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PICTURE the scene, you’re with the man of your dreams, he’s handsome, he’s rich, you’re crazy for him, he whispers it’s time to slip into something more comfortable. He exits and reappears wearing a... dressing gown.
Tartan, towelling, waffle-weave or print, for some women the dressing gown is the ultimate turn-off and more effective than a contraceptive.
“Part of the reason for this is that dressing gowns signify sexlessness, says stylist, Julia Haythorn: “There are only two phases in man’s lifetime when dressing gowns look great: under 10, they look adorable, and over 60 they say 'comforting'. Anything in between and it just looks hilarious.”
But why does the male dressing gown inspire such ridicule, when women in a towelling robe and pyjamas are still considered sexy?
“Towelling and print dressing gowns make women look cute, sexy and demure in a Doris Day type way, adds Haythorn: “But while this ultra feminine look is fabulous on women, the reverse is true for men, who are simply not appealing when they look cute and vulnerable.”
But while some women loathe a man in dressing gown, others love them.
“James Bond star, Daniel Craig did a lot for the garment when he appeared hunky and handsome in his 007 dressing-gown in Casino Royale, says: fashion photographer, Cathy Hassan: “silk robes have an alluring 1940’s Hollywood glamour that hint at what’s beneath. Dressing gowns are a much-overlooked accessory that can make a man look sexy and glamorous.
“I associate the dressing-gown, with breakfast on a balcony somewhere exotic, with views of the sea. On enjoying an aperitif, tousled from an afternoon in bed. The dressing gown represents relaxation and romance."
Hassan believes that metro sexual men (a new breed of young man with money to spend who pays careful attention to grooming) is beginning to appreciate the dressing gown, now that boxer shorts and a T-shirt, have become the favoured bedtime apparel.
“The dressing gown is an unnecessary luxury, but essential at the same time, says stylist Jeremy Michael: “They are definitely not sexy - not the equivalent of a woman's negligee - but they're elegant and stylish. A dressing-gown draws a clear line between work and play.”
Back in the Fifties and Sixties, the dressing gown symbolised risqué sexiness. Heart throb, Cary Grant suffered not a jot of damage to his hunky image when he appeared in a pink marabou-trimmed dressing gown in the film Bringing Up Baby, while film stars Rock Hudson and Michael Caine regularly seduced their leading ladies in robes.
“The Fifties was an age of innocence, seeing someone in a dressing gown was a very personal, risqué image because of what it hinted at, says relationship counsellor, Jackie Fern:” This was an era when real kissing on film was forbidden, and actors had to keep one foot on the floor when doing a bed scene. Suggestion was sexy and the vision of Cary in a dressing gown hinted at sex and nudity.
“These days, we're so bombarded with sexual imagery that men in dressing gowns just don't tickle our fancy. With so much nudity on the television and in the media it is not out of the ordinary to see a naked male body, which is what makes a dressing gown on hunky men, look so out of place, adds Fern.