As I received my second vaccine shot, it dawned on me that I would soon be able to attend social gatherings again. This spurred the obvious question: What would I wear? For a year and a half, I’ve dressed entirely for myself, in the softest, comfiest clothes in my closet.
To my relief, I’ve discovered that one of my lockdown staples is presentable to wear out of the house. The Nap Dress from Hill House Home was carefully designed to take you directly from your Zoom to your nap. The outfit became a pandemic sensation (the brand’s revenue grew 275% in 2020), since it adapted so well to our stay-at-home lifestyles. But I’ve found that the dress is also perfect for taking our first tentative steps into our post-COVID social lives. The brand has even created equally comfy pajama-inspired garments for dressier occasions this summer, like weddings and graduation parties.
Nell Diamond launched Hill House Home in 2015, offering high-end bedding with a feminine sensibility. She wanted to create a line of comfortable clothes to wear around the house that would provide an alternative to the sweatpants and loungewear that had become so popular over the past decade. It took two years for her to perfect the design of the Ellie Nap Dress, which is inspired by a nightgown, with ruching on the front, flutter sleeves, and an a-line skirt. Every aspect of the dress is designed to be as comfortable as possible, while flattering the wearer.
As the owner of three nap dresses, I can attest that the Ellie does what it promises. A few months into the pandemic, I was tired of wearing pajamas and sweatpants around the house, but dressing in proper clothes, like jeans or blazers, while working on my couch or bed felt strange. The Ellie solved the problem: It was soft and stretchy, so I never felt constrained, but the elegant sleeves suggested that that I had not completely let myself go. It became my quarantine uniform: I wore it to moderate panels and interview celebrities (on Zoom). When I was done, I would take a quick nap on the couch.
The Ellie was so popular, Diamond developed an entire line of Nap Dresses that are variations on the same theme. Some have puffed sleeves, like the Katherine and the Nesli. The Athena is short. The Caroline looks like an old fashioned nightgown with a high neck, but can be worn off the shoulders for a more risqué look. Hill House regularly drops collections in new colors and patterns that often sell out quickly, from spring florals to tartans that are perfect for the holidays. Just in time for Mother’s Day, the brand launched Ellies for kids. Now, my five-year-old and I go for walks together in matching blue dresses.
As the weather has gotten warmer, I’ve found that my nap dresses are appropriate for backyard gatherings and trips to the grocery store. I’m often both the dressiest and most comfortable person around, which feels like a feat. Now, the question is whether I can wear these outfits to the more formal events on the horizons, like weddings.
The good news is that Hill House has launched a Bridal Collection in time for wedding season. The brand offers a range of outfits for brides and bridesmaids, including silk dresses and a cotton pantsuit bedazzled with gemstones. Like the nap dresses, these pieces are inspired by sleepwear like robes and pajamas, and are designed for comfort. The idea is for the bridal party to wear matching outfits during the wedding weekend. But the pieces are also formal enough for guests to wear —particularly those, like me, who cannot bear to think about squeezing myself into a tulle or taffeta dress.
The pandemic may have permanently altered clothing. While many of us are ready to say goodbye to our sweats, we’ve gotten used to feeling comfortable and we’re not ready to give that up. For me, the perfect clothes for this brave new world offer both comfort and presentability. And Hill House hits the spot. When I discovered my daughter’s preschool graduation would be in person, I had a brief moment of panic. But then I thought the new pantsuit, with its elasticated waist, ruched bust, puffed sleeves, and sparkly gemstones is exactly right for the occasion.
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