Monday, 10 December 2012

Luxury: silk dressing gown

Long-term readers, or people who've delved into the archive, may remember this old post about my hankering for a Bertie Wooster style silk dressing gown with quilted collar and cuffs. Such things are still available, from a fairly small number of places, but cost many hundreds of pounds and often over a thousand, and even I cannot really justify that.

However, there are always ways and means, when it comes to this sort of thing, and last year I was fortunate enough to have just such a dressing gown made for me. The body is actually very fine wool, the lining a light blue silk, and the collar and cuffs also silk, painstakingly quilted and piped.
It's extraordinarily comfortable, very warm, and very beautiful. I don't know if that's particularly important given the small number of people that ever get to see it, but these days there are more occasions when wearing a dress gown to breakfast is not unacceptable, so it should at least be a nice one.

You may ask why, in this photo, I am wearing it over white tie. Well, aside from the fact that it's better than posting pictures of me in my pyjamas, and I was dressing for dinner in someone else's house, it seemed appropriate. You see, this sort of dressing gown is called a dressing gown for a reason. There is (or was) a difference between a dressing gown and a bathrobe that goes beyond the 'U/non-U', or the fact that as far I as am concerned a bathrobe is the sort of thing you only find in hotel rooms. No, a bathrobe is presumably designed to be worn while the wearer is still damp, and so is made of toweling or some other suitable material. A dressing gown, on the other hand, is intended to keep the wearing warm while dressing or undressing. It makes more sense, of course, in a time where rooms (particularly bedrooms) could be very cold, where servants might be nipping in and out, and where merely putting a shirt on could take 15 minutes and seven or eight individual pieces of gold and brass. These days, all that is less relevant, but the desire to wrap up in something warm and comfortable remains.


  1. White tie at a friend's house!? I'm intrigued, and very jealous.

  2. Where could one hae such a thing made? (If you don't mind me asking)

    1. I don't mind in the least. Your best bet is to find a reasonably enterprising tailor or seamstress, and by a tailor I don't mean a high street store who will either turn you down or charge you a huge mark-up, but an independent craftsperson with decent skill and a sewing machine. That, plus material and a pattern is all that's really needed.

      If you can find the pattern (books are available, and any ordinary dressing gown pattern will do) and material you like (there are plenty of high street and online shops selling short lengths of interesting fabrics) then they ought to be able to do the rest, charging only for their time.

      That, at any rate, is more-or-less what I did. It requires a little more input than just buying one 'off-the-peg' but that is half the fun. It is, in any case, considerably cheaper.

      I suppose one might ask why I don't do this with more of my clothes. The answer is of course that I don't require a perfectly-fitting dressing gown made from a pattern expertly cut by a master-craftsman, and fitted over two or three separate occasions with the guidance and advice of a professional.


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