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Even When I'm Sleeping: Pyjamas Uncovered

Known in South Africa as 'night suits', pyjamas are now so technologically advanced that they can read a bed time story to your children. Silky numbers have even been worn by the likes of Rhianna on the red carpet.

So how did they come this far?

Derived from the Persian words for 'leg' and 'garment', pyjamas hit the streets of London in the 1870's at the height of Britain's rule in India. Though fashionable, they were still considered to be somewhat curious objects. Henry Yule and A.C Burnell in their excellent lexicon Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms recount the following anecdote:

“The late Mr. B—, tailor in Jermyn Street, some on 40 years ago, in reply to a question why pyjammas had feet sewn on to them (as was sometimes the case with those furnished by London outfitters) answered: 'I believe, Sir, it is because of the White Ants.”

Chanel did her bit for women's pyjamas in the 1920's – think oversized silk shirts with epic collars – and by the 1930's it had become du jour for both men and women to wear their lounge pyjamas at any hour.

But not for long. Over the course of about 50 years, Coco's elegant, silk cocktail ensemble descended into the pocketed, flannelette tartan jacket and pant combo more appropriate for French toast than French kisses.

In 2010, fed up with customers buying milk in their jim jams, Tesco banned customers from wearing them in their shop in Cardiff. Last year, a commissioner in Louisiana even proposed an ordinance prohibiting people from wearing pyjamas in public.

Peter Alexander may have been hosting the pyjama party to end all pyjama parties, but until recently, pyjamas had been pretty much banished to the bedroom.

Enter Sophie Lovejoy of Sant and Abel. The Sydney-based TV producer saw a genuine gap in the market for classic, colourful pyjamas that people needn't be embarassed about caught wearing to the corner shop. She swiftly designed some simple, all-day style pyjamas and after the success of her first range she upped and left the TV gig so that she could focus on refining the Sant and Abel offering.

Made from lightweight cotton,, Sant and Abel pyjamas are a modern interpretation of classic 1930's loungewear and a welcome return to a life more comfortably glamorous.

"You should be able to do everything in your pyjamas," says Sophie. "That's when you're going to feel most comfortable. Rhianna, Owen Wilson, Ryan Gosling… they've all got the right idea about what to wear on the red carpet."

Thy pyjama culture in the US is huge and the Sant and Abel concept seems to be going down very well in L.A, despite all the brouhaha in Lousiana last year.

"You'll catch more people in the street and at the supermarket wearing their pjs than you would in Australia," says Sophie.  "Slumber parties are huge over there as well - for teenagers and adults."

Sophie has lots of projects in the pipeline - Cannes film festival anyone? - but we think her goal of 'making people happy in the bedroom' is among the most noble we've heard.


Sant and Abel pyjamas are for boys, girls, legends and lovers.

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