Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pajama Pants (an Indie Life post)

For quite a while now it has been acceptable, even if not incredibly fashionable, for women to go out in public in their pajama pants. Okay, maybe, acceptable isn't the word I'm looking for there, but it is fairly common, the whole going out in public pajama pants. I don't go a week without seeing a few women in their PJs at the grocery store. I'm sure that schools having frequent PJ days doesn't help this pajama pant trend. At any rate, it's something I've just had to get used to, because... well, it's not illegal or anything (except in the place I grew up. Almost. At least, they're trying to make it illegal there).

I suppose I had grown used to the whole thing. At least, I had until just recently. As I mentioned, I went to this Magic tournament not that long ago and, at the tournament, there were a couple of guys there in pajama pants. I was kind of blown away, because I hadn't ever seen guys out in public in pajama pants before. One of the guys had on black Hello Kitty PJ pants that all of the girls kept remarking on. Yeah, I'm sure it was some kind of statement beyond "I was too lazy to put on real pants." I blew that whole thing off, though, as it was a midnight event at a place where, I'm sure, these guys hang out all the time. And they were young guys, early twenties at the oldest. Maybe it was to be expected?

But the next day I had to make a trip to the grocery store (the Saturday before the super bowl (NIGHTMARE!)), and at the grocery store were TWO grown men in pajama pants! GROWN MEN! One of them was at least a decade older than me. What the heck? When did this pajama pants thing extend to men, too? Did I miss that memo? It's possible. I mean, I don't actually check my "guy" in-box all that often (it's usually full of stupidity and spam, anyway, so what's the point, right?), but you'd think there would be some kind of special heading on the note that men are now, also, going to be wearing pajama pants in public.

I don't approve.

And, no, I can't tell you why it's an issue for me now that guys are doing, but it is. Actually, I suppose it's always been an issue for me, but I'd gotten used to it. Used to women doing it, I mean. Seeing men do it, too, was... jarring. And all I could think was, "If you can't bother to put on real clothes, please just stay home." It's not about your comfort; it's about the effort you're willing to go to to be presentable, and, if you can't make the effort, any effort, just don't go out in public.

Now, let me say this: I don't expect you to wear a suit. Or a dress. Or whatever. I don't expect that you will be dressed in your best possible attire every single day. Not all people can afford suits, anyway (I haven't owned one since I was about 10), so this isn't about how much your clothes cost or anything like that. I wear jeans. If you want me to dress up, I wear my better jeans, but they're still jeans. But jeans are made to be worn in public; pajama pants are not.

Publishing your book without editing it is like going out in public in pajama pants. It says, "I didn't feel like going to the effort to get dressed." Or, um, I didn't feel like going to the effort to make my book presentable for the public.

And, look, I'm not saying you need to go out and buy a "book suit" (spending tons of money on hiring an editor (which I talked about here)), but I do think you ought to dress as if you're going out in public. With your book, that means make the effort. Act like you're sending your book out in public, because, guess what, you are. Which is why I don't let my kids go out in their pajama pants. If they're going out in public, I make them dress like they are, and, believe me, my daughter has tried frequently enough that she no longer asks. "But, Dad, it's just the grocery store." "Yes, which is out in public, so, if you want to go, get dressed."

Really, it's not much to ask, I don't think. If you can't be bothered to put on clothes, please stay home.

This post has been brought to you in part by Indie Life.


  1. Guys have been wearing pajamas in public for years now, I guess it's finally worked it's way over to you. It follows the 'wear your boxers as regular shorts' which in turn follows the 'drop your pants enough to show your shorts'. If you follow it back far enough, there was even the 'wear your track suit like it's real clothes' trend of the 70s--remember that one?

    I digress. Very sensible points you make here, Andrew, and it all applies no matter what kind of publication you're pursuing. Make sure your book is its best.

  2. HA! I guess living in a college town I sort of have seen this as a non-issue. I wouldn't wear really pajama-like pajamas, but the fleecy ones are really almost sweats, right? And I've seen some flanels that rock. Which makes them okay to walk the dog or run to the store... then again, I advocate nudity, so I may not be the high bar on fashion or propriety.

