Let's talk pyjamas

Your choice of bedwear speaks volumes, and what it says should be comforting

I think the subject of pyjamas needs to be discussed. Or, at the very least, bedwear. I have tried, over the years, to furnish my night wardrobe with silk-slip offerings, or even cute little tops paired with slinky trousers, as a comfort/sexy hybrid. But I do veer, almost as if driven by a huge magnetic force, towards the brushed cotton at this time of year.

There is something so magical about brushed cotton. It really is the mother of all fibres: soft, comforting, forgiving, all-embracing and loving (perhaps your mother isn't like this, but mine is). By comparison, normal cotton - poplin, lawn and even sateen - seems almost harsh in com parison. My first weekly wage was spent, perhaps not surprisingly, on a pair of red, brushed-cotton Derek Rose pyjamas that I loved and wore until they were fit only for table-polishing purposes.

Selfridges has a whole department given over to making our bedclothes sexy but comfortable. The Princesse Tam.Tam concession is full of little cotton "nighties" that would, indeed, look delightful and be comfortable, if you were tiny and had breasts the size of clementines. Or you can buy (really very nice) fleece two-pieces; the top is a kimono-style wrap with - this is the sexy bit - a ribbon tie. They come in all sorts of lovely soft colours: the most perfect taupe, the deepest purple.

But although fleece feels nice, it adds bulk. DKNY (the "cheaper" arm of Donna Karan) has cotton pointelle "lounging around the house" trousers that tick lots of boxes. One of the good things about them is that the longer you wear them, the more comfortable they get. One of the not so good things about this, however, is that they get more comfortable because cotton jersey (what they are made of, albeit a very fine kind of jersey) stretches when you wear it. You end up with trousers that started slinky but have turned so baggy around the knee, they make you look as if you're wearing skateboarding protector shells under your PJs. But it's a look, though not a very alluring one.

Hanro does the best fine cotton lace-trimmed vests. These are good contenders for sitting atop brushed-cotton trousers because they add a bit of much-needed glamour. Debenhams, in its "Designers At" section, has some rather nice bedtime offerings from John Rocha and Jasper Conran: silk slips, cotton slips, bead-encrusted trousers (not as impractical as they sound). Jigsaw, not a place you might imme diately think of for silk slips, has some of the most exquisite numbers in deep raspberry reds and steely blues with brown (a fab colour combination). But the sizing is rubbish: S/M or M/, which in reality means anyone above a size 14 can only look. Anyway, though lovely and soft, not to mention comfortable (if you can fit in them in the first place), they just cannot compete with the true seductive softness of the brushed-cotton "pants" from Gap. Now, Gap is not a shop I normally frequent, or even particularly like, but in this it excels. Here, you can buy thick brushed-cotton PJ bottoms that are so soft, it feels as if your legs are being caressed by a thousand angels wearing . . . brushed-cotton gloves. And all for £20.

Annalisa Barbieri was in fashion PR for five years before going to the Observer to be fashion assistant. She has worked for the Evening Standard and the Times and was one of the fashion editors on the Independent on Sunday for five years, where she wrote the Dear Annie column. She was fishing correspondent of the Independent from 1997-2004.