Saturday, 11 December 2010

Gifts, gowns and men's Christmas style

Have any of the men in your household asked for a dressing gown for Christmas? Dressing gowns started out as exclusively male garments, so it’s strange that more women than men seem to wear them today.

I carried out some research into this much loved item of clothing and discovered the following:

The first type of gown was a loose open fronted robe, belted at the waist, and called a ‘banyan’ (meaning ‘merchant’). It was introduced from the mid-17th century, based on clothing styles from Persia, Turkey and East India.

One of the earliest mentions of a dressing gown comes from Samuel Pepys, who wanted to be depicted in his portrait in a silk gown but couldn't afford one, and so rented one instead:

“Thence home and eat one mouthful, and so to Hale's and there sat till almost quite dark upon working my gowne, which I hired to be drawn (in) it—an Indian gown, and I do see all the reason to expect a most excellent picture of it.” Diary, 30 March 1666.

During the Crimean war, when smoking became fashionable, the smoking jacket emerged as an exotic alternative to the informal long robe. The smoking jacket was traditionally oriental in style, with quilted lining and/or lapels and extravagant twisted silk button hooks.

Then came the silk dressing gown, as popularized by Noel Coward, along with the wool, or cotton-blanket, and cotton varieties - with piped collars and tassel-trimmed or cord tie belts. Shorter designs were introduced when central heating became more common.

The modern dressing gown is often referred to as a ‘bathrobe’ and is usually made from cotton towelling, waffle fabric or thinner cotton poplin, though the retro look is making something of a comeback.

That just about covers the history of the dressing gown. However, what you really ought to know is what your dressing gown reveals about you. Men, if you’re brave enough, read The Dabbler’s official dressing gown guide to find out what your dressing gown says about your personality.

You’ll probably decide you want something else for Christmas, in which case we’ve an array of very original men’s gifts at ShopCurious.

Anyway, I sincerely hope that you, the family and the pets enjoy an appropriately dressy (and warm) Christmas without any undue sartorial embarrassment...

Will you?

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