    As for the BOOKS, those I have a higher standard on but KNOW my own 'meh' way of going about things, so I hire a pro. I can't be relied on in these matters.

  3. I haven't seen many men in pajama pants here, but then again, it's the South - going out in boxer shorts is more acceptable.
    Dressing your book up with good editing and a good cover makes sense to me.

  4. Oh my gosh! You hit a nerve with this post. Watch out, this is gonna be one long comment!

    So, I used to live in Louisiana. Before we left in 2006, women were wearing their pajamas to the store. Not the flannel kind, but the kind with a teddy top and short shorts. Totally inappropriate. Just like where you grew up, they were trying to make it illegal. I don't know if it ever happened. And, it started out with the flannel kind. Gah!

    Now, this blasted craze has creeped up north. The kids at my daughter's school are wearing their PJs to school. My daughter has been "dropping hints" aka bombarding me with requests to wear her PJs. "It's so cold outside" or "I can probably work better if I'm comfortable" UGH!!

    No! There must be a distinct difference between sleeping time and productive time. You don't extend slumber to school.

    Phew, I got this off my chest. Thank you.

    Now, when I get to my editing, I'm going to think of PJs. =)

  5. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who's irked by this. And this is coming from a guy who spends 3/4 of his day at home writing in an old t-shirt and sweatpants. It's comfortable. But you'll never find me leaving my house like that. Ever. I think there's a huge difference between comfort and laziness, and going to the store in PJs is just plain laziness.

    I've not seen many men doing that here, but what I hate especially is when I go to Wal-Mart and I see a woman who's my age in bright pink Hello Kitty pajamas with her hair in pigtails. Stop trying to act like you're a teenage girl at a slumber party, because at your age you could technically HAVE a teenage girl.

  6. You really make a good point here! I especially like the "if you can't bother to dress for the public, then don't go out in public." I really can't stand the dressing down that's everywhere now. And it started with the PJ days at school and the dress-down Fridays at work. Anyway, it's gotten ridiculous. If we all extend this casual approach to our work then it will come back to bite us. Excellent post-- I read it (and all the comments) to my husband who was happy to know another man, even one much younger than him, feels the same as him about this issue.

  7. Well, "in my day", jeans were not a "going to town" way to dress either. I distinctly remember my grandmother getting ready to go to town - fox stole, gloves, hat. There were nightgowns for sleeping, aprons and "house dresses" for in the house, good clothes for town or company, and very good clothes for church. And it was the same for kids. I remember having to change out of "school clothes" into my "play clothes" - neither of which were pajamas.
    I agree, that writing should be that way, too. Rough draft is for at home use. Wrap it in a stole and put on the silk gloves if you are taking it to town!

  8. We've definitely grown too casual as a society. Grandma used to tell me about the days when going to town meant putting on the Ritz. I completely feel the same way about books. I've read too many where the editing was sketchy at best, and I just scratch my head and wonder how people can bear to be "seen" in public that way. Crazy.

  9. So a few things, here.

    First, as I become more conscious of the need to edit and rewrite, I agree with you. I send stories to publishers now as well as self-publish and recently I sent one out and then went back and was re-reading it after I emailed it, and there were two VERY BASIC proofreading things that I should have caught, and I was quite honestly embarrassed.

    I've really started to try to work at stories and let them sit because of that. I don't always, but I try. Because you're right: it's about appearances, too, and if someone is reading your story and there's just basic stuff wrong, that's a turn-off.

    NOW, on to whether or not people can wear pajamas in public. I WISH WE COULD.

    Even though I probably wouldn't.

    I wear a tie every day, even on Fridays, for several reasons. First, I'm frequently in court. Second, if I'm not I might have clients or other lawyers come in and they want to know I'm a professional.

    But when I get home, and when I'm not at work, I want to be comfortable. Yeah, jeans are comfortable, but not as comfortable as pajama bottoms or shorts or sweatpants. So if you see me around the house, I'm mostly wearing one of those things, because why not be comfortable?

