Most people younger than 55 years claim they would never wear pajamas to sleep in.

But when it comes to lounging around the house, men and women are finding that nothing compares to a pair of comfortable PJs.Versatility seems to be the reason for men's sleepwear becoming the garment of choice for hanging around the house, puttering in the yard or just feeling comfortable.

The switch has resulted in clothiers changing the retailing name for pajamas from sleepwear to "lounge-wear." It has also offered consumers something quite different from the traditional poly-cotton, three-button, two-piece style that still sells well to older gentlemen.

Among the larger younger market, it's 100 percent cotton outfits with the roominess of a pair of oversized sweats that sell best, according to Dirk Pantone, manager of Weinstock's men's department in Crossroads Plaza.

"We grew up in the (Levi) 501s-and-sweats generation, and we like to wear something comfortable," he said.

He said Calvin Klein was the first to satisfy the craving for comfort with a line of loungewear. The lightweight tops and bottoms in solid colors that look like athletic warm-ups are popular.

But the most radical effort to transform PJs from something no one will admit wearing into a fashion statement has come from Joe Boxer.

The San Francisco underwear manufacturer first became popular in 1985 for its unorthodox boxer shorts, including wild 3-D and glow-in-the-dark prints

Now the same bold-and-wild designs that made the company's underwear famous is available in flannel and lightweight cotton sleep-wear/loungewear. This spring's prints include baseball bats, gloves, pennants, pop bottles, corn-on-the-cob, ants on the picnic table, melting ice cream cones and glow-in-the-dark fireflies.

Although the latest styles in pajamas or loungewear can be found in the men's section of department stores, men are not the only buyers.

"Men who definitely know what they want and won't let anyone else buy for them" will pick up a pair of fashionable knee-length or full-length PJs, Pantone said.

But about one-third of purchases are made by women, he noted. Many purchases are gifts - sometimes a subtle way of telling a husband or boyfriend that he doesn't look that attractive in his underwear.

Many women buy men's sleepwear for themselves, however, because the larger sizes are more roomy and comfortable than traditional women's loungewear.