If there’s one item that has, against all odds, remained in good favor over the course of my years at Man Repeller, it’s the humble nightgown. While it may seem like the nightgown is valued for its frilliness and meringue-lightness, the nightgown’s most important characteristic is really its night-to-day and winter-to-summer versatility. The nightgown makes transitional dressing feel smooth, the sartorial equivalent of a quick cut made in Final Cut Pro. My esteemed colleagues have styled a dozen of them for the daytime (in June 2016, August 2017, and April 2018), and Amelia even deigned to wear a few at night.
Over the last few weeks, a vintage nightgown that my grandmother gave me has become the cream of the crop that is my quarantine wardrobe, because it offers a way for me to take advantage of the upsides of being confined at home while still feeling kind of fancy. Another selling point: on Zoom calls, my nightgown—with its shoulder smocking and voluminous sleeves—just looks like an extravagant blouse. [Ed note: Edith, we def knew you were wearing a nightgown.]
Nightgowns are the good kind of double-edged-sword: you can wear them now during quarantine, and repurpose them as beach dresses and coverups down the road. (One of the best shower thoughts ever spun into a question on this website was: “Is a nightgown just a white caftan?”) In homage to the ultimate 2-in-1, genre-defying garment, Eliz C. Tamkin rounded up the best negligees on the internet. Read her recommendations below!
Sleeveless Dresses That You Can Also Sleep In
Maybe these are actual nightgowns. Maybe they’re dresses without sleeves? Either way, they’ll go wherever you want them to go, whether that’s no farther than the mailbox (throw on a nice pair of shoes, possibly) or for a longer stroll, with a couple of strands of beads and some lace-up sandals. Just think: this lace-trimmed vintage ’80s nightgown with these wrap sandals (50% off) and long beads double-wrapped around your neck!
Day Dresses for Napping Now and Partying Later
When I think of a fun day dress that can do anything, I think of Edith’s infamous Horror Vacui dress. Lounge in it now; get all dressed up in it when we’re able to hang with friends again alongside iced beverages and zested desserts. The more pattern (or color), the better—but embroidered white does the trick, too.
Tunic on the Top, Flowy on the Bottom
These are the best dresses to wear to Zoom meetings, because they look the most like put-together blouses on top. You can wear the short versions unbuttoned over a swimsuit poolside in the warm months, which is a nice bonus to daydream about.
Speaking of summer cover-ups: The best cover-up in my book is a cotton wrap dress. Like a sarong, it’s easy to throw over a wet suit—and the cotton means it should air-dry with ease.