In the Land of the Pajamas Clad Peoples

By Manolo the Shoeblogger

The Peoples of Shanghai Love the Pajamas!

Manolo says, the peoples of Shanghai, they have surpassed the Americans in the race to ultimate in slovenly casualness..

ONE hundred thousand fireworks lighted the sky over Shanghai on April 30, marking the grand opening of the 2010 World Expo. For the city’s many pajama wearers, it also signified the start of a nightmare.

After pumping $58 billion into staging this mega-event, which is expected to attract more than 70 million visitors over the next six months, city authorities started a campaign to suppress one of Shanghai’s most distinctive customs: wearing pajamas in public. Just as Beijing discouraged men from going shirtless during the Olympics, Shanghai wants everyone to wear “proper attire” for the Expo.

Catchy red signs reading “Pajamas don’t go out of the door; be a civilized resident for the Expo” are posted throughout the city. Volunteer “pajama policemen” patrol the neighborhoods, telling pajama wearers to go home and change. Celebrities and socialites appear on TV to promote the idea that sleepwear in public is “backward” and “uncivilized.”

Finally, the perfect explanation for this…

Julian Schnabel Sneers at your Conventionality!

Julian Schnabel is not sloppy and eccentric, he is Chinese!

The Shanghai-ed story continues…

But many residents disagree. Pajamas — not the sexy sleepwear you find at Victoria’s Secret, but loose-fitting, non-revealing PJs made of cotton or polyester — have been popular in Shanghai since the late 1970s, when Deng Xiaoping, then China’s leader, sought to modernize the economy and society by “opening up” to the outside world. The Chinese adopted Western pajamas without fully understanding their context. Most of us had never had any dedicated sleepwear other than old T-shirts and pants. And we thought pajamas were a symbol of wealth and coolness.

Pajamas as the symbol of wealth and coolness?

Nick and Nora in Their Jammies and Asta, Too!

Only if you are Nick and Nora Charles relaxing in the comfort of your own home.


14 Responses to “In the Land of the Pajamas Clad Peoples”

  1. caia Says:

    Ah, Manolo. So confined by Western cultural modes of dress. Did you not know that the British got the idea of pajamas from India, where paijama were loose-fitting pants for both men and women? It was Westerners who turned them into sleepwear.

    So if the Chinese wish to take them from us and make them daywear again, who are we to argue? It’s not like we haven’t taken both pajamas and kimono and made them lounge-wear.

  2. jamie Says:

    I actually prefer the pajamas these chinese are wearing than the ones over here- tank tops with bellies bulging and short shorts. *gag*

  3. jeannemarie Says:

    If everywhere looked like Peoria, why would we travel?

  4. Manolo the Shoeblogger Says:

    So if the Chinese wish to take them from us and make them daywear again, who are we to argue?

    The Manolo is not arguing with the Chinese!

    On the contrary, he is actually agreeing with the Chinese! Especially those who sensibly believe that the wearing of pajamas out of the doors is sloppy and uncivilized.

    But, are those Chinese peoples who seek to end the practice of the street-wearing of pajamas not “authentically” Chinese? (And here, at the mention of the word “authentic”, we swerve into Baudrillard territory….) Are the non-pajama wearers somehow less Chinese than the others because they agree with the Manolo? Oh! It is so perplexing, having to sort out the various Chineses from each other.

    As for the notion that the Manolo is “confined by Western cultural modes of dress”…

    It is true! The Manolo is wearing pants at this very moment!

  5. caia Says:

    Well, of course the Chinese people are not all of one mind on the subject. I should have said, “if some Chinese people want to take them from us and make them daywear again.”

    It does seem, though, that the Manolo is agreeing with the Chinese that agree with him and Western culture generally about when pajamas should be worn, without pausing to consider either our own (mis)appropriation of the original garment, or the cultural hierarchies implicit in judging the appropriation of a (now) Western clothing item into a non-Western-conforming mode of dress as “uncivilized”.

  6. raincoaster Says:

    The real crime here is that the people of Shanghai are enslaved to a trend from the 70’s! Regardless of the merits of wearing pjs in the street, we can surely agree that all 70’s trends are ridiculous.

    There was a brief period in the 80’s when pjs as streetwear were popular in the UK and parts of North America; I still have a Laura Ashley catalogue with some gorgeous blue ones I’d still kill for, worn on a beach with a cute hat. And Coco Chanel went through a pajama phase as well. They make very comfortable, and often very cute outerwear, but the point back then was to wear something with pajama cut, not pajama fabric (and definitely no stripes or Hello Kittys), and very casual, flat shoes. It was supposed to look effortless, but definitely NOT like you’d just rolled out of bed. Different fabric, and perhaps a tee or tank underneath an unbuttoned pj top worn like a shirtjacket. Like this:×540.jpg

    And this is what Hostess Pajamas looked like: Still a great idea.

    I’d love to see it come back as a trend, actually. Oh wait: it IS:

  7. Manolo the Shoeblogger Says:

    It does seem, though, that the Manolo is agreeing with the Chinese that agree with him and Western culture generally about when pajamas should be worn without pausing to consider either our own (mis)appropriation of the original garment, or the cultural hierarchies implicit in judging the appropriation of a (now) Western clothing item into a non-Western-conforming mode of dress as “uncivilized”.

    Such tautological certainty! Of the course, the Manolo agrees with those peoples who agree with him. To do otherwise would not make the sense!

    Query: Are we to deplore the Chinese peoples who deplore the wearing of the pajamas into the public?

    Or are we to only deplore those Westerners (such as the Manolo) who agree with the Chinese peoples who deplore the wearing of the pajamas into the public.

    And if we do not deplore the Chinese people who deplore the public jammies, while deploring the Westerners who agree with the Chinese deplorers, is this not, in some sense, colonialist?

    Likewise, if we do deplore the Chineses who do not like the other Chineses wearing the jammies into public, is this not also colonialist, as it suggests that one knows better than the Chinese how they should address their internal pajama problems?

    Ayyyy! It is so confusing!

    Perhaps it is the best policy, in light of the Lyotardian délégitimation des métarécits, to allow peoples of all sorts, both western and non-western to hold their own local opinions about pajamas. In which case, the Manolo reiterates that pajamas should not be worn in the public.

    And now, if you will excuse the Manolo, he has the put out the bowl of Homi Bhahba and pita bread, together with the glass of passable sauvignon blanc for his late night snack.

  8. Imelda Blahnik Says:

    Yum! Homi Bhabha with pita! Homi Bhabha on a cracker is also delicious.

  9. Jane2 Says:

    If the Manolo ever ventured forth into the untamed wilderness of The Mall and studied its natives, he would know that the pajamas would be a giant fashion leap forward and would welcome their public utility.

  10. Manolo the Shoeblogger Says:

    The Jane2 is correct.

    The Manolo just yesterday looked at the People of Walmart blog and was horrified for the 1000th time, so much so, that he was beginning to think that maybe Mao had the point with that suit of his.

  11. raincoaster Says:

    Lycra is a privilege, not a right. Someone should tell those people of Walmart.

  12. Wholesale Fashion Says:

    Yes somebody should tell them about Walmart. Its really a good mall..

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