What Are the Different Types of Nightgowns?

Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes

Nightgowns are nighttime apparel commonly worn by women. They are loose-fitting and usually made in the shape of a dress or gown.

Chemises are a fairly popular type of nightgown.
Chemises are a fairly popular type of nightgown.

Nightgowns, pajamas, nightshirts, and other types of night wear were unheard of up through the Middle Ages, when people usually just slept in the nude. The beginning of the textile industry brought long, heavy nightgowns and nightshirts. The original nightgowns, worn by both men and women, were shaped in the same way as a man's shirt, though longer, usually hanging down to the knees. In 17th century Europe, inspired by Asian influences, a type of dressing gown or banyan was popular with both men and women. Often made of silk, and fashioned after the Japanese kimono, banyans were used as nightgowns as well as casual lounge wear for the affluent.

Satin is a common material used to make nightgowns.
Satin is a common material used to make nightgowns.

Today, there is a plethora of nightdresses of all shapes, sizes, colors, and fabrics, usually worn by women. The long garments worn by men are primarily known as nightshirts today. Perhaps the first images in one's mind when considering nightgowns are silky, sheer teddy and baby doll type gowns and negligees, or floor length satin peignoirs, all of which are usually associated with newlyweds, honeymoons, and feeling sexy. These colorful and revealing gowns are created and worn to make a woman feel attractive and seductive; they are not normally designed for protection or warmth, but rather, for beauty.

"Baby doll" nightgowns, chemises, and negligees are usually sleeveless with thin straps or none at all, and the skirt part of the gown hangs down only to about the hips. Teddies are actually not gowns at all; rather, they are shaped more like a leotard or swimsuit. Floor length peignoirs are usually made of a sheer material, have spaghetti straps, and are close fitted. Yet each of these types of gowns is often used just on special occasions. For everyday use, it seems the most popular style of nightgown is the knee-length variety.

Depending on the type of fabric used, nightgowns vary almost as much as regular clothing. Cotton versions are some of the most popular, with a large variety of cottons, from thin summer gowns with little or no sleeves to heavy flannel button-ups with long sleeves for cold, winter nights. Nightgowns can also be made of silk, satin, and nylon, to name a few. Most women find they enjoy a variety of nightgowns. Their collection might include a lace or silky nightgown for feeling sexy, a flannel nightgown to take away the chill of winter, and a few comfortable cotton gowns for simply sleeping comfortably.

The traditional kimono -- still worn in Japan -- has influenced many types of clothing, including the banyan.
The traditional kimono -- still worn in Japan -- has influenced many types of clothing, including the banyan.
Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes

Paulla is a freelance writer and website editor who currently lives in Maine. Paulla has a B.A. in English Literature from George Mason University and over 15 years of experience as a freelancer. She relishes the flexibility and consistency of working on wiseGEEK articles, as well as the opportunity to constantly learn something new.

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Discussion Comments


Moldova-I love Victoria's Secret. I usually wait for the semi annual sale and stock up.

Another suggestion for you to consider is the Eileen West nightgowns. These nightgowns are made of 100% cotton and they are so soft and luxurious but does it matter what style you buy for your wife, she will love it.

These nightgowns usually range in price from $50 to about $90. I have one of those nightgowns and it's my absolute favorite, so you can't go wrong with an Eileen West nightgown. There is a site called Serene Comfort where you can buy Eileen West along with other designer lingerie.


Mattwj- That is really nice that you want to get your wife a nightgown. Floor length ladies nightgowns are very elegant nightgowns for women.

If you go to a store like Victoria's Secret, you should be able to find a wide variety of ladies nightgowns such as, long sleeve nightgowns, lace nightgowns and even sleeveless nightgowns with spaghetti straps.

Depending on the style that you're looking for, you should be able to find many women's nightgowns that range in price from $30 to over $100. In addition, you might be able to find some romantic perfume and body lotion that would be a nice additional gift with the nightgown.

Victoria's Secret is one of the premier stores that sell nightgowns for women. You should definitely give them a try.


My wife is 5' 9" tall. I am looking for an attractive floor length night gown that actually goes *to the floor*!

How can I search for such? All "floor length" night gowns are a minimum of 6" too short.

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