Eye On Design: Beach Pajamas Circa 1935

beach pajamas photo by gail worley
All Photos By Gail

Have you heard of Beach Pajamas? I never had until I visited The Met this past weekend and found myself in This Exhibit, which explores the influence of the Japanese Kimono on modern fashion.

Apparently, the American attitude toward the benefits of physical exercise and the outdoors had a tremendous influence on French haute couture after the first world war. Gabriel “Coco” Chanel introduced comfortable jersey ensembles, and other couturiers join her in creating luxury resort collections for leisure activities at the seaside. Beach pajamas – ensembles consisting of palazzo pants and a wrap jacket (sometimes attached) – were the most fashionable garment for late-afternoon onshore activities in the 1920s and 1930s.

beach pajamas detail photo by gail worley

Like some of the summer kimonos on display in the exhibit, American beach pajamas feature colorful concentric circles, creating a modern sense of movement reminiscent of the spherical art and simultaneous color experiments of modernist painters Robert and Sonia Delaunay. Covered in European fashion magazines that circulated in Japan, these western garments possibly influenced Japanese taste for abstract geometric motifs.

Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art as Part of the Exhibit Kimono Style: The John C. Weber Collection, on View Through February 20th, 2023.

beach pajamas photo by gail worley

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