What are the Different Types of Sleepwear?

Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes

Sleepwear is not only something we put on before we get under the covers at night; it has become a fashion statement and something to wear as we lounge around the house on a cold winter’s night or a lazy weekend morning. There is a variety of sleepwear available on the market today to suit the taste of anyone and everyone.

Many people are comfortable wearing a simple T-shirt to sleep in.
Many people are comfortable wearing a simple T-shirt to sleep in.

Many of us remember getting into our “jammies” as small children and being tucked into bed at night feeling safe and cozy. Today, children’s sleepwear is still soft, comfortable, and covered with their favorite cartoon characters, but it is also designed for safety. It is available in flame-retardant fabric, or parents may simply choose to dress their children in snug fitting sleepwear; both of these options are safer in the unlikely event of a nighttime fire. Options include traditional two-piece pajamas, one-piece nightgowns or night shirts, one-piece footed pajamas, and draw string gowns for infants.

Flannel is a popular material used in sleepwear.
Flannel is a popular material used in sleepwear.

While pajamas are still often associated with children, adults can wear them too, and we have so many more options now than we did as children. Women’s sleepwear has the largest variety, perhaps because women view it in a variety of ways. Although many women choose to sleep in silky chemises and camisole sets, such items are often reserved for spending the evening with that special someone. Sleepwear intended only for sleeping includes nightgowns of various lengths, pajama sets, shorts and tank sets, and even nightshirts. All of these fall into the same category, but the variety grows exponentially when the options of fabric are introduced. Cotton, silk, satin, silk-substitutes, and of course, flannel are some of the most popular fabrics.

Chemises are a fairly popular type of nightgown.
Chemises are a fairly popular type of nightgown.

Men’s options in sleepwear go far beyond the wide-striped pajamas seen in 1970s sitcoms. Many men opt for silky or flannel two-piece pajamas in a variety of styles and colors, while others are comfortable in a snug cotton t-shirt with a pair of boxer shorts or pajama pants. Still other men choose long nightshirts for sleeping in.

Satin is a popular fabric used to make sleepwear.
Satin is a popular fabric used to make sleepwear.

Many sleepwear sets for men, women, and children include bathrobes or housecoats that match their pajamas in fabric, color, and style. For added comfort and coziness, slippers or thick socks might be worn for moving around the home when not in bed. With so many options available, the people of the world should be going to bed snug, comfortable, safe, and even fashionable, if they so choose.

Sleepwear sets may include slippers.
Sleepwear sets may include slippers.
Thick socks might be worn when considering sleepware.
Thick socks might be worn when considering sleepware.
Some pajamas consist of shorts and tank tops.
Some pajamas consist of shorts and tank tops.
Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes

Paulla is a freelance writer and website editor who currently lives in Maine. Paulla has a B.A. in English Literature from George Mason University and over 15 years of experience as a freelancer. She relishes the flexibility and consistency of working on wiseGEEK articles, as well as the opportunity to constantly learn something new.

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Discussion Comments


I have always had a major addiction to all things sleepwear. There isn’t anything that I don’t own, or at least that I don’t want to own.

I love all of it! Lingerie is perfect, and I am one of those ladies you would just as readily find in her satin gown and gossamer robe as her flannels and tee shirt.

I actually have three different bureau drawers devoted to sleepwear, but I also hang my most delicate pieces. They take up about half of my closet space.

People who are close to me know that anytime a holiday or birthday is close to go with pj’s. It doesn’t matter what kinds or where they are from! High end or clearance at Wally-World all works for me!


My twenty two year old sister has this huge thing for footie pajamas. You know what I’m talking about, right?

Yes, she is that old and still wearing those kiddie pajamas with the feet in them. She thinks they are cute.

Her favorite pair has little rubber duckies all over them with clouds and rainbows (just in case the cute factor was off any at all).

She, being who she is, can pull this look off. My husband, on the other hand, would laugh me, my duckies and my very warm feet clean out of the bedroom if I dared to enter in this sleep wear.


In college, there was something of a revival of all-in-ones when several people realized that the ones at Target could fit someone who was 18 or 20, as long as you weren't too tall or too heavy for your size.

My best friend and I sort of laughed this off at first, until one time we went to Target and they were on sale. We actually liked the boys' designs better than the girls, and both ended up getting some- she got some with dinosaurs, and I got some with penguins.

I have only worn them a few times, but I keep them around because if I ever were staying somewhere without much heating, or my own heat went out, they'd be just the thing.


Personally, I like pajama capris. They work great for spring and fall, but the are also cool enough for some summer nights.

I have been known to wear every material from cotton to silk in these capris. They are all drawstring waists, and they provide just the right amount of coverage to ward off chills while letting enough air up into the legs to keep me from getting hot.

I like to wear pajama capris with matching t-shirts. Usually, I buy them in sets. If I go out to feed the dogs or get the mail, I like to know that I’m wearing something that looks good in case my neighbors see me. I would hate to wear something like red polka dot capris with an orange t-shirt, because my neighbors are packed in closely.


I love the feel of silk and imitation silk. I can sleep so easily and peacefully in a silk nightdress. I like the ones with the silk straps for extra comfort.

I don’t like lace, because it is so scratchy. A totally smooth chemise or slip is the way to go. When I turn over at night, it moves with me and doesn’t get all frumpy like a big t-shirt would.

In the wintertime, I buy silk long-sleeve pajamas to replace my silk nightdress. The material glides around with me as I turn in bed, yet it keeps me warm.


For those chilly winter nights, nothing is more comfortable than flannel sleepwear. I like the soft warmth of the drawstring pajamas and the comfort of a long-sleeve top with pockets across the chest.

Though this sleepwear can make you too warm if you are snuggled up against someone, it can keep you insulated if you sleep alone. It is also great for just wearing around the house until you go to sleep.

Flannel pajamas are great for me, because I often need to run outside right quick in the cold. My washer and dryer are located in an outdoor utility room in our garage, so if I’m doing laundry, it is so nice to have something very warm and cozy on when I have to make that run.


To me, the most comfortable sleepwear is an oversized t-shirt, like one I borrow from my husband, and a pair of loose elastic waist shorts. I say loose elastic because I like to either buy the shorts one size too big or wear some that have lost their elasticity with age, because I hate anything being snug against my body while I sleep.

In the summertime, I often will remove the shorts once I go to bed and just sleep in the t-shirt. That way, when I toss and turn, I don’t get caught up funny in my shorts legs and have to pull the waist back around to the correct position.

The whole point of sleepwear is that it lets you sleep comfortably. Maybe some people feel better in snug clothing or lace, but I will be forever snoozing in cotton.


@Sara007 - I have a huge collection of sleepwear in my closet, mostly from holiday presents past. It seems like my mother was always set on getting me a cute new sleep set no matter how often I told her I really didn't need any more pajamas.

For myself my favorite kind of sleepwear is just a plain old pair of boxers and a t-shirt that has been well worn. I really don't see the point of spending money on pajamas unless you are trying to get dressed for a special evening, like your honeymoon or something.

My numerous sets of pajamas in my closest attest to the fact that not everyone will agree with me.


Sleepwear has always been important to me because I believe that we should be comfortable considering how much time we spend resting. For myself I absolutely love a pair of silk pajama bottoms and a nice old t-shirt. The contrast of textures I find very cozy, and nothing is revealing so I can still answer the door if I need to.

When I decide to go for something a bit more warm I like to slip into a nice pair of fleece pajamas. They keep me toasty warm in winter and mine have the cutest patterns on them.

What are your favorite kinds of sleepwear? Do you think sleepwear is worth spending a lot of money on or will anything do for you?

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