I like to think I could sleep almost anywhere, as long as I have hot water for a bath before bed. I am devoted to my nighttime ritual, and it may in fact be my one true addiction. I have stayed in crummy small-town motels when I was squiring my daughters to remote soccer tournaments, and little rooms in cheap Italian bed-and-breakfasts off the beaten path while factory-hopping with Sid. I wouldn't want to live in any of them full-time... but for a night or two? They were just fine. Hot water is hot water... in the bath, you can close your eyes and pretend you're at the Four Seasons. We once had an old house in Connecticut where the water never got quite hot enough. To this day I am dying of embarrassment for not knowing that all I had to do was walk down to the basement and adjust the temperature on the water heater myself. In our head, we were still renters from New York, not naïve new homeowners. This particular house was actually from 1760, with actual tree trunks as beams in the basement. (Bark still on!) I am getting off track with the mystery surrounding our old basement, but the point is that I suffered through 18 months of "not quite hot enough" baths until I wised up. What a shame. Now I am more tuned in and, despite the warnings on the water heater manual, keep the temperature near scalding. And whenever we travel, my very considerate husband makes sure there is a bathtub for me.
I've made my point... I take bedtime baths very seriously. But the very NEXT best thing for me, after the water has drained, is slipping into crisp, fresh, clean cotton pajamas. It is the gift I give myself every night. I have friends who indulge themselves by pressing their sheets. I understand it – bedding is nice – but for me the pajamas are enough. Wrinkles don't bother me when the quality of the cotton is so nice. It may not be very sexy, but I have such strong memories from childhood of being tucked into bed while it was still light outside, wearing a pretty little nightgown or babydoll set. My grandmother used to give me a doll each Christmas wearing a set of pajamas she had sewn herself, with a matching set for me. So sweet. And then years later, my memories are of the nightly routine with my own little crew, getting all those freshly-scrubbed little bodies into clean pajamas, with their slicked-back hair wet from the bath. After a long day of mothering, it was a joy – they looked so sweet and smelled so good AND you would have a full 12 hours of peace while they slept.
But back to adulthood. The point is that a good night's sleep is heaven... and the wind-down before it can be heaven, too. For me, the happy cadence of routine is comforting. Life can be crazy and uncertain and often very challenging, but there is a sense of order that the bath and bed give me. And speaking of adulthood, the vibe can be a little sexier if you think of Brigitte Bardot in A Very Private Affair (1962) or Sophia Loren in The Countess in Hong Kong (1967), or even Jane Fonda in Barefoot in the Park (1967.) I say 'even' because that one's a bit of a stretch – she is in Robert Redford's pajama shirt, and it's only the top half. (And if you have not seen this movie, you MUST.) But proper pajamas do not have to be a little-girl thing at all.
I have such a thing for pajamas that it's one of the first things we started making... we've had them on the line since not long after we started making shirts. In fact, we just launched a sweet striped set today, just in time for Mother's Day. You want really, really nice cotton next to your skin. No stretch or synthetics – you will sweat to death. You want something quality enough that it looks just as great wrinkled, straight from the dryer or even the suitcase, as it would if you had bothered to press it straight away. (I am not a prompt ironer.) The shorts sets are great if you are a hot sleeper. (I love the old-fashioned Provençal print on this set.) Shorts or pants, you want something that you may be able to wear down to breakfast as a houseguest... or something to pad around the hotel room in. Saturday mornings are better at home if you don't have to put your real clothes on until noon. I just want to be dressed enough so as to not embarrass anyone. In my own house, when the daughters are around, we have a rule about attire outside of the bedroom. Bras are required on the ground floor! With a great set of pajamas, you can be lazy, but still look neat and chic. It is just considerate to others.
And it can be considerate FOR others, too. I have gifted a set of pajamas more times than I can count. We all have friends who may end up recuperating at home in bed - whether it is for the happy reason of bedrest when a baby is on the way, or the sad strike of illness. It is a thoughtful present. Pretty and practical and useful long after the time in bed has passed. And of course, it is nice for no reason at all... again, Mother's Day is coming up. (You can't go wrong with the classic white poplin.) I have quite a few sets, as you can imagine, but would still be delighted to get a pair from any of my girls.
And so, there you have it. Hot bath, clean pajamas made of very excellent cotton, maybe a good book for a few minutes of reading before you fall asleep.... Truly, there is not much else that I appreciate so fully. And just like that hot-enough water, it delivers every night. You need some pajamas. I promise.