Women’s Nightwear Through the Ages

Women’s nightwear over the years has evolved alongside changes in the society including the role women play in society. In the 1950’s women started to wear pajamas because trousers had also become part of their wardrobe. However, it was not until the 1960s that pajamas were outselling traditional cotton and flannel nightgowns. In this day and age however, women can wear practically anything they want – from their boyfriend’s oversized polo shirt to old t-shirts. Nevertheless, every woman must have a few items of sexy silk lingerie that they can use for romantic evenings.

Some of the nightwear that woman now have in their closet include:


The first negligees were introduced in France during the 1700s but they were not yet the sexy see-through garments of today, but instead long and heavy rather like all other women’s gowns. They also served a practical purpose of keeping the body warm in drafty sleeping quarters during the winter season. Negligees have changed with the times and by the 1920s, they began to mirror the short satin evening dresses that were popular during those times. These shorter and lighter women’s nightwear pieces were definitely sexy but were not purposely designed as such. It was not until after the World War II that negligees were designed as sexy lingerie piece.


Pajamas originated as oriental evening wear for men and became very popular amongst Western missionaries. In the 18th century, the British missionaries adopted the styles as sleepwear for boys and men alike. And during the 20th century, pajamas replaced nightshirts as the normal sleepwear style for UK’s male population.

It was not until much later though that pajamas became popular women’s nightwear [http://www.primoamore.co.uk/NIGHTWEAR/c-19/] in Western society. Today, different styles and colours of pajamas are available for both men and women.


Chemises can be traced to the tunic-like garments worn in ancient cultures and are known as the first women’s nightwear in the early middle ages. Chemises in medieval Europe had a dual function- they were used both as a sleeping gowns and underwear for women. The long garment protected clothing from sweat and body oils and was the only clothing item that a woman could wash on a regular basis during the Middle Ages.


Nightgowns evolved from the chemise at the beginning of the 20th century. They were commonly made from lightweight cottons for summer and heavier flannels for the winter season. The lines between the chemise and the nightgown became rather blurred. Nightshirts are generally simple, thigh-length plain shirts. Dorm shirts are a newer version of nightshirts that usually feature a cartoon character or slogan. Nightgowns on the other hand are longer and heavier and are usually made of flannel or cotton.

Source by Carmen Harris