    In my own yard, especially shoveling snow, I'll wear pajama pants, especially if it's morning.

    And I would totally go out in public in them, but for one thing, which I'll get to in a minute, but here's why I would, first:

    I see people wearing sweatpants and shorts and things that really are no different than pajama pants, and so wearing pajama pants (which the boys like to do and we let them) isn't all that different except in our minds: it's why someone could wear a halter top but not a bra to walk down the street. We see pajama pants and we think "pajama pants = sleeping = naughty" but if everyone wore pajama pants whenever, that would stop being the case and we could just be comfortable.

    So I'd definitely do it, but for that one thing: I run into people that I know, professionally, more and more now, and I don't want to appear unprofessional, even then. So I'm less likely to wear raggedy jeans (which I love) and floppy sweatshirts (which I love) because if I run into a judge or another lawyer or a client, I don't want to be too embarrassed.

    So I do what I can to be comfortable and have fun -- I wear my Superman Tshirt WITH THE CAPE to the library, for example -- but there are limits and for now pajama bottoms are one of those limits.

    For now.

    I'm not, though, advocating being sloppy or unprofessional or gross. I wouldn't wear pajama pants to a restaurant (other than maybe a fast food restaurant), any more than I'd wear a dirty old t-shirt or something. I wouldn't wear them to the office, or things like that. But it'd be nice if in the spring, say, when it's a little too cool for shorts and a little too hot for jeans, I could wear my Spider-Man pajama bottoms to the park.


  10. JeffO: I don't actually mind people wearing sweats or whatever in public, because those clothes are designed to be worn in public. But I do have a horrible story about a server at a restaurant and skid marks. >shudder<

    Hart: Living near a place that allows public nudity, I can say almost certainly that you will never find me out and about in public without my clothes on, but that's just me.

    Alex: I'm thinking boxers are even less acceptable.

    Elsie: That is the place I'm talking about. Caddo Parish, specifically, which is, specifically, where I lived. They seem to be the only place in the country trying to pass a law against public PJs.

    ABftS: Is it supposed to be cute, do you think? Because I never get "cute" when I see it, even when it is someone around or close to that age.

    Karen: Do you think it did start with PJ days? Is that what made it acceptable, because, if so, I hate PJ days!

    Donna: Yeah, I had church clothes and regular clothes, but I don't extend all of this quite that far. I mean, some people can't afford to have special clothes that are only worn on certain days. But if someone is choosing to spend their clothes money -only- on PJs, then there's something wrong.

    Crystal: Sketchy editing to me is okay if there was editing involved. I mean, do your best. Some people's best isn't all that great, but make the effort. I've known too many authors who have told me, though, "I didn't have time to edit it," because, you know, it was finished and just HAD to be made available IMMEDIATELY! That's what I think is wrong.

    Briane: I don't have any stigma attached because PJs are bedroom clothes or that they are somehow more revealing than they are for that reason. I agree with you about bras and, say, bikini tops, which are frequently more revealing than bras. My issue is that it looks sloppy. Yes, totally an appearance thing, but it's really about looking like you're supposed to be where you are. Wearing PJs out in public (right now, at any rate) says to me, "I couldn't be bothered to be presentable," and that bothers me. The attitude, not the clothes.

    Some people doing their absolute best work on editing will look like they didn't do any work but, if I know they made the effort, I'm okay with it. [I'm sure some of my attitude comes from working with teenagers.]

    For the record, I'm completely okay with PJs in your front yard. That's part of your home, after all.

  11. I can't believe this is only the first time you've seen guys in pajama pants. Of course, I was in college only five years ago, so it's pretty easy to find. It's a very good point. Being presentable is important. It's like dressing for the job that you want. Dress for how you want you and your book to be perceived.

  12. Seems like sheer bl**dy laziness to me. I haven't seen it around here in Canada but I have no doubt it happens. I agree, if you can't be bothered to dress properly, stay home. Bit like women in curlers, take 'em out please.

    I can see the analogy although of course I don't write books anyway.

