From the soap operas on television, to movies, to the uptown shopping centres, and even the fashion shows locally and internationally, the sexy and classy night dress is flaunted as one of the secrets to creating a romantic environment in the bedroom.
A night dress, more commonly referred to as a nightie, can be made from cotton, silk, satin or nylon and can be decorated with lace, embroidery at the bust and hem. It may have any neckline and sleeves of any type. It could be sleeveless; it could have shoulder straps or maybe strapless.
The length of the night dress varies from hip length to floor length. The floor length nightie was common in the 1980 and has since faded off the market with transparent, hip-length nighties taking over.
According to Juliana Okori, a fashion designer, a night dress is a must have in a woman’s wardrobe awing to the comfort it offers in the night and the aspect of smartness in bed. “It is something every woman should have because, for those in relationships, it adds some spark while for the individual it is the comfort that leads one to dream world,” Okori says.
While many women own a couple of night dresses in different designs, very few wear them to bed whether they are sleeping alone or with someone else. Okori says wearing a nightie will mainly depend on the mood and the weather. In cold weather, most women prefer pajamas, while on days where the mood is low, some will opt for a simple t-shirt, vest and shorts.
“Most women are caught in compulsive buying, where one buys things because they are beautiful rather then because they need them. So, most women will have night dresses, but never get to wear them,” she says.
However, Benard Luyiga, a Makerere University Councillor, disagrees with the relevance of the night dress calling it a traditional habit for the singles, which tends to distance couples. “If a couple is interested in wearing something at night, I would rather it was something light like boxers for gents, vests or t-shirts, but not full or complete night dresses,” Luyiga says.
In the essay The Wonderful World of the Indian Nightie, social commentator, Santosh Desai writes: “Like the engagement ring, the nightie is an alien habit that we have embraced without reservation, but in our own unique way... It is resolute in its modesty and is feminine enough without looking fetching... It is interesting that its current popularity has been generated, not by any clever marketing, but entirely by the user, who has seen it in value not originally intended.”
Robinah Mbabazi Mulera better known as Bina Baby, a presenter on Dembe FM, says the relevance of the night dress has been over time exaggerated. “I can do without it. In relationships, they may help to flatter you before your spouse and some of them, especially the short silky ones, are quite comfortable, but that is just about it,” she says.
The older women continue to wear nighties because it is pretty much what their generation wore. They wear it long and decent, probably for the fear of the unknown, for the fear of running out of the house with the nightie only but the young ones wear nighties not as a protective or concealing gear, but rather a design to enhance their sexuality.
From the 1980s, boarding schools across the country continue to make night dresses a mandatory requirement for school thus developing a culture on the use of night dresses to the young generation, a culture that is carried forward into society and the future at large.