As a little girl, the only feeling I had toward my sleepwear was one of irritation. Putting on a nightgown meant sleep, and sleep meant having to turn off the light and put my book away and finish reading my story tomorrow. And I really wasn’t interested in that.
Back then, my nightgowns were usually multi-coloured and printed with television characters or flowers or tiny animals wearing tutus. Later on, in high school, I moved on to sleeping in a pair of sweatpants and the neon green t-shirt I won when I played on the Lamont Junior High basketball team. It wasn’t attractive, but it did the trick. Growing up, I learned to care about what I wore to school, but I never gave much thought to my sleepwear. My love of clothing seemed to be limited to daytime only. When it came to sleeping, my thought process was always, “I’m going to be asleep. Who cares?”
But lately I have fallen in love with nightgowns—you know the ones: loose white cotton, sometimes decorated with a lace collar, or ribbons, or ruffles at the sleeves. They are the nightgowns you see on dolls with porcelain faces, or in the pages of the storybooks your grandmother used to read to you. There is something both romantic and innocent about donning a simple, white gown to go to bed — it feels at once grown-up and childlike, like I could be a Proper Lady and six years old all at the same time.
I feel like a nightgown is a very clever disguise. In it, I could easily be one of Ludwig Bemelman’s twelve little girls in two straight lines, or a long lost VonTrapp. You could transport me to the 1960s and nobody would know that I was actually an interloper from the age of wifi and tweeting.
I love clothing for the space it gives me to pretend — to imagine I’m a different person or from a different era, or to somehow identify with a favourite story or film. And suddenly, with a simple cotton gown, my ability to imagine is no longer limited to the daylight hours.
I found my first grown-up nightgown a few weeks ago. I have a feeling it will be the beginning of a collection. Now, instead of having to put away my book until tomorrow, I can pretend at any hour, day or night.
- Hailey Siracky