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Featured Aug 24, 2020 7 min read

8 reasons why the house dress isn’t going anywhere

Spotlighting why it’s a risk-free investment for SS21 as it replicates Zara's 'The Dress' levels of viral success.

house dress

The continuation of remote working combined with the high levels of unemployment post-COVID will see consumers spending more time indoors, contributing to the rise of the homewear wardrobe. 

Enter the home dress – spanning loungewear and sleepwear, elevating comfort dressing and inspiring the styling behind ‘The Dress’ of 2020. Read about the evolution of the style, its current state in the market and why it’s a risk-free investment for SS21.

Want to see how your business can leverage the house dress in your assortment? Get in touch with a Retail Expert today. 

Exploring the trend’s roots

The traditional house dress was a simple garment worn by housewives in the 1940’s for household chores or running errands. Its easy-to-wash and “throw it on” appeal serves today’s busy consumer, which has led retailers to modernize and redefine it from a dated relic of yesteryear into a versatile wardrobe staple.

2019 saw the rise of the “it” dress, where Zara‘s long-sleeved polka dot dress became a viral success, ticking the boxes of a timeless style at an accessible price point. In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has made “chuck on” dresses more important as consumers look for alternatives to loungewear that are still comfortable. H&M’s pink puff sleeve maxi dress earned the coveted label as “The Dress” and sold out within 24 hours.

The buzz surrounding Cottagecore has given a more wholesome, nostalgic feel to house dresses, spotlighting smocking and embroidery details, and picnic-inspired prints as consumers yearn for simpler times. As the pandemic’s uncertainty continues to loom, we see the house dress follow loungewear’s trajectory from a trend piece into a core item.

Recent interpretations

Silhouettes

With its puffy sleeves and draping silhouettes, this trend wouldn’t be out of place in a Disney movie. However, the house dress has a less costumey aesthetic with comfort paramount. So shapes need to be roomy, relaxed and easy to move in with breathable fabrics. Midis and maxis are the dominant lengths with high necklines evoking the nostalgia of the item. Elasticated shoulders give consumers the option of wearing the dress on or off the shoulder, further adding to its versatility.

Color

Pastels and muted tones are the colorways most applied within house dresses, playing into the whimsical qualities of the style. Charting new arrivals over the past six weeks across the mass market, greens made up the majority of new midi and maxi styles within the US followed by neutrals and blues. Lilac hues were more prominent in this region compared to the UK which favored pinks.

US top colors – Midi & maxi dress arrivals

  • Greens 13%
  • Neutrals 12%
  • Blues 12%

UK top colors – Midi & maxi dress arrivals

  • Pinks 13%
  • Neutrals 12%
  • Greens 11%
house dress

Patterns & details

Milkmaid necklines, smocking and embroidery add to the traditionally-feminine aesthetic of the house dress, complimented by delicate, girly prints such as micro florals and ginghams. Lirika Matoshi’s strawberry midi dress is generating buzz, paving the way for fruit motifs to add a more contemporary, playful twist.

Why the trend has longevity

It was featured in Pre-Spring 2021 runways

Ladylike, lounging around and Cottagecore emerged as some of the most commercial themes in Pre-Spring 2021 collections – stories where the house dresses will stand out as a hero piece. The dresses layered with knitwear at Ganni’s show set against a kitchen backdrop made next season’s iterations of the trend easy to visualize while flowing silhouettes and tiered ruffles were of note at Erdem and Giambattista Valli, signifying the future application of volume and texture to dresses.

People will be spending more time at home and in the garden

During the pandemic, consumers found a new affinity with nature and the outdoors with garden picnics becoming the activity of choice throughout lockdown. Combined with remote working, the “throw on” ability of the house dress propelled its success, making it a dressier alternative to loungewear. This trend shows no signs of slowing down – with working from home stretching into 2021, consumers will continue to prioritize comfort.

Cottagecore’s gone mainstream

Born from a TikTok subculture, the pandemic has seen Cottagecore aesthetics reach the masses. Taylor Swift’s latest album, “Folklore,” has aided the trend’s upwards trajectory. In the video for “Cardigan,” Swift is seen at the piano wearing a simple white day gown, which could double as a day or night attire.

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@taylorswift

It overlaps with sleepwear

With its soft color scheme and billowing silhouette, the house dress is an ideal product for retailers to dip their toes in the sleepwear market, which is forecasted to be valued at over $18 million by 2027 according to Allied Market Research, making it a prime area of investment. Further blurring the lines between night and daywear, this style encourages buy-in for complimentary items such as cardigans, wraps and house slippers.

There’s size-inclusive options

Throwing out the old-fashioned notion that larger sizes shouldn’t wear roomier silhouettes, the house dress has garnered social media attention in the body-positivity community who are tapping into the loose-fitting trend. Brands to note in this space include Universal Standard, Danielle Bernstein, Wray and Selkie. Additionally, Hill House Home markets its dresses as pregnancy and breastfeeding-friendly.

It has footing in the sustainable market

Designers boasting eco-friendly credentials are promoting house dresses, encouraging the timelessness of the style. Brands to have on your radar embrace slow fashion by creating limited product runs and using organic and deadstock fabrics including bookmark Samantha Pleet, Olette, Christy Dawn, Dôen and Omnes.

The “Nap Dress” has gone viral

Differentiating itself from a nightgown, lounge label Hill House Home trademarked the term “Nap Dress” in January, which describes its range of floaty gowns that have recently blown up online and achieved cult status. Analyzing Google searches for the term, the product’s recent success perfectly coincided with the height of summer and catering to consumer’s favorite lockdown activities – a daytime siesta or a grocery store run. Hill House Home’s best selling “Ellie” Nap Dress, an A-Line style that can be worn off or on the shoulder with ruffles and a tiered skirt, is poised to join the H&M style mentioned above as an “it” dress of 2020. Nap Dresses range from $75-$125 and are available in various colors and patterns such as stripes, ginghams and Swiss dots.

house dress

It’s economical & versatile

The house dress adds to the appeal of the home-wardrobe and leisurewear – notable post-COVID trends and ideal for consumers looking for alternatives to loungewear within the warmer months. The style also provides value for money as it’s a full outfit rather than buying into separate pieces and can be dressed up or down in almost all situations – an item of note when events start back up.

The majority of new house dresses adapted to the mass market through midi and maxi styles with smock detailing and/or puff sleeves sit at $/£20-30. 31% of styles arriving in the past month in the US are in this bucket while 60% in the UK. Smart retailers will keep pricing stable moving into 2021 and ensure a range of affordable options to encourage entry-level buy into the trend as consumers may experience less disposable income post-pandemic.

These turbulent times make it more essential for retailers to have a 360 degree view on the most influential trends shaping the market with real time data to back up their decisions. 

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