Bed Jackets

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, December 13, 1913:  Nothing much going on here today.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (November, 1913)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (November, 1913)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’ll share a gift idea: bed jackets.

I associate bed jackets with elderly women –but they apparently were popular gifts for young women a hundred years ago.  Ladies Home Journal included pictures of them on pages that contained homemade gift ideas. Bedrooms were cold and drafty back then, so everyone apparently needed bed jackets.

They were sometimes called coming jackets, negligee jackets, or sacques in old issues of Ladies Home Journal.

purple combing (bed) jacket

Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1912)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (December, 1912)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (November, 1913)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (November, 1913)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (November, 1913)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (November, 1913)

37 Responses

  1. They are beautiful!!! … I’m remembering how they were once a popular gift for new mothers to tuck around their shoulders whilst feeding/ nursing the baby in bed.

  2. Very elegant. And yes, I remember young mothers wearing them too.

  3. All so stylish! I was often ill as a child and an elderly aunt knitted a bedjacket for me as a gift: beautiful, blue & lacy. I felt like a princess, reading my book in bed and still stay nice and warm.

    • It sounds wonderful. Your comment reminds me that I recently found a crocheted hat that an elderly great aunt made for me when I was a teen. It has a couple large pom-poms decorating it. I think that might be a really stylish cap if the pom-poms were removed–but there’s a slight risk that I could damage the hat in the process of taking them off. I’m trying to get the nerve up to take them off–and see what happens.

  4. You don’t see them often these days, do you? Love Flora Poste’s comment about her aunt; how special that must have made her feel!

  5. They’re gorgeous! I vaguely remember my Mum giving one away as a gift to a friend who was in hospital…

  6. I’ve never heard the term. These bed jackets are pretty though, aren’t they?

  7. We used to find them in thrift shops in the 1970s and wear them with blue jeans as outerwear…pre-Madonna! Altho what I am remembering are quilted and may be from the 1920s. These shapes are beautiful!

  8. I like the older times. I’m tired of today where one size fits all, one outfit goes everywhere and it’s all black. I want to shake people when I see them in Macy’s wearing their Hello Kitty pj’s, Ugs and a fleece lined hunter’s cap. There used to be a proper thing to wear for every occasion and a particular instrument for every activity – right down to the silverware. Every once and a while I’ll happen upon a silverware case from the 1800’s. I’ll stand there forever trying to figure out what the different pieces would be used for. I’m ready for the pendulum to swing in the other direction. I already have a pickle fork, a cranberry server and a set of cheese knives that have different blades for different kinds of cheese. Yeah bed jackets and smoking jackets and morning dresses and all the rest.

    • Your mention of pickle forks and cranberry servers brings back warm, fuzzy memories of holiday meals long ago. I think that I’m also ready for the pendulum to swing in the other direction.

  9. #3 looks quite trendy with the cross-over bodice. Silk, too. I imagine they were all pretty with the embroidery ribbons.

  10. I love to watch old movies from the 30s and the women wear these a lot. They can be so elegant.

  11. Wow, those are gorgeous.

  12. This post brought back a pleasant memory… Back in 1975 when I was pregnant with my first child, my grandmother gave me a bed jacket “to wear in the hospital.” I had never seen or heard of one before so she explained to me how and when I could wear it. I still have it.

  13. I remember my grandmother and mother having bed-jackets :)

  14. Is this what I’m doing when I stick a hoodie on over my nightgown? These are beautiful and so elegant. Look what we’ve lost . . . .

    • Your comment made me smile. I’m sitting here responding to comments in wearing a ragged sweater over my nightgown. We’ve definitely lost something.

  15. They are lovely! I don’t see how they would keep a person very warm but they definitely add elegance!

  16. Well you didn’t want just everyone seeing your nightgown. My Mother in Law had several and kept them “for good” just incase she went to the hospital. :) Connie at Forgotten Old Photos

    • My mother also tried to keep things “good”–good towels and blankets for when guests came, good clothes in case a special occasion came along, etc. Many of the “gppd” items ended up never being used.

  17. Aren’t these illustrations wonderful? I can remember going through the Vogue archive when I was at college years ago and coming across something similar: you’ve jogged my memory!

  18. The only time bed jackets seem to matter now is when a woman is in the hospital and wants to greet visitors. Nice to have then.

  19. As usual I’m right in style, if it was 100 years ago…LOL. I have a pink cashmere poncho that I wear instead of a housecoat. It’s getting worn out but I’ve never seen another on.

  20. I was given a lovely pink woollen one when I was a little girl for when I was reading in bed. I still have it now. :)

  21. Prettier than many of the housecoats I’ve had. Would keep you warm too. Jane

  22. I had several when I was newly married, and yes, when in hospital with my first child. they could be quite girly or glamorous, or rather functional and extremely modest. No idea when mine “went west”.

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