It has always been a source of annoyance and bewilderment to me that modern man/woman wears two uniforms within twenty four hours. Each evening when getting ready for the night uniform or the pyjamas as we call them, it fleetingly crosses my mind to forego this silly ritual and hop under the blankets as dressed. Perhaps just take boots off, but that would be the only compromise. At the moment most unbutton shirts and trousers, take them off and then change and button up into another outfit before diving underneath the bedding where nobody can see you. What’s the point of it? Why the ritual of buttoning and un-buttoning?
People just used to sleep in the same clothes that they used to toil in. Crofters and yeoman, tailors, butchers and bakers, they all worked and slept in their clothes. The pyjama apparel apparently wasn’t introduced till late in the 17th century and quickly went out of fashion only to reappear again after another fifty years or so.
From Wikipedia: The word pyjama is actually pinched from the Persian language. The word “pyjama” is a variant of “pajama” (पजामा/پاجامہ) which was incorporated into the English language during British Rai from Hidustani (the progenitor language of modern-day Urdu and Hindi). This word originally derives from the word پايجامه Peyjama meaning “foot garment”.
I am pretty sure those passionate Persians wouldn’t dream of going through the trouble of taking “footwear’ off” before going to sleep. They had to be ready for a quick war at any time.
But getting back to the issue of changing costumes at bedtime, you can imagine the convenience, when Mr Sandman knocks on the door, to just take of your glasses, kick off the boots and dive in.
After a few days or so, you change into a cleaner uniform and use that. Climatic changes might introduce some extra woollen garment during the cold and in summer you go starkers. Why have we changed into this elaborate method of a dress code that calls for dressing and undressing several times during the day and night?
Modern fashion now dictates that all clothes have to look worn out and torn to shreds. We could easily jettison concerns for being dirty or looking dishevelled. It is all the rage now. In fact, yesterday in Bowral I saw a woman so poorly dressed in rags that, from the goodness of my heart, I took my wallet out. Helvi stopped me in time. “It’s the latest from Paris and designed by Dior” she informed me. This woman also had black nails, including toes, and black smudges under her eyes.
Years ago we lived on two farms. The first one was about 150 years old, the second well over 300 years. On both farms the sleeping arrangements were centred around the animal quarters, mainly the cows. The obvious answer was of course that in winter the cows gave off very cosy warmth and sleeping near them was a very logical thing to do. No doubt the animal odour added to their ardour as well. A win win for the Dutch farmers and their traditional large families.
The farmer, his wife and possibly the kids would just jump out and milk the cows at the crack of dawn. Just imagine if they had to get out of night uniform and then a day uniform? The cows would have gone off their milk.
Is it not time we go back to a more natural way of spending time, be it day or night?
It’s late at night, better put on my pyjamas. Move over.