What Do You Wear to Bed?

A friend recently posed the idea that how you dress (or want to dress) for bed is a huge part of a personal character. The argument is that considering pajamas are clothing designed for the sake of sleeping, what we choose to wear to bed is perhaps the sartorial equivalent of the strange things we do alone in our home, like talking to ourselves or watching television upside down.

I wear a variation of the same thing to bed every night: leggings and an old long-sleeved rugby polo, shorts and an oversized oxford, or plain white t-shirt plus some form of bottoms. What I want to wear to bed are matching sets by Eberjay, Olivia von Halle, J.Crew and Sleepy Jones. I’d have two sets for every day of the week (one cold weather version, one hot), and I would never, ever think to wear my Team Building Exercise ’99 tee because I wouldn’t have one. I do own a pair of “nice pajamas.” But I never wear them. Instead, I save them, along with that Diptyque candle that I’ve yet to burn and the monogrammed stationary set that I haven’t used.

So what does this say about my character? That I’m casual by nature but strive to be more refined, even when no one else — save for a friend or significant other — is around to see? But also that I’m also sort of a hoarder, unable to use the “special” things I buy and instead leave them untouched like items in a museum…

What about the people who wear nothing to bed? Are they free spirits? What about those who wear slinky nighties? Or the people who wear a shirt and underwear but no pants, or an ex-boyfriend’s sweatshirt, or something with holes or something with stains, or sweatpants emblazoned with their alma mater?

What about Marilyn Monroe and how, when asked this very question she claimed, “Chanel No. 5”?

If it’s true that you can gain insight into a person’s character based off what they wear to bed (and also what they want to wear to bed), then what do you wear to bed, what do you want to wear to bed, and what does all of that say about you?

Dare me to say “bed” one more time?


Image shot by Tim Walker

  • Annette

    What people choose to wear at any time of day is a part of their character, personality and insight into what makes you “you” but clothes are meant to be worn not saved because even PJ’s can go out of style;)


  • Quinn Halman

    Mostly, I wear my retainer. Sometimes I wear this one shirt from urban outfitters that is too long to pass a shirt and too short to be a dress (it was a perfect second night of halloweekend costume) but I’d love to wear a delicate piece of lingerie because it’s so damn glamorous

    • Charlotte Fassler

      Just got back on my retainer game as well and it’s quickly becoming the most integral part of my bedtime ensemble.

  • Tartan or polka dots pjs over a sexy lace thong.

    “A light dress on a cold day” New post on:

  • Hahaha I’m one of those who wear “sweatpants emblazoned with their alma mater” along with a tank top. When the occasion calls for it I wear man-getter stuff too.

  • I’m a nekkid sleeper, I can’t stand sleeping in clothes. They get all twisted around, and it’s hot and uncomfortable. But I do still shop for pajamas as if I have a use for them. So… I’m a closet nudist?

    • Morgan

      Ditto everything! Glad I’m not the only closet nudist who reads Man Repeller.

  • CDJ

    some kind of leggings and my KONY 2012 shirt or my Fairfield hoodless sweatshirt if my heat isn’t on. i did purchase a “silk” leopard pajama set from ocean state job lot last year for The Bachelor finale.

  • Marcia

    Tank top and comfy underwear, usually, but I live in a desert. I hate wearing pants to sleep.

  • Old t-shirts from high school or college, old ratty tank tops, and pajama pants. None of these things I bought myself – they were either inherited or gifted to me.

    This past Christmas, my husband took me out shopping (instead of getting a gift on his own), and I made a point of buying a matching set of pj’s. They are amazing, and I’m probably never going back to the old ratty t-shirts and too-big pajama pants with hearts on them again. You know…until laundry day.

  • Hanne

    i used to sleep naked a lot but realized that my in-between phases are really long, where i am awake but still half asleep, for example when the postman rings me out of my bed and i jump up and run to the door before i even realize what i am wearing. also when whatever happens in the night that requires me to get out without having time to at least put panties on, i want to already wear them. i always sleep in a black cotton thong and a tank top of some sorts. i have made it a point years ago to throw out all of my underwear and socks and home wear that is holed or stained or out of shape or ugly or that for whatever reason feels inferior to my other underwear and sweat stuff. i have never gotten this thing where one wears something at home but if a neighbor wants to stop by one would frantically have to change out of a disgusting piece. i do have stuff with holes and stains in them but find them still as cool as my other stuff. and for bed, i ALWAYS put on deodorant and my best perfume – my sisters have always made fun of me for that already years ago when we were still all living at home, but for some reason it feels so good to me to brush my hair and spritz amazing perfume on. i think i somehow expect the scent to get more in my hair and skin that way, and as a side effect my bed room always smells subtly great.

  • It all depends on who is over and where I’m at!


  • Hannah

    Printed PJ’s always! Especially my fluffy, stripey DKNY ones. ahh bliss….. 🙂
    They do often stay on all day though, as the matching patterned look was in this season… right?

  • Vanessa Correa

    I usually sleep naked, but if it’s really cold at night (since Florida houses are not built for warmth), then I’ll throw on a pj set. So it means I’m wild and free most of the time, but always with an undercurrent of function and order.

