Wear Your Pajamas to a Fancy Party

Win the pajama game at your next cool friend’s wedding


A great pair of shoes can really knock you out. I nearly cracked my head open during a wedding ceremony in Brooklyn because of this one particular pair. Crystals were packed onto their short-stack heels while satin creeped upward and over the foot. They were Mary Janes. Navy. Definitely navy as opposed to black, which I could tell from six rows back, but I was not sure if they were Miu Miu or Rochas.


I leaned too far forward to check, slipped on my own slides and nearly fell flat on my face mid-vows. Luckily, a friend mom-armed me like a human seatbelt. A little noise was caused, the shoes remained a mystery, but all was good.

When I spotted them later they were on the dancing feet of a 5-foot-tall woman in a pair of printed pajamas: satin, paisley-printed pajamas buttoned up to the collar with striking red piping and fur cuffs.

So you know, I sartorially hit on her.

The woman in question was Gayle Spannaus, the women’s fashion director at J.Crew. What I found out is that she’s a self-proclaimed Man Repeller, a bonafide DIYer of the elevated degree (she had a tailor sew pieces of her grandmother’s vintage stole onto the pajama sleeves for her), and a leader in the art of SleepCorp: bed-wear that’s semi corporate-setting appropriate (but not really), perfect for black tie and, more importantly, a guaranteed blast to dance in.

After all, what’s the point in dressing for comfort if you don’t plan on showing off some serious choreography when your song starts playing?


Rochas shoes, For Restless Sleepers pajamas with her grandmother’s vintage stole added to the cuffs

Which is more or less exactly what the one and only Gayle Spannaus said and did.

“I either go big or go home,” she told me of her thought process while getting dressed. There is no in-between.”

She chalks up her personal style to survival. “Being 5-foot and loving clothes as much as I do presents somewhat of a challenge for me, but I embrace the challenge.” She remembers how a Japanese woman who opened a store in her hometown changed the way she thought about getting dressed entirely. “She would wear skirts to the floor with big jackets — it was an awakening. Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo, Marni — this aesthetic shoe introduced showed me a new way to be stylish. It was irreverent. It didn’t play into the rules my mom taught me. Instead, I learned that if you’re small, you you play with scale.”

Spannaus did bring one piece of non-proportion-related advice from her mom to the wedding: “You can be a participator or an observer, and that’s a choice. But if you’re going to be an observer, then you’re going to watch a whole lot of people having fun.”

Guess what Gayle is not when it comes to the dance floor? An observer.

A woman after our own hearts, in a pair of shoes — Rochas, by the way — that nearly broke my nose.

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis; runway images via Vogue Runway.


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  • Love love love everything about this outfit. And the person in it! (Mink stole = beyond genius).

    • Amelia Diamond

      I know I have old stoles from my grandma too that I am now considering: what can I put you on ASAP besides the obvious collar?

      • Melissa Grillo

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  • EP

    Sometimes I see the pj trend and think it looks silly. THIS does not. Executed perfectly.

    • Amelia Diamond

      After talking to Gayle I am convinced: it is the tailoring. She has a ton of her stuff shortened, including arms (not just legs). It seriously inspired me to gather up all of my stuff that’s not 100% and start taking it to my cranky tailor, one by one.

      • Natty

        skip the cranky tailor! have you guys tried the ztailor app yet? it is a game changer…

      • BK

        Take it all at once, let them throw one big tantrum then they can get over it. Like ripping off a Band-Aid instead of slowly peeling

  • A Girl

    as a PETITE WOMAN, i will listen to any advice that comes out of the petite mouth of a fellow PETITE WOMAN, and this is rly good thank u Gayle

    • Elizabeth Tamkin

      So true! Because a tall woman with lean limbs can pull off that silk fabric that moves with them. As a petite-ist, the movement just isn’t so much there. But Gayle works it! And pairs it with fantastic shoes (that addition of oh, 2 or so Rochas inches probably doesn’t hurt either!).

  • ReadER451

    Reformation just came out with a great Outdoor Lingerie collection. Great silk PJ tops that are in line with Sleep-Corp.

    • Amelia Diamond


    • Krista Anna Lewis

      I got this email this morning and I heard my bank account cry for help off in the distance.

  • Love the shoes! Love the pj! And you’re stunning!

    Check out my latest post on http://thefoamofcancun.blogspot.ba/2016/01/nudes.html


  • Stephanie
  • ValiantlyVarnished

    I love her! She’s fabulous. I think we need to be BFFs. And I think I need to buy a few pairs of really cool silk pajamas

  • I’m convinced that sizes labeled “short” are still for people 5’8″ and not for us actual average height people. (I’m 5’3″, I’m not some rare breed. I’m the most average size girl in existence.) I’m always inspired by “short” style icons ahem-averagesize-ahem. Also those shoes are just everything.

    • Amelia Diamond

      I am with you on the short thing.

  • BK

    YES hear hear to the shopping alone. My friends – and I mean this in the nicest possible way – really just drag me down in the fashion stakes. Items which I loved, they vetoed and I bought anyway include Toga Pulla boots, my favourite bandana, any and all turtlenecks (I know, I know), Gucci loafers and everything I own from COS. They’re special in other ways.

  • chouette

    OK I adore her. I have my grandma’s fur collars too, withering away in a box since I got sick of them being tacked onto my everyday coat. That ermine might find a new life after all.

    • Janel Hairston

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