Here’s why Europeans started sewing socks on their PJs.
Footy pajamas symbolize comfort as much as a crackling fireplace and a mug of steamy hot cocoa. Today’s onesies might be fleece and come in bold, colorful patterns, but the original invention was not quite so charming.
“Pyjammas” come from the Hindu language (“piejamahs”), referring to loose-fitting pants that were tied at the waist, according to the National Sleep Foundation. British colonials thought they looked perfect for napping, and brought the idea back to Europe with them.
In England, however, the pajama pants needed a little something extra: socks. Londoners would bring their PJs to tailors to sew socks to the bottoms, and the idea for footed pajamas was born.
In a 1903 book on Anglo-Indian terms, the author tells the story of asking one such tailor why so many “pyjammas” had socks sewn onto them. The tailor replied, “I believe, Sir, it is because of the White Ants.”
In other words: termites. Apparently, the termite problem was so awful in homes that wearing socks was the best way to keep the bugs from nibbling on toes at night. Um, gross.
Thankfully, today’s footy pajamas only need to protect toes from cold night air—which has its own perks, BTW. Learn why wearing socks to bed might help you fall asleep here.
Fun facts about pajamas. Washington, DC: National Sleep Foundation. (Accessed on November 6, 2017 at https://sleep.org/articles/facts-about-pajamas/.)
Yule SH, Burnell AC. Hobson-Jobson: A glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms, etymological, historical, geographical and discursive. London, UK: John Murray, 1903.