A nightie and a night dress both sound like the same thing, but there are major differences between the two terms. With that in mind, here’s a quick explanation of the terms and what you should call each type of garment to avoid confusing anyone — especially your fashion friends. After all, there’s nothing worse than looking foolish in front of your fashionably aware friends!
Why both words sound wrong to Americans
A nightie (a colloquial term for a loose, short, sleeveless dress) is an American term that refers to what the British call a nightdress or nightgown. In America the word nightgown means an informal garment that looks like a pajama set and usually consists of a button-up top and trousers or shorts. The word nightie was first used in England in the late 19th century. It probably derives from the French nuit meaning night. The word never caught on in England, but has become popular in America since World War II as it became more common for Americans to spend time abroad and marry foreigners. For example, an American woman who marries a British man might find herself wearing one to bed when she visits her new country. But many people still don't know how the two words are different, which can lead to some awkward situations! Sometimes the speaker will say nightie instead of nightgown or vice versa. Other times they'll just leave off the last letter and say nite instead of night. These miscommunications have led to a lot of debate over which word is correct. One theory is that because both words have been borrowed from other languages, neither is technically correct.
Nightgown is only used as an adjective
In today's world, nightgown has more to do with loungewear than it does evening wear. A true nightgown is defined as a dress, robe, or gown that is worn by someone at night and only during the nighttime hours. These garments are often lightweight and can be used for a variety of purposes.
A nightie is generally one piece garment that may be sleeveless or long-sleeved and made from light, soft fabric such as silk, satin, cotton, etc. The most distinguishing feature of this type of garment is its length - knee-length (or below) for women and mid-thigh length for men. Usually, they are loose fitting in order to facilitate comfort and ease of movement. These types of clothes have been around since the 1800s when they were popularized in England, but they became especially prevalent during World War II when all clothing was rationed and pajamas were too costly. Today, these garments can be found everywhere - in department stores, on TV commercials, and even online. Some people may not realize the difference between a nightdress and a nightie because some outfits will come labeled with both names.
UK Is Further Confused by Nigh-Dress
The word nightdress is often used in the UK to describe what Americans call a nightgown, and the meaning of the word nightie may vary depending on where you live. In America, a nightgown or long gown can be referred to as a nightie. A nightgown refers to a woman's garment which hangs loosely from the shoulders, covers her body down to about her knees, and has an attached hood for extra warmth at bedtime. A night dress refers to something more akin to a regular dress that ends below the knee and sometimes has no sleeves. It’s typically worn out at night and is usually made of light material. Some say that the term nightgown is also interchangeable with nighty. And while we're throwing around different terms, let's not forget the wimple! The headgear is associated with medieval times and was historically worn by nuns. Today it is commonly seen on women who wear a traditional religious habit such as a nun, priestess, novice, or abbess.
Then Came Nightwear
Nightwear has come a long way from what it used to be and the category has expanded substantially. Some will argue that we should call anything with sleeves a night dress, and those in the know say that traditionally nighties have short sleeves, are worn for sleeping, and are loose fitting. A lot of people also think that night dresses are not appropriate for sleep because they're too fancy or sexy. Others will contend that anything sleeveless is technically a nightie (even if they're pretty). As always, there's no right answer on this one. There isn't an industry standard, so it's up to you how you want to classify your nighttime attire. You can do whatever feels most comfortable! If you would rather wear something more like pajamas, feel free to go with that decision. If you don't like short sleevesbut still need some ventilation at night, opt for something lightweight but covered-up. For comfort while traveling or crashing at someone else's place, opt for something loose-fitting and breathable. Whatever makes your nights more relaxing is probably best!
But Sleepwear Is Not Just for Bedtime Anymore
Sleepwear used to be for the bedroom only and now it can be a chic outer layer, too. In recent years, nighties have become the more popular choice for women’s sleepwear - particularly among millennials, who grew up associating pajamas with playing dress-up in their parents’ clothes. A nightgown is typically long sleeved and loose fitting, with a high neckline that covers the shoulders (or includes straps). Nightgowns are often embellished at the hem or sleeves. But some people find them too long and prefer the shorter nightie. Some say that a nightdress is considered sexier than a nightie, while others argue they're basically the same thing but one word was created in America while the other came from England. Regardless of which you choose, you'll want something comfortable enough to wear throughout the day so you don't feel restricted when lounging around in your room.
The search for a uniform term has been extended to fashion brands, who are offering many options such as nightdress, romper, and sleepsuit.
What the difference between a nightie and a night dress? For decades, the word nightdress has been interchangeable with nightgown in English-speaking countries - but recent fashion trends have led to both word usage and style. When buying a bedroom outfit, you should consider not only what you are wearing at the time, but also how that clothing will make you feel in the morning when you wake up. Would you prefer to wear a baggy robe while getting ready for work? Or maybe a sweat suit for lounging around your house? Neither is particularly flattering or sexy; this is why many women purchase a more fashionable, feminine piece of lingerie such as lace chemise or babydoll. Depending on your mood, you might choose to wear any one of these garments as an alternative to your typical nightgown or pajamas. In fact, some people find comfort in dressing like they would if they were going out on a date. If you want to be treated like royalty then there's nothing wrong with slipping into something luxurious and elegant like silk teddy. The key is making sure it's not too revealing so it doesn't get bunched up under your bedsheets when you move during the night! So which term do you prefer? Nightie or night dress? It all depends on who you ask. Some people use them interchangeably and others see them as two different articles of clothing entirely. It can even depend on the country where you live, because the words nightdress and nightgown are often used interchangeably in British English vernaculars. Regardless of what terminology you prefer, it's important to remember that no matter what item of sleepwear you're choosing, comfort is paramount. After all, we spend about a third of our lives sleeping!