Bed Attire for Men & Boys 19121915

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On most films male characters are seen only in their pyjamas. That is until TITANIC (1997) When we see a young American man arrive above the Well deck still in his nightshirt asking if he had missed all the fun.

I know that nightshirts were being replaced by pyjamas but I would have thought they would still have been reasonably common place. Did they actually disappear in the UK unlike on the Continent?

kind regards


I think you are right in saying that the pyjama or pajama (I've seen both spellings) was taking over the nightshirt. In the 1900's, nightshirts were what was mostly advertised; pj's were rare, maybe only a couple examples. In the 1910's- they were of almost equal option. So I imagine it was simply a matter of personal taste. I do think that what one was used to could carry thoughout one's life-habits. So it could be that the older the man would have been more reluctant to adopt a new style as opposed to a younger.

I think pyjamas were introduced during the colonialisation of India, which was a traditional garment there. Maybe there was a hip & trendy cache that went with the pyjama lounge wear.

Now, about footie pj's....Just kidding!
Of course the nightshirt is still the preference of some of us since it "came back in" in the 1970's. Though it never totally disappeared even in the UK.

Now about those footie PJs :)


Robert M. Himmelsbach

My memory seems to indicate that most of the bodies found after the disaster who were in nightdress were wearing pajamas, and I don't recall any mention of bodies in nightshirts.
Perhaps because the nightshirt could (and in earlier ages did) double as a casual shirt, many who still did wear them put on pants over them and they were catelogued just as shirts.
Am a bit late on this one-have been in Salem chasing ghosts and witches- good to see you Monsieur Robert! Pyjamas have been around for ages- and go back to the Ottoman Empire-the word means "loose trousers". This mutated into the Hindu paejamas and the colonial Brits came back from the Raj with pyjamas. By 1870 they had hit Western Europe with a bang- being less drafty than the lacy nightshirts which dated back to the 1600's. In the 1700's they were worn with bedjackets and nightcaps and by the turn of the century they were de rigeur for the manly man. Silk and fine linen, -monogrammed for the upper crust, humble cotton for the working class. Who CAN forget Dorothy Sayer's Lord Peter Wimsey in his silk paisley jammies, smoking jacket and ascot, leather slippers and brandy by the fire in the black and primrose study... manservant Bunter pressing the creases out of the Sunday Times? Those were the days!

Couldn't agree with you more; "shirts" as we know of them today, were essentially undergarments. The collar, cuffs, and fronts (attached or not) were what was concentrated in ironing and starching...simply because those were the only part of the shirt that was seen. 1912 was still a time when men wore a 3-piece suit even in the summer, although at this season the shirt was probably washed more often (!).
A hundred years before Titanic, a man's "shirt", and a woman's "chemise", other than sleeve lengths, were almost interchangeable- basically a sack with openings. A more pronounced difference of course had taken place in the following years; yet were still considered "underthings". Indeed, even today, sleeping in one's undies is not exactly peculiar!

Take care...I'm off to bed, comfortably dressed in my...OK, won't go there!

Robert M. Himmelsbach wrote:...

"Perhaps because the nightshirt could (and in earlier ages did) double as a casual shirt, many who still did wear them put on pants over them and they were catelogued just as shirts."

The images I have seen of nightshirts in this period come down to the mid-calf. Were there nightshirts of comparable length to the mid to lower thigh modern type?

I sometimes tuck them into my trousers with no difficulty whereas anything longer would cause problems.

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