With my old flannel PJs finally biting the dust, the hunt is on for something - anything - that I want to wear in bed
A press release from M&S this morning set me off on another rant.
Why is it that decent nightwear (as at left) is so bloody hard to find?
I don't mean the skimpy stuff - the strappy, silky, short variety of nightwear. That's pretty nearly ubiquitous and you can usually find what you want. What I mean is the warm, snuggly, comfortable nightwear that I - and surely not I alone - need in winter.
What do I want in my nightwear? Well, first of all, this is what I don't want.
* I don't want velour or polyester - the very idea makes me shudder.
* I don't want Winnie the Pooh or teddy bears or other such bollocks appliqued all over myself.
* I don't want babyish, inoffensive colours as if I was a two-year-old.
* I don't want static cling or anything that rides up.
* and I don't want to look like a little old lady.
What I do want is:
* Strong, interesting colours like I'd wear in my daywear.
* Some semblance of style.
* Natural fabrics.
* Something that doesn't cling, ride up or create static.
* Something that I wouldn't mind the postman seeing me in.
* High neck, long sleeves, long legs.
* A bit of interest - a nice print, a nice trim, some interesting detailing.
The high street desert
If you want something stylish, M&S clearly isn't the place to go. Shades of white, cream and baby-pink, and frumpy, awful styles that make everyone look like a hospital patient. Look at this nightie - enough to make you give up the will to live. Go click on the 'Classic' range and see what I mean - you'll need your own sickbag.
Searching the whole of the M&S nightwear collection, I could only find two items that I'd be caught dead in - this navy PJ and a matching nightie from the Adored collection. Even so, the design is not well thought out.
Let me explain further for a moment. We live in a draughty old pile in the arse end of nowhere, and our bedroom is pretty cold in winter, mainly for cost reasons. The heating won't click on until the temperature drops to about 12 degrees.
I also sleep with my arms outside the covers (not really by choice - they just end up that way). That means I get cold around the head, neck and shoulders, and when I get up, I want warmth round my ankles. Under my 20 togs of duvet, I'm plenty warm enough, thanks.
Uggs take care of the slipper problem, and my total inability to find a warm AND stylish dressing gown sent me screaming to the sewing machine many years ago (I wear a black tooled velvet gown lined in wool and silk).
But this year, I fear I will end up making my own nightwear too - I just can't find anything I like that I can also afford.
Nighties are something I gave up on centuries ago. The short ones aren't warm enough, the long ones ride up and leave me feeling like I've slept on rocks. Even on so-called warm nighties, made from wincyette or flannel or thick cotton jersey, the neck area is always left exposed. What is the point, exactly, in making the garment warm where it's under the blankies, and cold where you most need cover?
For many years, I've tended to wear men's or boy's pyjamas in brushed cotton or flannelette. That way you can leave off the bottoms if you so please, and leave the collar open or flip it up to stay warm.
But even M&S - that bastion of men's nightwear - isn't what it once was. Its entire men's range this winter is in shades of depressing grey and navy. There's a recession outside, thankyou - I don't want one in the bedroom as well. Far better is this jazzy pair from Derek Rose, whose men's PJs I've worn for 20 years. The only downside is the price - these are nearly 90 quid.
As with many things, the Americans do it all so much better, if you can find a site that will deliver to Yurrup. There is the place to look if you don't want nightwear that is anodyne, but you will generally have to shell out 60-120 dollars plus carriage.
Idlewild is a rare exception in being a UK site. This store sells sells some of the prettiest, practical nightwear I've found online, including these toile de jouy Bedhead PJs (£75) and the gorgeous PJs at the top left of this article, which I think are the prettiest thing I've ever seen (too short and too thin, but I might base my design on these, as I like the contrasting cuffs and trim).
Comfygirl is also very good, and sells a wide range of Bedhead PJs, including these dotty ones. Sleepyheads (sorry, their pix won't download) makes its own range of flannel PJs and stocks a wide range of other makes including Frankie and Johnny's bamboo flannel PJs, which are said to feel like cashmere and silk, and Fresh n Funky (cotton poplin rather than flannel, but fab designs). Think huge paisleys in brown on jade, dots, spots, florals and cherries.
Personally I find thick jersey or flannelette the best kind of nightwear in winter, but failing that, silk is a good, if expensive option. These yellow pjs from Winter Silks are approaching perfect in terms of design (I forget the price - about 64-70 dollars, I think). Note the high neck, which is still pretty, an interesting colour, proper long legs and sleeves, but with a bit of trimming. Someone has actually THOUGHT about this design. Unfortunately, these are still too thin for me. What I DO wear from Winter Silks is their lightweight silk jersey thermals, which also have the advantage of not allowing draughts up the legs and sleeves.