Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wearing Pajamas in the Streets of Sibu

When I was young, there were no traffic lights in Sibu.

So nothing actually "stopped" the traffic, which consisted mainly of bicycles, trishaws, trolleys pulled by shirtless men with a red cotton towel,lorries, government vehicles and very few private cars . And the biggest car was owned by Datuk Ling Beng Siew,which I believe, was bought only in 1961. Not even women, children, men wearing pajamas after five!

That was the life we had. Slow, sleepy and kind. The whole town was like a huge extended home (yeah, I mean that precisely and if you haven't lived in Sibu then, you won't know the feeling or the atmosphere) and we walked around in our pajamas after five and no one raised an eye brow!

We went to the Pasar Malam (night market)wearing our pajamas. Young men would be sitting outside their shops wearing pajamas, fanning themselves with an organic fan made from nipah palms. Old man would be ogling at every one who passed by, wearing pajamas, and they would be sitting on their wooden stools which were very portable. They would up their stools and move on to do whatever they liked in another street.....

Well some people did wear pajamas all day long. But that did not cause any gossip as well.

Pajamas were and still are comfortable to me and to a lot of Foochows in Sibu.

After some time, in the 1970's when most people became somewhat more educated (ie. they went to school and received a certificate) they stopped wearing pajamas in the streets in the day time. They stopped wearing pajamas to the coffee shops when they wanted their kopi-o. Women stopped buying their vegetables wearing only their pajamas...In the 80's things changed more...and today, attires of course have changed even more...or less...women and girls are wearing are wearing less too....Don't any one complain when people wear less, or almost nothing? Why do lots of people complain when they see any one wearing pajamas in the streets?

Pajamas are worn through out the day in the Streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It is like a national culture.

The Chinese of Chong qing wear their best pajamas to shop in Carrefour or have their foreign and imported fried chicken and fries in KFC and no one raises an eye brow. It is a habit which refuses to go away. How wrong is it?

But then the whole controversy of wearing pajamas have surfaced again recently, in Shanghai, in Australia, in the US. Some defend its wearing, some are aghast....for me, it is fun just thinking and writing about wearing pajamas in the streets of Sibu.

Here are some quotes I have lifted from articles found in the NET to help you think what other people think:

Sleep Wear – Not Just For Sleeping Anymore
Wearing pajamas isn’t just for bedtime any longer! Sleep wear can be a fashion statement! The "just out of bed" look is great for the street scene. The idea is to take the most comfortable sleepwear and elevate it to enough to be street legal. You canand elevate it to enough to be street legal. You can have fun mixing ultra casuals with jeans, denim shirts, blazers or sweaters.

We want the hottest, sexiest sleep wear pieces that feel like melted butter next to our skin at night. And to top it off, we want it to cute, sexy, and comfortable. That’s not asking for too much, is it?

Today’s sleepwear is so versatile that many use it as outer-wear. Many pieces are cute enough to stand alone but most need some type of accompaniment.

Camisoles are sleeveless tops with matching undies that can be worn under a jacket or denim shirt and jeans. Camisoles are great for showing off those toned arms. Very sexy!

How about a stylishly chic bustier? This can also be worn under a jacket or overcoat. A bustier can also help improve the cleavage when needed.

Draw-string pants can also be used as street wear. Stylish draw-string pants are popping up everywhere today. Men are wearing them alone or with casual shirts or solid T-shirt. Women can wear them as casual lounge wear or out to the store.

Flannel draw-string pants are another stylish wear. When it’s cold outside, flannel helps to keep your legs warm and cozy.

Pajama tops can be worn with jeans for street wear. Novelty pajamas have become the newest trend in beach cover-ups.

Many feel that the typical at-home clothing makes the ultimate fashion statement on the streets.

Making a new fashion statement isn’t easy or the faint-of-heart. Take the time to educate yourself on different styles. Learn how to draw inspiration from your favorite looks.

Fashion is about confidence. If you feel great in an outfit, others will feel your vibes. And if you don’t feel confident, fake it! Whether you are 18 or 50, take pride in your appearance and it’s important to feel comfortable in your style.

(lifted from : Bridget Allen has worked for many years in the fashion industry, at a senior level)

Here is another art ice from Shanghai:

Pajamas are at the center of a hotly contested public etiquette controversy in Shanghai. On any given day in the major Chinese city, people can be found on the streets wearing pajamas. Jammie-haters suggest that the practice is unclean, disrespectful, and classless. Jammie-wearers, however, argue that there is nothing inappropriate or wrong about the habit.

