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Boys, why you should wear a dressing gown to your next black tie event

Left to right; Daniel Kaluuya in Desmond and Dempsey, Kenzo, Bally, James Edward and New & Lingwood  (ES)
Left to right; Daniel Kaluuya in Desmond and Dempsey, Kenzo, Bally, James Edward and New & Lingwood (ES)

“You heading to bed, love?” So goes the internal-scream-inducing Dad joke, guaranteed to leave all women who have worn their sophisticated silk separates with stilettos furious. Firstly, please sod off sir. Secondly, it might have taken its sweet time, but the moment has finally arrived for men to join the pyjama party, too. A surprise champion garment of out-out dressing has risen up this summer, and yes, we had been sleeping on it: the dressing gown.

Bear with me. I am not talking about the white towelling types you once nicked from Soho House. Instead, the recent wave of evening-appropriate robes have counted everything from the ornate and embroidered, to the brown chequered silk styles straight from Brideshead Revisited, through to washes of colour. So whether you consider yourself a black-tie gent or more of a raver, neither is a valid excuse not to try this post shower look for size.

Michael Ward snagged a Bottega Veneta robe for Giggs’ album launch party this month (Jed Cullen)
Michael Ward snagged a Bottega Veneta robe for Giggs’ album launch party this month (Jed Cullen)

There was no denying that bundling oneself up in outlandish prints looked like a hoot at rapper Giggs’s album launch party in mid-August. OK, wearing sleepwear was encouraged at the Georgian mansion bash in Halstead, Essex, but the boys went all out. The host himself looked like a prize pugilist in a black and fuchsia silk PJ set with wrap-around robe, while his guests set out to master the art of the robe de chambre.

Nope actor Daniel Kaluuya tripled up on prints, wearing a cargo green, quilted robe with matching undergarments. Every item was covered in a big cat print from the London-based “fancy pyjama” company Desmond and Dempsey. And Top Boy’s Michael Ward went luxe, dancing about in Bottega Veneta’s signature green bathrobe. All three make great options for the mood board.

Giggs sported a black and fuschia silk robe to his bash in Essex (Jed Cullen)
Giggs sported a black and fuschia silk robe to his bash in Essex (Jed Cullen)

Earlier in the summer it was TikTok sensation James Edward who boasted dapper, old-world style in his navy and burnt orange check dressing gown worn with shirt and tie at the RH England launch party in Banbury, Oxfordshire. “It is from the 1970s, and has beautiful piping around the lapels. Whoever made it really put time and care into an item that’s meant to be worn and passed down generations — not something for in front of the TV,” says Edward, who has attracted 1.5million followers in part thanks to TikToks about historic men’s style. “I love looking back through gentlemen’s style guides dating through the 19th-century through to the 1990s, but my style inspiration for the RH look was a photo of Tom Ford in a burgundy dressing gown with a shirt and tie,” he says. Sonny Hall, the model and poet, is another Gen-Z pin-up for timeless style. He looked particularly soigné in his jet black robe-cum-coat for Saint Laurent’s Spring 2023 catwalk show.

James Edward stepped out of Brideshead Revisited’s pages for RH England’s party in June (@james____edward)
James Edward stepped out of Brideshead Revisited’s pages for RH England’s party in June (@james____edward)

It is at these upper-crust affairs that gents tap the robe for a dash of extra decadence. Anyone after this effect should look no further than tailors New & Lingwood, famed for outfitting the students of Eton since 1865. Current creative director Tom Leeper has shifted the company’s focus to expand its elaborate dressing gown offering. “They’re pieces of art. Some of the embroidery going into these pieces has taken hours, so they should be savoured and admired,” Leeper says. “I wore one to a friend of mine’s wedding in Suffolk, which was fairly well received. They make very good talking points.”

His latest collection of robes, for the upcoming autumn winter season, is all art deco prints and Persian rug patterns on crushed velvets. “If I’m looking at a time period when making these, it’s the late 1920s early 1930s. People were partying; going out again after the First World War,” Leeper explains. “I try to take that as a reference point, then push it.”

New & Lingwood’s peacock dressing gown, worn with black tie (New & Lingwood)
New & Lingwood’s peacock dressing gown, worn with black tie (New & Lingwood)

But costume pieces, these are not. The dressing gown has had a stamp on the designer collections, from delicate silks in Erdem’s most recent menswear offering, to the contrast stitched quilted black robes worn with ties on Kenzo’s AW23 runway, and the ritzy-aura oozing from model Parker Van Noord as he sauntered down Bally’s AW23 catwalk in a cream gown and python slip-ons.

You needn’t empty your pockets buying one off the catwalk, however. Vintage-haven 282 Portobello, a mecca of archive tailored pieces from throughout the 20th century, has a stockpile. “Gowns from the 1920s to 1970s will add a real statement piece to your attire,” says its charismatic owner Claudia Vispi. “Work your gown out on the town; dinner or dancing, tied closed or open flowing,” she says. “Oh, don’t forget to add a silk scarf, for a touch of extra flamboyance.” It’s decided, then: this party season, more is set to be more.