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A Shocking Connection Between Pyjamas and World War I

Team StoryWeavers|September 23, 2021, 18:23 IST| 52

World War I introduced the world to so many terrifying new ways war can bring havoc and destruction, and chief among those was, of course, the new terror of airplane bombings.

It was the first time that Britain came under attack from the air. You didn’t even have to be a soldier. For Londoners, the threat began in January 1915, when the Germans sent zeppelins loaded with bombs. Eventually, they sent planes, too.

The air raids, often at night, accomplished little, but their true purpose was to terrorize civilians, cause destruction and sink British morale.

Small details give a human touch to our understanding of what happened during those night air bombings. 

For example, the typist whose life was saved because she dashed back to her desk for her handbag during a raid, and so missed the worst of the bomb blast.  A child, identified only by the unusual shirt button stitched on his cuff just the night before the bombing. 

Aldwych tube station being used as a bomb shelter in 1940

The air raids brought the war to the home front. The war entered the bedroom, the most private space of all. And thus, it had quite an effect on fashion.

Think about it this way: Bedclothes are among the most casual clothes. But with the advent of nighttime raids, people would suddenly be asked to evacuate their homes and would be on the streets at a moment’s notice. Forget Instagram, this was the original “I woke up like this”!

A crumpled nightdress would no longer do. It was a matter of practicality! But also a matter of looking good!

The Rise of Pyjamas: A Statement of Courage

As the bombings continued, distinct trends took hold. Pajamas, or “pyjamas,” as the English called them—became especially popular. Women in trousered attire of any kind was a new phenomenon in 1915 and many magazines saw pyjamas simply as ‘the season’s novelty ‘. 

But they ended up being much more than a season’s novelty—“pyjama” sets are hanging on the racks of your local shops even today!

But not just that, pyjamas were considered fashionable and women would wear them every night. During the air raid they would run out of their homes – dressed in these silky, beautiful yet practical pyjamas, ready for action while looking entirely presentable! 

An air raid sleeping suit from 1918/ Lucy Adlington

Pyjamas were both warmer and more practical than thin nightdresses during air raids, attractiveness was important too.

Now, you must be thinking how unnecessary it is to think about how you look when there are bombs falling from the sky, right?

Well, remember how the only reason Germans were bombing the common people in the cities of England was because they wanted to break their morale and spirit? Fashion was the way women were defying war and keeping the morale up. 

The message was this: “so you want us to get scared by these bombs? We are not scared! We’d rather think about what to wear when we go out in the night”. That’s some great way of showing courage, isn’t it?

A diary entry from 1916 shows life went on despite the raids: “Quiet day. Zepp raid. I saw it. Had my hair shampooed”.

Among the more courageous ones was a fashion editor, quoted by the historian Lucy Adlington: “I do want a little zep scare, so that I can wear them,” the editor confessed about her black silk pyjamas. “Of course I don’t want anyone to be killed.”

The Brave New Woman

When the last bombs fell on London in May 1918, fashion had settled into a calm and simple style – women for the first time ever were wearing trousers, pyjamas, shirts and clothes that were simple, but practical. 

Women in trousers were a shocking sight to many, but definitely fit for purpose.

During and after WWI, women took on jobs formerly filled by men. Women and girls who previously worked as domestic servants took jobs in factories, performed administrative work, worked as drivers, nurses, and on farms. They volunteered for organizations like the Red Cross and joined the military. A new image of freedom and self-respect led women away from their traditional roles. They drove cars and demanded the right to vote.

As women dressed for these new roles, gender-dictated dress codes relaxed. And now women were dressing the way they wanted to. 

What started with a small step of dawning fashionable Pyjamas during air raids led to a long journey of fight for the freedom and rights of women in the Western world. 

 

About the Author


Raza has been writing since 2008, be it fiction, poetry, or articles on science, politics, and history. He believes that words can change the world, and he uses them to inspire and empower people through his writing. When he is not working, he is watching nature documentaries or playing with his cats.

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Comments



Arre wah kya baat hai

July 21, 2021

Kya baat batai hai too shocking as the name suggests


Arsh raj

July 24, 2021

This is a very good article


Lekhana Laxminarayani

July 24, 2021

Superb


Kumari Ananya

July 24, 2021

Wow


Athashree

July 24, 2021

Ok , I but I didn’t know this is how pyjamas came into existence; thanks for sharing.


