I don’t have complete copies of the Delineator for 1929-1930, but by 1931 the lounging pajama (also spelled “pyjama”) had moved from beach wear to formal wear. Butterick patterns even included a slip for wearing under pajamas. These pajamas, illustrated on page 72, were for casual wear.
Butterick 4014: Lounging Pajamas, 1931
“4014: The three-piece type, with swaggeringly full trousers and a knee-length jacket. When made of satin or crepe they look especially smart and are eligible for the run of the house at all hours.”
The bi-color look, with inserts in the legs matching the bodice color, was also seen in this Munsingwear advertisement from April 1931:
[Note: “Pyjama” was the usual British spelling; “pajama” was the usual American spelling. Butterick Publishing, which had offices in Europe and aimed at middle-class readers, used “pyjama” in 1931, but its American advertisers used “pajama.”]
Butterick pattern 4037 : The ‘Jama Slip
“4037: The thing to wear under the pyjamas you dance in [!] and the pajamas you receive in at home. [I.e., hostess pajamas.] It is as inevitable as the slip you wear under silk frocks. It has the “two-skirt” fulness that belongs to new pajamas, and it stops short of the ankles.”
The Vintage Traveler recently showed lounging pajamas from the 1920s (click here to see photos); the leg width increased in the thirties.
Butterick Pattern 3937 for One-piece Pajamas. 1931.
Another — very bare — one-piece pajama, Butterick 3803, was featured in Delineator magazine in April, 1931. It was for sleeping:
“3803: The sleeping version of the one-piece pajamas! Wicked in black georgette with skin showing through in the fagoting, stunning in white crepe, smart in pastels. Wide slit trousers and sash tied waistline.”
The fagoting which joins the yoke to the bodice forms a deep V shape. A glimpse of nipple might be possible: “wicked.”
Butterick One Piece Pajama Pattern No. 3752, 1931.
This one-piece pajama is for housework or lounging, depending on fabric choice. “Cotton for your morning’s work, or in printed crepe for the hours when you want a dressier type.”
Evening Pajamas, 1931
These pajamas for casual wear were not the only pajamas illustrated in Delineator that month; on page 65, right beside the formal evening gowns, was an evening pajama pattern:
“4035: As modern as a skyscraper, as graceful as a skirt, these wide, wide, lace pyjamas are a gay and amusing thing to wear to country club dances, and to dinners that are not too formal. Satin jacket.”
The same evening pajama pattern appeared in Butterick’s Delineator the next month, September 1931, with a different description and a long-sleeved jacket:
“4035: For parties that will be given the bride and for entertaining in her own home — these evening pyjamas with wide, wide trousers are gay and modern. The velvet jacket ties at the waist.” A month earlier the same pajamas were described as suitable for attending country club dances and “dinners that are not too formal.”
“3551: There are as many types of pyjamas this season as there are dresses. These satin ones are for informal tea parties and afternoons with a book. Wide trousers, sleeveless blouse.” Satin is recommended — probably crepe satin, which is shiny on one side and matte on the other. Wearing pajamas “for informal tea parties” was probably appropriate for the “stay at home” hostess, rather than her guests.
The ” ‘Jama Slip” was also featured again in September, as were these other pajama patterns first seen in August:
Butterick 4014: “At college you may sleep in nightgowns, but you must have pyjamas for lounging. They’re perfect for studying, too. These are three-piece, wide-trousered, with a blouse that is sleeveless.” The long jacket resembles a robe.
Butterick 3937: “Pajamas are the pet lounging costumes in college circles. The wider they are, the smarter. This is their feminine version, made of plaid silk with godets and frill of plain.”
Here are the August and September versions of these two patterns, side by side.
Butterick three piece pajama pattern 4227 (below, at left) appeared in December of 1931:
This pajamas set was shown with robes, but the suggested fabrics are velvet and lamé, so they are probably not for sleeping! It had wide trousers, a jacket, and a cowl-necked blouse.
Butterick even showed a pajama set for girls in this Christmas issue:
Butterick 4223: “Much like the pyjama big sister wears, The top part is white and the trouser section and jacket are scarlet. The embroidered motif adds a ‘special’ touch. . . . Sizes 4 to 15 [years.]” The nightgown on the left looks like wide legged pajamas; it’s probably more accurate to say that wide legged pajamas looked like evening gowns.
If you didn’t want to make pajamas/pyjamas for Christmas, you could buy them. Munsingwear advertised that this set (below, top left) was only “One of many new Pajamas.”
I don’t know anything about this vintage pajama set — but the fabric says “lounging pajamas” to me:
10 responses to “The Fascinating Pajama, 1931”
Such wonderful information! Between you and Lizzie I have learned a lot about the pajama trend of the 1930s. I had no idea that they were so popular. It would be wonderful to find a photo of a woman wearing one of those cotton housework pajamas. All the references I have found talk about women wearing house dresses to clean until well into the fifties.
That print one-piece looked awfully fancy for cleaning duties to me — especially since it had no pockets visible. Maybe Butterick’s readers wore them while directing the maid? One piece lounging clothes with full legs came back in the 1960s – I bought one at Joseph Magnin. The difficulty of using the bathroom while wearing it pretty much limited it to wear inside my own apartment, since you had to pull the whole garment down around your legs. I puzzled over several of these “pyjamas” — wondering how women got in and out of them.
I love 1930’s pyjamas/pajamas – especially the ones designed for beachwear. Thanks for a great article!
I’ll be getting around to sharing some sailor-inspired 1930’s PJs soon.
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Butterick 4227 is really lovely in colors, see https://it.pinterest.com/pin/381328293433714014/
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