18th Century Men’s Banyans, Night Gowns, and Wrappers

BANNIAN. ſ. A Man’s undreſs or a morning gown.
(A Dictionary of the English Language, 1768)

The V&A’s website describes these garments: “In the 17th and 18th centuries a nightgown was not a garment worn to bed but a version of the modern dressing gown. Donned over breeches and a shirt, the night gown was worn upon arising in the morning and before dressing in the formal clothes required for public activities. At the end of the day, many men removed their coats and waistcoats, and put on a night gown for relaxing in private at home.”

From The Annals of Philadelphia: “In the summer season, men very often wore calico morning-gowns at all times of the day and abroad in the streets. A damask banyan was much the same thing by another name.”

For related informal headwear, see the caps.

  • Palais Fesch MFA852.2.326, a red silk robe
  • MFA 44.6, a silk brocade banyan, 18th century (remodeled)
  • Met 1983.479.5, silk, England, first quarter of the 18th century
  • CMA 1936.443, a man’s morning gown, resist-dyed cotton with applied gold leaf, India, first half of the 18th century
  • LACMA M.2005.42, mordant painted and resist-dyed cotton from India, c. 1700-1750
  • Man’s banyan of painted-and-dyed cotton, Indian export for the European market, first half of the 18th century
  • V&A T.281-1983, a nightgown in Spitalfields silk, interlined with wool, and lined with silk; England, c. 1707-1720
  • V&A 1182-1899, silk lined with block-printed cotton, possibly made in Flanders, 1720s
  • V&A T.31-2012, silk damask woven in China, banyan made in Britain or the Netherlands, c. 1720-1750
  • Nordiska museet NM.0263181, c. 1720-1775. Printed cotton fabric woven in India, probably sewn and purchased in London.
  • Met 1973.195.1a, b, cotton and linen, America, c. 1725-1799
  • Met C.I.53.74.7a, b, silk, France, c. 1730
  • Met 1981.208.2 (also here), figured silk faille, England, c. 1735
  • LACMA M.79.140, Spitalfields silk damask, England, c. 1740
  • Nightgown in blue wool damask, c. 1740
  • Historic New England 1918.546, wool damask lined with twill, c. 1740-1750
  • Manchester 1949.73, silk damask lined with silk twill, England, c. 1740-1750
  • Nordiska museet NM.0192128, silk damask lined with printed cotton, mid-18th century (c. 1740-1770)
  • Manchester 1960.301, silk damask lined in silk, Britain, c. 1750-1760
  • Met C.I.56.5.1a-c, silk, wool, and linen, European, second half of the 18th century
  • LACMA M.2007.211.797, silk satin and silk plain weave (damassé) woven in China in the first half of the 18th century, made into a robe in the Netherlands c. 1750-1760; see also pattern
  • V&A T.215-1992, a banyan in painted and dyed cotton, with printed cotton lining, possibly England or the Netherlands, c. 1750-1775
  • MFA 43.122 reversable (silk satin on one side, silk-embroidered linen on the other), second half of the 18th century
  • Bijlokemuseum, printed cotton, c. 1751-1800
  • LACMA M.2007.211.949, patterned silk satin with striped silk lining, France, c. 1760
  • Kerry Taylor Auctions Dec 12 2016, Lot 41, a gentleman’s brocaded silk banyan, c. 1760
  • Man’s silk satin damask banyan, England, c. 1760
  • Met 2008.75, quilted silk, c. 1760
  • Met 1976.149.1, silk, France, c. 1760
  • MoL 53.101/10, made of Spitalfields silk woven c. 1731-1740 that was originally a different garment, resewn into a banyan around the mid-18th century; the lining is Indian glazed cotton painted with a floral design, c. 1740-1760
  • Christie’s Lot 329 / Sale 5922, a banyan and waistcoat made from a dragon robe
  • Blue silk banyan worn by William Fernell, 1760s
  • HD 2001.10.1, a banyan with attached waistcoat in cherry-red Spitalfields silk, c. 1760-1770
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1941-208, 1-2, banyan and matching waistcoat, Britain, c. 1750, remodeled 1760-1770; “Old pleats at the front are evidence that this banyan was remade from a woman's sack-back gown. Men's clothing usually differed in pattern from women's gowns. Except for embroidered formal wear, most suits were made with solid, striped, or small-patterned textiles. Only loose banyans such as this were considered suitable for large-scale damasks or brocaded silks.”
  • Quilted silk banyan, China Trade, English Market, c. 1760-1770
  • Manchester 1951.11, printed and quilted cotton (reputedly worn by George III), England, c. 1760-1780
  • Manchester 1954.966, silk damask with silk twill lining, England, c. 1760-1780
  • LACMA M.63.53a-b, silk with wool flannel lining, France, c. 1765
  • Historic New England 1980.1047, wool damask with wool lining, c. 1768-1799
  • Nordiska museet NM.0186307, floral-print cotton, c. 1770-1790
  • Snowshill Wade Costume Collection National Trust 1349100, c. 1770-1800; “A late 18th century banyan or dressing gown in beryl blue silk. Lining - fronts and hem is of cream silk. Back possibly 'kasha'. Kasha is a soft silky fabric of wool and goat's hair with a twill weave. Body slightly padded with soft blue wollen fabric. Interlining at shoulders of red woollen fabric. Interlining at shoulders of red woollen fabric. Cuff interlined linen. Cut - Ankle length, loosley cut, slightly flared from waist. front closure with wide overlap. Deep stand collar. Sloping shoulder seam. Back cut in one piece. Wide, shaped, set in sleeves with slight fullness at rear. Deep, close round cuffs. Trimmings - Wide frogging, across front and cuffs, pale peach coloured silk ribbon decorated with large silver sequins. Fastenings - 7 small flat self covered buttons from, and inculding, collar to hip line, buttonholes all cut.”
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1954-1010, India chintz with silk facing, England, c. 1770-1810
  • Colonial Williamsburg 2009-123, tartan lined with wool, England, c. 1770-1810
  • Rijksmuseum BK-NM-13160, a quilted robe in silk damask, c. 1775-1800
  • Nationalmuseet 3614/1968, a dressing gown in cotton, used in an opera (Fiskerne), made c. 1780
  • Chintz banyan worn by George IV when Prince of Wales, 1780s
  • Snowshill Wade Costume Collection National Trust 1348897, c. 1780-1800; “Made of cream and cinnamon striped cotton. Lined with unbleached cotton. Front straight cut; side back seams slightly curved; no seam at waist; sword slit in left vent; deep pocket in right vent, vertical flaps fastened with 2 buttons with 1 at top of vents (1 missing). Sleeves curved with 2.5 (64 mm) flase cuffs fastened with 2 buttons. Stand and fall collar fastened with 1 button (missing). 10 self-covered buttons down front with 5 buttonholes. A 6th buttonhole added later, button missing.”
  • KCI AC5631 87-22, red Chinese silk damask and contrasting green lining, England, c. 1785
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1993-66, banyan with attached waistcoat fronts, block-printed cotton lined with linen, Europe, c. 1790-1830
  • Met 1978.135.1, silk, England, c. 1780
  • Christie’s Lot 8 / Sale 5945, 'hard' tartan wool with green silk lining, c. 1800
  • HD 2004.22, Chinese silk damask weave nightgown in a large flower and leaf pattern with a twill-woven, shot olive silk half lining assembled in England or America, c. 1800

Depictions of men in banyans