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Nightgown vs. Nightshirt: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 2, 2023
A nightgown is a loose-fitting, long garment worn for sleeping by women, while a nightshirt is a loose, shirt-like sleepwear that can be worn by all genders.

Key Differences

A nightgown is traditionally a long garment that often reaches the ankles or feet and is primarily designed for women. They come in a variety of fabrics, from comfortable cotton to luxurious silk. A nightshirt, on the other hand, is more similar to a regular shirt, often extending to the thighs or just below the knees, and is not gender-specific. Both garments are meant for sleep but differ significantly in length and customary gender association.
When considering the style, nightgowns often feature feminine details such as lace, ribbons, and embroidery, catering to a more classic and elegant look. Nightshirts tend to have a simpler design, akin to an oversized T-shirt or tunic, and can be plain or feature straightforward patterns. While both are designed for comfort during sleep, the aesthetic appeal of nightgowns leans towards traditional nightwear fashion, and nightshirts offer a more unisex and casual approach.
Regarding the historical context, the nightgown has been part of women's sleepwear for centuries, evolving in style and form. Nightshirts were once a standard for both men and women but have become more associated with men's sleepwear in contemporary fashion. Both nightgowns and nightshirts have their roots in practicality but have diverged through cultural shifts in clothing.
In the realm of fabric choice, nightgowns may utilize a wider range of materials, including the incorporation of sheer and translucent fabrics for more luxurious variants. Nightshirts are typically made of sturdier fabrics and are often designed for comfort and durability rather than delicacy. Both garments serve the same practical purpose but offer different experiences through their material composition.
The use of nightgowns and nightshirts can also vary with the seasons. Nightgowns can be found in heavier materials for the winter months and lighter ones for summer. Similarly, nightshirts also adapt to seasonal needs but generally maintain a simpler, more uniform build throughout the year. Each garment provides options for comfort in any season, though the nightgown often presents a wider array of seasonal styles.

Comparison Chart


Typically ankle or floor-length.
Usually thigh-length or just below the knees.

Gender Association

Primarily worn by women.
Worn by all genders.


Often features lace, ribbons, or embroidery.
Simpler, may resemble an oversized T-shirt or tunic.

Historical Usage

Has been women's sleepwear for centuries.
Once common for both sexes, now more male-associated.

Fabric Varieties

Ranges from cotton to silk, including sheer materials.
Generally made of comfortable, durable fabrics.

Seasonal Styles

Varied styles for different seasons.
More uniform throughout the year, though materials vary.

Cultural Perception

Seen as more traditional and elegant.
Viewed as casual and straightforward.

Nightgown and Nightshirt Definitions


A long, flowing sleepwear garment for women.
She felt like royalty in her silk nightgown.


A loose-fitting shirt worn for sleep.
He lounged on the sofa in his striped nightshirt.


A dress-like article of clothing used for sleeping.
The cotton nightgown was perfect for a warm summer night.


A unisex sleeping top with simple styling.
She borrowed his nightshirt, preferring its baggy fit.


A full-length garment often made of light, comfortable fabric.
Her new nightgown fluttered gracefully as she walked.


Casual sleepwear often made from cotton or flannel.
His favorite nightshirt was faded but still the softest he owned.


A sleepwear item typically featuring feminine details.
The nightgown's lace trim added a touch of elegance.


A garment for sleeping, less ornate than a nightgown.
In the cool of the evening, a cotton nightshirt was all he needed.


A bedtime attire that can be both functional and decorative.
She chose a flannel nightgown for its warmth and comfort.


A sleep garment resembling an oversized shirt.
The nightshirt hung to her knees, soft and comfortable.


A loose garment worn in bed or for lounging. Also called nightdress.


A long, loose shirt worn in bed.


A long loose robe worn mainly by women for sleeping in.


A shirt-like garment (often oversized) that is worn to bed.
He wore a blue striped nightshirt and bedroom slippers.


A dressing gown.


A kind of nightgown for men.


A loose gown used for undress; also, a gown used for a sleeping garment.


Nightclothes worn by men


Lingerie consisting of a loose dress designed to be worn in bed by women


What materials are nightgowns made of?

Nightgowns can be made from silk, satin, cotton, flannel, and more.

What is a nightgown?

A nightgown is a long, flowing dress-like garment worn by women for sleeping.

Can men wear nightgowns?

While not common, men can wear whatever they find comfortable, including nightgowns.

Is a nightshirt appropriate for lounging?

Yes, nightshirts are often worn for lounging as well as sleeping.

Can nightgowns be sexy?

Yes, some nightgowns are designed to be sexy with delicate fabrics and cuts.

Can a nightshirt be worn by women?

Absolutely, nightshirts are unisex and can be worn by women.

Do nightgowns come in different lengths?

Yes, while traditionally long, nightgowns can also be mid-length or short.

Do nightgowns have sleeves?

Nightgowns can be sleeveless, have short sleeves, or long sleeves.

Who typically wears a nightshirt?

Nightshirts can be worn by individuals of any gender.

Are nightgowns suitable for all seasons?

Yes, nightgowns come in various fabrics suitable for any season.

Are nightshirts form-fitting or loose?

Nightshirts are typically loose-fitting for comfort.

Is a nightshirt the same as a pajama top?

Not exactly, a nightshirt is typically longer and can be worn without pants.

Are there cultural differences in wearing nightgowns or nightshirts?

Yes, cultural preferences and perceptions of nightgowns and nightshirts vary globally.

Are nightgowns only for sleeping?

Primarily yes, but some styles can be worn for lounging at home.

Is it common to wear a nightgown outside the house?

No, nightgowns are typically considered indoor garments.

What's the main difference between a nightgown and a nightshirt?

The main difference is the length and the typical gender association.

How do I choose between a nightgown and a nightshirt?

Consider your comfort preferences, the desired length, and the style you feel best in.

Are all nightshirts plain?

No, while many are plain, some have patterns or simple decorations.

Can children wear nightshirts?

Yes, nightshirts are made for people of all ages, including children.

Can nightshirts have collars?

Yes, some designs include collars for a more shirt-like appearance.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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