10 Exquisite Victorian Dressing Gowns — Slipping Into Something More Comfortable

After an evening spent at the opera or the ball in a tight-laced corsetted gown, perhaps Victorian ladies were a little more than relieved to slip into something more comfortable when they arrived home.

Queen (magazine) of 1881, now known as Harper’s Bazaar, observed the growing popularity of dressing gowns:

It is so much the fashion for young ladies to meet in their rooms, after they have seemingly retired to rest, that very smart dressing-gowns are brought into requisition, and flannel is forsaken for more dressy materials.

Our first example is the quintessential dressing gown of the mid- to late-Victorian era, complete with paisley pattern, military-style cuffs, and cord belt. The teal color runs through the pattern, cord, and lining.

Dressing gown ca. 1875 American Wool, silk metmuseum
Dressing gown ca. 1875 American Wool, silk, metmuseum
Dressing gown ca. 1875 American Wool, silk, metmuseum (back)
Dressing gown ca. 1875 American Wool, silk, metmuseum (back)
Dressing gown ca. 1875 American Wool, silk, metmuseum (detail showing lining)
Dressing gown ca. 1875 American Wool, silk, metmuseum (detail showing lining)

Our next example was a popular style when it became acceptable to receive intimate guests at home in an informal manner. The fabric is more distinctive than the above paisley pattern and the form is more elegant. It was considered equivalent to a man’s banyan or smoking jacket.

Dressing Gown 1880-85 American Wool, Silk, metmuseum
Dressing Gown 1880-85 American Wool, Silk, metmuseum
Dressing Gown 1880-85 American Wool, Silk, metmuseum
Dressing Gown 1880-85 American Wool, Silk, metmuseum
Dressing Gown 1880-85 American Wool, Silk, metmuseum
Dressing Gown 1880-85 American Wool, Silk, metmuseum

Our third example is a sophisticated dressing gown of beautiful colors. The intricate back, with its horizontal ruffles, is reminiscent of the 1870s bustle. The complex back is sewn from four pieces starting at the shoulder seam, with a gradual flare to the hem.

Dressing gown 1865-75 American Wool, silk, metmuseum
Dressing gown 1865-75 American Wool, silk, metmuseum
Dressing gown 1865-75 American Wool, silk, metmuseum
Dressing gown 1865-75 American Wool, silk, metmuseum
Dressing gown 1865-75 American Wool, silk, metmuseum
Dressing gown 1865-75 American Wool, silk, metmuseum

Our last example is an expensive, custom-made wool garment which belonged to a fashionable woman. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the evidence of high craftsmanship is in the skill, time, and extra material it would have taken to precisely place the stripe at the sleeve ends and match at the seams.

Dressing gown 1885–90 European wool, metmuseum
Dressing gown 1885–90 European wool, metmuseum
Dressing gown 1885–90 European wool, metmuseum
Dressing gown 1885–90 European wool, metmuseum

Other examples of Victorian dressing gowns

Dressing gown, c.1850, American, Silk, cotton. metmuseum
Dressing gown, c.1850, American, Silk, cotton. metmuseum
Dressing gown, c.1850, American, Silk, cotton. metmuseum
Dressing gown, c.1850, American, Silk, cotton. metmuseum
Dressing gown, c.1850, American, Silk, cotton. metmuseum
Dressing gown, c.1850, American, Silk, cotton. metmuseum
Dressing gown, c.1855, American, metmuseum
Dressing gown, c.1855, American, metmuseum
Dressing gown, c.1855, American, metmuseum
Dressing gown, c.1855, American, metmuseum
Dressing gown, c.1855, American, metmuseum
Dressing gown, c.1855, American, metmuseum
Dressing gown, 1880-90, American, wool, metmuseum
Dressing gown, 1880-90, American, wool, metmuseum
Dressing gown, 1880-90, American, wool, metmuseum
Dressing gown, 1880-90, American, wool, metmuseum
Dressing gown 1860s American, Cotton, silk, metmuseum
Dressing gown 1860s American, Cotton, silk, metmuseum
Dressing gown, c.1872, American, Silk, wool, cotton, metmuseum
Dressing gown, c.1872, American, Silk, wool, cotton, metmuseum
Dressing gown 1870s American Linen, cotton, metmuseum
Dressing gown 1870s American Linen, cotton, metmuseum

Vintage Dressing Gowns on EBay
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A Dressing Gown Poem

Outside in my dressing gown by Liz Cowley.

I’m outside in my dressing gown —
I often am at half past seven,
when plants are sometimes waking up.
To me, that is a time of heaven.

The builders on the roof next door
were once surprised to see me there,
amazed to watch me pottering
in slippers and with unbrushed hair.

Thank God they’ve learned to look away,
accepting there’s a nut next door
who’s up and out and not yet dressed —
they don’t look startled any more.

They do their own thing, I do mine —
they glance at me, then look away.
I’m glad they have accepted it —
the way I like to start the day.

For Kindle eBook, click here.


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Edwardian Dreams by Charles Courtney Curran

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