Obsolete Fashion: The Cat’s Pajamas?

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[Images Above: bygonekits.blogspot.com and hunch.com]

Left to right: a Simplicity pattern circa 1940 and Greta Garbo in the 1930’s.

French author Marie-Henre Beyle, better known by Stendehal (his pen name), once wrote, “Nothing is so hideous as an obsolete fashion.”  Well, that may seem true, at surface level. But when you do a little research, often you’ll find that the “newest” thing isn’t actually new at all! It is simply a re-vamped version of the same, original concept– whether this concept was first conceived a century ago or a decade ago, whether this “new” thing we “MUST. HAVE. NOW.” is in its fifth reincarnation or hundredth. This new post, entitled “Obsolete Fashion,” will be devoted to uncovering and re-discovering some of the most interesting, outrageous, and under-appreciated or over-appreciated (a matter of personal taste) trends of yesteryear.  Today, I will be taking a peek at lounging pajamas.

While there are a plethora of fun fashion options for cold weather (soft scarves, chunky, cable knit sweaters, thick, knit tights, pretty legwarmers, bright handwarmers, stylish boots, etc.), some days, it is extraordinarily difficult for me to trade my cozy, flannel pajama pants with drawstring waists and my oversize, fleecy pullovers for garments that fall under the umbrella of daytime, work-appropriate apparel! This is one of the reasons lounging pajamas appeal to me. In the 1920s and 1930s, these garments, made of soft satin and embroidered “a la Chinoise,” became not only acceptable, but moreover, a chic, stylish item for women to wear to soirees in the homes of their bohemian friends. As a matter of fact, the phrase, “the cat’s pajamas” was coined in the 1920s in reference to the “unconventional” spirit of the female flapper (“cat”).

What do you think, ModLovers? Is this a fashion trend you’d like to see return?


24 Responses to Obsolete Fashion: The Cat’s Pajamas?

  1. Maggie 01/05/2010 at 12:31 pm #

    Love this new post! Also, I would really like lounging pajamas to come back into style – this seems like the perfect thing for cold winter days in Pittsburgh.

  2. Annie 01/05/2010 at 12:44 pm #

    Ahh, yes, I’d like a pair of these. Deep burgundy satin pajamas embellished with exquisite embroidery. Oh, and a matching headscarf – that would be perfect. Let’s start the lounging pajamas revolution!

  3. Jeremy 01/05/2010 at 2:01 pm #

    I’m a big proponent of the lounging pajamas.

  4. Sarah Beck 01/05/2010 at 2:41 pm #

    Bring ‘um back!!!!

  5. c_tyler 01/05/2010 at 2:53 pm #

    Definitely more chic than sweatpants and a t-shirt … yeah, ModCloth should carry some of those for sure!

  6. Miranda 01/05/2010 at 3:37 pm #

    Definitely! Anything Garbo wore is sheer magnificence, if only for that fact. That aside though, this look re-asserts the fact that you can be comfortable and still look put-together.

  7. Natalie B. 01/05/2010 at 3:38 pm #

    I had no idea that was where the term “cat’s pajamas” came from! I love it. Did Chancey fill you in on that? 🙂

    This post makes me want to go home and put on XL fleece pants… And then wear them to work tomorrow!

  8. Anna Brindley 01/05/2010 at 5:33 pm #

    I am so excited to see this blog and these responses. I have felt exactly the same way so much so that I launched a pajama business this past fall. I started extremely small with a specific look for now. I hope to branch out and grow and I would love your ideas and feedback. When doing my research I came across Hostes Pajamas. They are a similar concept. Please look at my site and e-mail me your comments and products that you would want to buy. Right now my products are sewn here in the USA. Is that of importance to you? Thanks in advance for your feedback.

  9. Tiffany 01/05/2010 at 7:27 pm #


  10. Tiffany 01/05/2010 at 7:27 pm #

    can’t wait for more “obsolete fashion”

  11. Regina @ Margarita Bloom 01/05/2010 at 11:18 pm #

    Those are fabulous! I love the fashion from the 20’s and 30’s….tres chic! Great website you have! 🙂

  12. Maya 01/05/2010 at 11:20 pm #

    I desperately want that pattern! The pjs to the left are just adorable.

  13. Jen 01/06/2010 at 9:41 am #

    So glad all of you like the idea! I know I would like to wear some of these to work today.

    Stay tuned for some more Obsolete Fashion!

  14. Sarita 01/06/2010 at 10:47 am #

    I am a huge fan of fashion from the 30s, 40s and 50s. Clothes from that era let you look feminine, flirty and chic all at the same time! And clothing from those eras tend to flatter the curvier girl.

  15. maryb 01/07/2010 at 1:15 am #

    this just shows that some fashion trends NEVER GO OUT OF STYLE. that’s why i believe in “just cause it’s not the “in” thing for today….doesn’t mean it’s dope. fashion is what you make it. trend or not.” i stand by this.

  16. aire 01/07/2010 at 12:28 pm #

    Love this post Jen! I think Dolce and Gabbana agree. Does anyone remember their collection last year that featured pieces that looked exactly like pajamas!! 🙂

  17. Ashley 01/07/2010 at 2:26 pm #

    I LOVE THIS!! i definately need to get some cat pajamas ASAP! thay are fun, soft, chic, vintage, comfy, and all of my other favourite words. Definately a new item to add to my hunting list! great find Jen, can’t wait to see more of these posts!

  18. Yo Mama 01/07/2010 at 6:38 pm #

    Now I know what to wear to the next
    soiree given by one of my bohemian
    yaya’s. Modcloth, YOU’RE the cat’s

  19. YaYa 01/08/2010 at 12:39 am #

    My entire wardrobe is “Obsolete Fashion.”

  20. Katie 01/08/2010 at 1:47 pm #

    I would LOVE to see something like this available on your site!!!

  21. cindy 02/25/2010 at 1:36 pm #

    always loved them, never let go of them, anywhere I could find them or anything like them, Wish they were acceptable outerwear again.

  22. Sara 02/25/2010 at 2:32 pm #

    Um, being able to wear pajamas in public? Sign me up, please!

  23. Anna-Maria 02/26/2010 at 11:33 am #

    I am home recuperating from hand surgery…These would be a great alternative to boring ,unglamorous flannel or sweats for sure! And add the headscarf…since I cannot style my lovely locks right now!
    Sure would make me feel warm and sexy again! Bring on the cats pajamas!

  24. Royalle 02/27/2010 at 11:24 pm #

    Was this fashion apparel influenced by the Chinese or the silk? Because Chinoise is the feminine form of Chinese. Well I think it’s a brilliant idea. I’d love nothing better than to lounge around anywhere in silk pajamas (:

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