt and pajama pant combinations don’t need to be coordinated. You can simply grab any t-shirt and pair of sweatpants that fit your mood or the season, and you’re ready to hop in bed in seconds. These pajamas work well if you need to hop in and out of bed during the night because you won’t get too hot while you sleep, but also won’t freeze when you take the blankets off. You could switch to a long sleeved t-shirt in the winter if you’re more comfortable.
T-Shirt and Shorts
For those men that tend to get hot when they sleep, a simple t-shirt and shorts will do the trick. It’s not fancy, but you can mix and match your most comfortable t-shirt with your favorite pair of shorts. Some men go with basic athletic shorts while others have shorts just for bed. You could even wear a t-shirt and boxer shorts for an even cooler option.
If you want to go old school, dressing gowns are an offbeat, flowy option popular in past generations that have fallen out of style today. Dressing gowns can be similar to a nightgown, consisting of one long garment that falls to the knees or further. Most me today prefer pants or shorts, but you never know until you try it.
A dressing gown can also refer to a robe-type article of clothing worn over the top of pajamas when relaxing around the house. They provide warmth, comfort, and a little sophistication.
Two-piece pajamas are probably what you imagine when you’re thinking about men’s sleepwear. The classic two-piece pajama set is made with loose-fitting pants and a loose, button-up, collared shirt in matching material.
Classic men’s PJs like these might be made with cotton, flannel, wool, or all sorts of materials to create a fabric of all thickness levels. They’re styled in all kinds of colors and patterns, from simple stripes and geometric shapes to all sorts of intricate designs.
That classic look of the past is still around, but there are many more options with men’s two-piece pajamas now. There are lots of different styles when it comes o two-piece men’s pajamas today. If you don’t like the classic button-up look, fine. You can find pajama sets made in all sorts of styles with all kinds of shirts. Two-piece pajamas made be made with T-shirt tops, long-sleeve crewneck tops, or many other different styles.
Source: The Vermont Country Store
Nightshirts are a really classic sleepwear choice. Before there were two-piece pajamas, there were nightshirts. You know, it’s that long shirt that Ebenezer Scrooge wears to bed. But the same style has been worn by kings and everyone else throughout the ages. Nightshirts are designed to fit loosely down the body, hanging down below the knees. Nightshirts are made in a huge variety of designs, colors, and fabrics. They may be made in button-up styles, V-neck styles, or even crewneck styles.
Onesies (Footie Pajamas)
You’ve seen onesie-style pajamas before, even if only on a comedy series. Onesies have long arms and long legs and usually a zipper or button front or back so you can close them up all around you. This is a great way to seal in the heat on those cold nights. Onesies are perfect if you plan on going on a camping trip. Onesies may even have feet included so you can keep everything covered and warm except your hands and head.
A popular staple among young children, onesie footie pajamas are now available in adult sizes. In fact they originated as a utilitarian adult style when people sewed socks to the bottom of their pajama pants to keep warm and prevent bed bug bites. Nowadays they’re most commonly worn to parties or as a joke, but if you’d like to use them as every day sleepwear, they’re available for you. The fleece material provides ample warmth, and most come in bright colors or in character prints to lighten the mood.
Sweatpants are ready-made for bedtime. They’re warm and insulating, they’re soft and comfortable and they’re available everywhere. You can always pair a comfy set of sweatpants with a matching sweatshirt or a plain T-shirt and be bed-ready and well-dressed for sleep.
Types of Sleepwear Materials
The style of what you’re wearing is important for sure because you need something that fits well and feels comfortable no matter what you’re doing and especially when you’re sleeping. But you should also pay close attention to the material that your PJs are made from. Even if you’ve got a great style of sleepwear, you want them to be made with material that’s going to feel good the whole night through.
Pajama Materials for Men’s PJs
Whether you opt for a coordinated set of button down pajamas or pajama bottoms with a t-shirt, you’ll have plenty of materials to choose from to match your comfort level.
Flannel material makes great winter pajamas and can be used to make a button down shirt and matching pants. The plaid patterns make iconic holiday pajamas perfect for your family Christmas card, but they’re also comfortable for sleeping in cold weather or lounging in front of the fireplace.
One of the most common sleepwear materials is cotton. A natural fiber, cotton is breathable and non-irritating on the skin. It’s not itchy and it’s naturally soft to the touch. Cotton can be thick and insulating or cool and lightweight. It’s machine-washable and highly durable, which makes it perfect for sleepwear and for clothing of all types. Most people have no trouble wearing cotton. However, it can shrink if washed in hot water and/or dried on a high heat, which is why some people don’t like cotton.
Well known as a comfortable, breathable fabric, cotton makes great summer pajama material. It hangs loosely and is soft against your skin. Cotton t-shirts are a popular choice but cotton pants are great too. Organic cotton is the softest option on the market and perfect for those who prioritize comfort above all else.
Silk is another popular option in sleepwear. This material is considered luxurious because it’s so soft to the touch. Silk has such a distinct feeling that it’s actually correctly described as “silky.” There’s not even another word to describe how this material feels because it feels only like itself and like nothing else. Silk looks and feels very high-end and it’s very nice against the skin, so it is an ideal material for sleepwear.
