On a recent weekend away with a couple of girlfriends, post morning coffee, I announced I was off to get dressed. My friend looked up, confused: ‘I thought you were dressed? Do you sleep in that?’
Some collect crockery or niche miniatures but my weakness is Victorian-esque nighties: ‘that’ was a new stealth add to my collection. Pale pink, puff-sleeved with pretty pintuck and broderie anglaise details – it’s a steal at £26 from M&S. I may have also got one in white.
While I fully intend to sleep in them, I will also chuck both in my case this summer for the beach – the perfect multitasker. Before I’d finished explaining this to my friend, she’d jumped online to order both colours for herself – as daywear.
We’re not alone. Between Gen Z snapping up vintage lace-trimmed slips in charity shops and the catwalks proffering the peekaboo negligee as partywear, the fashion lines between bedwear and daywear have never felt so blurred.
At Coachella, actress and singer Zendaya wore a pink frilly slip for her guest appearance, Acne’s latest campaign features the model Devon Aoki in a frilled satin dress lying on coordinating bed sheets, while at JW Anderson’s menswear show models paraded down the catwalk clutching pillows – a trope repeated on a recent Harper’s Bazaar cover.
Jacket, £45, marksandspencer.com. Basket, £45, phase-eight.com. Shoes, £170, ancient-greeksandals.com. YOU features writer Charlotte Vossen roadtests the £26 nightie from marksandspencer.com
See also the ‘beach pyjama’ matching shorts and shirt sets (I’m a fan of Arket’s black linen co-ord, from £45, arket.com, and With Nothing Underneath’s cool blue pinstripe set, £160, withnothingunderneath.com) and also glossy, feather-edged party pyjamas (as seen on Succession actress J Smith-Cameron) for nights out.
This trend for bedwear-inspired fashion has been growing over the past few seasons but comes into its own when the days get hotter, and the lure of waft and ease becomes essential.
I’ve long been a fan of the pretty Victorian cotton styles from English Rose Linens, especially its lovely coloured floral embroidered details (from £22, englishroselinens.co.uk), and Lunn Antiques (from £27, lunnantiques.com). The sleeveless versions make sweet beach-day throw-ons.
There is also a clutch of newer, design-led brands exploring this idea of bedwear for day.
Faune, launched in 2017 initially with a range of kidswear, was the brainchild of two school friends, Nicola Niblett and Delia Moulding, who’d left their jobs in fashion and advertising respectively and saw a gap in the market for cotton children’s nightwear.
‘Nobody was doing that kind of old-fashioned nightie,’ says Niblett, whose collection of vintage pieces from Parisian flea markets gave her inspiration.
In 2020, they expanded into womenswear and have had huge success, with repeated designs selling out.
‘Wearing nightwear for the day has been our mantra from day one. Our customers tell us that it’s too pretty to keep for bed,’ Niblett says of her hand-drawn designs. The ethereal, timeless pieces all come with exquisite details.
Earrings, £135, assuwa.co.uk. Bangle, £225, carouseljewels. com. Bag, £40, Accessorize, next. co.uk. Shoes, £390, loeffler randall.com
The Camelia (£185, faune.co.uk), with extravagant cotton lace sleeves and flattering deep V-neck and back, is the first dress they created and still one of their bestselling designs. I love the Vintage Rose and new Terracotta colour. Also available are simple slips to wear under the more transparent white cotton voile dresses.
If Only If is another small label that takes its cue from traditional styles, but with a modern twist. It’s run by Emily Campbell, who took over from her mother in 2020 (‘We come from a family of nightdress obsessives,’ she says). The hand-smocked, cotton blousy pieces – available in sizes 6-24, and for children – are ideal for blistering summer days.
‘I think today’s women are looking for investment pieces,’ says Campbell, ‘items they can wear over again, and in multiple ways. Our customers like the nighties as day dresses or for special occasions, and we’ve even had
WE’VE EVEN HAD A CUSTOMER GET MARRIED IN ONE OF OUR NIGHTIES
a customer get married in one.’ The writer Pandora Sykes is a fan: ‘They’re so forgiving – floaty and feminine without being girlish or prissy. I wear mine around the house, on the beach and by the pool. They’re wasted on mere beds.’
Also worth a look is Sleeper, the cult Ukrainian brand, whose linen, puff-sleeved Atlanta dress, £267 (net-a-porter.com), in various colours and prints, has become a fashion favourite. It’s these perennial designs that are at the core of this style of dressing – they’re shapes you’ll want to revisit every summer. Equally, a nightie you can wear year-round – in bed through winter, then on the beach on holiday – creates space for more workhorse wardrobe pieces. If you prefer a minimal feel, Desmond & Dempsey’s linen slip dresses, in block colour and the label’s unique prints, are a cool statement.
Finally, for something white hot, Hill House Home has brought its bestselling Nap dresses to the UK. At a dinner for the launch earlier this summer, guests including Princess Beatrice came decked out in all their floral finery (founder Nell Diamond describes them as her ‘Victorian ghosts’). Slung over each diner’s chair was an extravagant lace cape, with their initials on the back.
Which really was a sight going back home on the tube.
£35, Ghost x M&S, marksandspencer.com
DAY TO NIGHTIES