[As published in Nov/Dec BayBuzz magazine.]

Remember when you first moved here? Or for you returnees, when you first came home?

You were stunned by the scenery and the fresh air, and by “finding a park right outside”. Enchanted by Rush Munros and honesty boxes. Besotted with pick-your-own and walking to work.

But the thing that struck you most was the fact that people wore, not just their dressing gowns and slippers, but their actual pyjamas to Pak’n’Save. Remember how you rang your Mum and laughed about it. Remember how you asked your new workmates, “What’s that about?!”.

Well, I’ve been here 17 years now and it suddenly makes sense. In many ways it sums up Hawke’s Bay. Forget clever logos, city flags and crests. Forget mottos. We should bedeck our civic monuments with pictures of jarmies. Our banners should shout “Be Where There’s Bed Wear”. What we should be promoting to the world, is that Hawke’s Bay is so okay to just be itself, so chillax, so happy in its own skin, that it is justified, even essential – accepted, nay expected – to wear jim jams to Push’n’Shove.

Pyjamas are designed for lounging, and loungewear is the epitome of a leisurely lifestyle. And as we all know, here in Hawke’s Bay we do like to make-believe we’re on holiday all the time, even when we’re so-called ‘working’. We take beach strolls at lunch time. We are home on the couch with a craft beer before it’s dark. We use our weekends for a range of hobbies and past-times rather than for driving and chores. Home and work, in the Bay, are most often so close together we really do have a balance.

Between the long lunches and the after-work drinks though, we are also very good at business. We are entrepreneurs and networkers. We’re grifters and grafters. When we work, we work hard. And, if you look closely at the cut and the styling, and at their often striped patterns, PJs scream formal suiting. So they are the perfect collision of two-piece well-tailored attire and casual comfort wear. They mean business, but equally they are ready to relax at any moment. That’s so Hawke’s Bay.

There is historical precedent for wearing night-suits in public, and it’s political. Since the early 1800s people have worn pyjamas as a statement against social pressure. For example, wearing this silk peignoir I picked up in Paris last spring is really a protest against the enduring subjugation of the matriarchy. It says “I am what I am, and I’m not forcing myself into the standards you prescribe for me (Spanx in other words)”.

Hawke’s Bay is a hideaway for hippies and bohos looking to shun pretentious societal norms (often in a fairly pretentious manner). They spend most of their time flitting between Waiheke and Bali, and when they are here it’s 24/7-jarmies … and kaftans and harem pants (and let’s face it they are basically PJs, albeit by another name).

Our blue-collar, hi-vis backbone also means PJs-after-work makes perfect sense. If you actually work for a living – I mean really work – then you are going home for a shower and you are getting clean and comfy before you hit the shops. Why transition through yet another ‘fit? Go straight to your schlafanzug. We all know you sleep in the nuddy anyway. Jamas are really just evening wear. Think about that next time you get invited to a cocktail party.

Now, let’s get this straight, there is a big difference between pyjamas and actual nightwear.

Even the slouchiest of shoppers isn’t going out in a winceyette nightie with midnight feast stains down the front. There is a line between what’s okay and what’s not (it may be a fine line, but it’s still a line). Oodies are allowable but pattern’s important. No Dad, Baby Yoda is not okay, even at the 4-Square. Onesies are passable but they better be clean and you better be wearing them ironically. Long johns are great but only with stubbies over the top and only if you’re buying scroggin. Dressing gowns are a must, especially now that winter in Hawke’s Bay is 10-months long. The bigger the collar and the brighter the colour, the better.

Jim-jams@Pak’n’Save is about much more than just wearing pyjamas in public. It’s about representing the quintessential Hawke’s Bay way: down-to-Earth, laid-back, a little bit political and bringing realness at every opportunity. If you’re not wearing jarmies at the Big Box, you’re not doing Bay-living right.

Top tips:
1. Woven fabric is better than stretch, no one wants to see your saggy bottom
2. Don’t go pattern the whole way – break it up people!
3. Wear appropriate underwear underneath, we’re not animals
4. Give your PJs a quick once-over with an iron
5. Complete the look with chunky jewellery, and for you ladies, stilettos… 


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