Easy, airy and completely comfortable. Nap Dress, the trademark of the Hill House lifestyle brand, 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 originate from a Victorian dress), the romantic garment is experiencing a rather renaissance.
Nap dresses are “loose-fitting, flowing and feminine,” says Amanda Sanders, a lifestyle expert and stylist for celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Rock and Jennifer Coolidge. Often the only fitted part of the dress is around the chest, and other key features include “heavy smock, exaggerated puff sleeves and a typical long, lightly pleated skirt.” While nap dresses can be comfortable enough to sleep in, their purpose goes far beyond a nightgown. The brilliance of the nap dress and similar house dresses is that they are generally dressy enough to have in the office, comfortable enough to run errands and romantic enough for a weekend date.
In advance, we have put together a range of top-rated or proven lure dresses (as well as other super-comfortable dresses) that check all our boxes when it comes to comfort, versatility and – of course – style.
Available from Hill House in eight colors and up to size 2X.
Ellie Nap Dress from Hill House is the dress that started the lure dress trend.
Let’s start with The Ellie Nap Dress from Hill House, the brand that started the trend. Available in nine colors and up to size 2X, this dress seriously could not be more perfect. An A-line variant of the brand’s Nap Dress, this one has elastic smock, ruffled shoulders and a layered midi skirt that will feel comfortable to relax in, yet sophisticated enough to pair with heels and go to dinner.
One reviewer writes: “Magical, beautiful, first-class quality, genuine French stitching, stunning patterns and a phenomenal look. There is no end to the compliments of this lure dress.”
Available from Hill House for up to 2X.
If you are looking for a shorter and cheaper version of the ultra-comfortable lure dress, then grab The Athena.
This shorter, flirtatious spin on the distinctive Hill House hits just above the knee and would even look cute with tights in the fall. We have the same smocked and ruffled shoulders as its longer counterpart and we are really obsessed with the pink mermaid print and the blue glittertern. It also has a tie at the back to ensure that the sleeves do not fall down. And it is available in sizes XXS to XXL.
Free People is one of the brands that Sanders immediately associates with the nap dress style, and for good reason. The boho-style brand creates tons of dresses that are airy, loose and absolutely adorable, and the Oasis Midi dress is no exception. This cotton option has the classic smocked top along with the raised sleeves, while the square neckline really delivers the popular cottagecore aesthetic.
One reviewer writes: “Got this dress while I was pregnant as I wanted clothes that I could wear after pregnancy. This is literally one of the most comfortable dresses I own – the sleeves are not too wavy, the length of my 5-foot, 2-inch petite frame is not overwhelming, and the neckline is perfect! ”
Fit & Flare Puff-Sleeve Seersucker All-Day Mini Dress
Gingham print lets you be playful without being too tall in an exaggerated design. This Old Navy option in cotton with a sweetheart neckline is available in up to 4XL and also comes in blue.
Ready to get some more cottagecore vibes into your summer wardrobe? With a gorgeous floral print, this maxi dress from Lulus is perfect for all your gatherings, daily errands or sun-soaked relaxation.
Do you hope to avoid wearing a nightgown? Sanders says many nap dresses can be “overwhelming in color and pattern,” and that she would suggest choosing lighter colors. This orange variant from Sleeper, made of super soft linen, is eye-catching and yet classic and perfect for strutting around all summer.
While certainly on the more expensive side, all of Sleeper’s products are absurdly high quality and super versatile – this particular dress is one of the brand’s bestsellers. Are you lounging around the house? A beach weekend? Weekend brunch or a date in the park? Check, check, check.
“If I were to style someone in a lure dress, I would look for something with a white eye,” Sanders says. This option from Anthropologie comes in six different colors and looks great, whether you want to dress it down flat for a city look with or lift it with your favorite jewelry and heels for a smart evening outfit.
With a cute tie in the back, square neckline and a ruffle edge, we absolutely love this maxi from Free People. Perfect for those days when you want to feel a little more feminine but also want the airy comfort all day.
Slip dresses are like the modern, minimalist sister of the lure dress. While giving full character to comfort and versatility, they pass on all the frills and ruffles that many lure dresses have. This makes them the perfect layering tool and ideal for anyone who appreciates practicality in their clothing.
We’ve raved about Amazon’s nightgown. The dress has a super casual boho shape and a deep V-neckline with tassels, all reminiscent of some Free People designs – just for a fraction of the price. So if you are looking for something that gives you total freedom of movement, that you might get wet at the beach or pool, and that you should not wear to some fancy events, this might be just the lure dress for you.
Sanders suggests larger patterns, as opposed to small floral prints, when it comes to looking more mature and smaller as if you were wearing a nightgown you would actually sleep in. This embroidered dress is a bid for the bolder pattern that reviewers say reaps tons of compliments.
One of them writes: “I’m really mad at myself for wasting time on other dresses when I could have bought this dress in several colors the last few years. It had been on my radar, but I never took the plunge.”
This option from Lulus, one of our favorite places to shop for affordable, yet high-quality dresses, has the lure dress’s signature smocked top and flowing skirt, but replaces large sleeves with short sleeves off the shoulder. With thigh-high slits, the whole dress is slim and just a little sexier than your typical lure dress.
Sanders explains that many maxi-length nap dresses can be “overwhelming for most women under 5’7”. Short nap dresses have everything we love about their maxi-length counterparts, but are more friendly to petites. This option from Free People comes in seven amazing colors and has a cute tie in the back so you do not have to worry about buttons or zippers.
If you are into the shape and lightness of lurking dresses, but could pass on the ruffles and drama, a babydoll dress is a perfect balance between feminine and casual. The poplin material on this Madewell dress is as light and comfortable as traditional cotton, but a bit more structured – which makes it easy to decorate with accessories and beautiful shoes.
This adorable v-neck dress from Madewell comes with a drawstring at the waist, so you can decide how casual you want the fit. In addition, it has pockets!