Katherine Salt is the co-owner of Plums Lingerie
Imagine: after taking a warm shower or a relaxing bath soak with your favourite essential aromas, it’s now time to slip into your evening loungewear. You glide your hands across your wardrobe and pick smooth silk nightwear to don on this cosy night.
Nothing comes close to the luxurious feel of silk on your skin. It’s an eternally elegant fabric sewn into beautiful garments time and time again. The material itself has an interesting and rich history, so if you’re new to exploring this textile or you’re already a fan, here’s an appreciative dive into silk and all its splendour.
Maybe the thought of silkworms doesn’t come to mind when you’re already wearing your gorgeous silk nightie, so here’s a little tidbit: silk comes from the insect Bombyx mori, which is the domestic silkmoth’s caterpillar.
Here’s how it’s made:
This is the stage where harvesters collect silkworms which they’ll abundantly spoil with mulberry leaves to munch on. Silk is pretty abundant because female silkmoths can lay as many as 500 eggs in one go. All her babies eventually hatch into silkworms. How amazing is that?
After growing about 3 inches—which takes roughly around 6 weeks—the silkworms will be big enough to start spinning their cocoon attached to a tree by moving their heads in an infinity symbol pattern. It takes 3 days up to a week for each one to create a single 100-meter strand of silk.
It’s now time to extract the silk threads. The cocoons are dropped into boiling water to dissolve the sericin, the natural glue that holds the shape of each one. This stage is important in ensuring that the threads don’t break, which are afterwards wound onto a reel.
Silk is thoroughly washed, dried and bleached, and then the process of dyeing begins. There are two types of dyes techniques: traditional and commercial.
Traditional dyeing uses natural colours taken from resources like plants and fruits that have impressive staining properties. The silk threads are bundled together and soaked in the pot of hot dye bath solution. It’s repeatedly done for days to ensure consistency in tone.
The commercial way of dyeing uses acid and reactive dyes. Modern manufacturers turn to these for efficiency and a wider stretch of shades to offer. This gives silk producers, retailers and customers limitless colour options to choose from.
This is the stage where silk is prepared for weaving. The dyed silk threads are unwound onto a bobbin and can be done by various techniques such as hand-spinning or ring spinning. This process of spinning with a wheel is the traditional way, and industrial machines follow the same concept to do the work at a swifter speed.
Here’s where it all comes together. Threads are interlaced to create a strong yet flexible piece of fabric. The usual finish types are satin and open weaves. With a warp and weft technique on a loom, horizontal and vertical threads are locked and interwoven into each other to create the lustrous silk that you’ve come to love.
The fabric is almost ready! These days, we sometimes want to go beyond the basics and opt for printed designs. Manufacturers can apply these to the textile with the commonly-known digital printing and screen printing.
When all is set, chemical treatments are usually applied to maintain the feel and sheen of the fabric. Special treatments can even prevent creases!
Silk is never just “simply silk” especially now that you know the eloquent process of making it. So how many types are there? Some say four, others say 50. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common, sought after kinds of silk fabric loved for their quality, texture and fit.
Did that surprise you? Yes, velvet is made of silk! It has more weight than the usual airy fabric that you know because it’s produced with several wefts and warps. It’s utterly soft, and we’d even say it has a regal feel to it.
Chiffon spotlights sheer and lightweight breathability. It’s delicate yet has a little tensility. It’s often used in everyday clothing, but with well-thought-out layering, this gauze-like material can create beautiful volumes that speak of gentle femininity fit for formalwear.
If you love the way silk scarves feel on your skin, you’ll love the graceful drape of georgette silk. Crafted with twisted yarns, it’s a plain-weave fabric that’s just a tad bit heavier but doesn’t lose its sheer breathable feel. It’s also used for gowns or smart casual wear.
Satin is surely made for glamour and dazzle. This material catches light gorgeously with its glossier sheen. We recommend silk satin over synthetic versions because the latter produces irksome static electricity when worn. Genuine silk satin is highly luxurious, smooth to the touch and great for clothing designs that put magnificence at centre stage. It’s also wonderfully comfortable for loungewear and sleepwear.
Like the stiff peaks of luscious icing, organza silk captivates with its delicate yet structured appeal. The open-weave fabric flaunts a fine airy look and feel, but don’t underestimate its sturdiness: it’s made with twisted threads that give organza its durability. It works well for creating volume in dresses, veils, puff sleeves, and formalwear.
If you love satin-finish silk, charmeuse could be your next favourite. It’s almost like satin but it gives off a more radiant lustre. Unlike satin, it also has a matte finish on one side. Like most kinds of silk, charmeuse is perfect for dresses, tops and scarves if you want a gorgeous drape. It’s also commonly used for pillowcases, sleeping masks, lingerie, and loungewear.
Ever wonder why silk feels so lush and cosy for nightwear? It’s a misconception that this luxurious material should only be used for opulent formalwear. The truth is, silk and its characteristics make this material a popular choice for loungewear and sleepwear. Read on to find out why.
Silk feels cool during hot summer nights, and it’s warmer during winter thanks to its isothermal quality. That’s why silk nightwear is seasonless.
Don’t be fooled by the light and delicate feel of silk fibres—it’s an amazing insulator that it’s even combined with materials for thermal ski wear. When the weather is hot, silk can be soothing on your skin. Its high reflectivity allows it to reflect heat, so it can provide refreshing comfort and relief any time of the year.
