Bathrobes, like pants, came into fashion towards the end of the 18th century, and quickly gained popularity, not because they were more comfortable than other clothes, but because they were easier to clean. They also lend themselves to wearing in public, with a high waist to prevent drag, and a longer length for cover.
Bathrobes may be worn as undergarments as well as outerwear, and are often associated with the Victorian era. Typically, they were made from wool, and worn under more comfortable layers, but many silk bathrobe menspeople wore them as outerwear all the time, such as the Austrian Countess Maria Caroline, the Duchess of Hamilton, and Charles James Fox, among others.
In 1772, the Duchess of Hamilton wore the first printed silk bathrobe. The duchess was surprised by her husband for wearing it, and became known for her beauty, and love of fashion, because of her bathing attire. Bathrobes were so popular by the end of the 18th century, that they became associated with the age of refinement and respectability, to the point that they were worn by English royalty. Queen Charlotte wore them at Princess Diana’s wedding in 1947, where she wore ivory-colored satin, with a high-necked white lace bodice and high-waisted, cream wool trousers, with a wide cream waistband. Queen Mary wore pinkish-cream wool satin, with a high-necked white bodice, and ivory-colored gold lace, with a high-waisted, cream waistband, in a striped design.
Queen Victoria’s infamous penchant for wearing mauve-colored satin was carried over to her daughter, and the fashion for auburn satin was prominent in the Victorian era. The Duchess of Hamilton wore a shimmering auburn-colored satin bathrobe at Princess Diana’s wedding in 1947.
Even with the emergence of the machine-washable styles, most people who lived in cities, and especially silk bathrobe mens wealthy people, continued to dress in the high fashion of the period.
So what is it that makes bathrobes so delightful, and so popular to wear in public? They have a lot to do with the comfort factor, not to mention the ability to keep things from getting really, really dirty, but there is so much more to them than meets the eye. Bathrobes are a great option when you are looking for a casual, yet elegant look.