  13. I've been wearing PJ bottoms in public since... well, as long as I can remember. After my divorce from my first wife, I even showed up for a first date with a girl in a pair. I didn't even notice at the time, except she said, "Um, are you wearing pajama bottoms?"

    To which I responded, "I don't know, let me look... yes, yes I am."

    At that point, I had control of the relationship. It was a subtle way of me saying, 'You can't control me. I do what I want to, and you're either cool with it, or you can leave.'

    And, no joke, she really liked me. So much that I was weirded out by it.

    I don't wear them to weddings, or funerals, or anything like that, but if I'm at home, and I've got them on, and I need to run out for milk or something, I'm not going to get out a clean pair of pants just so I can impress the other dude at the gas station at 11:30 at night.

    I'm not that vain.

    Seriously, I don't understand the objections. It's not sexual, it's not unclean, it's not much of anything. They're just clean, comfortable, and in my case, awesome looking.

    But then again, I find fashion sense to be unpredictable and conflicting. I mean, I've heard some folks decry men wearing sneakers with jeans. Like that's some sort of sin that needs to be apologized for. I think we should be praised for wearing pants at all.

    Anyway, I guess I can't argue about the editing thing though. So I suppose I get the analogy you drew. Good job.

  14. Having read a few more comments, it occurred to me, if my hubby wanted to dash out late at night in his sleep wear, he would be arrested, he doesn't wear anything. I don't wear PJs but a nightdress and I would freeze to death in the winter outside.

    And Rusty, sorry, but if a guy turned up for a date with me wearing his PJs, he would get very short shrift. Matt always wears dress pants, dress shirt and often a jacket when we go to dinner with friends, in a restaurant he would wear a tie. It is a very American thing to go dressed as a shag rag. In fact they used to say, in the UK, the worst dressed an American is, the richer he is.

  15. Small world. I used to live in Caddo Parish too. My hubby was stationed at BAFB. I lived in the Jimmie Davis Bridge area of Caddo.

  16. As a women I can say it is gross. Both men and women should keep their pjs home.

  17. Jeanne: Maybe I just don't hang out in the "right" places?

    Jo: I have vague memories of curlers from when I was a kid. Do people still use those?

    Rusty: That's, um, very interesting. What happened with that relationship? I'm actually rather intensely curious,now.

    I'll tell you what, when I come over to your house, you can wear your pajama pants, just don't wear them to mine or I'll put you down for a nap.

    Jo (again): I think people that say that about Americans don't know Americans very well. There is definitely a class divide in the kinds of clothes people wear and, if someone looks poor, it's almost certainly because he is poor.

    Elsie: BAFB is in House on the Corner. The whole story is set in Shreveport. When did you live there?

    Lady Lilith: As you can tell, I agree.

  18. Interesting. Around here, I saw that trend start when my brother was in high school--he's 30. It didn't happen when I was in school, and it was a shock to see my siblings wearing pajama pants and hoodies to school. I was uncomfortable about wearing sweats in public when it wasn't for workout purposes, but have embraced sweats since I had kids (sad, but true). Usually, I wear jeans. But I will wear sweats to the grocery store (anywhere if I'm sick or feeling poorly for whatever reason). So far, other than pj day at school, my kids don't ask to wear pj's in public, though I think my daughter would happily live in them always. She's 6 and begged me for a pair of footies, which she hadn't had for awhile. But when out in public, she wears dresses most days. In fact, I only get her leggings these days, because she just wears them under dresses when it's cold.

  19. I've noticed this as well and think it's very weird. When I was traveling during my vacation I saw so many carloads of families dressed in pajamas. Sure, it might be comfortable, but it's weird to me. I guess it's an extension of wearing sweat pants out, but the pj's make a fashion statement of some sort.

    We live in a society that values leisure. It's rare that you'll see me in a suit or wearing a tie, but you will not see me in public wearing pajama pants.

    Apt analogy applied to writing.

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  20. Shannon: It was not a thing while I was in high school. I first came across it, I guess, while I was working with some teens around 12 years ago, but it was only girls that did it, and it was PJ days at school.

    Lee: I thought so, too.