Simple, airy and totally comfortable. The Nap Dress, a trademark of the Hill House lifestyle brand, is just one of the newest iterations of house dresses. And while house dresses have been around for decades and possibly even centuries (the style is believed to have come from a Victorian dress), the romantic garment is experiencing a renaissance.
Nap dresses are “loose fitting, fluid and feminine,” says Amanda Sanders, lifestyle expert and stylist for celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Rock and Jennifer Coolidge. Often the only tight-fitting part of the dress is around the chest, and other main features are “heavy smock, exaggerated puffed sleeves and a typically long, slightly pleated skirt”. While nap dresses are comfortable enough to sleep in, their purpose goes well beyond that of a nightgown. The brilliance of the nap dress and similar house dresses is that they are generally elegant enough to be worn in the office, comfortable enough for running errands, and romantic enough for a weekend away.
Sanders notes that you will likely see more naps as we approach the warmer weather and emerge from the isolation of the pandemic with the idea that we might not have to sacrifice comfort to look good. To begin with, we’ve rounded up a number of top-notch or proven nap dresses (as well as other super comfortable dresses) that all meet our criteria for comfort, versatility and – of course – style.
Hill House The Ellie Nap dress
Let’s start with the Ellie Nap Dress from Hill House, the brand that started the trend. Available in nine colors and up to a size of 2X, this dress couldn’t be more perfect. This A-line take on the brand’s Nap Dress features elastic smocking, ruffled shoulders and a tiered midi skirt that is comfortable in, yet sophisticated enough to pair with heels and go to dinner.
One reviewer writes, “Magical, beautiful, premium quality, real French stitching, stunning patterns, and a phenomenal and flattering look. There is no end to compliments on this nap dress. ”
Free People Oasis Midi Dress
Free People is one of the brands Sanders instantly associates with the nap clothing style for good reason. The boho style brand creates tons of dresses that are airy, loose, and utterly adorable, and the Oasis midi dress is no exception. This cotton option has the classic smocked top along with the puff sleeves, while the square neckline really highlights that popular cottage core aesthetic.
One reviewer wrote, “I got this dress when I was pregnant because I wanted clothes that I could wear after the pregnancy. This is literally one of the most comfortable dresses I own – the sleeves aren’t too sway, the length of my petite 5’2 “frame isn’t overwhelming, and the neckline is perfect!”
Wilfred Rengo dress
If you love a bit of volume in your dress but prefer a neutral color, this premium option from Aritzia offers just that. With a dramatic tiered skirt and only slightly puffy sleeves, this is the perfect dress for any type of activity. No zips, laces or fuss. Made from 100% cotton and available in both black and white. This is one dress that you can definitely have in either color and that you won’t get tired of it.
One reviewer wrote: “I love this dress, light enough for summer but a nice medium-thick cotton fabric. You could dress it up for a casual picnic or for the evening! ”
Sleeper Atlanta linen dress
Are you hoping to avoid wearing a nightgown? Sanders says that many nap dresses can be “overwhelming in color and pattern” and that she would suggest going for lighter colors. This orange option from Sleeper, made from super soft linen, is eye catching, but classic and perfect for sneaking around all summer long.
Although it is definitely more expensive, all of Sleeper’s products are absurdly high quality and versatile – this particular dress is one of the brand’s bestsellers. Lazing around the house? A beach weekend? Weekend brunch or a date in the park? Check, check, check.
H&M smock-detail dress
Another bright yet classic color option, this premium purple dress is the perfect spring hue. The long sleeves make up for the shorter length of the dress, and the ruffles bring the simple structure of the dress to a wonderfully romantic place.
Free People Mockingbird Maxi Dress
“If I were to style someone in a nap dress, I would be looking for something with white eyelets,” says Sanders. This option from Free People combines eyelet lace and cotton tiers for that cottage core drama, while the V-neck silhouette helps elongate even the most petite of ladies.
