At home and out of the public eye, a society matron must have taken great pleasure in slipping into her dressing grown after a day of corsetry. I know I enjoy putting on mine after a long day at the salt mines. And this summer, I particularly love sweet cooling cotton robes with matching nighties. I pulled out an old set after our long heat wave began and feel so much more ladylike than if I were padding around in just a skimpy nightgown or worn sweatpants. Wearing a dressing gown also gives an extra layer of protection should someone come to the door unexpectedly as happened to me recently or if you are an overnight guest at a friend's house. Somehow, it just seems polite to wear a wrapper - afterall, informality should not be an excuse to be a floozy in someone else's home and in my book, there is still something to be said for modesty.
But what of the feminine dressing gown? Why has it disappeared from the lexicon of so many women's wardrobes? I can only imagine it is because life as well as clothing has become so casual these days. I've always loved lingerie mainly because it is the one remaining bastion in a woman's life where she can still exercise her love of lace, rustles, ribbons, and other purely female vestments that were once also worn on clothing's more formal, public side. The dressing gown has an enduring intimate glamour.
Many years ago, a pal and I came across quite authentic-looking kimonos. We were overcome by the vivid prints and silky tactile material. I only wore mine a few times because the extra-wide sleeves threatened to ignite from my gas stove burners while preparing breakfast and so it hung prettily on the back of my bathroom door. My friend wore hers to shreds as she traveled often with her pilot husband. He eventually bought her a real Japanese kimono that was somehow too precious to wear. But we marveled at it and wrapped ourselves in it by turns - it was just so lovely. Even today, many robes still exhibit an affinity towards exotic "Eastern" influences.
This summer while researching dressing gowns, I chanced upon a robe so dear that tears almost sprang to my eyes. It fostered so many romantic notions about what a feminine and elegant woman would wear at home in the part of her life that is special and hidden. It would be a splurge to be sure. But night after night, my fingers flew to the website that housed this beautiful garment until I realized it had to be mine. It was harebrained and frivolous but in the end, the cost didn't really break the bank too much and the joy of wearing my dressing gown has paid dividends into my metaphysical pleasure bank. I love the way the fabric trails behind me brushing my ankles as I turn the corner into the kitchen for evening tea. It elevates my ordinary even when it's laying in repose at the foot of my bed waiting serenely for the in-house heroine to give it shape.