Comfort is something I’ve been striving for all my life. That’s particularly true when I travel.
I remember the first time I flew in my pajamas. About eight years ago, as a participant in Chicago’s Race for the Cure, I was among 150 people out of 40,000 who were wearing KN’s special pink-ribbon pajama collection that benefits various breast cancer causes, including the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I was late for my return flight to San Francisco and didn’t have time to change back into daytime clothes.
I sprinted to the gate and found my seat in business class. A friendly flight attendant asked if she could take my coat. When I handed it to her, everyone saw my powder pink pajamas adorned with ribbons. A hush fell across the cabin.
“Yes, those are my pajamas,” I admitted to the attendant. Then I turned to the passengers who were gawking at me and added, “And I guarantee you all will be jealous at the end of the flight.”
To my astonishment, everyone applauded.
After that, I thought that if people can accept me in my pajamas, why not wear them on every trip? And I have.
A pair of pajamas can be especially useful during a delay. Once, I was on a flight that was stuck on the runway for six grueling hours because of rainstorms. When it was clear that we weren’t going anywhere, I grabbed my bag and changed. The other passengers looked at me with envy.
I typically get a mixed reaction from fellow travelers. Some people just stare. Some are probably too embarrassed to say anything at all, while others come right out and say, “Are you in your pajamas?” Once I tell people what I do for a living, they understand.
After exchanging pleasantries with one man who was my seatmate on a flight, he blurted out: “Oh, my God. My wife sleeps with you all the time.”
People have come to expect me to wear sleepwear everywhere. When I give speeches in front of bankers or investors I usually wear my “civvies” — business attire — and inevitably someone will come up to me afterward and say, “We thought you were going to be in your pajamas.”
I’ve recently found that my relaxed dress code has caught on. A few weeks ago, on a flight from Dallas to San Francisco, I sat next to a man in his late 30’s with black-rimmed glasses and a short haircut. He was dressed in blue scrubs and sandals.
“You look comfortable,” he said.
“So do you.”
We laughed. We made a good pair. Our outfits weren’t binding or restrictive. They were liberating.
But the sleepwear magic can take you only so far. One time, a policeman pulled me over in Northern California. Of course, I was in my ready-for-bed attire — a set of pajamas with bold, colorful veggies. He had a good chuckle, but still wrote me and my produce up for running a stop sign.
Karen Neuburger is the founder of KN Karen Neuburger in San Rafael, Calif.