this thing's incredible

I Bought 6 of These Cotton Nightgowns, and Now I Waft Through Lockdown Like a Victorian Ghost

Photo: retailer

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been in search of a collection of long, flowing, Victorian-esque nightgowns that would make me resemble a romantic, Victorian ghost. Every few months I’d type search terms like “puff sleeve” and “high neck” into Google, but everything I came across was either at least £250 or cheap-looking and mass-produced. It seemed impossible to find an ethically made, pure cotton nightgown for under £50. Then a few weeks ago, deep on page 12 of results from yet another search for “puff sleeve” and “high neck”, I found a small store in Brighton which sells beautiful cotton nightgowns at around £25 to £40 each. They’re designed in the U.K., based on original English Victorian nightgowns, and made in India by a factory which the family-run company, Powell Craft, has been working with for 40 years. The owner of the store is married to the owner of Powell Craft, which is primarily a wholesale site which has a more varied collection at a slightly higher price. (They’re also stocked at the Jane Austen museum, naturally.)

I bought six of them, rationalising that if I had to be at home all day, I’d rather swoon around in floaty splendour than my workout leggings and mismatched T-shirts. My final bill, VAT and all, was £250 which is still less than one single nightgown from Three Graces London, D Porthault, Celestine, or Sleeper — the other brands I was eying. The nightgowns are all one-size-fits-all, which I was concerned about — I’m barely five-foot-two — but these all fit perfectly since I was going for that extra-oversize ghostly vibe. I was too lazy to take my measurements, but if you’re so inclined, all the information is there.

My partner wrongly claims they all look exactly the same — but since they arrived, in beautifully wrapped floral-print packages complete with adorable potpourri satchels, I haven’t worn any of my regular clothes. They are the ultimate day-to-night garment for these bizarre times. You can sleep in them, obviously. If you throw a blazer or cardigan on top for a Zoom meeting, you instantly look like you’re wearing an eyelet shirt with a trendy collar. I pair them with a leather jacket and loafers with colorful socks when I take walks outside — they’re slightly see-through, but not obscenely so, especially if you wear light-coloured undergarments. If you don’t want any diaphanousness at all a light slip will do the trick.

A few items from my collection

“Alma” — the one that started it all.

I loved the mint-green colour (although it also comes in white) and fluttery sleeves.

“Pearl” makes me feel like I’m on vacation on a Greek island when I’m really just watering the flowers that obscure the rubbish bins from the window of my basement flat.

“Lorna”. I love the pinafore style, and it’s probably the one that would make the most sense to wear out as a normal dress (although I’ve worn the others outside and felt very chic). [Editor’s note: According to Powell Craft, the Lorna Ladies Nightdress is backordered and will ship as soon as it is back in stock.]

Some other Strategist-recommended Powell nightgowns

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I Bought 6 of These Nightgowns to Waft Through Lockdown