The Oxonian Dandy

Dante O'Keefe discusses pyjamas in the latest installment of the Oxonian Dandy

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Sleep: the great staple of our race as humans, yet something the frequent reader of this column might not get too much of. Whether returning from a night out at some new pop-up bar in Jericho, with funk bopping round the brain on the offbeat to a pair of marching loafers on the cobbled streets, or rising early to practise lines for a summer Shakespeare performance, inevitably the dandy won’t get his eight hours every night.

However the fleeting slumber of an Oxonian chap, despite its brevity, is something to be undertaken. And, where there is undertaking, there is opportunity for fashion. When brushing one’s teeth as the sun rises over the copper-clad spires, as the lark gleefully chirps from its roost in the quad, what greater pleasure can be taken than to glance at oneself in the mirror in a full set of button- up silken pyjamas?

A set of pyjamas ought to be positively louche. Indulge in patterns and colours that could well induce sickness to an unexpecting beholder. A paisley cotton combination consisting of purples and greens could work especially well if one was in a mood for a late-night working stint, or choose a turquoise-orange scheme for some casual reading by the mood-lamp (or fireplace if your accommodation is so furnished). A collar is essential on any decent pair of pyjamas – you are, after all, wearing a shirt. Pyjamas are often overlooked in favour of underwear, while some forego the formality of the pyjama shirt, simply sleeping in bottoms. This is a catastrophic no-no for any dandy who considers himself worth his salt. If you’re too warm in bed, either you’ve been eating too much Reblochon before bed, or your duvet is too heavy (I myself prefer to sleep under two translucent silk sheets with a third lace sheet to hide my modesty).

When the occasion calls for a bit more warmth, perhaps while lingering in the stairwell chatting to a chum with a hot brew in hand, a dressing gown is the appropriate garment. The well-equipped would have multiple of these versatile robes: something heavy and unpatterned (so as not to clash with the aforementioned paisley P-Js); some- thing lightweight, preferably silken and profligate, perhaps from the orient, for summer; and something akin to a bathrobe, for stav- ing off the chills on the return journey from the shower. However, if only one raiment can be practically maintained, then decisions must be made – those looking for warmth ought to choose the first option, while those wearing a skimpy set of jim-jams and seeking to maintain the sense of the sibyllic ought to wear the flowing silk gown, to ward off the wandering eyes of the lascivious downstairs.

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In terms of accessory items, slippers and nightcaps are the obvious candidates. There’s not an awful lot to say here: with both, you want a pom-pom on the end. Get slippers with gold lace inlaid, and which curve upwards to a point. Make sure your nightcap has a good length for flop, and don’t be afraid to take an alcoholic nightcap before putting it on, either. I like a sherry. Next week: ball attire.