|original drawing by|
Estelle Ansley Worrell
Dressing gowns were extremely popular with gentlemen of all ages. Many famous statesmen, including Benjamin Franklin, wore them for their portraits. These gowns, called banyans, were intended for wear at home while relaxing or entertaining but were even seen on the streets in the morning sometimes. They are pictured in the dining rooms of inns also.
This dressing gown of brocade has the neckline turned back into lapels and huge cuffs at the wrists. It probably is reversible as many of them were at this time.
These gowns were almost always worn over the breeches, waistcoat, shirt, and cravat. (One famous portrait shows the neck of the shirt open and no cravat.) A few buttons of the waistcoat were opened for ventilation.
This gentleman wears one stocking loose to show how some of them were held up. They are known to have been buttoned into a breeches button but a painting of men eating at an inn shows a stocking like this one with a button loop.
His shoes are the informal pantofies. They have no back and the instep comes up high on the foot. These shoes appeared out of doors in several drawings; they are not just bedroom slippers.
His cap, a tam-o'-shanter, was worn when the wig was removed. Men sometimes wore these caps during dinner. The lace cap of Figure 64 was still worn too.
One portrait of Ben Franklin shows him in a blue brocade gown with orange lapels like this; in one mezzotint his gown is fur-trirnmed and worn with a fur cap.
John Hancock was seen, at noon, in "a red velvet cap within which was one of fine linen, the last turned up two or three inches over the lower edge of the velvet." He wore "a blue damask gown lined with velvet, a white cravat, a white satin embroidered waistcoat, black satin small-clothes [breeches], white silk stockings and red morocco slippers."
This dressing gown was worn by military officers, too.