Easy, breezy and totally comfortable. The Nap Dress, trademarked by lifestyle brand Hill House, is just one of the latest iterations of house dresses. And while house dresses have been around for decades and potentially even centuries (the style is said to have originated from a Victorian gown), the romantic garment is experiencing quite the renaissance.
What is a nap dress?
Nap dresses are “loose-fitting, flowy and feminine” says Amanda Sanders, a lifestyle expert and stylist to celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Rock and Jennifer Coolidge. Often the only fitted part of the dress is around the bust, and other key features include “heavy smocking, over-exaggerated puff sleeves and a typically long, slightly pleated skirt.” While nap dresses may be comfortable enough to sleep in, their purpose goes far beyond that of a nightgown. The brilliance of the nap dress and similar house dresses is that they’re generally dressy enough to wear to the office, comfortable enough for running errands, and romantic enough for a weekend date.
Ahead, we’ve rounded up a range of top-rated or tried-and-true nap dresses (as well as other super-comfy dresses) that check all our boxes when it comes to comfort, versatility and — of course — style.
Let’s begin with The Ellie Nap Dress by Hill House, the brand that started the trend. Available in nine colors and up to size 2X, this dress seriously couldn’t get more perfect. An A-line variant of the brand’s Nap Dress, this features elasticated smocking, ruffled shoulders and a tiered midi skirt that will feel comfortable to lounge around in yet sophisticated enough to pair with heels and head to dinner.
One reviewer writes, “Magical, beautiful, top-notch quality, real French seams, stunning patterns and looks phenomenal and flattering on. There is no end to compliments on this nap dress.”
This shorter, flirtier spin on the signature Hill House hits just above the knee, and would even look darling with tights in the fall. Sporting the same smocking and ruffled shoulders as its longer counterpart, we’re truly obsessed with the pink mermaid print and the blue glitter check. It’s got a tie at the back too to ensure the sleeves don’t fall down. And it’s available in sizes XXS to XXL.
More nap dress options
Free People Oasis Midi Dress ($118; freepeople.com)
Free People is one of the brands Sanders immediately associates with the nap dress style, and for good reason. The boho-style brand creates tons of dresses that are breezy, loose and absolutely adorable, and the Oasis Midi Dress is no exception. This cotton option has the classic smocked bodice along with the puffy sleeves, while the square neckline really gives off that popular cottagecore aesthetic.
Writes one reviewer, “Got this dress while I was pregnant as I wanted clothing that I could wear post-pregnancy. This is literally one of the most comfortable dresses I own — the sleeves are not too billowy, the length on my 5’2” petite frame is not overwhelming and the neckline is perfection!”
A New Day Sleeveless Smocked Dress ($29.99; target.com)
With its smocked bodice and frilly sleeves, this summery number has women’s most prized possession: pockets. Reviewers say it runs a bit large, and actually makes for a great maternity dress. Writes one reviewer: “I wore it 35 weeks pregnant for my baby shower. The XS still fit perfect! I would say it runs big. Got so many compliments. Can’t wait to wear it again non-maternity!”
Who What Wear Ruffle Short-Sleeve Dress ($39.99; target.com)
For a nap dress that looks straight out of “Pride and Prejudice,” this affordable pick from Target sports a higher neckline (making it great for transitioning into fall) with ruched detailing along the sleeves. Just as adorable with sneakers as it is with boots, and available in black or white, you’ll look like a Victorian dream.
Sleeper Atlanta Linen Dress ($320; sleeper.com)
Hoping to avoid looking like you’re wearing a nightgown? Sanders says that many nap dresses can be “underwhelming in color and pattern,” and that she would suggest opting for brighter colors. This orange option from Sleeper, made from super-soft linen, is eye-catching yet classic and perfect for strutting around in all summer.
While it’s definitely on the pricier side, all of Sleeper’s products are absurdly high-quality and super-versatile — this particular dress being one of the brand’s bestsellers. Lounging around the house? A beach weekend? Weekend brunch or a date at the park? Check, check, check.
