The joy of jim-jams! As Guy Ritchie sees off his model girlfriend sporting pyjamas, a fellow PJ wearer says there’s nothing cosier
By Quentin Letts for the Daily Mail
Updated: 10:27 GMT, 14 June 2010
Film director Guy Ritchie has given the celebrity world an attack of the vapours by being photographed in a pair of old-fashioned, striped pyjamas.
Madonna’s ex-husband was snapped at the door of his London home, fairly late in the morning, billige bamser as he bade goodbye to his chic girlfriend Jacqui Ainsley.
The photographic evidence is irrefutable. Mr Ritchie, 41, was wearing traditional PJs, decorated with vertical blue lines. Jolly smart, too, I’d say. The tough-guy director of Snatch and Revolver looked thoroughly at ease with the world, as most chaps in their jimmies do.
Style atrocity? Certainly not, says Quentin Letts after Guy Ritchie was pictured in his pyjamas
But, inexplicably, the Ritchie pyjamas were deemed a style atrocity.
One newspaper yesterday gasped that they were of a design ‘little seen outside the world of seaside deckchairs since the days of Andy Pandy’.
A celebrity website, barely able to cope with the news, said such items were ‘usually favoured by grandads’. It was reported that pyjamas have not been much in vogue since the early Fifties.
A beautiful model, a fond farewell… but where DID Guy Ritchie get those grandad-style PJs?
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Share But the figures suggest otherwise. Sales of men’s pyjamas have gone up from £22million to £33million over the past decade and women’s have trebled, from £32million to £93million.
You see, jim-jams keep you warm. They are comfortable. In a fast-changing world, they have altered little over the decades.
A grown man may not be able to retain a grip on his teddybear, but at least he can still wear pyjamas. When you head off to the land of nod, do you need to be fretting about fashion?
Enlarge The two Ronnies, Corbett (right) and Barker, don their pyjamas for a sketch. Pyjamas are currently seeing a rise in popularity not seen since the early Fifties
Far better to drift to sleep while encased in a pair of no-nonsense PJs, confident that you will be able to cope with any emergency the night-time hours might hurl at you. Mr Ritchie is to be congratulated, not scorned.
Let’s hear it for jim-jams!
Fashionistas apparently prefer men to wear singlets and trunks to bed. Some men are said to sleep in African wraps. Others go au naturel.
Sleeping in your birthday suit is fine for the tropics, but not all of us live in modern, double- glazed houses with efficient heating systems.
Our draughty old house in Herefordshire becomes decidedly frosty from late October to early April. Not quite ice on the insides of the window panes, but cool enough to shrivel morale (and more) unless you are wearing PJs.
My wife used to pinch my pyjamas for her own use. She maintained that it was so ruddy cold in our house that men’s pyjamas were the only solution. I responded by buying her a pair of turquoise stripey jobs from Simpsons of Piccadilly (which is now a Waterstones book shop but used to stand over Jermyn Street like a docked liner).
PJs: It’s hard to imagine Madonna tolerating them
Far from being grateful, Mrs Letts accused me of being unromantic.
My previous Christmas present had, admittedly, been a self-assembly wheelbarrow – but we were short of money at the time and I was trying to be practical. Anyway, she would not wear my lovely present.
While I persisted with my agreeably furry PJs, my beloved started coming to bed in tracksuit bottom, sweatshirt and bedsocks. One particularly freezing night she even wore a bobble hat.
I complained that it was like going to bed with a jogger. Another huff ensued and she now sleeps in skimpy nighties. Terrific for me, but she is invariably first to catch a cold every autumn.
She continues to regard my pyjamas with a tangle of envy and mirth. She yearns for their warmth. But she is determined to regard them as old pootish. More fool she.
The word pyjama has Persian origins and PJs became popular in Empire days. With their jacket and trousers, they had something in common with day-wear and unlike Wee Willie Winkie-style nightshirts they covered a man’s knees and hairy shins.
If the district officer had to be disturbed from his slumber, it was easier if he was wearing pyjamas. Less likely to lead to mutinous impertinence from the Sepoys.
Pyjamas were popular in the Edwardian era, when the flappers and their Berties would hold pyjama cocktail parties.
So it remained between the wars. Under their smoking jackets, Noel Coward, the Mitford sisters and the Cecil Beaton set invariably wore elegant pyjamas, probably silk. You can count me out of silk, though.
Not warm enough and too expensive. Give me cotton or flanelette any day. I buy a label called Derek Rose, which have rope waistbands (forgiving on a variable girth).
What’s more, pyjamas are practical. They have pockets which are good for storing bookmarks, pencil, paper, toffees and similar indispensables for those who like to sit up in bed reading before lights-out.
We have a house full of children – and the occasional mother-in-law or weekend guest – so PJs are perfectly presentable should you be caught on a midnight trundle to the larder.
A man in pyjamas has nothing to fear. There is something reassuring and Winnie the Pooh-ish about PJs
For some of the week I stay at a club in central London. One night the fire alarms sounded at 3am. As we all assembled in the corridor muster-point, it was interesting to see who was wearing what.
A man with a wooden leg wore nothing but a towel. Two chaps had gone to sleep in their day clothes (drink had been taken). One was in a frilly night shirt. One had yet to go to bed, having been playing piano. One was in a sort of one-piece jumpsuit.
Only two of us were wearing pyjamas, and we were the ones with least to fear from satirical comments at breakfast the following day.
As Guy Ritchie has demonstrated, pyjamas are perfect for the man who has risen but not yet dressed.
I wrote most of my last book, Bog Standard Britain, in my pyjamas. I would alight from the marital bed at 5am and write in my study, not wishing to disturb the household by running hot water at that early hour.
Every morning, the farmer’s wife from next door would drive the cows down the lane and give a wave. There was no reason to dive for cover.
A man in pyjamas has nothing to fear. There is something reassuring and Winnie the Pooh-ish about PJs.
If you are ever being bullied by some office dictator, the easiest way to overcome your rage is to picture them in their pyjamas.
I used to do this when John Prescott was at his most malevolent during Labour’s time in office.
I found that conjuring up an image of Two Jags in his winceyette glories was the best way of avoiding becoming depressed by the damage he was causing to our country.
We do not know if Guy Ritchie started to wear pyjamas as a reaction against his years with Madonna. It is somehow hard to imagine that fashion obsessive tolerating such items in her house.
But as a film buff, Mr Ritchie will remember that in 1934 Clark Gable changed fashion history by taking off his shirt in It Happened One Night and showing Claudette Colbert – and the watching world – that he was not wearing a vest.
Gable’s admiring millions followed his example and adandoned their vests.
Something similar might now happen in reverse.
If a pyjama man such as Guy Ritchie can bag a pretty girl like Jacqui Ainsley, is it not time for British men to revert to good old jimmies?
Pyjamas are back!