Embracing Vintage Glamour in Loungewear

Dominique de Merteuil By Dominique de Merteuil7 min read

Last updated on September 1st, 2023 at 08:56 am

Don’t be the ‘Woman in a Dressing Gown’

This post is for fashion enthusiasts who have an appreciation for retro and vintage fashion styles, particularly those interested in incorporating Old Hollywood Glamour into their loungewear.

If you have a penchant for comfort, style and vintage sophistication, and you spend copious amounts of time at home, you simply must consider a vintage hostess gown or a kimono robe as an integral part of your wardrobe.

I’ve been mainly working from home due to severe back problems that have confined me to bed for most of the year. Despite the effort it takes to complete even the smallest tasks, I always strive to maintain high standards and look my best. After all, I never know when a friend might pay an unexpected, but always welcome visit.

Occasionally, when I feel unmotivated and the phrase ‘Why should I bother?’ springs to mind, I quickly remind myself that slothfulness may lead to me ending up looking like the tragic character in the 1957 Kitchen Sink drama, “The Woman in a Dressing Gown.” Instead, I put on my most glamorous vintage loungewear and pretend to be an Old Hollywood movie star.

Wearing a fabulous vintage garment around the house helps with my mood, and keeps my creative juices flowing. I also like to believe that it helps ease my lower back pain.

Glamorous vintage loungewear.
Vintage glamour in loungewear.

Old Hollywood Chic: Vintage Glamour in Loungewear

A brief history of the hostess gown-The epitome of (vintage) glamorous loungewear

history of the hostess gown
Hostess gowns designed by Adrian for the 1952 film, Lovely to Look At.
  • During the early days of hostess gowns, they were fashioned in a robe-like manner, complete with a voluminous kimono. These gowns were typically worn over (silk) pyjamas or long nightgowns and were intended solely for lounging around the house or entertaining family and guests. It was a Hollywood trend that only a select few women could afford to partake in.
  • In the 1930s, the hostess gown concept grew to encompass a variety of styles, including house robes, house dresses, pyjamas, and eveningwear. The “hostess” moniker became a catch-all phrase that lost its original meaning, signifying anything elegant and suitable for at-home lounging.
  • Moving into the 1940s, hostess gowns had become formal dresses that could be worn in the evening, regardless of the location. Some dress designers made lace duster jackets that paired well with long dresses, allowing for versatility in both daytime and evening wear. By the 1950s, the “modern woman” had begun to combine the dress with a pair of capri pants. This trend was popularized by Lucille Ball, who frequently hosted house parties on-screen in I Love Lucy (‘Lucy Gets a Paris Gown’ S5. E20, 1956) while sporting a large black lace robe over a pair of slacks.
  • In the 1960s, people started to don their finest cocktail dresses at house parties instead. However, according to an article from 1972, the trend for loungewear didn’t fade away.

Hostess dresses don’t stay home any more, They really aren’t meant to. They aren’t filmy and edged in marabou, nor are they something you throw on in a hurry when you’ve just come out of the shower and the doorbell rings. Not bathrobe and not ballgown, they have some of the advantages of each. They’re easy to get into like a bathrobe and often are as festive as a ballgown. They’re made by Madison Avenue’s negligee and robe manufacturers and sold in robe departments and have been making new friends steadily for a number of reasons, the best being that they are usually a good deal less expensive than comparable styles in dress departments. This is primarily because labor costs are lower for what is still technically considered intimate apparel than for outerwear. The long‐term switch from bath‐and‐boudoir styling to at‐home clothes to styles that can be worn outside the home has accelerated in recent seasons. (…) The dividing line between lounge wear and dresses becomes fainter.

The New York Times By Bernadine Morris
Feb. 22, 1972

SHOP VINTAGE LOUNGEWEAR



Lucille Ball in Glamorous Loungewear

On numerous occasions in the television series I Love Lucy, the fabulous Lucille Ball wore an exquisite sheer lace full-length hostess gown encrusted with sparkling rhinestones, paired with comfortable lounging slacks beneath.

The ensemble, masterfully crafted by designer Elois Jenssen, exuded a captivating blend of glamour and playfulness, making for a truly memorable and iconic fashion statement.

glamorous vintage loungewear
Lucille Ball in a fabulous hostess gown. ‘Lucy Gets a Paris Gown’ S5.E20

How to Channel Vintage Glamour Through Loungewear

Comfort and style don’t have to be mutually exclusive when it comes to vintage or contemporary loungewear if you know what to look for! When shopping for vintage garments, I always find inspiration in the Golden Age of Hollywood and occasionally my favourite TV shows.

