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Forget athleisure and think pajamas: Spring's big fashion trend is sleepover chic

Forget athleisure and think pajamas: Spring's big fashion trend is sleepover chic
From left: Nicole Richie, Naomi Campbell and Jessica Alba at the Dolce & Gabbana Pyjama Party with Derek Blasberg at the Chateau Marmont Penthouse in West Hollywood on Feb. 24. (Billy Farrell / BFA.com)

Pajama dressing is poised to be spring's biggest trend, and it may have the power to dethrone athleisure as the most easy-to-wear style. While it's technically more casual than the ubiquitous activewear trend, fashion labels, including Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana and Givenchy, are offering an elevated and ethereal take on this relaxed look.

Think silky, boudoir-inspired blouses instead of jersey performance tanks, and smoking slippers over statement sneakers.

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And a perk worth daydreaming about? "Pajama pants are a lot more forgiving than leggings," says Salvador Perez, the Los Angeles-based costume designer for the Hulu show "The Mindy Project." "Pajama pants don't care if you had a burger for lunch. Leggings will judge you, harshly."

From left: Farrah coat in mink with belt, $16,990; Damia kimono dress with embroidery in velvet, $5,290, both from Brock Collection's fall 2016 line, at Barney's in Beverly Hills, available mid-July.
From left: Farrah coat in mink with belt, $16,990; Damia kimono dress with embroidery in velvet, $5,290, both from Brock Collection's fall 2016 line, at Barney's in Beverly Hills, available mid-July. (Dan & Corina Lecca)

The style is ideal for Angelenos who thrive in the hyper-casual fashion scene but have places to go and paparazzi to be photographed by. The Chateau Marmont on Sunset Boulevard was the February venue for Dolce & Gabbana to celebrate its new Pyjama Party capsule collection ($1,595 each for tops and bottoms).

Jessica Alba, Joan Smalls, Nicole Richie and Naomi Campbell showed up in literal eveningwear to honor the Italian fashion house's long history with the theme, which began with pajamas on the runway in spring / summer 1995. Assuring the trend will continue through the year, the label showed several men's pajama-themed looks during its men's fall / winter 2016 show.

"There are things that become trends in a second, and they disappear just as fast," Stefano Gabbana says. "Others take longer to be understood and made one's own." Adds Domenico Dolce, "By continuing to show pajamas again and again in the various collections, people get used to them. And now it's what everyone wants."

Models present a creation from the autumn / winter 2016 menswear collection by Italian label Dolce & Gabbana during the Milan Men's Fashion Week.
Models present a creation from the autumn / winter 2016 menswear collection by Italian label Dolce & Gabbana during the Milan Men's Fashion Week. (Daniel Dal Zennaro / European Pressphoto Agency)

Though it has been about 100 years since Coco Chanel made pajamas a fashion statement, the look is as fresh as ever thanks to well-accomplished interpretations on the theme. On the spring / summer 2016 ready-to-wear runway, Givenchy tailored sensual lace, sheers and silks to elegant proportions, while Alexander McQueen showed what appears to be the world's most sumptuous comforter-turned-coat during the label's fall 2016 ready-to-wear show in London in February. Valentino's silk printed pajamas have stayed in the picture since their debut last fall thanks to an unlikely and unreal fashion icon: Owen Wilson's character Hansel from "Zoolander 2."

Also notable for its pajama-inspired selections is Brock Collection, a New York-established label known for its feminine ease. Brock Collection designers Laura Vassar and Kristopher Brock recently relocated to Newport Beach, and their fall 2016 pieces include a flattering and luxe mink coat ($16,990) cut like a terry cloth robe. "We wanted to make a fur that was a little more wearable on a daily basis," Brock says.

Another piece worth a look is the romantic, Old Hollywood-inspired crushed velvet gown-like robe ($5,290). "It can be worn on its own as an evening piece," says Vassar. "Or over jeans, open at the bottom."

The trend also has made its way into the new crop of high-end, direct-to-consumer brands. San Francisco-based Cuyana offers blanket-like alpaca capes ($195), while M. Gemi recently reissued its sold-out hit smoking slipper, the Stellato ($228). And AYR offers the quite literally named Robe Dress ($425) in silk jersey.

The theme also has popped up at fast-fashion stores with Old Navy selling lace-accented tops and dresses ($35) and H&M offering kimonos for women ($40) and paisley-printed satin shirts for men ($50).

And how do you put the trend into practice without looking like you overslept and forgot to get dressed? Perez, who also serves as the president of the Costume Designers Guild, cautions that it's all in the fabric. "If it's a print, it's going to look like pajamas," he says. "If it's a solid silk or satin, it can just look like a fabulous pantsuit." One particular look he champions is a black silk pajama set — sleeves rolled up, please — with stilettos.

As for why we don't see men in loungewear on "The Mindy Project," where star Mindy Kaling herself has worn pajama-inspired looks for years? "Although pajama pants are very comfortable for men," says Perez, "due to an issue of anatomy, they need a little more structure in their garments."

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