For cool summer pajamas that look as great as they feel, invest in some high quality silk pajamas. Some people love silk because it’s extra soft but others find the slippery material uncomfortable. And when laying in bed your clothes may ride up uncomfortably. But silk pajamas look luxurious, especially in a matching button down set. If looking sophisticated when you sleep is important to you, you can’t beat silk pajamas.
For the ultimate in cozy pajamas, try fleece pajama pants. Unless you’re sleeping somewhere especially cold you may get hot during the night, but you can’t beat fleece for lounging at home on a cold winter evening. Fleece pajama pants typically come in unique prints that allow you to personalize your look.
Sets that combine a sleep shirt and pajama shorts or trousers are often made of polyester or polyester blends. They’re comfortable and low maintenance and come in a wide variety of options. Some can even transition to daytime wear, both around the house and out in public.
Linen is another high-end material. Linen fabric is incredibly durable and a little heavier than cotton. It has a very rich feel to it and it’s very soft to the touch. Linen is breathable, which makes it a good choice for sleepwear.
Pajamas may be made from a variety of synthetic materials, including rayon. Synthetic fibers are made to be tough and breathable, machine-washable, and wear-resistant. Often, synthetic fibers are woven together with cotton to create twill blends. Some people don’t like the feel of certain synthetic materials. Be sure to touch the material of your pajamas before you buy them. You’ll be feeling that material all over your body, so make sure you like the way it interacts with your skin.
Satin is a woven material that’s prized for its sheen. Satin is a beautiful shiny material that feels incredibly smooth to the touch. Like silk, satin has a luxurious feel that can put you in a great mood when you’re going to sleep at night. However, it’s not always easy to keep satin clean and it wrinkles easily.
New Cutting Edge Materials
In the last few years new fabrics have become popular in the pajama realm. Some environmentally friendly like bamboo combine eco-friendly with superior softness and comfort. Others focus on providing new, unique levels of comfort with technology designed to regulate body temperature or protect against allergens. If you’re not happy with traditional materials there are all sorts of new options for you to explore.
Don’t Forget About Accessories
If you’re dressing for bed anyway, why not add to your comfort? As with all good fashion, sleepwear comes with its own accessories.
Slippers are specifically designed to be worn with sleepwear. They’re made in soft and fluffy styles, sometimes in colorful designs. They made even be made to look like characters or animals. Slippers can be made in many styles, including booties.
Robes aren’t just for bath time. Robes that are made for sleepwear are typically made in lightweight, thin materials like silk and satin. They’re made to accent the sleepwear you have on and provide a little additional coverage if you’re wearing sleepwear that’s a little more revealing. Some sleepwear sets come with a matching robe included.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Best Pajamas to Wear on a Road Trip?
You’ll want to choose something you’d feel comfortable wearing around strangers, even if it’s just running into the gas station for a bathroom break or to buy some snacks. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing your road trip pajamas in public you could always keep a jacket handy and throw it on any time you stop. But you won’t want to have to worry about making a complete wardrobe change any time you want to run in for some coffee so it’s best to wear pajamas that you wouldn’t mind wearing into a gas station or restaurant.
Flannel pajama pants with a t-shirt may be a good option for both men and women. They provide full coverage and few people will bat an eye seeing someone in a gas station in comfy plaid pajama pants.
Besides being comfy for sleeping and appropriate for wearing in public, flannel pajamas are warm enough to keep you at a comfortable temperature in the car where you probably can’t cover up with blankets quite as easily as you can in bed. Overall, these classic jammies are a road trip win.
Which Types of Pajamas Should I Give as a Gift?
The best pajama gift option depends on who the gift is for. If you’re buying for a spouse, sibling, or close friend you can choose whatever type of pajama they like best. If you know your sister is always cold, a flannel pajama set or some cozy fleece pants would be a great choice. For your spouse who’s always turning the air conditioning up, try a cooler option like some comfy shorts or a nightgown.
If you’re buying pajamas for someone you don’t know as well, a coordinated set is a thoughtful option. On the classier side go with a monogrammed button down set made out of premium fabric. On the comedic end there are also some awesome footie pajamas out there with prints to match any personality.
Can I Wear Pajamas When Driving?
We can’t blame you for wanting to stay in your comfy pajamas rather than putting on clothes with structure. And in today’s world lots of people wear pajamas for more than just nightwear. There’s certainly no law against driving around town in your pajamas, but before you do consider how embarrassed you’d be if your car broke down or you had to make an unexpected stop. If you don’t mind taking the risk that people may see you in your pajamas, feel fry to drive as far as you want.
What Are the Best Pajamas to Wear Camping?
Camping comes with its own set of wardrobe considerations. If you’re backpacking and your space is limited, you’ll probably want to sleep in a pair of sweatpants or shorts that you can wear during the day rather than wasting valuable weight on some fancy pajamas. If efficiency is important, sleep in whatever you plan to wear the next day.
