I Wore Pajamas to Work for a Week and This Is What Happened

I Wore Pajamas to Work for a Week and This Is What Happened
Dan McMahon
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"You’re wearing that to work tomorrow?" My boyfriend looked up as I was assessing my outfit Sunday night.

"Yes," I said, almost defensively. I was about to embark on a weeklong experience about what it's like to wear pajamas in public. Yes, actual PJs (not those fashion-y imposter ones). I'm talking about clothing that you’re meant to sleep in, clothing that’s not supposed to see the light of day. You get the idea. When I had originally pitched the story, I thought the whole thing would be a dream—going to work in pajamas in the name of research? Yes, please. But now that it was time to actually do it, doubt and anxiety set in. My boyfriend’s pointed comment didn’t help, either.

Working in fashion, it's hard not to be swept up by trends. Designers send something fresh down the runway and suddenly, that's all we want to wear. That's exactly what happened watching the spring 2016 collections unfold last fall—it was difficult not to be seduced by Alexander Wang's toughened-up take on a piped shirt, those pretty lace camisoles Phoebe Philo dreamed up at Céline, and Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy's relaxed separates with touches of lace. Then celebrities, such as Heidi Klum, Selena Gomez, and Jessica Alba, started embracing all things PJ, which only boosted the trend's momentum. And of course after that comes the slew of stories from magazines and websites (including this one) on how to get the look in real life (I've written about the topic here, here, here, and here.)

As it turns out, writing about something and actually applying it are two vastly different things. But if Prince George can wear his pajamas while doing something as monumental as meeting the Obamas, then I certainly can sport them out and about (yes, I’m taking life lessons from a 2-year-old). Here's what happened.

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Dan McMahon

I don't sleep well Sunday night. I don't like to draw attention to myself. Sure, I'll wear a print when I'm feeling a little crazy, but I tone it down with pairing it with neutrals. The idea of peacocking doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. In fact, it’s probably my worst fashion nightmare.

In the morning, I find humor in switching out of my usual PJs for another set of pajamas, but that's a short-lived moment. I start stressing out about how to make my set look less pajama-y. Spoiler alert: There is no way. I literally look like I rolled out of bed. After a million attempts at untucking, tucking, and half-tucking, I settle on a casual half-tuck. But is it too casual now? I swipe on a bold red lip and throw on a trench in desperation, and marvel how such small tweaks can make you look infinitely more presentable. I grab a hot pink cross-body and step into a pair of gold flats (why not just go all out, right?).

During my commute, I'm mildly disappointed when my outfit doesn't earn a second glance or raised eyebrow. New Yorkers have seen crazier things, surely, than some random person wearing a printed PJ set. Still, I feel a quiet exhilaration about wearing pajamas in public. There’s something so remarkably rebellious about it, like, I'm breaking the law—but really not.

As I make my way to my desk, I get a few "cute PJs" and "I love your pajama look." It helps that I work at a fashion magazine. One colleague doesn’t even notice. "You just look very street style-y," she remarks. Great. But then another asks, "You wore that on the subway?!" And then I'm flustered all over again.

"Does it look like I’m actually wearing pajamas?" I anxiously ask my work wife. "Um, yes," she says, after a pause—probably debating on whether she should lie. "But at least they're cute."

Cute and damn comfortable. There are no waistbands painfully digging into my skin or suffocatingly tight tops. It feels as though I'm working from home—at the office.

Shop the PJs: Sleepy Jones top, $168; sleepyjones.com for a similar print. Sleepy Jones pants, $118; sleepyjones.com. Styled with a YSL trench, Marc by Marc Jacobs sunglasses, Marc Jacobs purse, and Paul Andrew flats.

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Dan McMahon

Having maxed out with a printed pajama set on Monday, I know the rest of the week will be a cinch. I approach my second outfit with a mixture of relief and elated confidence. I take a piped pajama top and elevate it with a few timeless pieces—a pleated navy skirt, a Chanel purse (on permanent loan from my mom), and pointy-toe flats.

It's business as usual at work. Though I have to say, my confidence shoots through the roof when Melissa Rubini, InStyle's fashion director and the person who assigned me this story, looks me up and down and simply says, "I would wear that." Day made.

Shop the PJ: Sleepy Jones top, $138; sleepyjones.com. Styled with a Chanel skirt and purse, Proenza Schouler flats.


