M966.8.1 | Dressing gown

Dressing gown
About 1832, 19th century
51 x 131.5 cm
Purchase from Mrs. E. J. Matania
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Gown (5)
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Keys to History

Discouraged from wearing brilliant and eye-catching colours and luxurious fabrics in public, men were unwilling to abandon these pleasures altogether. In private, colours and fabrics worn openly by men during the 18th century continued to be worn in private during the 19th century and into the 20th.

At home men enjoyed the luxury, beauty and comfort of dressing gowns and smoking jackets. These garments were made of exotic brocades and velvets and in brilliant colours that by the late 19th century would have been considered inappropriate in public, except in very small doses--a necktie, perhaps, or a waistcoat. Men could receive their male friends in a dressing gown, but would never be seen wearing one in public.

  • What

    This 1880s dressing gown was made from paisley-patterned fabric similar to shawls worn by women earlier in the century.

  • Where

    Men wore dressing gowns in their bedrooms, studies, breakfast rooms and other private areas of their homes.

  • When

    The dressing gown (not to be confused with the bathrobe) was worn in the morning before dressing, or over the shirt, waistcoat and trousers when lounging at home.

  • Who

    Middle- and upper-class men who had leisure time wore dressing gowns.