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Style Defined: Dressing Gown

January 18th, 2017

A history of the dressing gown and why it’s different than a bathrobe

When discussing clothing, the articles that aren’t actually seen are often glossed over and forgotten. But if you want to start your day like a true gentleman, style starts before you slide into that suit.

And I’m not even talking underwear and undershirts here – I’m talking earlier in your dressing routine than that. Today, we’re talking about the dressing gown.


Though now largely forgotten, dressing gowns were a once standard, not to mention fashionable, garment. In the 17th century, a robe-style coat called a ‘Banyan’ was all the rage, and is often credited as the first case of European fashion borrowing directly from other cultures.

Mimicking the robe-like garments that were standard in Persian and Asian cultures, banyans were loose and comfortable pieces of outerwear that offered men two distinct advantages.

First, this was a time when customs required that men dress in stiff and restrictive formal attire when they left the house. The dressing gown became a leisurely alternative for those times when a man wanted to be comfortable in his own home, but still presentable to house guests and family.


| PICTURED | Derek Rose dressing gown, J.Crew pajamas, Vintage silk scarf and Comoy pipe | PHOTOGRAPHY | by Rob McIver Photo

Second, this was also a time when the standard colorways for western men’s clothing were most often somber and dull. Dressing gowns once again borrowed from Eastern cultures and incorporated ornate fabrics in bold colors. As such, they offered a rare opportunity for men of the time to inject a punch of pizzazz into their attire.

Over time, sitting around the house in a robe became seen as less of a sign of luxury and wealth and more of a sign of laziness, which led to dressing gowns falling out of favor with the general public. Instead, they were replaced by the more functional bathrobe.


Unlike the expensive and intricate silk designs, bathrobes are defined by the thicker, absorbent material that allows the garment to double as a towel. Useful, yes, but definitely not as stylish as their more refined predecessor.

However, while not nearly as common, dressing gowns can still be found, and are treasured by many stylish gents who still take pleasure in distinctive, sophisticated relaxation.

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Adam Lehman
He Spoke Style

Photo of Adam Lehman

Adam Lehman

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