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04 July 2004

The return of the housedress

I have always been, perhaps excessively, interested in comfort, frequently drawn to the guilty pleasures of the 'tracky dack'. I generally don't own tracksuit pants; that would be too definite, too undeniable. Instead, I've always borrowed them - in an offhand, almost absent-minded way - and teamed them with small singlets. At university, I practically lived in my 'worker pants'. Again, I didn't actively seek them out but would instead take on my younger brother's worn-in hand-me-downs: navy blue Hard Yakka trousers that were standard issue at the kitchen he worked in. I justified this as good economy, and also felt it asserted my left-wing feminist credentials. Somehow. And when it was cold there was also that brown yak wool jumper I'd brought back from Nepal.

I was dressing for comfort and very far from looking my best. In the last few months I've been spending a lot more time at home and so my comfort dressing... problem... had become more acute. I'd reverted to mostly wearing a black shift dress that I'd picked up from The Laden Showroom on Brick Lane for £14. It originally had a silver outline of a woman holding a gun but that had faded so really it was just a worn-in shapeless black dress with a large front pocket.

And that was when I started thinking about the pleasures of the housedress. When I was a child I had lived in sixties-style shift dresses, tearing around our property in bare feet. I was comfortable but also wearing dresses that I liked. There was something in this. Fortunately I now live in Helsinki, home of Nanso:

Comfortable, High-Quality and Personal Clothing

Comfortable nightwear for men and women has been accompanied by a homewear collection and daywear products for women. The homewear collection is undergoing constant development in the lounge/leisurewear area, in combination with night and daywear. Functional materials have made it possible to conquer an entirely new area: beachwear, which makes full use of Nanso's colours and bold prints. The collections function in a range of situations associated with a leisurely lifestyle - at home and when travelling, whenever there is a chance to relax and enjoy the moment.

Today's Nanso wants to create a name for itself also among new, young consumers. The consumer of the future is an adult, young at heart, for whom clothes are merely something casual to wear from morning till night.

Nanso makes everyday clothes to be worn by everyday women. But beautiful clothes - wrap dresses, shirt dresses, shift dresses, pull-on skirts, small tops... - made from delightful materials like velour and terry towelling. Nanso has rehabilitated the housedress and other comfort-dressing staples and I have spent liberally there.

The Nanso shop can be found at Mikonkatu 2, Helsinki.

My other Helsinki clothing favourites are:

  • Ivana Helsinki, which is available at both Ivana Helsinki CAMPUS, Uudenmaankatu 15, and Liike, Yrjänkatu 25. (Interestingly, Ivana Helsinki grew out of a match manufacturing business in East Helsinki: "Ivan's ideology of ascetic, genuine everyday life gained many supporters in the form of motivated factory workers. And every other Saturday they went camping.")
  • Lustwear, which is available in Stockman and also at Liike

    Posted at 11:37 AM in Helsinki | Permalink


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    I loooove Nanso! I came across the Nanso shop in Helsinki whilst visiting the city a couple of years ago and made some delightful purchases that I am still enjoying - the fabrics and prints are fantastic and a bit more interesting than marimekko's! However, try as I might I cannot find any Nanso stockists in London..do you know of any? Thanks ;-)

    Posted by: kate at 13 Apr 2006 23:55:18

    Hey - I just found one here:


    It's in Stoke Newington. If you find any others please let me know!


    Posted by: Adele at 22 Feb 2007 21:30:32