I hosted a little vintage beach gathering here in Portland yesterday, and finished a pair of reproduction 1930s beach pajamas to wear just in the nick of time! For those not aware, beach pajamas were the original version of resort wear, worn by the fashionable set on the beach during the day and to a cocktail party in the evening. They became more widespread in the 1930s with their popularization among the Hollywood elite, and home seamstresses could make their own versions with the patterns that were released. Beach pajamas were either one or two pieces (sometimes with matching jacket) and featured characteristically wide pants legs.
My beach pajamas are made from a border print 1950s red and white rayon that I got from this awesome Etsy shop (I seriously can’t recommend her enough, she even threw in free button cards with my order!). I ended up combining 2 modern patterns for my beach pajamas, as a) original beach pajama patterns are notoriously expensive (seriously, the cheapest ones I could find started at $125 and even then, I would need to significantly grade them up) and b) I wasn’t too fond of any of the reproduction ones out there. After looking at dozens upon dozens of images of original beach pajamas, I settled upon the pants from New Look 6291 and Bodice D from New Look 6966, which when combined, were eerily reminiscent of this original beach pajamas pattern. Luckily, I made a muslin (I was too scared to just cut into vintage rayon fabric without doing so first!) and there weren’t too many changes to be made – the back piece wasn’t quite wide enough, and the waistline wasn’t high enough. I also fully lined these in a a linen-rayon blend, and despite the extra work that was, it was the right decision, as the vintage fabric was a bit sheer.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have an original pair of beach pajamas to examine (those are also notoriously expensive, averaging around $300 a pair), so I’m not quite sure if what I did construction-wise was totally period-correct. I did what I thought made sense, although I ended up having to make 4 darts (2 in front and 2 in back) to get the bodice to match the pants along the waistline seam. Luckily, I don’t think anybody will be examining the innards of these, although I did come home with an odd orange stain on the midriff lining (no idea how that got there!).
Readers, these are so insanely comfortable to wear! Seriously, I can see why these were so popular back in the day. I also got so many lovely compliments from fellow beach-goers once person even told me that I looked like “one of those sexy pin-up models from the 50s!” Not quite the era I was going for, but a compliment I’ll take, nonetheless. And, despite the challenges I had during construction, I am so tickled that I finally made a pair of these. I’m looking forward to many lazy summer days lounging about in them while reading a good novel.
I also had some leftover striped fabric from the fabric’s border, so I used that to make a matching headband. Yeah, I know, I’m an overachiever.
Hope everyone else had a lovely weekend!