nightgowns

The Case For Wearing Nightgowns All Day - WSJ

The Bennet sisters and their mother (far right) in white nightgown-esque dresses in the 2005 film version of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ PHOTO: EVERETT COLLECTION c/o The Wall Street Journal

The Bennet sisters and their mother (far right) in white nightgown-esque dresses in the 2005 film version of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ PHOTO: EVERETT COLLECTION c/o The Wall Street Journal

IS THERE A JANE AUSTEN fan out there who hasn’t envisioned an alternate life as Lizzie Bennet from “Pride and Prejudice,” at least the Lizzie in the Keira Knightley movie version? You know, the thoughtful, combative girl who finally gets the guy in a dewy field at dawn while wearing a white nightgown and coat. Such a romantic nightie plays a pivotal supporting role in countless period films, signifying vulnerability, rebellion and great taste in linen. As Jane Eyre in the 2011 adaptation, Mia Wasikowska runs away from Thornfield Hall’s ghost in a dirty, white, ruffle-collared dressing gown; Emily Blunt learns she is to be queen in frilly white sleepwear in “The Young Victoria”; and Kirsten Dunst pretty much reigns as the queen of nightgowns in multiple Sofia Coppola movies. 

Clara Cornet of Galeries Lafayette wears a Simone Rocha nightgown-ish dress in Paris. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES c/o The Wall Street Journal

Clara Cornet of Galeries Lafayette wears a Simone Rocha nightgown-ish dress in Paris. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES c/o The Wall Street Journal

You needn’t be an Austen heroine to appreciate the crossover appeal of a gauzy nightgown that does double duty as bedtime fashion and easy weekend dressing. Several ready-to-wear brands of the moment make daytime pieces that recall nightdresses of the past, like London brand Egg’s oversize white shirt dresses, and Danish label Cecilie Bahnsen’s ruffle-trimmed cotton sheaths. And then there are the actual sleepwear labels, like the Sleeper, based in Ukraine, and London’s Three Graces, which tout the appeal of wearing their wares beyond the bedroom. Their high-quality fabrics and sundress-like cuts allow for a seamless night-to-day transitions.

Ms. Dunst’s nightdresses in Ms. Coppola’s film “Marie Antoinette” directly inspired two of the Sleeper’s most recent nightgown designs. Constructed from heavy linen with romantic ruched trim detailing, both are legitimately nice enough to lunch in. Asya Varetsa, co-founder of the Sleeper, said that she wears her own gowns for morning dog walks: “I put on my loafers and I’m ready to go. It’s so easy and convenient.”

Kirsten Dunst and Jamie Dornan in ‘Marie Antoinette.’ PHOTO: ©SONY PICTURES/COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION c/o The Wall Street Journal

Kirsten Dunst and Jamie Dornan in ‘Marie Antoinette.’ PHOTO: ©SONY PICTURES/COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION c/o The Wall Street Journal

It would be a shame to keep the broderie anglaise detailing and playful prints of these midnight-midday hybrids to yourself. While they can of course be worn to bed, it’s au courant to let them leave the house. “They are light, delicate and airy,” Catherine Johnson, founder of lounge wear brand Three Graces London, explained over email. “It’s totally understandable why some of our clients don’t want to keep them just for the bedroom.”

The Sleeper’s Ms. Varetsa thinks the trend is catching on this summer because of the nightgown’s versatility. “It works on the beach, over your swimsuit,” she said, “but you can easily put on a belt and beautiful sandals and go to dinner in it.” And even though romance revolves more around Tinder and after-work drinks these days than fated encounters in fields, you can channel a bit of Lizzie Bennet’s impetuousness in it, too.

 

SLIP SERVICE // Three beyond-the-sheets nightgowns and the shoes that take them outside

From left: Lounge Dress, $320, the-sleeper.com; Sandals, $310, kjacques.fr; Nightie, $195, thesleepshirt.com; Sneakers, $50, vans.com; Three Graces London Dress, $480, net-a-porter.com; Porselli Flats, $230, usonline.apc.fr PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, STYLING BY JUDITH TREZZA

From left: Lounge Dress, $320, the-sleeper.com; Sandals, $310, kjacques.fr; Nightie, $195, thesleepshirt.com; Sneakers, $50, vans.com; Three Graces London Dress, $480, net-a-porter.com; Porselli Flats, $230, usonline.apc.fr PHOTO: F. MARTIN RAMIN/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, STYLING BY JUDITH TREZZA