Light, airy and totally comfortable. The Nap Dress, protected by the Hill House lifestyle brand, is just one of the newest versions 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 quite a renaissance.
Nap dresses are “loose, fluid and feminine,” says Amanda Sanders, lifestyle expert and stylist for celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Rock and Jennifer Coolidge. Often the only waisted part of the dress is around the chest, and other important features are “heavy smocks, exaggerated puffed sleeves and a typically long, slightly pleated skirt”. Sleeping gowns may be comfortable enough to sleep in, but their purpose goes well beyond that of a nightgown. The brilliance of napping and similar house dresses is that they are generally elegant enough to wear to the office, comfortable enough for running errands, and romantic enough for a weekend away.
Below we’ve rounded up a number of top-notch or time-tested nicki dresses (as well as other super comfy dresses) that all meet our criteria in terms of comfort, versatility and, of course, style.
Available at Hill House in eight colors and up to size 2X.
Hill House’s Ellie Nap Dress is the dress that started the nap dress trend.
Let’s start with The Ellie Nap Dress from Hill House, the brand that started the trend. Available in nine colors and up to size 2X, this dress couldn’t be more perfect. An A-line take on the brand’s Nap Dress with a stretchy smock, ruffled shoulders, and a tiered midi skirt that feels comfortable to relax in yet is nifty enough to pair with heels and go to dinner.
One reviewer writes: “Magical, beautiful, first class quality, real French stitching, breathtaking patterns and looks phenomenal and flattering. The compliments for this nap are endless. ”
Available at Hill House in nine colors and up to 2X.
If you’re looking for a shorter and less expensive version of the ultra-comfy nickname dress, grab The Athena.
This shorter, more flirty spin on the signature Hill House hits just above the knee and would look cute even with tights in the fall. With the same smocked and ruffled shoulders as its longer counterpart, we’re really obsessed with the pink mermaid print and blue glitter plaid. It is also provided with a tie at the back so that the sleeves do not fall off. And it is available in sizes XXS to XXL.
Free People Oasis midi dress
Free People is one of the brands Sanders instantly associates with the nap style, and 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 angular neckline really exudes the popular cottage core aesthetic.
One reviewer writes, “I got this dress when I was pregnant because I wanted clothes that I could wear after pregnancy. This is literally one of the most comfortable dresses I own – the sleeves aren’t too fluffy, the length of my petite 5’2 “frames isn’t overwhelming, and the neckline is perfect!”
A New Day sleeveless smocked dress
With its smocked bodice and ruffle sleeves, this summery number has one of the most precious possessions of women: bags. Reviewers say it runs a little big and is actually a great maternity dress. One reviewer wrote: “I wore it for my baby shower when I was 35 weeks pregnant. The XS still fits perfectly! I would say it turns out big. Got so many compliments. Can’t wait to wear it outside of motherhood again! ”
Who wears a short-sleeved dress with ruffles
For a nap dress that looks like it was made out of “pride and prejudice,” this affordable choice from Target has a taller neckline (great for transitioning into fall) with ruched detailing along the sleeves. Just as charming with sneakers as with boots and available in black or white, you look like a Victorian dream.
Sleeper Atlanta linen dress
Do you want to avoid looking like you are wearing a nightgown? Sanders says many nap dresses “can’t be overwhelming in color and pattern,” and she would suggest going for lighter colors. This orange-colored version of Sleeper made of super soft linen is an eye-catcher and yet classic and perfect for strutting around all summer.
While it’s definitely more expensive, all of Sleeper’s products are absurdly high quality and super versatile – this particular dress is one of the brand’s best sellers. Loitering in the house? A beach weekend? Weekend brunch or a date in the park? Check, check, check.
Free People Mockingbird Maxi Dress
“If I were to style someone in a nicki dress, I would look for something with white eyelets,” says Sanders. This option from Free People combines eyelet lace and cotton tiers for the cottage core drama, while the V-neck silhouette helps elongate even the petiteest of ladies.
One reviewer writes that this dress “has the perfect fit, hits in all the right places, and … not too long as I’m only 5’2”. The exposed back and full-length pleats make it a more elegant option, and reviewers say they have worn this dress to all sorts of events from weddings to day trips.
Vichy plaid dress
With cute tie ribbons, ruffles down the chest, and a modern plaid that we’re absolutely obsessed with, this can easily transition into fall when thrown over a turtleneck. The midi length is also suitable for people of all sizes.
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 frills and ruffles that many naps have. This makes them the perfect layering tool and ideal for anyone who values functionality in their clothing. This first-class undergarment by Everlane is made of a wrinkle-free (yes!) And cooling (doubly yes!) Material that is incredibly soft.
R.Vivimos floral print retro bohemian midi dress
In 2019 we raved about the nightdress from Amazon. The dress has a super relaxed boho shape and a deep V-neckline with tassels, all reminiscent of some Free People designs – only for a fraction of the price. So if you’re looking for something that gives you total freedom of movement, that you could get wet on the beach or pool, and that you won’t wear to fancy events, this could be the nap for you.
Free People Fable embroidered midi dress
Sanders suggests larger patterns, as opposed to small floral prints, when it comes to looking more fashionable and less like wearing a nightgown that you would actually sleep in. This embroidered dress is a take on that bolder pattern that reviewers say is worthy of tons of compliments.
One of them writes: “I’m really mad at myself for wasting time on other clothes, even though I could have bought this dress in multiple colors in recent years. It was on my radar, but I never dared take the plunge. ”
View from the meadow strapless dress
This option from Lulus, one of our favorite stores for affordable yet high quality dresses, features the signature smocked top and flowing skirt of the cup dress, but swaps large sleeves for short strapless ones. With thigh-high slits, the entire dress is sleek and just a little sexier than your typical nap dress.
Free People purple mini dress
Sanders explains that many maxi neck dresses “can be overwhelming for most women under 5’7”. Short nicki dresses have everything we love about their maxi counterparts, but are friendlier to little ones. This option from Free People comes in seven stunning colors and features a cute tie in the back so you don’t have to worry about buttons or zippers.
Madewell poplin round neck mini dress with bubble sleeves
This dress is the definition of versatile. The poplin material is just as light and comfortable as conventional cotton, but a bit more structured – this makes it easy to put on accessories and beautiful shoes. The elastic waistband is still very comfortable and the best part is that it has two fully functional pockets.
Madewell linen mix Alexandra mini dress with button placket
If you like the shape and lightness of nicki dresses, but could give away the frills and drama, a babydoll dress is the perfect balance between feminine and casual. This option from Madewell is made with a blend of linen and cotton that makes it ideal for warmer weather. The button placket and the hem in the middle are super cute and yet exude that effortlessly chic atmosphere. In addition, and this is always a big plus, the dress has two deep pockets so you can say goodbye to your handbag.