Fashion Stories: Hostess Dress

a woman in a purple hostess dress on a red couch

This is the time of year when we’re looking for looks that are festive but yet, super comfy. Or at least I am. I love me a good party dress, I can’t resist a party dress, but at this time of year, I’m usually a bit overwhelmed and a bit behind, so while I want to be in a party dress I still need to be comfy.

My secret weapon for this? A hostess dress. Part fancy robe, part party dress that lets you go from
a woman in a purple cape dress spinning
to this:
a woman in a purple hostess dress un bed

OR in simple terms a hostess dress is:
The idea of a hostess outfit as somewhere between loungewear and partywear has been around since the 1920s. In 1925, Vogue decided pajamas were de rigueur, especially should you be able to acquire an Elsa Schiaparelli housecoat-and-pajama-pants set. In the ’60s, caftans and palazzo pants became the hostess outfit du jour. Since then, the idea of dressing up for company tends to mean something fancy and not all that comfortable. (read more on these thoughts here)
or you could put a hostess dress like:
an informal dress or robe to entertain at home.

Incredibly popular in the 1940s-60s, you can read more about hostess gowns here and here. But yes, hostess gowns are part robe/part party dress, sometimes more sheer, sometimes more embroidered, but for me- the perfect combination of chic and comfy.

A woman in a black and green hostess dress at a backyard party
This is a hostess dress.

As is my new favorite (purple with a but of a cape):
a woman in a purple hostess dress leaning against a wall

There are so many hostess dresses out there (I’ve linked some of my vintage favorites for you below, and my go-to sites are Esty and the Gem app) but for me, what ties them together is the mix of lounge wear and party wear. Hostess dress were the first dresses (or pant suits!) to toe the line between pajamas and ball gowns. And as much as I love party dresses, I also love lounge and fancy pjs, so I think that hostess dresses are heaven. (I also love the idea that in days gone past, people would just throw these on to have neighbors over for drinks or even just to chat with their husband!)

woman in a silver caftan in front of a balcony

Since Covid, I’ve discovered a passion from caftans- which are a direct descendant from hostess dresses, which explains part of my love of hostess dresses. As they range from more formal to incredibly informal, there is a hostess gown (especially as wearing vintage makes it even more special!) for every holiday party or at home drink you have on your calendar!

Have you ever worn a hostess dress? Do you love them as much as I do? I hope that you find a part robe/ball gown aka hostess dress that lets you tell all of the most amazing holiday fashion stories this season. And I also hope that said hostess dress keeps you comfy as you look amazingly chic. Again, I’m linking my current favorites below (including a green exact copy of this purple one!), if you need help finding your perfect hostess dress please let me know!


Note: This post does contain affiliate links. While that does not affect the price for you, I may earn commission from them. Thank you for your support!

a woman in a purple hostess dress in a doorway

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Actress, avid shopper, and a lover of fashion. Hoping to make the world a better place one pair of shoes at a time.

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