Hill House Home Founder Nell Diamond on How She Came Up With The Nap Dress


(Image credit: Georgie Morley)

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Hill House Home founder Nell Diamond would like to clarify a thing or two about The Nap Dress.

No, you don't have to take a nap in the dress, but you can if you want to.

Warning: I own several Nap Dresses and may or may not have gotten some shut-eye while wearing them.

For Diamond, the name Nap Dress is meant to evoke how comfortable the garment actually is. 

"It's supposed to be the opposite of that feeling of getting home from a long day at the office and having to rip off your outside clothing because you're so uncomfortable."

While Hill House Home went viral during the pandemic with its Nap Dress, it's since expanded its fashion product range to include shoes and, most recently, outwear.

"They're the kind of jacket that you wear around and you just feel like, 'Okay, I am prepared to take on the day.'"

In the latest episode of Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr, Diamond shares how she came up with The Nap Dress, her favorite fall wardrobe essentials, and more.

For some excerpts of their interview, scroll below.

Can you explain a little bit about The Nap Dress and how it came to be?

Yes, definitely I would love to. The name is a misnomer. The first thing people always ask me when they hear "Nap Dress," they're like, "Okay, so it's a night gown," but I'm always happy to correct the record. The name Nap Dress is meant to evoke how comfortable it is.

It's supposed to be the opposite of that feeling of getting home from a long day at the office and having to rip off your outside clothing because you're so uncomfortable. You literally cannot wait to get it off.

The actual technical qualities of The Nap Dress for us is really all about the smocking. Obviously, we didn't invent smocking, right? Smocking has been around forever. For us, what it is is this specific type of smocking.

I have three kids. I've gone through a lot of pregnancies in the past couple years and even at the the height of my twin pregnancy, the smocking that we make I was able to wear the same size, despite the fact that I had literally 15 pounds of baby inside me at least.

The smocking is key to our Nap Dress. Really just that combination of practicality in the comfort in that our Nap Dresses are all machine washable and beauty at the same time. I'm definitely one of those people who think, Why shouldn't I feel super comfortable while also feeling like the best version of myself? That's something that I think resonated with with a lot of people over the past couple of years.

Did you think it was going to be the sensation that it has been?

We launched The Nap Dress in 2019, and the business started in 2016. The first couple of years of the business were really focused on very low and slow growth. Really being profitable, being responsible, finding out what our unique product market fit was. That involved a lot of testing of new products.

With The Nap Dress, in particular, we launched it I think it was June 2019. I was totally not expecting this. Totally beyond not expecting this, and I am the biggest planner. I love an Excel spreadsheet. I've got my Google Calendar all filled up. I need to know what I'm doing in like 10 minute increments, but at the same time, I always joke that we like to leave a little bit of room for Jesus.

We want to see what happens. Let things live a little bit in the world. With The Nap Dress, we got the prototypes. I was obsessed. Beyond obsessed.

I knew what this product was going to mean for me in my life. At the same time, I think I was rational enough to know that it could just be me. If people don't like it, that's fine, because I'll figure out a way to make a small enough quantity that me and three other girls in my office we're gonna wear it and that doesn't matter if nobody else likes it.

Then we launched it. For the next about two years, every single time we dropped new Nap Dresses, they sold out.

It was definitely a very exciting and humbling next couple of years as the news of the dress traveled on its own.

You're getting into outerwear this month, too. What can you tell us about this category?

I really tried to lean on intuition with these new categories and really base it off of things that I thought our community would get really excited by that I wanted in my own life. Growing up in cold, rainy London and now living in often freezing, cold New York, I love having fun coats.

I want a really, really beautiful coat that I can walk down through Washington Square Park and get absolutely poured on in. That I can ski down a mountain in and go to my son's 8 a.m. baseball game in and feel really cute, feel very presentable.

It took us quite a while to find a manufacturer that we felt really, really confident with.

I wanted to make sure they were fully technical. Not just your typical fashion puffer that looks warm but doesn't have the wind shell and isn't actually waterproof.

We put some prints on them, and they're just so fun and celebratory. They're the kind of jacket that you wear around and you just feel like, "Okay, I am prepared to take on the day."

We're also such a print-forward company that I thought it was a great opportunity to put our prints on something that doesn't traditionally have a print.

What are some of your must-have fall wardrobe essentials?

Sweaters. So very into sweaters. I really like a colorful sweater. I am a big sweater-over-the-shoulder girly. It's almost like a scarf, but it makes the outfit look really cute, and it's really fun. I love adding sweaters that pick up a different color in my outfit that day.

I'm very into socks and loafers. I recently think that I might have gotten back into cowboy boots, which I haven't been into since high school.

I walk to work every day, so I will often have a pair of commuter shoes that I get obsessed with. I'm thinking it's gonna be loafers this season, but we'll see. 

Puffers I think are huge and really good tights. If you wear dresses throughout the winter, you need really good tights, and layering pieces are very important.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Next up, check out our previous episode featuring Black Panther: Wakanda Forever costume designer Ruth E. Carter.