If space is not an issue then temperature is your next most important factor. Since camping doesn’t provide a carefully controlled temperature it’s important to dress for the weather. If you’re camping somewhere hot or humid you’ll want loose, breathable t-shirts and shorts. But if you’re somewhere cold, or somewhere where the temperature drops at night, opt for warm fleece or flannel.
If you’re at a campsite with other tents nearby it’s also important to remember that the minute you step out of your tent your no longer in a private space. Choose something modest enough that you won’t mind others catching a glimpse if you need to run to your car for your toothbrush or take a hike to the bathroom.
How Often Should I Wash my Pajamas?
Cleaning experts recommend washing pajamas after three or four nights at minimum, or more often if you sweat a lot. If you always shower immediately before bed you may be able to spread your washes out a little longer, but again only if you don’t sweat at night. Nothing beats feeling fresh and clean as you climb into bed, so reward yourself with a fresh new pair of pajamas.
Can Pajamas Have Pockets?
Lots of types of pajamas can have pockets. They may seem unnecessary if you only wear your pajamas to bed, but lots of people wear them around the house during the day and make good use of the pockets. Button down pajama tops often have breast pockets that are more for style than function. There’s no reason you can’t use it to hold a pen, glasses, a comb, or other small item.
Cotton, flannel, or polyester pajama pants can have pockets also, especially if they’re made as loungewear as well as sleepwear. If you’re comfortable wearing your pajamas in public you can put wallets, car keys, or sunglasses in the pockets. Just makes sure the waistband is tight enough that the extra weight doesn’t cause any embarrassing issues.
What Pajamas Do Celebrities Wear?
Celebrities are always on the edge of fashion, so it may not surprise you that they’re pushing the boundaries when it comes to pajamas. What they choose to wear often has less to do with getting a good night’s sleep and more to do with looking stylish and pushing fashion trends (at least in the pictures they share on social media). Monochromatic outfits with shirts and pants made out of the same material are common these days, and the softer the material the better. Comfort seems to trump expensive fabrics these days, with soft cotton and fancy fleeces leading the way.
What Pajamas Are Best for Summer?
Summer months call for cool, breathable material and flowy styles. Put away the cute flannel button downs and break out the silks or cotton nightgowns or t-shirt/shorts combinations. For women we recommend a cotton or polyester tank top with a loose pair of shorts. If you’re a fan of nightgowns those are an excellent option too. Men should choose a cotton t-shirt and comfy shorts also and may even opt to just sleep in their boxers.
What Pajamas Are Best for Winter?
Once the temperatures start dropping your best pajama options are going to be long sleeves and long pants. Your cute button down pajama sets in festive plaids are a great choice for cuddling up by the fire with a good book and for sliding into bed on a cold night. A floor length nightgown is also a great option for women.
You should avoid silks and satins during the winter if you live in a cold climate since they won’t provide much protection against the chill. Fleece pajama pants are great for wearing around the house in the evening and then transitioning to bed, and footie pajamas work great in especially cold environments since they provide full body coverage.
The Art of Dressing Up for Bed
You’re going to go to sleep no matter what. So you might as well put on something that’s going to feel good and look good. Why not feel good when you’re about to go to sleep? But there’s more to consider when you’re thinking about different types of sleepwear to put on.
How do you sleep? Is there a lot of tossing and turning? Do you move a lot while you sleep? If so, you want to look for sleepwear types that are loose-fitting and non-restrictive. However, you don’t want them to be too loose or have too much excess fabric, which may get twisted and bunched up around you while you toss and turn in bed. Something like a jumpsuit is probably perfect for you. This simple one-piece will stay with you and generally conform to your movements while you sleep. If you’re a very still sleeper, you don’t have to worry about this problem.
However, you may be a hot sleeper. Many, many people tend to sweat while they sleep. If you find that your bed sheets or your sleepwear are damp when you wake up, then you have a tendency to sweat in your sleep. You need to look for lightweight, thin sleepwear made in skimpier designs.
Some people tend to get cold when they sleep. If you run cool rather than hot, you need sleepwear that gives you more coverage. look for insulating fabrics, like cotton, rather than thin materials like silk. You may also want to keep a robe near the bed to put on when you wake up. If you run cool in your sleep, you’ll still feel a little chilled when you wake in the morning. The extra warmth of a robe will help you stay warm while your body warms up.
Choose your sleepwear based not just on the fashion you like best but on your personal sleep style. Think about how you sleep at night, what materials feel comfortable to you. What type of clothes do you enjoy wearing the most? If all your favorite tops are T-shirts, then look for pajama sets that have T-shirt tops. You may also want to try a sleep shirt that’s designed basically to be a large T-shirt. Choose your sleepwear based on your comfort and your sleep habits. The fashion of sleeping will work itself out if you look first for clothing that suits your sleep style best.
Choosing Your Sleepwear
Take the time to explore different types and styles of sleepwear to find what’s going to work best for you. Choose what you’re going to wear to bed carefully. You need something comfortable, something made with material that feels good on your skin, something you can wear all through the night and stay cool. Look for types of sleepwear that look good, because you’ll sleep better when you’re feeling good about yourself. Find the perfect sleepwear type for you and start finding a much better night’s sleep.