Christmas Pajamas Update : Matching Christmas Pajamas Are Either the Best or Worst Part of the Holidays

Insight Online News

By Charles Passy

November’s Thanksgiving clash over politics has given way to December’s epic home drama: the battle over matching holiday pajamas.

Briana Bournique Beaty, a 39-year-old mother of three girls who lives in North Palm Beach, Fla., for years has harbored a particular Christmas wish: to dress each member of her family in the same style of holiday PJs to create a picture-worthy, matchy-matchy moment.

Her husband, Clark Beaty, 44, refuses to play along, saying that whatever she purchases doesn’t quite look right on his 6-foot-6, 300-pound frame. “I’m unwilling to feel like a complete doofus,” he says.

“I’ve given it my best shot,” Ms. Beaty says. This year, she says she is resigned to a majority, as opposed to a unanimous, victory for her “pajama dreams.” She and her daughters have elf-themed sleepwear planned and will go forward without her husband. (Still, she bought him a matching pair and retains a glimmer of hope he’ll join in.)

Given that sleepwear has become the new everyday wear this year, combined with the Covid-fueled impulse to make Christmas at home spectacular, this annual civil war is poised to break out around sofas and breakfast tables.

Retailers are feeding the factions. They have seen strong pajama sales in recent months and are hawking an array of matching styles for the whole crew.

Choices range from the classic, such as red plaid flannel from Lands’ End, to the cartoonish, such as multiple options from Walmart themed around Dr. Seuss’s “Grinch.”

Many households have a real-life Grinch—a family member who balks at the look-alike parade. Someone usually finds the concept too cutesy. Others resist trading their regular comfy sleepwear, be it standard-issue PJs, or, for many men of the house, the combo of boxers and a stretched-out T-shirt, for, say, a candy-striped union suit.

D.J. Tischner, a 29-year-old resident of St. George, Utah, is in the anti-holiday jammies camp. Aside from the fact he doesn’t wear pajamas the rest of the year, Mr. Tischner says the whole matching thing is “cringe-y.”

“It’s almost like going to Disneyland and having matching T-shirts,” he says, citing another look-alike tradition.

Still, Mr. Tischner says he might have to change his routine this Christmas, since he will be spending the holiday with his girlfriend, Kelsie Taylor, and her family, who embrace the tradition.

“He will become a believer,” says Ms. Taylor, 28.

Some families are picking their battles. Caitlin Houston, 35, of Wallingford, Conn., loves to dress up the family in holiday sleepwear, often choosing styles with classic wintry themes and showcasing them on her lifestyle blog. Her husband, Brandon Houston, 36, will wear the bottom half of the chosen pajamas, but insists on sporting his usual comfy pullover shirt on top.

He says he just isn’t into the whole conformity thing: “I’ll wear a suit but without a tie.”

Ms. Houston makes sure, however, that her husband’s shirt works color-wise with the pajamas. “I get the coordination down at least in some aspect,” she says.

Laurel Niedospial, a freelance writer in Oak Park, Ill., says she will never wear holiday pajamas—or foist them upon her husband and two children. The reason? Ms. Niedospial, 36, says she doesn’t “want to let this striving for the perfect photo opportunity” stand in the way of enjoying the “chaotic, good nature of the holiday season.”

One man made his terms clear to any potential wife who might come in the picture. Hernan Mondragon, 25, of Little Rock, Ark., tweeted to his expected future wife and family: “I will not be wearing matching pajamas with y’all for Christmas. Period.”

Mr. Mondragon insists he’s no Scrooge with other holiday traditions. “I’ve had my Christmas tree up since mid-November.”

The idea of matching family holiday nightwear goes back at least a half-century, according to fashion historian Debbie Sessions, who cites a festive, mostly-in-red style showcased in a 1957 catalog as an early example. The concept got a boost when Hanna Andersson, a company that specializes in children’s apparel, began promoting it in the 1990s. To date, the company says it has sold 13 million pairs of pajamas targeted for families who want to match.

Another key moment: In 2013, Penn and Kim Holderness, a Raleigh, N.C., couple with backgrounds in television news, posted their “#Xmas Jammies” video online, with them and their two children all dancing goofily in their red-and-green Christmas pajamas. What started largely as a jokey way to send season’s greetings to friends and family and promote their video-production business became a viral sensation, racking up more than 18 million views to date on YouTube. Holderness ‘#Xmas Jammies’ video.

But even Mr. Holderness, 46, admits to not being a fan of holiday pajamas—or pajamas in general. “They don’t ever fit me,” he says, noting his long torso—he is 6-foot-5—poses an issue.

Ms. Holderness, 44, says the problem goes beyond her husband, whatever the reason may be for the disdain. “You look at the ads [for family pajamas] and the dude never looks happy,” she says.

Others who tend to look highly uncomfortable in photos: the family pet.

Billy and Anna-Leigh Hankins, who live outside Birmingham, Ala., purchased holiday plaid pajamas for the family—themselves, their infant son and their two cats, Simon and Toulouse.

The first attempt at getting the cats into the pajamas was successful, reports Mr. Hankins, 37. But Toulouse quickly wriggled out of them and has shown little interest in wearing the outfit again. When he now sees the sleepwear, says Mr. Hankins, “he’ll run from us.”


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