Blessed solstice, everyone. Here’s a silly post, inspired by this equally silly but fun article in the Washington Post stating that nightgowns are over and pajamas are Having a Moment:
Some years ago, no one is sure of the date, the nightgown died. “Nightgowns are too revealing. It feels naked somehow,” says Drexel University fashion historian Clare Sauro. “The mind-set is that it’s old-fashioned and fussy and seems formal.” Largely confined to the bedroom, the nightgown doesn’t work for work or when answering the door for deliveries, a notion mentioned constantly by pajama purveyors.
Well. I beg to differ.
I agree with the larger premise of the article — people want comfort while working from home, and why not? Nobody’s more supportive than me of the relaxing of dress standard while we telework. My work clothes pre-pandemic were a conservative uniform of interchangeable pieces that appeared to be (and often were) direct from Talbots – cotton and silk, cashmere and wool, all in muted tones, a string of pearls, sensible pumps. My boss is retired military and we work with a lot of other military people, so our default dress is probably more formal than it needs to be. But I was fine with it. Once you have the uniform, you don’t have to think about it.
Things are different at home, though. This past summer in my older home with temperature in the 90s (30s Celsius) and the A/C on the fritz for weeks, my coworkers on Zoom got used to seeing me in the kind of breezy shift dresses that could – and sometimes did – do double-duty as nightgowns. Now I’ve shifted to my daytime rotation of sweatpants and a variety of fleece pullovers and sweaters since baby it’s cold outside.
And nightgowns? Nightgowns are not – will never be – over. Nightgowns are the perfect all-season evening and weekend attire. I have an entire wardrobe of nightgowns, which rotate by season – linen in spring and fall, cotton lawn in the hot summer, flannel in the winter – many of them vintage finds from eBay and Etsy, bought for a song because apparently most folks don’t share my passion. At the end of the workday in warm weather, I give more thought to selecting the evening’s nightgown than I did to what I put on that morning. Should I wear the 80s-vintage off-shoulder confection from J. Peterman that makes me feel like a swan? The slinky emerald-green satin that fits like a glove and makes me feel like Carole Lombard? Or go a completely different direction with the beautifully simple handmade and embroidered gown from the 1940s that makes me feel loved? Each choice feels like I’m starring in my own private motion picture. Do I feel naked in them? No. If I look naked in them, or a little too glam for my InstaCart delivery, well, that’s what robes are for, aren’t they?
Winters are for one gown, the One Gown to Rule Them All, and at the moment I have … three of them, identical except for the color. It’s an LL Bean flannel gown, with pintucks (no ruffles!) in a simple ticking stripe they don’t make any more, so my current ones are secondhand. I’ve actually worn two of them out before, I’ve loved them for so long. Honestly, if we get to a point I can’t find them any more (although I’m not too worried about that, Bean must have sold thousands of them, there’s probably a dozen on eBay right now) I would probably pay a seamstress to make me one. They are an almost-perfect gown, and would in fact be perfect if they had pockets. If I ever have to make a copy, it’ll have pockets, for sure.
I’ve had pajamas. I like the madcap-40s-movie-heroine aspect of button-down collared pajamas cut and styled like a traditional man’s pair, and I’ve had flirtations with simple cotton tops and bottoms, but at the end of the day they’re too much like actual clothes. Putting on a nightgown, which I used to do within five minutes of walking in the door from work and before starting dinner (yes, I cook dinner in a nightgown and one of those vintage cross-back aprons) signals the end of business and the start of pleasure for me. I think if anyone listened carefully while I’m changing, I probably let out a quiet sigh when slipping that nightgown over my head.
Oh, I should mention my go-to-bed scent, shouldn’t I? It’s a liberal application of this Tisserand Pillow Mist, which Cinnamon blogged about. It’s delightful, a perfect balance of jasmine, lavender and gentle sandalwood. I spray my pillows and bed linens (and sometimes myself) and voila. And — salacious detail! — summer or winter, I slip off my nightgown before slipping into bed.
What’s your vote? Do you wear nightgowns or pajamas, or none of the above? Do you have longtime favorites? Do you wear nightgowns as day dresses (or vice versa)? Do you have a bedtime scent?