An Ode to Dressing Gowns

Ode to Dressing Gowns Leiden


For someone who loves getting dressed so much the one item of clothing I actually spend the most amount of time in is a dressing gown. I have six different gowns: two fluffy ones for winter, three silk ones for summer and one light wool one for in between weather.

As soon as I get out of bed I slip into one of my robes, which one depends on the weather of course, and go about the business of getting ready for the day, having breakfast, doing my makeup, selecting an outfit. Then the moment I get home I strip everything off and get back into my robe. On the rare occasion I don’t have to go anywhere on a weekend, a dressing gown will be the only garment of clothing I put on all day.

The dressing gown first became popular in the 1700s. Then known as the ‘banyan’, it was an opulent, informal garment worn by men at home. There was even a trend for Intellectual and philosophical men having their portrait painted wearing a banyan.

Founding father of the United States, and man of many professions, Benjamin Rush wrote of the banyan:

‘Loose dresses contribute to the easy and vigorous exercise of the faculties of the mind. This remark is so obvious, and so generally known, that we find studious men are always painted in gowns, when they are seated in their libraries.’

I can’t say my love of a good dressing gown is in any way associated with intellectualism and I feel if I were to have a portrait painted of me I would rather be wearing clothes in it than a robe, but I can whole heatedly agree with a dressing gown’s contribution to ease. Any pursuit is made warmer, more comfortable and might I say more snuggly, when wearing a dressing gown.


Emma Batchelor

Emma Batchelor

As well as a near obsessive interest in fashion, Emma is a former scientist, occasional contemporary dancer, avid reader and self-confessed cat lady (she has three). Emma lived in Leiden in the Netherlands as a baby and Leiden ought to have been her middle name had her mother thought of it at the time and not chosen Louise instead.

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