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I've always preferred nightgowns to pyjamas. This is surprising considering that during the day I always wear trousers. I don't even own a skirt or a shirt. At night I like the feeling of free flowing cloth round my body without a rubber band in the middle. If the nightgown is long, I feel as if I were lying in a sleeping bag and I like this.
Here comes the crux: the length. The material I like best close to my skin is cotton. Cotton shrinks when washed. So what can I do to have a nightgown as long as I like (at least mid-calf) for a long time? I can buy a bigger size, of course, but the shrinking process doesn't affect the width in my experience, only the length. After several washings I have a short, wide and floppy thing like a tent big enough for two people.
I used to buy my nightgowns in department stores and thought that I should perhaps buy a better quality in a specialty shop. So, when a brochure of Lands' End landed in my letter-box and I read the enthusiastic descriptions the ad people had composed for the product, I thought I'd found the right address.
- Long-lasting cotton interlock knit
- Pretty satin trim
- Long sleeves keep you cosy
- Side vents add a hint of ease
- Midcalf Length
Sounds good, doesn't it?
Usually fashion models are extremely tall, but I'm sure that where length matters, the fashion peepz take short-legged ones to make the article in question look longer. So I took the photo showing a woman in a nightgown down to her mid-calves with a grain of salt. I'm not a giant, I'm 1.72 cm tall (I used to be 1.76 cm tall but have shrunk over the years although I'm not made of cotton), but I didn't expect the gown to reach so far down with me than with the model in the brochure. What reassured me was the information that the nightgown was 120.5 cm (for size M) long. That was enough for me. Yet, many washings (but no tumble drying) later the nightgown is only 106 cm long! I feel that we're close to cheating here. It's not the fault of the Lands' End firm that cotton shrinks but they should at least mention it in their brochure as a fact and also the length by which the garment shrinks. If the average shrinking is 14 cm, they should make the nightgowns 14 cm longer from the beginning. When the shrinking process has stopped, it then has the right length.
The highly praised '100% Supima® cotton - the cream of America's cotton crop' is soft and pleasant to wear in all seasons with the exception of high summer (when one doesn't want to wear long sleeves anyway). In this respect I'm content. It's one reason why over the years I've already bought three nightgowns from Lands' End. The other is that I haven't found the perfect nightgown anywhere else. At the moment I have a blue one (see pic at the top) and a mint green one.
Lands' End (the wrong apostrophe is due to an ad person who didn't know their mother tongue properly and is now kept as an idiosyncratic mark) pride themselves of their business philosophy. "In complete contrast to today's throwaway culture, quality counts for everything at Lands' End. We take great pride in the design and manufacture of our products to ensure their longevity and, ultimately, your satisfaction. So that you can be assured of our commitment to this, everything we sell is Quality. Guaranteed. No ifs, no buts, no problem. Simply put, if you're not 100% happy with a purchase, you can return it at any time for an exchange or refund."
When I read a review written by an English woman on the firm and how they indeed substituted articles with holes torn by nails or sharp dogs' teeth, I decided to test their policy. I had ordered some polo shirts and wanted to send the ones back whose colour I didn't like. I packed a six-year-old nightgown into the parcel as well which had got holes at one elbow. As I don't sleep sitting at my desk with my head in my hands and elbows on the desk top, I thought this would be a case for replacement. Why should a nightgown worn in bed have holes round one elbow? Alas, nothing, not even a negative letter. Maybe the British branch (Lands' End is an American brand) is more generous than the German one? The Americaness of the brand - the eternal fear of being sued - becomes obvious in the tag sewn into the trim reading KEEP AWAY FROM FIRE. Who'd have thunk it?
To come to a conclusion: My nightgown from Lands' End is not the best possible but the best I've found so far.
It costs 39 GBP.