Do you really have to change out of your pajamas to be productive?
Last summer, I was staying with a friend and her family at the beach. After we lounged around in our pajamas and ate bagels for most of the morning, the time came to do that very important everyday thing. You know, put on proper clothes with non-elastic waistbands and sleeves and collars and some semblance of a shoe and go out into the world unashamed, suited properly for human existence. “But why?” asked my friend’s young son. “I think it should be an all-day pajama day!” It was hard to explain why it shouldn’t be an all-day pajama day, because the truth is, there is no answer. Why shouldn’t we be comfortable, as comfortable as we are when we sleep in our beds, all day long? Why do we waste so much time changing from one outfit to the next, like astronauts gearing up for a moon landing and then coming home again, when none of us are astronauts and none of us are landing on the moon?
Why do we have day clothes and night clothes when one set of clothes would be far more economical and efficient? Why does the Seamless delivery guy give me that look when I open the door wearing my robe? Why can’t every day be an all-day pajama day?
I realize this is a controversial opinion, but it’s only controversial because so many of us have been so deluded for so long. (Wake up, sheeple, and stop getting dressed!) Sure, there are endless articles and experts telling you it’s very important that you put on actual clothes in the morning, for productivity, for your self-esteem, because you’ll lose your spouse if he or she comes home to find you still in the ratty tee and underwear you slept in at the end of a long hard day (spoiler: lose the spouse, not the T-shirt). This is a manipulation to force us to adhere to “societal norms” defined by someone who … wants to sell you clothes!
And we’ve swallowed the lies: It’s more productive to put on proper clothes first thing in the morning, or we can’t really work unless we’re wearing a bra, or it would somehow be embarrassing or uncouth to wear our soft pants down the street in the light of day. And what of those sexist, patriarchal judgments that come down as if from on high, that women should not wear yoga pants to do things that are not yoga? That leggings are not pants? Remember when people used to dress up to fly on planes, heels and all, instead of simply sliding into some sweats that say “Juicy” on the butt? Those were the days! How far we’ve plummeted. These judgments are almost always from someone who has never himself gotten to slip into a pair of comfy yoga pants and leave them on all day.
As a freelancer with a flexible morning routine (a flexible everything routine), I find breaking the law of getting dressed in the morning the most enjoyable part of my day, followed by breaking the law of making my bed first thing in the morning. After all, if we’re dressing for the jobs we want to have, why would I choose anything but a job that involves getting up and making coffee in pajama pants, then moving to the computer to type out a few sentences between sips, comfy, cozy and already prepared for the reviving nap that might happen in a few hours? As freelance writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner put it, “I listened to a lot of bullshit talk about freelancer hygiene, and realized that if you have the metabolism for freelancing, you also have the metabolism for wearing what you want on a particular day. I went to bed Sunday night in a pair of sweatpants with the intention of spending all day Monday not vacating those sweatpants, and it was a wonderful triumph (I know, my husband is a lucky, lucky, man.)”
There are other all-day-pajama-day role models out there. Hugh Hefner has made a practice of wearing the most luxurious silk pjs, with colors pertaining to his mood and agenda—black “for taking care of business.” Trump, apparently, wanders about in a robe in the White House after he’s done with a day of jarring the entire country into a state of nauseated horror. Okay, maybe you don’t want to emulate either Hefner or Trump, but Jenna Lyons, the extremely stylish J.Crew creative director, has made it de rigueur to wear pajamas in the daytime and even at night, say, to the Met Gala! So why should we mere humans have to get dressed in the morning just because someone once told us we should, for “productivity”?
Ah, but we don’t. We’re not. Given the rise of work-from-home culture, more and more people are slippery-sloping their fashion way to sweats, yoga pants, exercise wear, and even all-day pjs. I asked a group of friends if they actually got dressed in the morning, and what they wore. Some answers:
“Jogger pants (a.k.a. slightly more fitted sweatpants) under the t-shirt I slept in. No bra. I only brush my teeth and shower when/if I'm going to see someone in public. Or brush (no shower) before my husband comes home.”
“I'm usually a ‘athleisure wear’ type, but I rationalize that because I'm usually going to the gym at the end of the day. But if I workout in the morning instead, I'll think about putting on real clothes after. And sometimes, I do.”
“I slowly migrate from pj pants/T-shirt I slept in towards being properly dressed. I.e., I put on proper trousers around lunch to go out and get coffee, still sport T-shirt I slept in. Then I probably shower around 5 and after that will dress myself properly.”
“I wear my pajamas all day long. Even after I shower, I'll put clean pajamas on. In the summer, my ‘uniform’ becomes underwear and a T-shirt. But I always wear red lipstick.”
“What are pants?”
All or most of these people are perfectly functional members of society! Personally, I save my skinny jeans and silky, professional tops for the evenings when—yes—I do finally shower and change and put on “normal” clothes, and the joy in that is something like having been at the beach all day and then finally showering in the late afternoon and feeling ever so clean and fresh and sun-drenched; it’s better, sometimes, to put off putting on the actual clothes because when you do, you really enjoy them. Plus, you have them on for far less of the day, which means you don’t wear them out and you suffer less from unsightly bra and jeans-marks. And, oh, what I save in cleaning bills!
But beyond simply how we feel about how we get dressed each day, let’s consider how future generations should feel. I submit that an “all-day pajama day” bravely defies Trump’s mandate, for instance, that women “dress like women.” Pajamas are egalitarian. Pajamas are for everyone. By refusing to get properly dressed in the morning, we fight the good fight; in the jettisoning of standards that confine rather expand the waistbands of our realities, we may aspire to more. We wear what makes us feel good, not them. Fuzzy pants past noon are a radical act. Or that’s what I’m telling myself.
You must brush your teeth, however. That’s just hygienic.