The Comfort of a House Coat

Library of Congress: 1942 Nursing School Resident Hall  - Students Wearing House Coats

The fashion industry used to make such pretty robes for lounging at home. Mothers and daughters wore them at home to be comfortable and to look pretty.  In New England these are generally called "bathrobes."  In the south, the robes are known as "house coats."

In my childhood home, we girls received a new robe each year at Christmas time.  The women in our family always wore a robe or "house coat" when at home. My mother had a few different kinds.  There were light cotton fabrics, with little flowers or decorations, with shorter sleeves for summer.  Her winter robes were warm and long, often with a zipper in the front. These were often navy blue or purple and were warm and pretty.  We children always felt safe and happy when mother wore her house coat, because that was a sign to us that she was not going out.  Mother would not step out the door unless she had gotten all dressed up. So we knew she was home with us and comfortable. It gave us a sense of security.

When we girls, my sister and I, would go spend the night at our Aunt's house, we would pack our robes in our suitcases.  Our Aunt had a beautiful guest room for us with rich furnishings and lovely, delicate decorations. We felt rich in that room, with our pretty house coats.  It gave us a bit of elegance to "dress" in something pretty designed just for being at home.

These days the modern look seems to be very casual, almost to the point of sloppy. Old clothes worn around the house seems to offer the new form of comfort.  But this was not the way it used to be.

Each year I try to buy my grown daughters a pretty new robe or a nice nightgown.  I am also doing this with my granddaughters.  There is a tradition from previous generations that we can dress up even in our pajamas, in the form of lovely house coats and lounging robes.

 Library of Congress:  1975 White House Living Quarters-                                                                                                    First Lady Betty Ford with her husband and Daughter, wearing House Robes

It helps make the home culture extra special when one has pretty things to wear in order to relax and enjoy time with the family.

 It helps send a message that we are not going to worry about the bills, the trials, or the outside world when we are at home in our pretty house coats. We are just going to relax and take a much needed break to refresh our spirits before facing the world again.

This is a wonderful example to set for husband and children to help quiet and calm the household with the gentling comfort of a house coat.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Remembering my Aunt's House - Manners Learned at the Finishing School.

A Special Room - Grandmother's Nursery.

Early in the Morning - The Foundation of Cleaning.

Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 


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