The star of this post is a glamorous 195os hostess gown, the ultimate loungewear, worthy of Joan Crawford, but I was inspired by the gown Rose Weissman wore in the first season of the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

Something tells me that Rose wouldn’t be caught dead entertaining guests in a hostess gown, no matter how exquisite it was, unless she was back in Paris. After all, everything goes in gay Paris. I, on the other hand, am perfectly content with the notion of receiving friends while wearing spectacular loungewear such as a hostess gown or a kimono robe.

glamorous vintage loungewear
True vintage loungewear. 1950s hostess gown in the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

THE HOLY GRAIL OF VINTAGE FASHION


A Vintage Hostess Gown is the Most Glamorous Form of Loungewear


The exquisite beauty of vintage hostess gowns often lies in their intricate embroidery, delicate lace, and beading, a testament to the unparalleled skill and attention to detail of the era in which they were crafted. These gowns, even in their simple form, exude an air of luxury and quality that is difficult to find in modern fashion.

Why should you invest in a vintage hostess gown?

Indulging in a vintage hostess gown enables one to showcase its individuality and distinct style. These exquisite gowns are ideal attire for sophisticated cocktail parties or themed occasions, as they instantly transport you to a different era, making a memorable impact that lasts.

So, next time you take centre stage as a hostess, consider stepping back in time and embracing the everlasting beauty of the vintage hostess gown – an invitation to elegance.

vintage glamour in loungewear

THE 1950s HOSTESS GOWN

The ultimate loungewear glamour comes in the form of a 1950s hostess gown in salmon pink, adorned with frog buttons and a slightly provocative front split.

I found this rare beauty on Etsy, which is where I buy most of my vintage garments. Aimee, the owner of AimeeBlueVintage has many wonderful vintage treasures, and I will be checking her store regularly with the hope of finding yet another hostess gown.


In twentieth-century fashion, glamour had its cliches: glitter, fur and slinky dresses, hothouse flowers and a slash of bright red lips. Glamour was about luxury and excess. It spoke of power, sexuality and transgression. It could also be about pleasure, the sensuousness of fur, silk and rich fabrics, the heady sensuality and reveries of perfume

Glamour: Women, History, Feminism by Carol Dyhouse

Can you tell that I sell dreams and illusions?

Photography by Gregory Michael King

Glamorous vintage loungewear

glamorous loungewear. vintage hostess gown

Glamour cannot exist without personal social envy being a common and widespread emotion. The industrial society which has moved towards democracy and then stopped half way is the ideal society for generating such an emotion.

John Berger, Ways of Seeing

OLD HOLLYWOOD LOUNGEWEAR FOR THE RETRO QUEEN

Designed by the Velvet Zephyr



Elevate Your Loungewear Game with a Kimono Robe

I love vintage kimono robes and I’m always on a hunt for one in an interesting colour and pattern to add to my collection.

A while back, I wrote a post on a 1930s kimono robe with a modern twist and here is an image of me wearing it.


I always take this 1930s kimono robe with me when I travel. Sometimes, I wear it only around a hotel room, other times I wear it to breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant. This picture was taken during my perfect weekend in Krakow.

I paired this beauty with Gilda & Pearl silk pyjamas and a pair of French Sole slippers.

Glamorous vintage loungewear. Marlene Dietrich look. Klezmer-Hois hotel.

SHOP THE LOOK




A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future

Coco Chanel

THE SCENT OF GLAMOUR AND DECADENCE



Best Retro Loungewear & Where to Find It 2024

If you are not entirely ready to dive into the vintage-shopping adventure and would prefer to look for something new but inspired by the bygone era, here are a few examples, I found from contemporary designers on the Wolf & Badger and Natori websites. They have an incredible selection of loungewear!



Glamorous Pajamas 2023

Gilda and Pearl pyjama

And last but not least, you will never feel like ‘The Woman in a Dressing Gown” if you wear beautiful pajamas underneath the robe.

In the picture, I’m wearing a silk Gina set from Gilda and Pearl.



Do you prefer vintage or retro loungewear?

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

4 Comments
  • Nima
    October 1, 2023

    Both! I collect vintage robes and have several modern Kimonos. Like you, I love beautiful loungewear, especially when it’s pink.

  • Sue
    August 23, 2023

    Beautiful pictures and definitely the epitome of high glamour and sophistication! I live in vintage loungewear, as I work from home, plus it helps me deal with the hot and humid weather. Yes to a kimono robe and yes to a hostess gown!

    • Dominique de Merteuil
      August 23, 2023

      Thank you so much! Yes, vintage loungewear is what I’ve been wearing almost exclusively for the the past month!