NEW YORK – Pajamas are coming out from under the covers and into the streets, making daytime as cozy as nighttime.
Teamed with everything from flip-flops and a tank top to a scarf and sweater, comfy pajama pants and cozy button-down tops have become the latest fashion trend.
"Pajamas are definitely a style on the streets these days," said Taina Medina, 21, a receptionist at Lucille Roberts gym in New York City. "People shop for pajamas like going to buy a pair of Gucci pants. I iron them; they are like an outfit. And guys like the plaid pajama pants ... like the old man sitting in the house look, just chilling."
The trend has caught the attention of major chain stores. The Gap has introduced a new line called GapBody that includes loungewear, sleepwear and underwear. The line features items such as cotton jersey drawstring pants, T-shirts and camisoles in a variety of colors.
"Many of these items can be worn while relaxing at home, but are versatile enough to be worn while running errands, hanging out by the pool or going to the gym," Gap spokesperson Lisa Ludwig said in an e-mail.
Medina loves the look and feel so much she was even wearing her PJs to work. But apparently her boss isn't so hip on the latest style.
"I can't wear them at work anymore though, 'cause it's not proper work attire," she said.
Renee Claire, owner and designer of BedHead, a line of sleepwear that is sold in over 1,000 stores nationwide, said she has also witnessed the trend.
"We sell things that can go either way," she said. "Sleeveless tops and capri pants that people tell me they wear out in the world. I have a retail store in West L.A. and see people walk into my store wearing PJs they've bought before."
The comfortable, loose drawstring or elastic-waist pants are especially popular. Claire said she sees evidence of that in the orders retailers place for her colorful merchandise.
"A lot of the retail stores that buy my line only want the bottoms and I think that's an indication of what people are asking for," Claire said. "Retailers might pair the bottoms with T-shirts to sell ... I think it might be a trend towards more comfort."
Alexandra Cohan, spokesperson for Old Navy, said the company's loungewear line has always been popular. She added that wearing the soft, familiar pajamas can make people feel as secure and comfortable as being at home — even when they're outside.
"With the way things are right now, it puts a smile on your face," she said. "Comfy clothes make you feel safe. The types of clothes that you would traditionally wear at home, which is a safe place, can translate out to the streets."
And wearing PJs isn't just acceptable — it's actually chic, and a popular idea for the grown-up version of a slumber party.
At the recent birthday bash for Amy Sacco, owner of New York City's swank restaurant/club Lot 61, the 800 invitees didn't don cocktail dresses or stilettos. Instead, the invitation called for guests to wear pajamas for a night of grilled cheese and revelry.
"I know of a lot of people throwing pajama and lingerie parties," said Sacco. "We brought in beds and lots of pillows. People can let their hair down and be natural and completely silly."
And the sleepwear style shines even when the sun comes up, said Sacco.
"I would wear a camisole with a suit, I would wear pajama pants and sneakers and a T-shirt to the flea market," she said. "I think PJs have been a part of everyday clothing. Prada has a top this spring inspired by pajamas."
Whether out on the town or catching some shut-eye, pajamas are a safe-feeling alternative for the public who is clinging a bit more tightly to the familiarity of home these days.
"It's such a comfortable feeling, like a feeling that you're at home," said Medina. "Wearing your pajamas outside is like showing you are free."