8 Nap Dresses for Pregnancy, Nursing, and Postpartum

About six months into my pregnancy—August in Atlanta and during pandemic times, no less—getting dressed was a struggle. My pregnant body was changing, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on clothing when I wasn’t really going anywhere. Still, I knew I needed something low-maintenance, comfortable, stylish, and enough versatile that I could wear to the occasional lunch and around the house. 


Enter the nap dress.

Nap dresses have become one of the hottest trends to emerge from the pandemic—everyone from influencers to celebrities to working moms are wearing them. If you're not entirely sure what a nap dress is—though we know the name gives you a strong hint—we're going to dive into it here. Plus, meet the mom who coined the style, learn what to look for when buying one, and find out why they beloved during pregnancy, nursing and postpartum.

What is a Nap Dress? 

It was first coined by Nell Diamond of Hill House Home, who had twins at the end of 2020. “I’m a ‘dress girl’ and the Nap Dress was my dream garment—a versatile dress that could be worn at practically any place and any time and keep me feeling put together," Diamond shares. "It allows me to go from nursing to a meeting to dinner, all without changing.” 

A nap dress is typically made from a cotton blend that is comfortable enough to wear around the house but dressy enough to wear to a meeting or to date night. It is loose and flowy, often with a stretchy empire waist. No part of the dress is uncomfortable or high-maintenance: it's the type of frock that doesn't require dry cleaning or ironing. (In fact, if it gets a little rumpled, it just adds to the post-siesta vibe.)

The defining characteristic of a nap dress is its adaptability. Nap dresses have a variety of signature elements, such as smocking or stretch at the bodice, or dramatic sleeves and skirts that flare away from the body. They often come in feminine prints, like florals or gingham, and feature soft pastels.


Diamond, a mother of three, did wonder when she created it if it was something only she would care about, or if others would also want to lounge in breezy nightgown-inspired frocks. Turns out, she was on to something: Hill House Home sold $1 million worth of Nap Dresses in 12 minutes earlier this year.

Why Is It Called a Nap Dress?

“The name is a bit of a misnomer,” says Diamond. “I don’t think any parents I know have time to nap right now, but what’s great about the Nap Dress is its versatility. It’s comfortable enough to take a nap in but can also be worn at any time of day.” 

Nell Diamond

The name is a bit of a misnomer. I don’t think any parents I know have time to nap right now, but what’s great about the Nap Dress is its versatility.

— Nell Diamond

What to Look for in a Nap Dress

While only Hill House Home’s version is technically a Nap Dress (“we filed the trademark in January 2020,” says Diamond), there have been a ton of similar styles that have emerged from retailers ranging from H&M to Bloomingdales.

The key to this look is the merging of comfort and style.  Look for soft, malleable fabrics like cotton and gauze, paying particular attention to styles that are machine-washable for easy maintenance. To be on-trend, try muted shades like pastels and neutrals. Sweet nightgown-style details like smocking, ties, bows, ruffles and lace add personality. 

Why A Nap Dress Works for Pregnancy, Nursing, and Postpartum

While the dresses aren't marketed as maternity or postpartum specifically, there has been a true frenzy around nap dresses and nightgown-inspired frocks within the pregnancy and parenting community. This is likely thanks to the ease of these pieces.

Often there is a bodice that is tight enough to keep everything in, but stretchy enough to allow for a rapidly changing pregnant or postpartum body. The straps or sleeves often have stretch, as well, and pull down easily for nursing. The skirt of the dress flows away from the body comfortably. As your body changes throughout pregnancy, nursing, and postpartum, the non-structured garment flexes along with you.

These daytime nightgowns are genuinely comfortable enough to snooze in, but polished enough that you will feel put-together if company comes to visit. Plus, many styles are machine-washable, which any new parent knows is a must when taking care of an infant.

What Moms Are Saying About Nap Dresses

The hype around nap dresses has reached a fever pitch, and many believe it's valid. “I was excited to buy some new clothes for after my baby arrived, but I definitely underestimated how important it was that they were breastfeeding-friendly," says Katie Coleman, Richmond, Va.-based mom to a newborn. "With nap dresses, you don’t have to be limited to things that button up the front, which can be surprisingly hard to find.”

Melissa Rogers, a mom of two from El Paso, Tx., prefers styles from brand R. Vivimos. “I get compliments every time I wear one," she says. "It fits my postpartum body without me feeling self-conscious and provides easy nursing access.”

New York City-based mom to a 10-month old Maggie Gillette agrees on the versatility. "I love the practicality and sustainability of the nap dress style," she says. "It allowed me to have a single garment that took me from maternity to nursing and beyond instead of clothes that only worked for a short amount of time like traditional maternity wear." She even wore one to the hospital when she was going into labor.

Are Nap Dresses A Passing Trend?

The excitement for them would point to nap dresses not being a passing fad, but only time will tell. “I see the Nap Dress becoming a tried and true wardrobe staple,” says Diamond, who launched kids-sized Nap Dresses under her Tiny collection earlier this year. So now you can rock adorable mommy-and-me looks.

Ready to try the trend? We rounded up the best ones to shop to look and feel relaxed during all stages of the childbearing journey.

1

Maison Me Brooklyn Dress

Maison Me from Maisonette's Brooklyn Dress is a tiered floral dress with smocking and ties at the shoulders in a creamy orange floral print.

Photo from Maisonette

Why it works for nursing: A stretchy bodice plus adjustable shoulder ties make this a one-two punch for easy access to nursing. The smocking also provides light compression and lift to help keep your chest comfortable. Worried about leakage? Be sure to wear a strapless nursing bra or nursing pads for more protection.

Shop it: Maison Me Brooklyn Dress ($118)

2

Hatch The Short Secret Nursing Dress

Hatch The Short Secret Nursing Dress is a long-sleeved ditsy printed dress with a secret nursing panel.

Photo from Hatch

Why it works for nursing: It looks like an easy breezy summer dress (or nightgown, even!), but it comes armed with two hidden weapons: two hidden slits at the chest that snap close, so there’s no wrestling your entire dress off to feed.

Shop it: Hatch The Short Secret Nursing Dress ($198)

3

The Nines by Hatch Sleeveless Henley Dress

The Nines by Hatch Henley Maternity dress has tiered layers and a button placket in a cream small geometric print.

Photo from Target

Why it works for nursing: A loose dress like this one is touted as a maternity dress, but can easily accommodate your nursing and postpartum life thanks to its shape and the buttons.

Shop it: The Nines by Hatch Sleeveless Henley Dress ($34)

4

Madewell Tie-Dye Lightspun Button-Front Midi Dress

Madewell button gauze dress has a soft pastel tie-dye print. It is knee-length with a long button placket and short sleeves.

Photo from Madewell

Why it works for nursing: The classic solution to nursing outfits is a button-front, and this dress in a light spun double gauze is as soft for baby as it is for you.

Shop it: Madewell Tie-Dye Lightspun Button-Front Midi Dress ($128)

5

Nap Bunny Strap Dress

The Bunny Dress from Nap Loungewear has a square neck with thick straps and an empire waist. The midi length dress has pockets and bunny-ear ties in the back.

Photo from Nap

Why it works for nursing: Sometimes you just need a big dress. This one is nice and loose on the body—no touching any C-section scars—and comes with straps you can slide off to nurse. One-hundred percent cotton makes it a summer no-brainer.

Shop it: Nap Bunny Strap Dress ($98)

6

LOFT Chambray Smocked Strappy Midi Dress

LOFT's chambray smocked dress is midi-length with smocking and buttons at the bodice and skinny tie straps.

Photo from LOFT

Why it works for nursing: A stretchy, flattering chest plus tie-straps plus an elastic waist plus machine-washable means this dress was made for moms.

Shop it: LOFT Chambray Smocked Strappy Midi Dress ($100)

7

Hill House Home Ellie Nap Dress

Hill House Home's Ellie Nap Dress in blue floral is midi-length with tiers, smocking at the bodice and smocking at the sleeves.

Photo from Hill House Home

Why it works for nursing: The one that started it all is Hill House's Ellie dress, and it's still one of Hill House’s most popular styles to date. A smocked bodice and smocked straps keep everything in place and offer easy access for nursing. You can wear it pre-baby, too, as it allows for your body’s pregnancy changes.

Shop it: Hill House Home Ellie Nap Dress ($125)

8

R. Vivimos Vintage Ruffles Midi Dress

R. Vivimos blue floral dress with pink flowers has a smocked bodies and short puffy sleeves.

Photo from Amazon

Why it works for nursing: This pull-on dress features lighter smocking and more coverage in the sleeve for those who might need to wear a more supportive bra while nursing. 

Shop it: R. Vivimos Vintage Ruffles Midi Dress ($32)

Read next: The 10 Best Places to Buy Maternity Clothes of 2021

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