When dressing to evoke an era of times gone by, commonly this love of the past may filter through to all aspects of our wardrobes. Vintage inspired lingerie and structure wear may often be worn beneath a vintage styled outfit; in order to emulate the desired silhouette of a particular era.
Why then not add a dash of vintage inspired glamour to our choices of nightwear and sleepwear? Often this section of our wardrobes may be overlooked, in favor of many exciting outerwear options. However, through nightwear and sleepwear, various aspects of one’s personal style tastes may be explored.
For example, various colors, prints and patterns can all be explored and expressed through nightgowns, robes and pajamas. These sleepwear styles may be chosen precisely because we may not choose to wear them as outerwear. Whilst shades of feminine pinks may not be worn during the daytime, for nightwear they may allow the wearer to express hidden aspects of their personality. Likewise, I do not own any clothing in shades of black, but for nightwear I would absolutely don a sultry black nightgown or pajama set.
1930s Old Hollywood- Screen Siren Glamour
Even though the decade of the 1930s began with the desolation of the 1929 Wall Street Crash, the 1930s were a decade of glamour. Sirens of the silver screen oozed allure, with stars such as Jean Harlow and Carole Lombard epitomizing the beauty of the era.
The bias cut gave a new fluidity to gowns, lingerie and nightwear. During the 1930s, due to Old Hollywood movies and cinema, women’s undergarments and nightgowns suddenly had a much larger audience. Now the spot light was on Jean Harlow lounging in lavish robes in movies such as ‘Platinum Blonde’.
Although white was a very fashionable color during the 1930s, here I have chosen to feature glamorous inky black shades of robes. White became popular mostly due to the movie industry, with pure whites standing out on screen in a time of black & white movies. Shades of black silks and satins were also popular, as were very pale, shining delicate shades of the subtlest pinks.
1940s Sleepwear – Femininity and Ingenuity
By the 1940s, women’s night time loungewear was available in a host of colors and patterns. No longer were there only one or two shades available to choose from, now women could have nightdresses in various shades of pastels. Some styles were even adorned with tiny floral motifs and designs.
As fabric and clothing rations were enforced, this compelled women to think about making their own nightdresses and nightwear. Designs were cut slim to the body in order to economise on fabric. Some styles that featured a long skirt would have panels cut into the skirt section to make the fabric go as far as possible.
Nightdresses were incredibly popular during the 1930s and 1940s, sometimes leaving the pajama trailing behind. From the 1930s, nightgowns and dresses featuring in movies became more lavishly decorated – in part to please the board of movie censors. However, this trend soon filtered through into the closets and nightwear of the movie-going public, desirous of decorated, feminine sleepwear.
Although rationing dominated the 1940s, women still enjoyed wearing beautiful nightdresses and nightgowns. Genuine silk was often substituted for ‘art’ artificial silk and rayon. Rayon and art silk behaved in much the same manner as real silk, and for a fraction of the cost it could imbue a sense of luxury into many women’s wardrobes.
Popular shades of 1940s nightwear include many shades of pink – in particular tea rose (a kind of antique, dusky pink). Peach, pale blue and ivory were also popular.
1950s Nightgowns- Pink, Pastels and the Perfect Boudoir
The 1950s saw new materials being utilised for nightwear, the most popular of which was Nylon. Although Nylon had been patented in the late 1930s, due to WW2 it was not freely available again until the late 1940s. By the 1950s, Nylon was used in frilly nightgowns, slips, half-slips and baby dolls.
During this decade; the slip worn beneath daywear began to develop into structure wear. The gentle caresses of the bias cut slowly started to be replaced by the firm hold of nylon and lastex.
The Baby Doll nightdress that we know today was popularized during this decade, featuring in the 1956 movie ‘Baby Doll’; worn by Carroll Baker. The Baby Doll was often sleeveless, fitted across the shoulders then skimming out over the body, falling to above the knee. The Baby Doll continued its popularity into the following decade, trimmed and adorned with ruffles, lace and bows.
Shades of pastels were very popular during the 1950s, as was the color pink. Pink had of course been a popular color choice prior to the 1950s, but in this decade the demand for pink was higher than ever. The rosy hues of the shade epitomized the optimistic mood of the era, with the boudoir being the perfect backdrop for this refreshing tone.
One of the key components of nightwear during the 1950s was the use of sheer fabrics, such as Nylon or Acetate. Pajamas were still being worn, but nightdresses and nightgowns were seen as a more glamorous option for the boudoir.
Vintage Inspired Styles of Pajamas and Robes
Nightgowns were a favored choice of sleepwear during the first half of the twentieth century. Although, pajamas were also a quietly popular option. Nightdresses were popularized by their prominence on the silver screen. Movie stars reclined and rested in their boudoirs, all attired in alluring nightdresses and robes. But for many women, pajamas were just as attractive, and wearable.
Pajamas may not have gleaned as much movie endorsement as their more glamorous cousins, the nightdress. However, robes did feature prominently on the silver screen. Robes were the perfect canvas onto which to apply lavish trimmings. Feathers, fur, lace, bows and embroideries were all used.
With these vintage inspired styles, there is an abundance of styles to choose from. Whether you favor 1950s Baby Dolls, glamorous bias cuts of the 1930s, or the tea rose rayon styles of the 1940s, create your own vintage style with these beautiful designs
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