One reviewer writes that this dress “has the perfect fit, hits in all the right places, and … not for too long as long as I’m only 5’2”. The exposed back and pleats make it a slightly more elegant option, and reviewers say they have worn this dress to all kinds of events, from weddings to day trips.
A sleeveless smocked waist dress for women on the new day
With tuxedos down the waist and sizes up to 2XL, this is one of those nap dresses that seem too good to go without. There are a variety of colors and patterns to choose from, and it’s absolutely stylish enough to be worn outdoors and even paired with a belt.
Reviewers love it with a writing: “This maxi dress is so perfect! I love that it clicks into place at the waist. It’s really nice on the body. There are bags too and who doesn’t love them?!? It is very light and therefore perfect for spring and summer! Great for a resort or a dinner. ”
Ivy City Co.
Ivy City Co Tea Party Dress
If you could package romance into one dress, it would likely look like this option from Ivy City Co, a women-owned company based in Utah. We were initially concerned about the volume and length for petite women, but it all blended together for one of our petite reviewers when she tried it on. The dress fit like a glove, almost like it was made just for her. Many Ivy City Co. dresses (including this one) come in mini and baby versions so you can actually buy a dress to match the little one in your life. In addition, the size range extends from XXS to 3XL.
Everlane The Japanese GoWeave Slip Dress
Slip dresses are like the modern, minimalist sister of the nap dress. While they get full marks for comfort and versatility, they pass on all of the ruffles that many nap dresses have. This makes them the perfect layering tool and ideal for anyone who values practicality in their clothing. This first-class slip dress by Everlane is made of a crease-resistant (yes!) And cooling (doubly yes!) Fabric that is incredibly soft.
R. Vivimos floral print retro bohemian midi dress
In 2019, we raved about the Amazon nightgown dress. The dress has a super relaxed boho shape and a deep V-neckline with tassels, all reminiscent of some Free People designs – for just a fraction of the price. So if you are looking for something that gives you complete freedom of movement, that you get wet on the beach or pool, and that you don’t wear to fancy events, this may be the nap for you.
Free People Embroidered Fable Midi Dress
Sanders suggests larger patterns, as opposed to small floral prints, when it comes to looking more fashionable and less of a nightgown that you would actually sleep in. This embroidered dress is an take on that bolder pattern, as reviewers say, garners tons of compliments.
One of them writes, “I’m really mad at myself for wasting time on other clothes when I could have bought this dress in multiple colors over the past few years. It had been on my radar, but I never took the plunge. ”
View from the strapless meadow dress
This option from Lulus, one of our favorite stores for affordable yet high quality dresses, offers the signature smocked top and flowing skirt of the nap dress, but swaps large sleeves for short, strapless ones. With thigh-high slits, the whole dress is slim and just a little sexier than a typical nap dress.
Free People Violet Mini Dress
Sanders explains that many maxi-length nap dresses “can be overwhelming for most women under 5’7”. Short nap dresses offer everything we love about their maxi-length counterparts, but are more petite. This option from Free People comes in seven stunning colors and features a cute tie on the back so you don’t have to worry about buttons or zippers.
Madewell Popeline Crewneck Bubble-Sleeve Mini Dress
This dress is the definition of versatile. The poplin material is just as light and comfortable as regular cotton, but a little more structured so that you can easily dress up with accessories and beautiful shoes. The elastic waist is still very comfortable and the best part is that it has two fully functional pockets.
Madewell linen blend Alexandra mini dress with button placket
If you like the shape and lightness of nap dresses but could pass the frills and drama on, a babydoll dress is a perfect balance between feminine and relaxed. This option from Madewell is made with a blend of linen and cotton, which makes it ideal for warmer weather. The button placket and the hem in the middle are super cute and still give off that effortlessly chic vibe. Plus, and that’s always a big plus, the dress includes two deep pockets so you can kiss if you need to carry a wallet goodbye.
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