  • I sleep naked, too, and not just that: I try hard to keep things in our bedroom simple. This means almost no gadgets (well, you cannot fall asleep without a Kindle or a book), keeping things neat and in their proper places (like in our white wardrobes, which come combined with white walls) and stuff. It’s all because I want my sleeping environment to just let me be, no intrusion, no ideas, no symbols, signals, signs, connotations, stories … nothing. Just my husband, me and our camel blankets (yeah I know – just wait till you’re my age) 🙂

    Free spirit? Yes, I am. One that needs visual freedom in her sleeping place.

  • White Girl Tara

    Onesies till the day I die

  • Brie

    i wear sweatpants and a tee when it’s winter, and shorts and a tee or a babydoll when it’s summer. what i WANT to wear is matching sets of pjs, like you said, or did you see RHOBH when they went on vacay and they were sneaking around at night to scare the girls and Lisa is wearing that silky white long nightgown? yea i want to wear nightgowns, floor sweeping, satin or silk nightgowns.

  • Laura Mitchell

    I’m dying to try those Soma nightgowns for hotflashes that my Mom loves. I might be 25, but maybe she’s on to something…. Hopefully this says more about my hormones than my sense of style. I don’t think my cats would mind, though.

  • i’m an underwear girl myself. when the trouser leg of pyjamas ride up against the sheets……. i just can’t be dealing with that shit. just strip it off and tortilla wrap yourself in your duvet. perfick.

    • note: the less clothing you sleep in, the more likely someone will intrude into your room or you will receive an untimely thud on the front door from the delivery/mail man. so do at own risk.

      • Well, MY mail man gets to see me in my fluffy hooded bathrobe that hangs on the door for exactly that important reason 🙂

        • ofcourse I don’t answer the door stark naked, I just usually end up putting on something back to front. thanks for the help

          • 🙂

            (I do wonder sometimes whether anyone’s wondering what’s beneath my bathrobe since my hair usually screams “I just got off!” in these situations

  • Gemaji

    A drop of Chanel number 5. IT´S THE TRUTH!!!

  • Katharina

    Marilyn got the perfect answer. Letting the imagination of men running wild.

    Katharina // Katinka

  • It totally says a lot about you.

    I am in a constant struggle with my bed attire. I normally rock an absurdly old, baggy and faded t-shirt with leggings or just briefs. If I’m feeling sexy, I will wash it.

    In the past I have bought all these gorgeous VS pjs/nighties, think lace + silk. And have worn them all but once.

    I’d love to go to bed wearing this… http://www.pinterest.com/pin/504403226987026417/

    My fiancee would love it too…

    But alas the t-shirt wins every night! What does that say about me? Lazy? Comfortable? I’m cool wit dat!


  • Adrianna Grężak

    After years of waking up frustrated that my pajama pants were bunched up at my knees or thighs, my life changed when I wore leggings to bed.

    Since space is limited in my NYC apartment, all of my clothing needs to serve multiple purposes. I don’t really have any t-shirts that I will wear only to bed. (Meaning, I’ll wear them under a sweater or to the gym too.) I’ll generally sleep in the shirt I wore that day.

  • Mercedes Englebert

    just a t-shirt, nothing else…i hate to wear socks, pants or underwear in bed!

  • Celeste

    Awful sweatpants with “The End” printed on the butt, another name for Montauk and, in fact, not an indication of “the end” of my intestinal tract! (Who knew?)

  • I sleep in a long, white, ruffled flannel nightgown from L.L. Bean from, like, 20 years ago that my mom never wore. It is so comfy and old-fashioned.

  • leonorjr

    interesting ploy to find out what I wear to bed, sparkles.

  • Whatever basics I own that end up being worn-out, make it to the PJ stash. I’ve bought men’s boxers that had cute prints for the sake of comfort, only to have them scorned at by my husband after we were married- and only recently did I buy some items specifically for bed. I too tend to save too many clothing items by labeling them as “precious” and not maximizing the mileage for the price tag I paid for those items.

  • looksharpsconnie

    this would be a good coffee table book

    “sleeping with celebs”

    who’s in?
    (full disclosure: I actually just want to interview jake gyllenhaal)

  • Kira M

    I just got these floral pajamas for Christmas and I can’t help but be in the best mood when I go to sleep! Add an eye mask, ear plugs, and some melatonin and you are set for the best night’s sleep!

  • Kandeel

    oversized white t shirts and pink and orange tartan pants haha why does it matter?

  • Sierra

    I like to wear just a t shirt to bed. Anything else is annoying. But once I wake up I put on pjs ^.^

  • Amélie J.
  • Ilse

    When the heater isn’t working, I wear leggings and bedtime socks. But I can’t stand wearing anything on top. It makes me feel restricted in my wild sleeping style 🙂

  • Anna

    I can’t stand wearing actual pajamas– I always wear athletic shorts and a t-shirt.

  • Jocelyn Iozzo

    I wear myself (naked), or I’ll sweat the bed like Lena Dunham in Tiny Furniture.

  • MadeiraDarling

    Silky little nighties or my gross fuzzy robe. I’m either sexy or lazy and there is no inbetween.

  • Mary Streets

    Your pic reminds me of the very old story of princess and the pea

  • Oliver Podolski

    Whatever I had on that day, I can’t be fucked to change into a set of clothing specifically designed to wear to bed when I am already wearing clothes that I think are more comfortable. If it’s particularly cold, I’ll put on a sweater.