Dan McMahon

I adore this look. It's made up of silky pajama separates from two different sets. Right off the bat, I don't have any issues with the eye-printed top (I wish I could live in that top, it's so soft), but the white bottoms are basically a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen. For one, they're dangerously sheer, which is fine if you plan to wear them for their intended purpose—to sleep in. I'm late for work because I'm feverishly searching to find something—anything—to wear underneath. I don't own nude shapewear shorts, so I try on navy ones. Nope, not going to happen. As a last resort, I unearth a pair of black Uniqlo Heattech leggings from my bin of winter essentials, and miraculously, you can't tell I'm wearing them. Success!

But there's another problem: The pants wrinkle like no other. Despite giving them a once-over with my steamer in the morning, they're lined with creases by an 11 a.m. meeting—so much so that it elicits a comment from a co-worker. Also, because of the pristine color, I have to be extra cautious about stains (I drink my coffee with a straw, just in case). This outfit does receive the most compliments, though. "So chic," say a few of my co-workers as they breeze by. The day goes along without a hitch, and luckily, I don't overheat.

Shop the PJs: Yolke top, $254; yolke.co.uk. Yolke pants, $420 for a set; yolke.co.uk. Styled with IVI sunglasses, Sophie Hulme purse, Uniqlo leggings, and Manolo Blahnik pumps.

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Dan McMahon

By Thursday, one colleague starts to get suspicious. "What is with all your pajama looks?" she asks. I shrug.

This one is inspired by a blend of runway looks. The bottoms and Gucci loafer slides are a nod to Alessandro Michele's fall 2015 Gucci line-up, while the cami on top (and the overall fluid silhouette) is a reference to Céline, Givenchy, and Balenciaga spring 2016. I feel uncomfortable showing so much skin at the office, so I shrug on a black leather blazer at the last minute. I find that it also toughens up the blush shade nicely.

Shop the PJs: Araks cami, $206; araks.com. Maison du Soir pants, $165; maisondusoir.com. Styled with a Chloé blazer and Gucci loafer slides.


Dan McMahon

Now that I'm comfortable with wearing pajamas 24/7 (not to mention, literally comfortable), I don't want my PJ-wearing streak to end. I still have the weekend ahead, but for the last work day I decide to have fun with it. Instead of safely offsetting the slouchy oversize top with skinnies, I reach for sweeping wide-leg jeans, and finish with statement extras, like a floral bib necklace and chunky raffia sandals.

Once I get to the office, my ever-observant colleagues really press me for deets. "Okay, this must be an experiment," they accuse. I cave and tell them it's for a story, though I'm pretty pleased that I was able to hold out this long.

Outside of that, the day is pretty uneventful. I'm supposed to go to a friend's birthday party after work, but I'm wiped out by the time the clock strikes six. I make my way home and settle in for a night of Netflix and takeout on the couch, and eventually fall asleep in the middle of an episode of Master of None. And I'm not even mad about it when I wake up two hours later and have to drag myself to bed, because all I have to do is take off my pants and—volià—I'm appropriately dressed.

Shop the PJ: Marigot top, $142 for a set; marigot.com. Styled with Cynthia Rowley sunglasses, Mother jeans, Louis Vuitton purse, and Stuart Weitzman sandals.


Dan McMahon

Since it's the weekend, I stop stressing about trying to look dressier and opt for my standard off-duty staples: a simple black cami, a denim jacket, and sneakers (the puppy is on loan from a kind stranger at the request of our photographer, and I'm not going to argue with such cuteness).

I have a Bridal Fashion Week show on the agenda, and for a second I want to cheat and wear something dressier, but I suck it up and go. I feel ridiculously underdressed and incredibly self-conscious once I get there. I don't pick up on anyone judging me—the publicists are super friendly, the designer is really chatty—but I'm distracted. As cliché as it sounds, I'm realizing that confidence really is 90 percent of pulling something off.

Shop the PJ: Yolke pants, $254; yolke.com. Styled with Warby Parker sunglasses, Zara top, Levi's denim jacket, and New Balance sneakers.


Dan McMahon

For the grand finale, I go for a jumpsuit (side note: who sleeps in a jumpsuit?). I slip it on over a tissue-thin tee, and honestly don't leave my couch for the rest of the day, except for a quick coffee run. I don't feel that guilty about it because, well, this look was made to lounge in, plus it's been seven days straight of PJs at this point!

So what did I learn? To be more open to prints, for one, and also how much comfortable clothing contributes to productivity (seriously, I never realized how distracting a too-tight pair of jeans can be in comparison). I discovered that it's worth it to venture out of your style comfort zone every once in a while because you never know what kind of compliments (and confidence, though not always) it may bring you in return. But most importantly, I learned that if I am ever pressed for time, I can remain in my PJs and no one will bat an eye.

Shop the PJ: Gempicket jumpsuit (available next month); gempicket.com. Styled with StyleMint tee and Vans slip-ons.

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