Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Return of the Hostess Gown

You've seen them in magazines, in the windows of Saks Fifth Avenue, and--of course--at the Xtabay. I'm talking about the hostess gown.

Back in the day, a hostess gown was a long dress the lady of the house would wear when she entertained. The dress only left the house to go to the cleaners, otherwise it was paired with silver mules or some other cross between a slipper and a sandal. In summer, the hostess gown might be made of cotton barkcloth with a Polynesian design custom made for Mai Tais on the patio. In the early 1960s, Vogue magazine even suggested having hostess gowns made to match your living room curtains and upholstery.

The hostess gown had many advantages. First, it was usually cut loose so that you wouldn't have to wear a girdle. Many of the gowns had comfortable empire waists. It was fancy and informal at the same time, so it let guests know that this was an occasion, yet they could feel comfortable in your home. Hostess gowns briefly morphed into maxi dresses in the early 1970s, but they quickly fell out of fashion to be replaced first with Carol Brady outfits.

Today, few things look and feel better worn on the street on a warm day than a cotton hostess gown and sandals. If the gown is slightly short, so much the better: its hem will show off your ankles and pedicure as you move. Xtabay has a killer selection of hostess gowns right now. Number one on my list is an orange and white gown with a ruffled collar and hem and--get this--Colonel Sanders' face and KFC worked into the pattern. We also have a gorgeously flowing black gown with a polka dots and a halter neck, and two late 1960s dresses, both with museum-worthy prints and ruffled bottoms.

Keep walking past the windows of Saks right up to the bus mall where you can grab the #4 or #10 to Xtabay. You'll be the chicer for it.


  1. I have been so happy to see the return of the hostess gown...a super comfortable way to entertain, or just relax at home!

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