STYLE SPECIAL: R K WILLIAMS
In an era when the dressing gown was a sartorial symbol of the languid high life, Noel Coward was seldom seen out of one. After falling out of favour in recent years, Q&C's resident stylist R K Williams tells us why 2018 is the year when the dressing gown makes its comeback.
In the past every discerning gentleman owned a dressing gown, especially in one of the grand country houses to keep them warm from the drafts. Unfortunately we don’t glide around country estates anymore, well most of us don’t, so there seems to be no need anymore for this once elegant accessory to every man’s wardrobe. Nowadays the once stylish robe had been reduced to something we merely throw around us when we get out of the bath. A functioning accessory in our modern paced life that no longer has any real sartorial choice other than to serve as a big towel.
Before this once luxury piece of clothing slides into oblivion lets discuss its merits. It might even inspire you to go out and buy one, if not only for the pleasure and elegance being wrapped in its sumptuous silks and brocades will bring you.
The dressing gowns history dates back to the 17th century, when they were inspired by the oriental robes of the East and often cut loose in extravagant fabrics. They would be simply tied and worn indoors over clothing. It wasn’t until the 19th century that we see the shape evolving into what we’re familiar with today. These robes were made from wool and their main function was to keep gentleman warm while at home. They were highly decorated with velvet collars and cuffs and often the most flamboyant item of most gentlemen’s wardrobes.
The dressing gowns of the 20th century became longer in length, reaching almost to the floor in softer fabrics such as silk. These would be worn over a shirt and trousers, sometimes with a cravat in both the morning and evening, as epitomised by the image of Noel Coward lounging elegantly upon a chaise loungue and a cigarette nonchalantly between his fingers. It was a timeless piece of clothing that said to the world I’ve time on my hands to relax. Times changed though, and they soon fell out of favour in the style stakes. But now they're back, and more stylish as ever before, as Q&C's choice below illustrates.
I'd avoid most of the high-street brands, as most are made from synthetic fabrics and as such lack any hint of real style about them. If you want to capture a little essence of the past, and wrap yourself in a nostalgic gown of fabulous brocade, then try to be a bit more adventurous.
The following brands offer the types of robe that would not be out of place in a Sherlock Holmes novel. Some of these dressing gowns come with hefty price tags, but it’s an investment worth making, something that will last a lifetime, maybe even an heirloom to pass on to another budding dandy. But if you can’t stretch to such extravagance the other option is to scour Ebay where you can find lots of vintage dressing gowns to look at, and you never know, you might just find the perfect one for you.
New & Lingwood offers extravagant dressing gowns at extravagant prices but worth every penny and certainly an investment piece to throw on when you get invited to some ancestral estate.
Pink Hummingbird Unlined Silk Dressing Gown £995.00
Baturina Homewear is a company that makes flamboyant dressing gowns at an affordable price; you can even customise your own, choosing fabrics and trim in a made to order service. They come highly recommended and affordable so you can save some extra cash and spend it on an overnight trip to Venice on the Orient Express. I can’t think of a better place to wear such a piece in one of those finely upholstered couchettes.
Long Dark Blue Silk Luxury Dressing Gown (left) €310.00
Daniel Hanson at Harrods. Beautifully crafted dressing gowns in paisley silk jacquard and brocade. The prices are a bit eye popping but once you see the gowns you will melt, they are utter indulgence and worth every penny. Hand crafted in England and featuring shawl lapels, wide patch pockets and adorned with opulent prints, they're the perfect accessory for a night at The Ritz!
Daniel Hanson Peacock Silk Robe £1,795.00
Sir Plus captures the spirit of the Bloomsbury Set at Charleston with their elegant dressing gowns that are cut for comfort in lavish surplus materials. Our favourite is the Liberty Benjamin Print Dressing Gown in soft cotton with contrast piping and navy cotton lining, the perfect lounge robe for a lazy Sunday morning with a book.
Liberty Benjamin Print Dressing Gown £165.00