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Night Gown

1707-1708 (woven), 1707-1720 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

In the 17th and 18th centuries a nightgown was not a garment worn to bed but a version of the modern dressing gown. Donned over breeches and a shirt, the night gown was worn upon arising in the morning and before dressing in the formal clothes required for public activities. At the end of the day, many men removed their coats and waistcoats, and put on a night gown for relaxing in private at home.

The style of this example is inspired by the Japanese kimono, which first appeared in western Europe in the 1650s. Japanese shoguns gave kimonos to members of the Dutch East India Company as gifts. They became popular garments in Europe and the demand for kimonos soon outstripped the supply from Japan. By the 1670s English tailors were making kimono-style night gowns from fashionable European silks.

The design of this particular silk is known has become known as ‘bizarre’, a style fashionable between 1700 and 1710. Its characteristic combination of a variety of unrelated architectural and floral motifs of illogical sizes, in very large pattern repeats. In this design, a balustrade and half an arch are joined with exotic flowers.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Silk satin, interlined with wool, and lined with silk
Brief Description
Man's night gown, 1707-1720, English, of blue satin with bizarre design woven 1707-1708c, Spitalfields
Physical Description
Man's blue satin figured night gown with yellow and various shades of pink silk, interlined with wool and lined with yellow silk. Designed to fit loosely about the body. Opens down the front without fastenings. The full width of the silk is used in continuous lengths to form each front and back without shoulder seams. Additional width is created by the insertion of gussets at the sides. Each gusset is pieced together.



Some shaping has been introduced in the side seams under the arms by taking a maximum of 2.5 inches out under the arms which tapers to nothing where the full width of the silk is used from about hip level to the hem.



The sleeves are cut from about 1.5 widths of silk using the excess width of material at the shoulders to create the upper sleeves, and the remainder is formed from the addition of a full width folded widthwise.



There are only three main seams in the garment, the centre back and two side seams which continue to form both sleeve seams under the arm. A small upright collar (3 inches high x 7 inches long) is attached at the neck. The lining is cut in the same manner as the outer silk, all the inside seams match those on the outside.



The outer silk has a 'bizarre' design of a balustrade and half an arch in yellow on a light blue ground. Exotic flowers in 2 shades of pink sprout from the balustrade. As front and back are cut as one the pattern goes up the back over the shoulders and down the front.



Satin of 5 with every 4th thread used also for binding the pattern in 4/1 twill. There is no separate ground weft but 2 pattern wefts, one yellow and one changing as required by the pattern from pale to deep pink.



Thread count of 128 to inch approx.

Decoupure of 5.
Dimensions
  • Repeat length: 18cm
  • Repeat width: 9in
  • Repeat length: 46cm
  • Repeat width: 22.8cm
  • Collar to hem length: 62.5in
  • Collar to hem length: 158cm
  • Including sleeves width: 66in
  • Including sleeves width: 167.5cm
  • Under arms width: 30in
  • Under arms width: 76.2cm
  • Silk width: 18.5in
  • Silk width: 47cm
Summary
In the 17th and 18th centuries a nightgown was not a garment worn to bed but a version of the modern dressing gown. Donned over breeches and a shirt, the night gown was worn upon arising in the morning and before dressing in the formal clothes required for public activities. At the end of the day, many men removed their coats and waistcoats, and put on a night gown for relaxing in private at home.



The style of this example is inspired by the Japanese kimono, which first appeared in western Europe in the 1650s. Japanese shoguns gave kimonos to members of the Dutch East India Company as gifts. They became popular garments in Europe and the demand for kimonos soon outstripped the supply from Japan. By the 1670s English tailors were making kimono-style night gowns from fashionable European silks.



The design of this particular silk is known has become known as ‘bizarre’, a style fashionable between 1700 and 1710. Its characteristic combination of a variety of unrelated architectural and floral motifs of illogical sizes, in very large pattern repeats. In this design, a balustrade and half an arch are joined with exotic flowers.
Bibliographic Reference
North, Susan. (2020). Indian Gowns and Banyans — New Evidence and Perspectives. Costume, 54 (1). pp. 30-55. DOI: 10.3366/cost.2020.0142
Collection
Accession Number
T.281-1983

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record createdAugust 30, 2005
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