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Over the past year amid the pandemic, many have favored a much more dressed-down dress code — still, that doesn’t mean comfort has completely triumphed over style. Take pants, for example: The on-trend dressy jogger looks just like a trouser while feeling like a pair of sweatpants. And the popular matching sweatsuit set, though perfect for lounging at home, is also a great one-and-done outfit.
But pajamas have arguably been among the bigger success stories. Sleepwear sales surged last year — they were up 143 percent in April compared to March, according to data from Adobe Analytics. But instead of the typical T-shirt and sweat shorts one might wear to bed, some are dressing up in pajamas — Insider, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal all recently covered the rise of what one writer described as “snazzy sleepwear.” You can actually wear these pajamas out of bed — like Sleeper’s feather-trimmed Party Pajama Set or Brooklinen’s jersey Adelphi Jumpsuit that features pockets. Searches for silk pajamas have especially been on the upswing — more so than for ones made from traditionally comfortable cotton. On the surface, silk may not seem wearable (particularly in the warm weather), but it could be a fabric you might want to consider putting on before bed.
“All kinds of sleepers can benefit from sleeping in silk,” explained Logan Foley, the managing editor of SleepFoundation.org. As sleep specialists previously shared with us, temperature can play a big part in whether you’re tossing and turning. And silk can help “regulate body temperature, keeping you cool throughout the night, which is a key piece to falling asleep and staying asleep,” she said. If you’re wondering about whether to add silk to your nightly routine, we consulted experts to find out more about wearing silk to sleep and compiled silk pajama options to consider based on their recommendations.
Why wear silk to sleep, according to experts
Silk’s breathability makes it a favored material for face masks and pillowcases. That breathability is due to the fineness of the fiber in the fabric, which ultimately helps it feel so supple on the body — even more so than other natural textiles like cotton, linen or wool, explained Ashlee Rzyczycki, a visiting assistant professor at St. Thomas University in Florida who specializes in sustainability in fashion.
It’s also hypoallergenic, helping your skin breathe, Rzyczycki told us. If what you’ve been wearing to bed is itchy or irritating, silk could be an upgrade. “Silk feels very smooth against the skin, reducing snags and scratchiness that may come from other materials,” Foley added. “People who struggle with skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis may find silk especially great for sleeping as it won’t irritate their skin as much as other pajama materials like cotton and wool.”
Best affordable silk sleepwear
While silk is usually thought of as a splurge, it doesn’t have to be. Some silk sleepwear can be steep in price, but you can still find plenty of more affordable pajamas out there. To help, we gathered silk pajama sets, shorts and pants that are all under $200. All of the options below are also made with 100 percent silk and are washable at home and don’t need to be dry cleaned.
Lunya says this silk set is the “all-time” No.1 bestseller — and the brand is well-known for its sleepwear sets. The machine washable set includes a tank top with a low open back and shorts that feature side slits that are supposed to make them easier to move around in. The set currently comes in nine colors, ranging from Energized Blue to Ginger, and in sizes XS to XL.
This pajama set is from Nordstrom’s own collection. It includes a camisole with a v-neck and adjustable straps and ruffle-trimmed shorts, which feature a high elastic waist. The pajamas currently come in three colorways — Blue Feather, Ivory Egret and Navy Denim Ethereal Floral (the pictured Black shade isn’t in stock at the moment) — and sizes XS to XL.
This pajama set is part of Quince’s washable silk line, which also includes dresses and blouses. As with other direct-to-consumer brands like Everlane and Mejuri, Quince claims to be transparent with its production costs and pricing. Made from mulberry silk, the set consists of a short-sleeve shirt and matching shorts. The set currently comes in two colors — Black and Indigo — and in sizes XS to XL.
Intimissimi specializes in lingerie and loungewear and carries an entire collection of silk pajama tops and bottoms. This classic slip can be worn on its own or underneath other dresses. It features adjustable straps and a V-neck. The dress currently comes in three colors — Black, Natural and Ivory (which has limited availability in sizes at the moment)— and in sizes XS to L.
Contrary to their name, these shorts can also be worn for lounging around. The shorts are designed to fit mid-waist, featuring a 3-inch inseam, an elasticized drawstring waistband, two side pockets and one back pocket. They currently come in sizes XXS to XL. You can also choose to opt for the brand’s matching tee, which is available in Black and Mauve at the moment.
While the word “charmeuse” is in the name of Cuyana’s sleep set, it’s actually made from 100 percent silk that’s been sourced from China (the same silk the brand uses in this slip dress and A-line skirt). The set includes a camisole, which features adjustable straps and a plunging back, and shorts with an elastic waistband and shirttail hem detailing. The set currently comes in two colors, Black and Sage, and is available in sizes XS to XL.
From Nordstrom’s own in-house line, this pair of pajama pants features an elastic waistband and front slant pockets. They currently come in three colors and one print — Black, Blue Feather, Ivory Egret and Navy Denim Ethereal Floral — and sizes XS to XL. These pants are also available in plus sizes 1X to 3X. Nordstrom offers a camisole that’s sold separately for a matching set.
What to look out for when buying silk sleepwear
When shopping for silk sleepwear, you might come across pajamas that are silky rather than actually being made of the material — like this pricier Karen Mabon printed pajama set or Lauren Ralph Lauren satin lace-trimmed robe, both of which are produced with polyester. All the experts we talked to agreed that you should search for 100 percent silk instead. “There are options out there that mix silk and other materials like cotton or rayon, but these won’t be as comfortable and ‘silky’ as a higher priced, 100 percent silk option,” Foley explained.
Rzyczycki and Preeti Arya, a textile development and marketing assistant professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), advised looking at the label on garments that are marketed as made from silk. “Sometimes some brands can charge more money for a product in the name of their brand” rather than the actual quality of the fabric, Arya added. Since silk is a much higher-priced fabric than others, you probably want to know that what you’re buying is really silk instead of an imitation. Satin, for instance, looks a lot like silk and can be made from silk fibers, but it can also be made from synthetics like polyester, Rzyczycki said. “Just because you think it might be silk, doesn’t mean it is,” she added.
Arya said that it’s hard to match the quality of silk, noting that polyester is “an extremely cheap substitute.” As for what makes silk much more pricier, that comes down to how it is made — it’s extracted from cocoons that silkworms spin and it takes time to produce, making supply slow, Arya explained. Even between different silk pajamas, you can find a range of price points — some are just under $100 while others can go up much higher. The contrast in cost has to do with the yarn size and compactness of the weave when silk is being produced — the more raw material used, the more expensive it can be, Arya said.
Unlike other pajama sets, ones featuring silk need more maintenance — usually you’ll see a “dry clean only” marker on a tag, as Rzyczycki and Arya pointed out. Both recommended following the instructions on a label when it comes to cleaning silk. But that doesn’t mean silk sleepwear can’t be washed at home — some are machine washable, too. Still, Rzyczycki suggested hand washing instead and searching for a detergent that’s specifically designed for washing silk. If you throw silk pajamas in the washer, Arya advised opting for a mild cycle and line or flat drying in the shade. Silk can fade in the sunlight, possibly dulling a once brighter color, Rzyczycki told us. And keep in mind: If you tend to sweat a lot while sleeping, silk has a penchant for staining because of perspiration, Rzyczycki said.
Where to find silk pajamas
If you’re searching for more options for silk sleepwear, the following retailers offer a variety of sizes, styles and price points to consider.