Delicate, light, featherweight, sheer—these all perfectly describe silk in its pure essence. Who doesn’t want that for sleepwear? There are a few types that carry more weight than others, but its airy, luxurious feel will always be a constant property across the different finishes.
With moderate elasticity, silk can hold its graceful form if treated well. A little bit of stretch won’t hurt, just be careful not to overdo it! One thing’s for sure, though: you can move freely with ease in your silk pyjamas, robes or camisoles.
You don’t have to wait too long to be able to wear your favourite silk pieces every time they go in the laundry. It’s a thin fabric that should dry pretty easily.
Let’s take a closer look at the exciting range of silk nightwear you can lounge and slumber in.
We spend an average of one-third of our lives sleeping—wouldn’t you want bedtime to be as pleasant as possible? One way you can achieve a delightful slumber is by donning silky smooth pyjamas. They aren’t just about style and luxury, they’re about comfort and unhampered relaxation.
Pyjamas, for one, provide great coverage so you can wrap yourself in cosiness all night. The lightweight material lets you move with carefree ease and as you now know, silk can regulate your body temperature.
This nightwear usually comes in a top and bottom set. The top can be a traditional shirt silhouette with a collar and buttons, a T-shirt style or a more sultry camisole with fine straps. On the other hand, the bottoms can be full-length pants or trousers, or they can be easygoing flowy shorts. They’re usually secured at the waist with a drawstring and—more often than not—have side pockets. Silk pyjamas aren’t just trendy sleepwear; they’re a beautiful marriage of form and function.
Putting on nightwear isn’t just about being comfortable in your sleep; sometimes, it’s about feeling sexy while you lounge in the evening and do your relaxing night routine. A silk chemise is the perfect lingerie piece if you want to exude your sultrier, more seductive side. It is also called a night slip in other regions.
Typically, a chemise is a short easy-to-wear dress with thin straps that accentuate your shoulders and a V-neckline that creates a sensual appeal. It’s usually trimmed with lace and embroidery to emphasize the feminine look. It can also have ribbons, ruffles and other romantic details. Who says fashion is only for others to see? Treat yourself to delightful elegant nightwear even when you’re just in your own company.
The versatility of silk dressing gowns makes this a staple piece in your nightwear collection. It cocoons you with deluxe comfort like no other material does. Once you put it on, you’ll know what we mean.
A dressing gown is basically a night robe that can be short or long. The fit is loose around the body and the arms, just like the way a kimono drapes gracefully over one’s form. It can be worn in a relaxed fashion over your chemise and pyjama set, or you can do it wraparound style with its matching tie belt. Either way, it completes a sophisticated loungewear look.
What’s also nice about silk dressing gowns is that you can use them any time of the day. If you’re just staying in to read a book or having a sleepover with your bestie, you can wear this robe over other loungewear clothing.
If you want something dressier than a basic chemise, a silk negligee indulges you in its splendidly chic fit. It has its roots in the 18th century when the French first introduced this vogue. It’s crafted with sheer, delicate fabric and takes inspiration from women’s day dresses.
Like the chemise, it can also be adorned with lace, ribbons and embroidery, but a negligee is usually a longer loungewear piece and can have romantic sleeves. The sheer premium materials used also makes a more erotic, opulent appeal.
Silk nighties bring in the fun of being in the comfort of your own home. Also known as night gowns or night dresses, they can vary greatly in length—choose from short, midi or full length depending on your personal preference and comfort. Regardless of its style, supple silk will always feel like a tender dream lightly grazing your soft skin.
“It needs dry cleaning.”
Nope! While silk is a delicate, natural fabric, you can wash this yourself without fuss as long as you follow best practices in doing so. You can even toss it in the washing machine as long as you set it on gentle wash with cool water. This will maintain its sheen and even make the fabric softer.
“It shrinks when you wash it.”
Contrary to the common misconception, silkwear can retain its shape and size as long as you clean it properly while washing. Make sure to follow the optimal temperature and washing machine settings to preserve the beauty of your silk nightwear. Silk has a little elasticity but its fibres are strong enough to hold form.
“It creates static electricity with movement.”
There is a lot of synthetic silk on the market and they’re usually made with polyester. These are the ones prone to getting annoying static electricity. Pure, top-grade silk is crafted with natural fibres that glide smoothly over your skin, so you don’t have to worry about this if you invest in fine, real silk.
You don’t have to dread laundry day just because you have to wash a couple of silk clothing pieces. It’s true that this gorgeous fabric is delicate, but that doesn’t mean it’s a pain to wash. Below, we have a simple and easy-to-follow silk wash guide so you can give your silkwear all the TLC it needs.
While you can safely clean your silkwear using a washing machine, hand-washing is still the safest way to give this delicate fabric a good bath. Here’s a quick step-by-step:
Got a little crease or wrinkle you want to smooth out? No worries—you can iron your silk items with settings that won’t ruin the fabric. Before you start, make sure that your iron is adjusted to a low or silk setting and make sure the dry clothing is inside out. Never iron wet! To protect the silk, put another fabric between that and the iron so no direct heat can cause damage.
To protect your silk nightwear from moths, use a moth repellent to preserve its quality. You could use a natural one like cedar. Another tip you can easily do is store your silk items in breathable garment bags, or fold them in between layers of cotton.