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Fashion: Nightgowns

Types of night wear popular in the Georgian era

What do you imagine our heroes and heroines wearing to bed or when lounging before/after sleep?

There were several options, depending on the weather/temperature and need for modesty. A few options included:

  • Chemise: sack shape, low neckline, short sleeves, above the knee, linen (synonymous with “shirt”)

  • Shift: straight cut to form, low neckline, sleeveless/short sleeves, below the knee, linen

  • Night rail: shapeless, high collar, long sleeves, below the knee, cotton

  • Nightshirt: long sleeves, knee length, linen

  • Dressing gown/Wrapper: high collar, long sleeves, ankle length, silk or flannel

  • Banyan: kimono-style dressing gown of calf-length or longer, silk, flannel, velvet, cotton, or wool

Most often, our heroes and heroines would have layered, such as a gentleman wearing his breeches and shirt beneath his banyan throughout the evening, and then at bedtime, removing the banyan and breeches but keeping the shirt.

Our heroines would have worn a night rail, nightshirt, shift, or chemise beneath their dressing gown, wrapper, or banyan then removed the dressing gown before bed. Both sexes likely would have worn a nightcap to keep the head warm and the hair mostly styled.

Morning dress was usually a variation of these options but more formal, such as the woman adding loose-fitting stays for more modesty, not to mention stockings.

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