Suhana Rahaman

July 24, 2021

What a great reality


Prisha

July 24, 2021

Hello


Sagar

July 24, 2021

Best knowledge word war


Saranya

July 24, 2021

Nice Statement


Shagun Mishra

July 24, 2021

That’s an interesting fact !


A.YUGAN SANKAR

July 24, 2021

NICE INFORMATION. THANK YOU RAZA MEHDI.


Prachi Salvi

July 24, 2021

Thanks byju’s🙂


Krishna ghomy

July 24, 2021

Nice it’s very interesting


Nivedita Aswal

July 24, 2021

OMG! I never knew that. suberb!


Nuha khan

July 24, 2021

Great article 👏👍👌🏻 thank you for sharing byjus


Rohit Sharma

July 24, 2021

It was the first time that Britain came under attack from the air. You didn’t even have to be a soldier. For Londoners, the threat began in January 1915, when the Germans sent zeppelins loaded with bombs. Eventually, they sent planes, too.


Aaditya Singh

July 24, 2021

So good and know so much things from this so good and funny also


Souradeep Maji

July 24, 2021

Wow! What a nice story.

Now I am curious to know that , how other dresses were became popular.


Abhishek Kumar

July 24, 2021

hi


Vandana

July 24, 2021

Thanks for this knowledge


Sidhi Dalal

July 24, 2021

I really like to know about the world war 1 and the pyjamas.


Maviya

July 24, 2021

I am amazed by this shocking connection between pyjamas and world war 1.
I am surprised by how pyjamas made women wear western clothes and I am also shocked how women were wearing pyjamas in World War 1 to just look good at night and it also makes a new fashion world. That’s amazing.


Athravasinha

July 25, 2021

Very interesting and its help me in my general knowledge


sadhana

July 25, 2021

It makes history as a favorite subject and interesting.


Sharshti Chauhan

July 25, 2021

Byjus helping math science and ready l am so so happening


Diyasmi Pal

July 25, 2021

Wow!… Didn’t even know pajamas are this serious… Thank you for informing


Dipayan paul

July 25, 2021

Nice blog


Diksha

July 25, 2021

V good knowledge store


Mohak Ambade

July 25, 2021

The story is very interesting to read it tells us so many thing


Arnav Bakshi

July 25, 2021

Fascinating learning article


Tanisha Bhardwaj

July 25, 2021

I love to read the topic. Interesting 👍👍


Aryan

July 25, 2021

Super sir I want more to learn like this


Dhruvika D Singh

July 25, 2021

link between pajamas and world war 1! superb


K. Bharath Krishna

July 25, 2021

It’s very interesting thank you byjus


Riya Bhatt

July 26, 2021

Family


amazing to read journey of pajamas

July 26, 2021

thoroughly enjoyed the journey of pajamas, its equally inspiring too.
look forward to many more such articles.


Harsh

July 26, 2021

Thanks for this information


K.rajitha

July 26, 2021

Nice


Farheen unnisa begum

July 28, 2021

1 answer
World War 1 introduced the world to so many terrifying new ways war can bring havoc and destruction , and chief among those was, of course, the new terror of airplane bombing


Rugveda Jaybhaye

July 29, 2021

It is really very amazing story 😊
I didn’t heard about this first👌


Lakshmi

July 30, 2021

Thanku so much byju’s


Asritha

July 30, 2021

Interesting it helps to my general knowledge


Sanjay

July 30, 2021

Good


Sneha. D

July 30, 2021

The power should be equally distributed among everyone (all are equal before law). For asking Human Rights , maybe this trend helped women in one step and they got the courage by these simple strange activities…
I want to explore my learning 😊


Ritika

July 30, 2021

Nice


Manjila khatun

July 31, 2021

Wow


urva

August 8, 2021

it was just “amazing”


Madhusri

August 11, 2021

amazing 😍


Madhusri

August 11, 2021

Nice 🙂


Samiksha Shakya

August 13, 2021

Very nice 👌 knowledge


ADC

August 13, 2021

Fantastic!!


Advait Kumbhar

August 17, 2021

This was a good


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