Six Ways to Go to College in Your PJs

Barry Lenson

College students love fads. Back in the roaring twenties, they danced the Charleston and squeezed themselves into phone booths. After that, they swallowed goldfish. Then at some point, they fell in love with the practice of going to class in pajamas.

Pajamas and campus life are perfect together. PJs are comfy and comforting, and sort of sexy. If you wake up only five minutes before class, you can dash right out of your dorm and straight to class after pausing to fix your hair and apply mascara.

College in your PJs? I first heard about it 10 years ago, when a young woman who was attending University of King’s College in Halifax told me, “We’re so comfortable, we get out of bed and go right to class in our pajamas.”  That made sense, since King’s is a tiny college housed in a single quadrangle.

I heard tour guides talk about it again three years ago, when I was touring colleges with my kid. College tour guides are always trying to fill dead air time by saying funny things to prospective students and their families, and I heard at least three of them say, “If you want to, you can even go to class in your pajamas, and nobody will care.” On those tours, I looked around and noticed that a fair number of students – all girls – really were walking around campus with pajama pants visible under their North Face fleece jackets. I guess that male college students don’t wear pajamas to class. Maybe that will be the next fad.

If you are really dying to attend college in your PJs – and why shouldn’t you be? – here are some guidelines for making it happen:

  • Consider going to an all-girls school. (If you are a girl, of course.) You can wear just about anything you want, and nobody will care.
  • Think twice about wearing pajamas if you’re a man. If you’re a fashion pioneer, maybe. But remember, being the first person to test drive a fad is risky, especially if the craze never happens.
  • Avoid urban colleges and universities. Somehow, the PJ thing works best if you get to class by walking across a grassy quadrangle, not by getting on a subway with non-students. But maybe that restriction is breaking down too.
  • Pick your pajamas with an eye to fashion. Plaid makes a “cabin in the woods” kind of fashion statement. Puffy pink flying elephants say something else.
  • Test the waters by doing it as part of a group. Wearing PJs to the first session of Professor Watanabe’s Economics 101 is a little safer if you are one of three young women who are doing it. If it works, next time you can fly solo. Another way to test the waters is to wear sweatpants that say something spunky across the back, then graduate to pajama pants. Proceed at your own pace.
  • Take college courses online. You can certainly wear pajamas if you are taking online college courses. Heck, you can wear a wetsuit and put a pineapple on your head if you want too.

It’s a brave new pajama world of higher education. So be pajama brave – and wear anything you want.

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