What we call pants today were once known by many other names—bloomers, knickers, knickerbockers, trousers, and even pajamas. I was reminded of the latter name by a 1931 Vogue article “Pyjamas—When Are They Worn?” The article uses the term pyjamas interchangeably with trousers.
That sent me on a search for women in pyjamas/pajamas on my favorite site for historical photos, the Digital Public Library of America. The site collects links from many local sources. Amidst the pictures of sleepwear was this photo of a Georgia grandmother with her granddaughters decked out in what looks to be jumpsuits, one piece garments with legs. I’ll bet that they are all home made.
I don’t think Mrs. Rudolph Fast’s outfit was intended as sleepwear, since it included big pockets, gathered sleeves, and an embellishment down the front that looks like a zipper. (?!) The details on the little girls’ outfits also indicate that they were probably meant to be seen outside of bed.
Was Mrs. Fast a fashion rebel? Did she venture outside her yard in her inventive outfit? The 1931 Vogue article praised the newness of this style. “When you are dressed in a dress, after all, you are dressed in the same manner as your grandmothers and great-grandmothers have dressed for centuries. The lady in pyjamas is as new as flight, as skyscrapers, as television.”(Vogue, June 1, 1931, 110)