The author has graciously shared with readers of the Victorian Web this passage from the second edition of her Fashion in Costume, 1200-2000 (2000), published by A & C Black (Publishers) Ltd., which retains copyright. Readers wishing to obtain the book can e-mail the following address: email@example.com.
Even before 1850 doctors had been advocating flannel underclothing, and by mid century vests or undershirts were worn. Hand- or machine-knitted natural wool, recommended by Dr Jaeger, was endorsed at the International Health Exhibition held in London in 1882. The woollen vest and underpants worn next to the skin might also be joined to form combinations, patented in 1862 but not commonly worn until the 1880s, when another innovation for men, the sleeping suit, began to replace the nightshirt. Originally from India, pyjamas (pajamas in the US) were of silk or wool in various colours, often striped, and by the late 1890s The Tailor and Cutter noted that 'The doom of the sleeping shirt is written'; but country folk and elderly or conservative men continued to wear nightshirts for a decade or so into the 20th century.
Nunn, Joan. Fashion in Costume, 1200-2000. 2nd edition. A & C Black (Publishers) Ltd; Chicago: New Amsterdam Books, 2000.
Last modified 11 June 2001