I’ve always had a soft spot for ethereal and romantic vintage nightgowns. You know the kind. Those long, breezy, dreamy Victorian white cotton dresses, gently adorned with lace or frills that you’d see the likes of Elizabeth Bennett write letters in by candlelight. Who would have thought 200 years later, these breezy dresses would be one of 2020’s biggest Instagram trends?
For those of you who have been sleeping through most of 2020 (I wouldn’t blame you), nap dresses have been causing quite the buzz this year—a moniker created by Nell Diamond, founder of Hill House Home, who wanted to cultivate her personal aesthetic that she refers to as “victorian ghost.” And then the infamous nap dress came to fruition. The trend has skyrocketed in popularity ever since the pandemic hit, as the fashion set continue to crave a comfortable yet stylish alternative to their sweats at home—leaning into the romantic cottagecore trend.
Don’t take the name too literally, though. While you could theoretically wear a nap dress to bed, it’s not solely a nightgown. The idea is that these dresses can be slipped on without fuss, are comfortable and non-restrictive, can be worn without a bra, and tend to suit all body shapes. They blur the lines between what you might wear to bed and what you might wear to a fancy brunch.
As someone who barely gets much sleep and certainly never takes a nap (I have a full-time job and a full-time toddler!), there is certainly a soothing allure and escapism to nap dresses—perhaps that’s why I can’t seem to get enough of them. Lucky for me they’re sticking around next year too. We’ve spotted nightgown-style dresses all over the S/S 21 runways—from Copenhagen to Milan.
Photo:Skall Studio, Copenhagen Fashion Week S/S 2021
Since my love for nap dresses runs deep below, I wanted to share some of my absolute favorites that I’ve been working from home in, slipping on with Birkenstocks to run errands in, doing laundry in, watching Netflix in, and yes, sleeping in too.
The name of the brand says it all! Sleeper’s nightdresses have become a social media sensation this year, perhaps because of their versatility in that they can be worn from bed to a black-tie event or thrown over a bikini on vacation or styled with a pair of wellies and rain boots in fall. The options are endless. Their pretty, vintage-inspired designs certainly cater to my inner Jane Eyre. This season, I’ve been pairing mine with a cozy cable knit as the temps are starting to cool.
Dôen’s dresses are what cottagecore dreams are made of! I’ve been a huge fan of their floaty, romantic, and vintage-inspired silhouettes ever since they launched. While they do have a selection of nostalgic nightgowns, I would say practically any of their dresses are ideal if you’re looking for something easy, effortless, and non-restrictive to throw on at home or outdoors. (I also loved the ease of them through my pregnancy). The Clementine dress I’m wearing below is super soft and the Liberty print is so charming.
I'm utterly in love with Hill House Homes' collection of graceful nap dresses—but it's The Caroline, in particular, that wins my heart. Everything from its Victorian-inspired smocked neckline, pretty puff sleeves, and its breezy silhouette is everything I want in a nap dress. Moreover, it's ideal for wearing all day and night.
Etsy is a treasure trove when it comes to finding vintage-inspired nightdresses. This one is a really special find from my very own vintage shop that I founded this year. I love the delicate lace detailing on the neckline and sleeves, and the peach hue is so pretty. It’s also easy to take outdoors with the addition of a pair of cool beige hiking boots and a chunky cardigan.
Shop More of My Favorite Nap Dresses
Puff sleeves are a charming addition.
Ideal for the colder months ahead.
The easiest way to becoming a modern Elizabeth Bennett.
It was only a matter of time until Faithfull the Brand forayed into nightdresses.
As seen on all our favorite fashion girls on Instagram.
The embroidery adds a pretty, vintage-inspired touch.
Effortless (and affordable!).
When I’m not lounging in this, I’ll be styling it with a basket bag and knee-high boots.
Layer a tissue-think turtleneck underneath once the temps start to drop.
The OG nap dress gets a floral update.