Free People Mockingbird Maxi Dress ($148; freepeople.com)
“If I were to style somebody in a nap dress, I’d look for something in white eyelet,” says Sanders. This option from Free People mixes eyelet lace and cotton tiers for that cottagecore drama, while the V-neck silhouette helps to elongate even the most petite ladies.
One reviewer writes that this dress is “the perfect fit, hits at all the right places, and… not too long as I’m only 5’2”.” The exposed back and pleating throughout make it a bit of a dressier option, and reviewers say they’ve worn this dress at all sorts of events from weddings to day trips.
Vichy Check Dress ($49.99, originally $79.99; mango.com)
With sweet tie straps, ruching along the bust and a modern check pattern we’re completely obsessed with, this is something that, when thrown over a turtleneck, could easily transition into fall. The midi length is great for people of all heights too.
Everlane The Japanese GoWeave Slip Dress ($98; everlane.com)
Slip dresses are like the modern, minimalist sister to the nap dress. While they receive full marks on comfort and versatility, they pass on all the frills and ruffles that many nap dresses have. This makes them the perfect layering tool, and ideal for anyone who values practicality in their clothing. This top-rated slip dress from Everlane is made from a crease-resistant (yes!) and cooling (double yes!) fabric that’s incredibly soft.
R.Vivimos Floral Print Retro Bohemian Midi Dress (starting at $24.99; amazon.com)
Back in 2019, we raved about Amazon’s nightgown dress. The dress has a super relaxed boho shape and a deep V-neck cut with tassels, all of which are reminiscent of some Free People designs — just at a fraction of the price. So if you’re looking for something that will give you total freedom of movement, that you might get wet at the beach or pool, and that you won’t be wearing to any fancy events, this might just be the nap dress for you.
Free People Embroidered Fable Midi Dress ($168; freepeople.com)
Sanders suggests larger patterns, as opposed to small floral prints, when it comes to looking more in fashion and less like you’re wearing a nightgown you’d actually sleep in. This embroidered dress is one take on that bolder pattern, which reviewers say garners tons of compliments.
One of them writes, “I’m really mad at myself for wasting time on other dresses when I could have been buying this dress in multiple colors the last few years. It had been on my radar but I never took the plunge.”
View from the Meadow Off-The-Shoulder Dress ($66; lulus.com)
This option from Lulus, one of our favorite places to shop for affordable yet high-quality dresses, features the nap dress’s signature smocked bodice and flowy skirt, but swaps big sleeves for short off-the-shoulder ones. With thigh-high slits, the whole dress is sleek, and just a little sexier than your typical nap dress.
Free People Violet Mini Dress ($108; freepeople.com)
Sanders explains that many maxi-length nap dresses can be “overwhelming to most women who are under 5’7”.” Short nap dresses feature everything we love about their maxi-length counterparts, but are friendlier to petites. This option from Free People comes in seven stunning colors, and features a cute tie in the back so you don’t have to fret about buttons or zippers.
Madewell Poplin Crewneck Bubble-Sleeve Mini Dress ($74.99, originally $110; madewell.com)
This dress is the definition of versatile. The poplin material is just as lightweight and comfortable as traditional cotton, but a bit more structured — making it easy to dress up with accessories and nice shoes. The elastic waist is still extremely comfortable, and the best part is that it has two totally functional pockets.
Madewell Linen-Blend Alexandra Button-Front Mini Dress ($88; madewell.com)
If you’re into the shape and ease of nap dresses, but could pass on the ruffles and drama, a babydoll dress is a perfect balance between feminine and relaxed. This option from Madewell is made from a blend of linen and cotton, which makes it ideal for warmer weather. The button-front and hem around the middle are super-cute, while still giving off that effortlessly chic vibe. Plus, and this is always a huge plus, the dress includes two deep pockets, so you can kiss having to carry a purse goodbye.