Matching pyjamas trend the latest way to show off relationships on social media

An Old Navy advertisement promoting its matching pyjamas. Such matching sets are popular with couples during the Christmas period. PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK – Ms Chanel Sowell, an administration support specialist at a university in Raleigh, North Carolina, spends a few days each week working part-time shifts at an Old Navy store.

And it is during this time of year, when customers are flocking in to buy the latest matching holiday pyjamas sets, that she is reminded she is not in a relationship.

“Every time it comes around, I say, ‘Okay, I guess I’m going to sit this one out again’,” said Ms Sowell, 40, who first noticed the matching pyjamas trend among couples a few years ago.

She has been single for 4½ years since her previous relationship, which lasted for nearly six years, ended.

The tradition of matching pyjamas sets has been a holiday season staple for families that dates back decades. In recent years, however, it has evolved into yet another cuffing season status symbol – a way to hard-launch a new relationship on Instagram or simply display their love to the masses.

For those riding out the season alone, matching pyjamas sets have become yet another benchmark to strive for while dating in the digital age. For the past few seasons, couples and new families have proudly shared photos of themselves wearing matching pyjamas online, creating feelings of desire among those weathering the holidays alone.

Ms Sowell said that when she was in a relationship, she mostly saw ugly Christmas sweater trends. Now, it is all about cute sleepwear. “All of a sudden, when I became single, everyone’s in these matching pyjamas,” she added.

Stores such as Target, Old Navy and Amazon are among the leading go-to sources for matching holiday pyjamas.

A Target spokesman said the company’s matching family pyjamas have “grown in popularity over the past years”, at least since 2019, with its most popular being the red buffalo checked flannel print.

And according to Old Navy, matching pyjamas sales in the last two months of 2021 made up almost half of its total pyjama sales for the year, and from 2017 to present day, their sleepwear sales have almost tripled.

Ms Aalyrianna Swing had planned to wear her first matching couple’s pyjamas with her boyfriend in 2021 while on summer vacation in New York. However, they broke up just a few months before Christmas in 2021.

“I had it all figured out. I wanted to do the Grinch pyjamas that were in green,” said the 20-year-old. “I had everything planned out, but it just did not work.”

For Ms Aleena Khusro, a 26-year-old brand and marketing specialist who lives in London, what started as a harmless enough social media trend now has one purpose: to show off that “I have a partner for Christmas”.

She said that her parents would often buy matching Christmas pyjamas every year for her and her brother growing up, since she was about seven. “And now on Instagram and TikTok, it’s a massive thing,” she said.

Ms Khusro, who is now single, participated in the trend last Christmas with her then boyfriend, wearing matching Harry Potter pyjamas.

“It was one of those things that I wouldn’t post online, but it was a sweet thing to do because you’re in matching pyjamas, and it’s cosy, wholesome and it’s just a bonding experience,” she said.

Some couples who participate in this trend maintain that it is not their intention to show off or promote a fantasy of what it means to be in a relationship. Instead, it is a way for them to create their own traditions.

Mr Marcus Houston and Ms Ayahna Aragon started dating in 2019 and now live together in Hyattsville, Maryland. Each year, they share the same single pair of matching holiday pyjamas that they bought “last minute” at Target after Mr Houston persuaded his girlfriend to participate in the trend with him.

“We went to the store and couldn’t find any. All we could find was an extra-large women’s set,” said Mr Houston, 28, explaining that the size allowed it to fit them both. “So she wears the shirt, I wear the pants, and it just became a Christmas tradition,” he added.

Ms Alex Ochoa, a full-time content creator and owner of the fashion brand Shine by Nature, first participated in this trend after a shoe brand got in contact with her in October with a collaboration opportunity to promote a product. It requested that she and her husband wear matching holiday pyjamas in the post, which prompted her to buy some from Pottery Barn.

“A majority of this trend is performative, and it’s just a cute thing to take pictures with,” said Ms Ochoa, 24. “I feel like a lot of the popular content creator families have pioneered this obsession with having your whole family wear matching Christmas pyjamas.”

However, now that they have them, she has worn it to film additional content for her personal page. “If I wasn’t a content creator, I wouldn’t feel the need to get matching pyjamas, but I will say, it is pretty cute,” she said.

Matching pyjamas, of course, are not just reserved for romantic partners. Plenty of people still do it with their friends, families and pets. Ms Swing and Ms Khusro said they are planning, instead, to wear matching pyjamas platonically for Christmas.

“I’m going to do it with my friend. We need more pictures together,” Ms Swing said. “Let’s just do a shoot together for Christmas.”

Ms Khusro has gathered eight of her friends to participate. She said: “We haven’t decided what it’s going to be yet, but we’re going to get matching pyjamas and watch Christmas films this year.” NYTIMES

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