Victorian Era Nightgown Restoration: The Reveal

Project 3, part 5 – Buttons and an Art Nouveau Photoshoot (Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 here)

Everyone should have a greyhound assistant for their photoshoot!

Welcome back to the finale of the Victorian Era Nightgown Restoration project! This project has been so much fun, and honestly I’m a little sorry it’s over. Taking an antique textile from stained and ripped to glowing white and wearable was a real thrill! The lovely thing about clothes as a project is I will get to enjoy wearing them again and again, so at least I don’t have to say goodbye forever. 🙂

The mother of pearl replacement buttons I found on Etsy at ButtonBarrelShop were listed as “Victorian to vintage” in age. I chose them for size (this time they fit!), color, and general vibe more than a perfect match in date. My goal was to have the two replacements not appear wildly different from their cousins, so that at a distance you couldn’t necessarily tell. However, I wanted it to be clear upon close inspection which ones were the replacement – that way, in case the nightgown ended up in different hands it would be easy to tell which were original and which were added later.

Considering these are at the bottom, it’s almost impossible to tell when the nightgown is worn!

All that was left was to model it! For the first set of photos I wanted to show more what it would look like if worn as the nightgown it is intended to be. My hair is quite short so I picked a wig with ringlets for a more Victorian-inspired look, and a gauzy bonnet by Angelic Pretty to be the nightcap.

The neck is just the slightest bit tight, and the sleeves just a little short, but otherwise it fits perfectly!

I don’t really wear nightgowns, though, and honestly will be more likely to wear this as the coat it was originally identified as! So for the second set of photos I changed into “daywear” and a fancier bonnet, and pictured myself attending a fancy outdoor tea or perhaps an art exhibition. The art on my dress is by Alphonse Mucha, who was born in 1860 and was active as a painter through the Victorian Era. The Art Nouveau style he worked in was most popular from 1890-1910, so about 30 years after the date of my nightgown, but still within the right era!

Dress & tights – Innocent World, bonnet – Triple Fortune, shoes – American Duchess, greyhound – Greyhound Pets, Inc

I’m really happy with how the outfit came together! It’s the perfect mix for me of modern and antique. The light cotton nightgown when worn as a coat is ideal for warding off spring breezes, and the size of the skirt means it fits perfectly over petticoated dresses like this one. Plus, Finn enjoyed hanging out with me in the sun! (My other hound, Ashleigh, is a little harder to capture on camera…maybe I’ll share some of the outtake photos featuring her!)

You can’t even tell that my “coat” is 160 years old!

I am so excited to wear this again sometime soon – hopefully for a picnic or casual stroll with friends before it gets too hot to think about wanting an extra layer! Until then, I’ve got my nightgown stored in a textile conservation box, wrapped and padded with layers of acid-free tissue paper. It will live safe in a stack with my other antique garments, ready for a fancy occasion (or just a sunny Saturday!).

It’s important to keep it from creasing too much, as creases can become rips later on, so I’ve stuffed the sleeves and upper part of the garment with more tissue.

Thank you so much for joining me on this restoration journey! I’m working hard behind the scenes on so many more exciting things, including finishing my minidress, spotlights on some more fascinating antique objects, and another (slightly more modern!) restoration, so I look forward to seeing you back here soon!

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8 thoughts on “Victorian Era Nightgown Restoration: The Reveal

  1. What a beautiful restoration. It’s hard to believe how nice and white you were able to get this over 160 year old gown.
    I will be asking for help on stain removal if needed.
    Having Finn in your photo shoot was a nice touch too.


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