Pajamas certainly have their place but nothing is as comfortable as a loose cotton gown skimming the body just before retiring to bed. A touch of eyelet or a fetching row of petite buttons and a woman has the makings for romance. Nightgowns are the penultimate female garment so why not go all the way - as in feminine styling? Even a tailored gown, simply because it IS a gown, is womanly.
My grandmother wore Barbizon nighties with matching robes which were made of an unusually soft cotton lawn that somehow never wrinkled. The small ribbon closures and pintucks around the yoke added an extra measure of pretty that I remember well. Silk chemises with lace hems and the thinnest straps are raging in every lingerie catalog I've seen lately. They brush across the body in the loveliest sherbet colors. The long cotton nightgowns worn by Emily Blunt in the film The Young Victoria inspired me to buy a pretty good Eileen West facsimile. Costumer Sandy Powell seems to get lingerie just so in all her films. Which is why it's fun to imagine oneself in an imaginary literary land when wearing a long sweeping gown.
One of my favorite things to do when I am online shopping is to read the previous reviews. They reveal sizing problems which is helpful, but also ring out with stars and enthusiastic endorsements. Surprisingly, I find them to be articulate and thoughtful reflections, even the negative ones. I especially loved this charming assessment for a nightgown I was contemplating: "My husband said he loves waking up next to me in this gown". That affirmation almost had me reaching for my credit card. The reviewer's age group? 60-65!
Vintage nighties are fairly inexpensive on eBay. I bought a gorgeous one last summer in a luscious hot pink for pennies on the dollar. But beware as chiffon can be stifling on a hot summer night. Still, eBay is a terrific place to look at styles from the 1960's when gowns were adorably chaste and pretty. Below is my favorite nightie from that era. It's from a 1969 Seventeen (why there is a fold in the picture). This was an ad for using Noxema on sunburns but I just love the celery green according pleats and the lace.
Lest you think wearing a nightgown is only meant for sleeping with a man, remember the restorative delights of a nightie after a long hot and tiring day. And so...more to that point, this: