by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
Growing up in a Ukrainian-speaking household, we used the word “Shlaf-frock” for bathrobe or housecoat. Up until about 5 minutes ago when I used Google Translate, I always thought the Ukrainians borrowed this lovely word from the Germans because I knew “Schlaf” meant “sleep” in German and I believed “frock” meant dress. I thought it was a clever word and I always got a warm and fuzzy feeling every time I said it.
Well, as it turns out, I have been wrong on a few counts all of these years. First, the Ukrainians took the word “szlafrok” from the Polish language and on top of that, Ukrainians in Ukraine (according to my friend) don’t even know that word at all anymore — they use “hhalat,” as do the Russians — and “szla” doesn’t mean sleep in Polish — it means “precious.” Confused yet? I am.
Regardless of my befuddled etymology, I’m still sticking with good old Shlaf-frock because it’s fun to say.
And did you know that putting on a bathrobe is one of the most relaxing things you can do at the end of a long and stressful day? Don’t believe me? I invite you to go and put your bathrobe on right now and see for yourself. Just take it off the hook on your bathroom door, drape it over your shoulders, stick your arms in and tie the belt in a loose bow. Go on. I’ll wait.
There you are!
Well? How do you feel now? Better? I thought so.
There’s something about a bathrobe that lets your body know that it’s time to relax and unwind and get ready for a good night’s sleep.
It’s no wonder that bathrobes are a big feature in all of the spas. Where else are you encouraged to walk around in your bathrobe and slippers in the middle of the day?
The History of Bathrobes
Funnily enough, bathrobes can be traced all the way back to the togas of ancient Rome. In the days of yore before indoor plumbing caught on, it was customary for people to head to the local bathhouses to get wet and clean. I guess bathing suits hadn’t been invented yet and they needed something that could maintain some semblance of modesty in a public space and be slipped on and off easily at poolside.
Time travel to Asia in the 1800’s and you’ll see a resemblance between the silk kimono and our stylish bathrobes of today.
Bathrobes make excellent gifts any time of year
If you’re looking for gift ideas for friends and family, why not wrap your loved ones in bathrobes this season. Summer or winter, rain or shine, young or old, man or woman — everyone likes a nice bathrobe to wear morning or night.
Bathrobes are unique in the world of fashion because they are equally regal and luxurious on the one hand (maybe that’s why the Polish call them “precious”) and cozy and informal on the other.
When you picture a bathrobe, do you see a white, thick one made of terry cloth or do you remember the loud orange velour one with the busy jungle pattern from your high school days or maybe you had a pink fuzzy one with flower appliqués? I personally have a soft spot for tacky and ugly bathrobes because those bathrobes are the ones that are most loved by the people who wear them.
I had a red, wool plaid one in high school which wasn’t very practical but it looked nice and made me feel like I was living in LL Beanland. I also had a thin peach one that became thinner and thinner every time I washed it. Later, I had a white terry towel one with a pink collar. Now I have a purple polar fleece polyester knit that my mom made for me. Of course I also have a lots of waffle ones for my spa guests to wear during our Homespunspa Mobile Spa appointments.
In any case, regardless of everyone’s tastes and personality, I’m sure there’s a nice bathrobe or shlaf-frock out there for everyone on your list. Just make sure they don’t feel scratchy to the touch and can absorb excess moisture from the skin after a bath, shower or day at the beach. That’s all I ask. Otherwise, go to town.
Oh and please send me pictures of your favourite bathrobes. I would love to add them to this blog post.