What I want is something right in the middle between “Nana can wear this at the nursing home!” and “I charge extra for talking dirty, Mister.” But no such nightgown exists.
Naturally, as the sex and relationships editor for Curvicality, I do not normally wear nightgowns to sleep in. I wear my Nana nightgown if I’m sick or if I’m a houseguest, or if my little granddaughter is staying with me, as she has a tendency to wake up and slip into my room for cuddles. Otherwise, I sleep naked, as is required by law for all romance novelists. (Or should be. Authenticity is de rigueur, people!)
I have plenty of sexy little things which are designed not to be slept in, but to be worn for very brief periods and then to be taken off. And if you think you can’t wear such things, think again. There are thousands of plus-size options out there that will make you look so hot you can’t even take a selfie because your phone will melt.
But even romance novelists sometimes want something they can get up and make pancakes in on weekend mornings without scandalizing any neighbors who might walk by. I have a lot of big windows in my old house, and I live near a church. There are always people walking by on their way to services. It would be best if they did not see me in my see-through teddy. Probably.
The Hunt for the Middle Ground: Sexy Sadie vs. the Nana Nightgown
So, every woman needs at least one Nana nightie along with all her Sexy Sadie collection. The problem lies in finding something that is modest without being too dowdy. Something that is a little bit cute but can be worn in front of family members. Something that doesn’t scream “put a bib on Nana before you feed her the pureed peas” but also doesn’t suggest “looks like Mama is developing the sort of dementia that makes her think she’s an elderly call girl.”
The question has arisen from a Curvicality colleague: Why not wear pajamas? Because, damn it, I am a woman, and I feel very strongly about letting the hoo-ha have free time every night. Supposedly, it’s healthier. Even if it isn’t, it’s comfier. I am not a pajama person at all and haven’t even owned a set for a decade or two.
I am in search of something that is not at all revealing but which does not have a cartoon character or a silly saying printed on it. Something that will cover the boobage but is not made with that weird fabric favored by octogenarians. I want a nightgown that will keep me warm while I rummage through the medicine cabinet at 3 a.m. for the anti-diarrhea medication I am sure exists there but which I will eventually remember I threw out during the far-too-extensive Great Purge last summer. (It will strike me around 4 a.m., as I wonder whether I could get away with throwing a winter coat over my Nana Nightie and hitting the 24-hour drugstore dressed that way, that purging myself of anti-diarrhea medication is pretty ironic. But I will not be amused.)
The answer, I decided at one point, is a bathrobe I can throw on over the non-Nana-nighties that I cannot be seen in outside the bedroom. I have lots of robes. One is big and thick and comfy but you cannot do anything practical in it because the big old fluffy cuffs would catch you on fire if you dared to so much as fry an egg while wearing it. Another is of thin material that will not fool anybody: You’re wearing something porn-worthy under that silk wrapper, aren’t you?
My grandma used to wear what she called a housecoat. Do you know what I’m talking about? It was usually pink and quilted and it buttoned all the way from neck to knees. If you wore one, you could hide absolutely anything under there. I have no idea what sort of nightgown (if any!) she might have had on under the housecoat. My grandma wore this all morning every morning as she did all her housework. If we came by early, there she would be in her rollers, housecoat and slippers. And then, just before Grandpa came home, she would utterly transform herself. She’d always be nicely dressed with her hair and makeup well done. He probably had no idea what she looked like for most of the day.
I just searched for “housecoat” online, and not one of the items that popped up looked like what my grandma used to wear. Those, Amazon my dear, are bathrobes. They are not housecoats. Learn the difference, please.
The alternative, of course, is to get out of bed and immediately dress, but I like to indulge in coffee and to write for a bit before taking on the challenges of the day. What am I wearing right now, as I type this? My old Nana nightie. I put it on when I got out of bed so I wouldn’t freeze (or scandalize the neighbors who might see me through the window). I’ll shower and dress in a bit, I promise.
I remarried when my daughter was in high school. Her friends were amused by the Nana nightie I had back then. In a fit of teenaged sarcasm, they dubbed it “the sexy pink nightgown” and referred to it as such at every opportunity. When my now-husband proposed, they formed a committee and insisted I had to get rid of it before the wedding.
I have always had some version of “the sexy pink nightgown” but it feels to me like the middle ground has disappeared in recent years. You can be retirement-home bound or you can look stripper-pole ready. There is nothing in between. I heard a rumor there might be a pretty gown with decent coverage for sale in a strip mall in a small town in Mississippi, so I hopped on a plane, but when I got there, the last one had just been sold.
“Can I interest you in this black faux-leather sleepwear with openings in the cups that allow your nipples to poke out?” the saleslady asked. “Or I also have this powder-blue polyester one with a sleepy kitten appliqued on the front.”
“Give me both,” I said. “I’ll just put the kitten one on over the leather.” That solves the problem. I can now get my secret sexy on while still looking perfectly Nana-friendly.