Whether as a gift or a daily staple, a dressing gown can be far more than something you lounge around in after dark. Many of us are home now for far more hours than before. And during lockdown, we realised the inadequacy of our dressing gown situation – flimsy or too-short robes are just no good when deliveries arrive or you run out to do the bins. And there is something truly relationship-challenging about seeing your other half in an ancient dog-eared towelling dressing gown.
A dressing gown somehow needs to be practical and yet a bit uplifting, bestowing a borrowed glamour to mundane household jobs. Watching Gillian Anderson in the recent NT Live showing of A Streetcar Named Desire, we realised that some people just wear a dressing gown well, and Anderson is certainly one of them. My godmother had a never-ending supply of beautiful kimonos picked up in various countries around the world, and she would waft around in them when she got home from work, drinking a huge vodka and tonic – to me it was the height of elegance (try A Store is Born, Clarendon Street, Dublin 2, which has a great selection of vintage silk numbers).
Floating around the place in a silk kimono is the aspirational side of dressing gowns. During lockdown, we were getting dressed later, and often throwing on the nearest thing. One friend admits she often got caught short in the mornings: “The vigorous barter system amongst school mums delivering early morning drops of granola/ratatouille/plants left me feeling like Cherie Blair in that infamous 1990s photograph, all bedhair and short nightie.”
This season, there are some beautiful gowns as daywear options, too – Dries Van Noten did some vivaciously floral dressing gown dresses that just burst with joy. Sling a gown on over jeans for a gloriously decadent and individual look. As a gift, too, a great gown is hard to beat; one friend gave a Liberty dressing gown as a gift that will last forever: “It’s like wearing a garden.” Here are nine good gown upgrades, from €22.
If we had the budget or the lifestyle to carry off a full-length pure silk gown from Susan Hunter (from €290), we most definitely would. In delicate, shell-like shades of soft pink and creamy caramel, these decadent robes are very All About Eve, conducive for lounging on a chaise longue rather than emptying the dishwasher. Only slightly less decadent are the shorter versions: in black, silver or ivory, these would add an easy glamour worn with jeans for evening (€250). www.susanhunter.ie
La Perla’s wrap-style silk robes (long or short, from €252), made in Italy since the 1950s, are legendarily soft and too lovely to keep just for nighttime. At Brown Thomas.
At Marks & Spencer, you can’t go wrong with a cotton waffle dressing gown from Marks & Spencer, at €22. There are other silky lace numbers in the Rosie range too, but this one is your staple everyday robe. www.marksandspencer.com
Stable of Ireland’s linen kimono robe in 100 per cent pure Irish linen is a forever piece. Generously cut, in all-natural fabric, it’s infinitely versatile, whether for sitting outside with the Sunday papers or belted with a coloured scarf (such as Stable’s electric green linen one, pictured top of page) to change it up. Irish-made and elegant, this robe typifies what luxury means now – it will look good and last for ever. €395, www.stableofireland.com
Style editor Aislinn Coffey recommends Melissa Mills Bari’s Lugano robe in black or white is 100 per cent cotton, €65. She also suggests Irish made Moon + Mellow sustainably produced cotton pyjamas, too, in pretty, whimsical designs such as the jellyfish print. www.moonandmellow.com
The White Company has robes in everything from fluffy hydrocotton and hooded velour through to cashmere and linen, but our pick is the double cotton robe (€78), with its easy kimono shape, pockets and tie belt (and there are pyjamas to match). It has a spa feel, so we can pretend we’re heading for the sauna as we go to put the bins out. www.thewhitecompany.com
Toast’s reversible Kantha robes are handmade in India (in collaboration with a fair trade organisation) and are very beautiful, though not cheap (€325). They’re made from recycled saris and have a timeless, easy to wear feel. More accessible at €145 are the soft double cotton gowns in pale pink or blue, made from the loveliest light Indian cotton with a generous wide belt. www.toa.st.com
French brand P Le Moult (pictured above) creates unisex herringbone cotton robes with shades like shell pink or the palest sky blue (€252), or a gorgeous slate grey. The cotton is beautifully thick and hard-wearing, washes well and is hugely durable. There are also stylish long “deck gowns” that will make you feel as though you’re on board a luxury yacht somewhere in the Med. Some of the long cotton gowns are currently on sale at €156. www.shop.p-lemoult.com
In an ideal world we’d lounge around in full-length cashmere. Brora’s two-ply Scottish cashmere is weighty and gorgeous and their full-length dressing gown, in navy or rose pink, is the softest thing you can imagine, and brutally expensive at £859 on www.brora.co.uk.
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