Why Some Men Favor Dresses—Ahem, Nightshirts—Over Pajamas

IN FICTIONAL tales nightshirts are largely associated with aged villains and lovable fools. Picture miserly Ebenezer Scrooge in his long-sleeve caftan or Squidward of “SpongeBob SquarePants” fame in his knee-length nightie, a look that led Bikini Bottom dwellers to mistake him for a girl. Show a man (or squid) in a nightshirt, and it signifies stodginess or a cheap gender joke.

People didn’t always think that way. According to Fashion Institute of Technology professor Mark-Evan Blackman, men wore nightshirts, without triggering…

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