A peignoir set is one the most elegant and beautiful of the vintage clothing types in my eyes. Although often referred to as lingerie, I wouldn’t call them such – they are bed clothes/night wear/‘floating around the house clothes’ as I call them. I kind of see them as the female equivalent of the men’s ‘smoking jacket’, though admittedly many of them are too sheer for accepting any house-callers in!
Some of them are however so absolutely fabulous that you could get away with wearing them nowadays as a ball/cocktail dress – which some of the more daring vintage-wearers do actually do.
So, a peignoir set comprises a slip and a robe. The word peignoir comes from the French peigner - ‘to comb one’s hair’… and you WILL have seen these in a dozen silver screen movies where, true to their conception, Doris Day et al would be sat at their dressing tables brushing their hair whilst wearing them. As if by magic, I have some very pictures of silver screeners fashioing peignoirs of the time...
Herewith we have the lovely Ms Veronica Lake -
And then a lovely photo of Ann Sheridan (by dressing table of course):
There were two main types in the 40s and 50s – the baby doll, and the ‘Olga’ or ‘Vanity Fair’ (these were the top peignoir producing companies – Olga coined the look really and all other companies merely produced Olga/Vanity fair copies.) Olga and Vanity Fair peignoirs can go for up £400 - but you can get them on ebay for good prices if you look hard – the Dixie Dallas shop is on .co.uk and specialises in both.
First, an example of the baby doll (which six times out of ten comes in pink) –
The baby doll is always high on the neck/round necked, is short (above the knee), kicks out from the bust area. The above shot is of the nightie only. A robe will tie or fasten to cover it completely like so:
My favourites. Particularly the classic Olga style (nipped waist, v-cut neck line, full skirt to ankles). Aka this GORGEOUS thing:
I am rhapsodic about this set. It’s the most perfectly wonderful set I have ever seen (though not the most expensive actually)
The above at $200 would be a pretty good deal compared to this cashmere Saks Fifths Avenue one at $1200 (www.midnightglamour.com):
I understand of course that having laid eyes the above most perfect ever Olga you will be overcome by an immediate and pressing desire to own one so as to float gracefully from room to room in your house in it… it is only natural. To this end, so you can go seek and find, I can tell you it is an Olga style number 9788 and 92270. I am certainly NOT, however, not telling you where it is for sale this instance… in case you go and bid for it
Other classic Olga examples:
Also made famous by Olga / Vanity Fair, though not in their classic cut are the full length baby doll style aka:
If you are looking for a high ‘floatient factor’, this is the one for you. And on the floatie factor – the ‘floatiness’ is ACTUALLY measured! Peignoirs come with what is called a ‘sweep’ measurement – from about 89 to about 250. 250 denotes being the fullest skirt you can get that will therefore sweep out behing you to the maximum, as you walk. The most perfectly wonderful set above has a 180 sweep.
I could show you picture after picture of these lovelinesses but the best place the check them out (though not, I would recommend to buy as you will pay full market rate), is www.midnightglamour.com.
I do though have to show you this one as it’s so outrageously indulgent you could have your own personal coronation in it
Above is probably a 350 sweep – or more.
So then, slob around the house in a pair of teddy-bear dotted pjs…. or, as an alternative, drift elegantly from room to room smelling flowers and reading urgent telegrams, in one of these decadences.
Or some such, I’ve not really got a strong image in my mind about it at all…