When it comes to sartorial solutions at bedtime, men tend to be practical. Most crawl in between the sheets wearing a T-shirt and shorts, which they combine either in line with their tastes or the whatever-is-nearest-at-hand principle. Classic men's pyjamas are passé.
Today's fashion designers have set out to make men rediscover pyjamas, however. Using light and skin-friendly fabrics, sophisticated styles and unusual patterns, they hope to reawaken men's nightwear from its slumber.
"It's sensational that something like this is happening to nightwear," enthused Alexandra von Richthofen, an expert in next-to-skin garments for the Frankfurt-based trade journal Textilwirtschaft (Textile Industry). Men, after all, are not exactly fashion hounds in bed.
Niels-Holger Wien, from the eastern German city of Halle, is among the fashion designers who feel that men's pyjamas nowadays need not be kept hidden under the covers. "Pyjamas used to be an eyesore," said Wien, who works at the German Fashion Institute in Cologne. But now, he said, they are becoming good-looking enough to be worn in living rooms.
Jersey fabrics are a key innovation in the collections, von Richthofen noted. Their breathability, she said, made for a pleasant sleeping atmosphere. The new fabrics are elastic, too, and allow the wearer freedom of movement.
"That means a lot of comfort when you turn in bed at night or read a book before going to sleep," she added.
The fabrics alone make the new nightwear more pleasing to men, Wien agreed. "A bias in favour of pure cotton still exists," he pointed out. But he said that men who slipped on high-quality blends of cotton and synthetic fibres changed their tune. Be it Meryl, the micro fibre Tactel or "Micromodule," the new fabrics are lighter, skin-friendlier and more absorbent, Wien remarked.
"That also makes them easier to wash and iron," he said.
Men's pyjama designers have not only been creative with fabrics, but with colours and patterns as well. Dark hues play a big role. Black is named a "trendy theme" in the fashion collection report by Mey, a maker of under- and nightwear in the southwest German town of Bitz.
The company Schiesser says that espresso and dark aubergine the colours of the season. Gloom has not taken hold of the bedroom, however.
"The darkness has many facets" and hints at "the shimmer of a night sky," Wien said.
Matte and shiny stripes or ringlets set the tone in the palette of dark colours. A classic men's accessory, the necktie, is the inspiration for the most important nightwear design this autumn and winter. Small rhombuses and paisley patterns are the bedtime trend, von Richthofen noted.
On the whole, the style of the new men's nightwear is high-class and refined - shades of Hollywood in the 1940s. "There's a lot in the way of Cary Grant now," she said.
Classic touches like embroidery and appliqués add elegance, too. Experts point to the "George V" model by the company Calida, based in the Swiss town of Sursee, as an example of what is now the height of fashion - a classic pair of pyjamas with a prominent collar.
The new models often lack cuffs on sleeves and trouser legs "so that everything's comfortable and modern," von Richthofen said.
Wien, too, stressed that comfort was an essential feature of contemporary men's pyjamas. "Pure nightwear is becoming increasingly rare," he said. "It overlaps with home and lounge wear." That requires a comfortable fit and presentable patterns.
In the collection by the French company HOM, for example, the boundary between pyjamas and leisure suits is often fluid. Men in this "lounge wear" are suitably attired for both home and outside it, according to the trend report "for instance, when they go out to buy bread rolls Sunday."
To do that, a man probably has to be both fashion-conscious and fearless.