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10 Nightgowns for Escaping the Manor in Your Very Own Gothic Romance Novel

Happy All Hallows Eve!

Though I don't talk about it very much, I love pulp fiction novel covers. Because there's something so - not tawdry, per se - but campy about them. Lurid even. Gothic pulp covers in particular are overdramatic and macabre. They are voyeuristic in a way that should be horrifying, yet sucks you in nonetheless.

There's a formula to these gothic romance covers. You can expect a woman running away from an unseen spectre, always at night. The background is often a castle or manor - frequently with only one lit window. Sometimes it's a graveyard. Very, very occasionally it may be a creepy forest or church.

The heroine is the only well-lit thing in the scene, usually looking behind or off to the side in fright. And, almost always, she's wearing a long, flowing white nightgown. One that trails behind her as she makes her terrifying escape from a mysterious villain, almost poised to trip her at the exactly right (or exactly wrong) moment. Something that will look just as elegant once she's a ghost.

For your viewing pleasure and grisly delight, here are 10 nightgowns for your very own gothic romance escape. I also want to extend a very warm "Thank you" to Sweet Nothings for providing the original inspiration for this post as well as Pulp Librarian for being one of the most incredible resources for this pulp genre. In addition to pulp, there's a reference or two to the aesthetics of Crimson Peak in here as well.

Finally, while all the items below are from contemporary designers (and a great place to start your gothic nightgown search), don't underestimate the vintage sections of sites like Etsy. Vanity Fair in particular seems to have inspired many of the cover looks from this era.

Lela Silk

And one more gothic romance a treat!

Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. Author of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that everyone who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

5 Comments on this post

  1. Susan/DC says:

    The Jane Woolrich could double as a 1930s evening gown, while the Linen Bees looks like the nightgown worn by a Regency heroine when she can’t sleep and goes to the library in the manor where the hero sees her backlit against the fire.

  2. Erica says:

    Great post! I love the look of night gowns, but usually I wear a shirt and shorts to sleep.

  3. Amanda says:

    I love–and write–gothic romantic suspense, so it was such a pleasure to see this article. The book covers are delightful, and I love the range of nightwear selected. I fell in love with one of the nightgowns and ended up ordering it from Etsy! Thanks so much for a really fun article.

  4. Kimberly says:

    Love the covers and the gowns. I think I’d choose to be wearing the Liliana Casanova gown if I were on the cover of a gothic romance, though the Jane Woolrich is a close second. And hey, a lot of those old romances are very well written, as well as being a ton of fun. You’re making me want to spend my weekend ensconced at home wearing decadent loungewear and reading.

  5. Kim says:

    This is a really fun article thank you

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