The pajama situation is more widespread than you might think. A survey recently revealed that 25 percent of the population had family members who regularly wore nightclothes in public. Because many homes do not have indoor plumbing, the daily walk to the bathhouse with a towel and a toothbrush in PJ's is as much about comfort as it about necessity.

It's a little unclear how this debate will be resolved. Will it take a strictly-enforced decency law? Or will the public outcry shame folks out of wearing their pajamas on the streets? Who knows. One thing is certain, though, this culture clash isn't about to go away anytime soon.

And here's another one from a Canadian blogger:

Remaindered Random Musings
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Pajamas, Hugh Hefner & Me (Issue #143)
You know how you always think of the smarty-pants response to some argument 10 minutes to 10 years after you lost the argument? We hate when that happens....

It was early on a lovely summer evening and I wanted to sit outside and enjoy a refreshing beverage. I constructed said beverage and prepared to sally forth.

“You can’t go out there like that,” I was told.

“Like what?”

“You’re wearing pajamas. People will see you. People I know. I will lose face and have to leave town and I don’t want to.”


I have only recently discovered the joy that pajamas can bring. I am speaking specifically of pajama bottoms here, not tops. Tops are goofy and only old men wear them. I am hardly, at 56, old. 56 is the new 44 and, if I recall correctly, 44 is the new 35. You’d have to be insane, or a teen, to think that 35 was old.

For most of my life I have worn jeans - winter, spring, summer or fall. In summer, they can be a smidge uncomfy on hot days. I am not allowed to wear shorts because my legs are white and spindly. The sun’s glare rebounds off them and blinds passers-by. I have nightmares about drivers involved in a chain of fender benders, clapping one hand over their eyes and pointing an accusing finger with the other.

A year or so ago, Son #2 started wearing pajama bottoms pretty much everywhere. I shrugged. Kids. Heck, I once wore barrel-sized bell bottoms and a Nehru jacket. Not together though. Pretty sure.

Anyway, when I took him shopping one day for more, I decided to pick up a pair or two for myself. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they cost less than $15. In fact, I have since purchased some very spiffy ones, in designer plaids, stripes and checks, for less than 10 bucks!

They are light and comfy. They have elastic waists which come in very handy when dinnertime rolls around. And get this:

They have pockets now! I’m fairly certain that way back in the 50s and early 60s, when I last wore them, they were pocket-less.

So, on the one hand, we have comfort, stylish designer plaids, stripes and checks and pockets. And on the other, we have someone sniffing with disapproval.

Well, the sniffing won that day.

But only because I forgot about Hugh Hefner.

Hef practically spent his entire life in pajamas! For all I know he still does. And he’s a millionaire and his magazine has articles in it about stylishness! Probably.

How can wearing jammies be a fashion faux pas if Hef wears them? I chuckled to myself, anticipating the next PJ discussion and my new trump card.

As I thought about Hefner, I came to realize that we had lots more in common than sartorial resplendency:

He drinks Pepsi and I drink Pepsi sometimes.

He has a magazine empire and I have written stuff for magazines.

He has slept with hundreds, maybe thousands of women. I have kissed more than a dozen. (If we count aunts.)

In fact, it would not surprise me one iota if ole Hef put some fishies in one of his swimming pools and wet a line now and then.

It’s like we were twins, separated at birth!

A week or so ago, sporting a new, classy, grey/white/yellow-striped pair with a button-fly front, I headed outside.

“Geez Frank.”


“The jammies....”

“Hugh Hefner wears them all the time!” I crowed triumphantly.

“He wears tops too. He’s an old man.”

Any day now, I’m gonna come up with a smarty-pants rejoinder to that one.
posted by Frank Baron at 11:56 AM

Dawno said...
I'm a pathological fishy-clicker. When I hit bottom, I'll go find that group.

Kids these days wear jammies to school, you know. And sometimes even with the fuzzy slippers. I plan to ge some nice (well sequined) silk ones and wear them all the time when I retire.

10:55 PM
Bernita said...
Frank, you are a delight...and tagged as a "Thinking Blogger."

8:35 AM
Frank Baron said...
Dawno, I think that you can get away with wearing a matching top and not be regarded as an old man. ;)

Thank you Bernita. I shall have to find out what that tag means, exactly. It makes me just a teesny bit afraid....

10:19 AM
Crabby McSlacker said...
I know, it's a pain isn't it? Every time I try to go outside wearing nothing but a nice pair of pajama bottoms I get hounded about it too!

(Very funny column, Frank, although you're quite a bit more handsome than Hef. There's something about that dude that makes my skin crawl).

5:42 PM
Kappa no He said...
Hey, you can tell your wife that where I live men spend the entire summer in nothing but their boxer shorts. And I'm talking old and young alike, squatting in front of their houses, smoking cigarettes and trying to engage you (meaning me) in conversation.

Eye contact has taken on a whole new importance for me.

6:52 PM
Frank Baron said...
Crabby, believe me, I've been hearing it about not mentioning that I WEAR A T-SHIRT with my jammy bottoms.

I blame my editor. ;)

Kappa, thanks for the additional, um.... :)

12:36 AM
Spidey said...
There is something really creepy about a very skinny old man with a pipe walking around the streets in pajamas. I guess because he is so rich, nobody has told Hefner that he looks like a senile old fool, and nobody has told him that his recent kids look like his chauffeur.

I guess with Viagra it is still possible for some crusty, scaly, 75 year old geezer to climb on a young woman, but that just goes with his pajamas. Besides, Penthouse had better stories.

9:59 AM
Frank Baron said...
Jeepers Spidey. I thought at first you were describing me. 'Til you got to the part about being rich. ;)

2:28 PM
Hildegarde said...
Hahaha :-) Let me help you a bit : over here they say : only the nobility has the luxury to walk around in pajama all day (in the house and in the own garden)

5:36 PM
Frank Baron said...
Hildegarde -- exactly.

We Barons are on the lower rung of nobility but we cling to it desperately. ;)

12:57 AM
John Elder Robison said...
You and Hugh, separated at birth. It's a good story. Something Hugh doesn't want you to know.

1:04 PM
Frank Baron said...
John, I almost wish it was true. Except that I'd be 81 years old now. ;)

4:07 PM
Stace said...
I do love my jim-jams. But I wouldn't wear them outside. You're weird :) By the way, 56 - I mean 35 - isn't THAT old, it's only a little bit old.

You know what's really weird? You're about the same age as my dad. Which means that I'm potentially a similar age to your children (probably a bit older, but only by co-incidence). Yet, we relate as adults together in a way you will never quite reach with your own children because they'll always be your kids. Or so I surmise from observing my own parents' behaviour. Is that weird?

2:35 AM
Chill Daddy said...
I hope this isn't too personal; I'm only asking from my own pajama-bottom experiences, but do you wear them AFTER you shower?

I can't bring myself to do that, which means that if I'm lounging about in them, I'm probably also a little ripe.

(btw, I got here from WritersNet where I've been admiring your comments like umm... something that approves and appreciates something else)

5:45 AM
Frank Baron said...
Stace...go to your room young lady!! ;)

Thanks for stopping by Chilldaddy. I'll wear them anytime, but most often it's probably post-shower. Sorry if I disillusioned there....

10:25 AM
Bibi said...
Very funny Frank. And timely, I just got back from the store where a teenager was walking around, not just in her pj's (with top), but with pink bunny slippers too!

Agree on the 'old man' tops. Who wears them?

8:44 PM
Frank Baron said...
Vicki, I'm putting you down as in favour of the jammies.

I knew you were a good-hearted, sensible, intelligent and perceptive person. :)

10:55 PM
Lois Karlin said...
At least wear the plaid flannel bottoms out and about. They've got heft.

10:05 AM
Frank Baron said...
Will do Lois. Thanks for the support. :)

1:24 PM
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About Me

Name: Frank Baron
Location: Ontario, Canada
If you're really interested, you can go here: About Me To subscribe to my (free) emailed humour column drop me a note at baronitall(at) You know what to do with that


And finally,

If you like your pajamas and wish to make a statement, go ahead. Not just in Sibu. Any where. Will the police will pull you in? Check on that.

My children love their blue, Foochow pajamas and those are the first things they will pack. They say that wearing them reminds them of home, of the love and care they have had from grandma. And they don't want to lose that wonda ful feelin' . Long Live Blue Foochow pajamas!!

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