New research suggests that Britain's sleeping beauties are bringing glamour to the boudoir. But efforts still need to be made to build the image of nightwear as a desirable treat and more women should be encouraged to buy special nightwear for themselves.

The British are finally injecting some true style into their choice of bedroom attire with just one in three (32 per cent) adults today claiming that "comfort and fit is more important than style."

The findings are part of the latest research carried out by Mintel. Its new report on 'Nightwear in the UK' also found that money is no object when it comes to fashion in the bedroom, as just 7 per cent say that "price is more important to me than fashion and style when buying nightwear."

Indeed, just one in ten (11 per cent) only buy nightwear in the sales or at discount.

"These days the British are really starting to bring some style and glamour into the bedroom, with many now going for the more fashionable and exciting nightwear ranges," comments Maria Elustondo, senior market analyst at Mintel.

"But nightwear is still a 'Cinderella' department for many retailers at present, as it trails in the wake of lingerie or accessories. This market often receives very little PR or advertising, with its best exposure in recent years coming from TV programmes such as Sex and the City.

"As has been done with the lingerie market, efforts should be made to build the image of nightwear as a desirable treat and more women should be encouraged to buy special nightwear for themselves."

One of the most glamorous nightwear items has always been the negligée. Although negligées account for just 4 per cent of the nightwear market, this sector has grown the fastest over the past 5 years, having grown by some 18 per cent, while the pyjama market has grown by just 7 per cent.

"The trend for more glamorous nightwear in silky and shiny materials mirrors the current trend for sexier styles of women's underwear. Although at the moment few women are wearing negligées, they are experiencing a bit of a comeback.

"This also fits in with the outerwear styles and more glamorous garments that hark back to the styling of the 1920s, 30s and 40s. Women seem to be bringing a bit of glamour to the bedroom and there is a real desire to wear seductive and luxurious styles," Maria Elustondo explains.

The rest of Britain opts for pyjamas
When it comes to bedtime, pyjamas are the number one favourite among British men (37 per cent) and women (36 per cent). What is more, at £250 million, sales of pyjamas account for the bulk of the £425 million nightwear market.

Interestingly, women spend more than twice as much on pyjamas as men and women's pyjamas now account for half (50 per cent) of the women's nightwear market at some £168 million, which equates to some 16 million pairs of women's pyjamas.

This is compared to nightdresses, which account for just 21 per cent of market value and negligees that account for a further 4 per cent.

"Trends in women's pyjamas have moved towards outerwear fashions with strappy vest tops, T-shirts and other leisure-inspired styling. It seems that designers have taken on board that more women now regularly wear loungewear around the house and pyjama styles now fit in with this trend.

"Indeed some women may have even started to develop a 'style wardrobe' of nightwear with a choice of things for different occasions," says Maria Elustondo.

Fast fashion set to hit nightwear
Mintel forecasts that the nightwear market will continue to grow by a further 14 per cent over the next five years to 2009 to reach a market value of some £485 million.

The sector for women's nightwear will show a healthy growth of 15 per cent between 2004 and 2009, and will continue to dominate the market.

Today, women are more likely than men to wear different types of nightwear to bed and are also more fashion conscious then men. Therefore, a faster pace of fashion, better segmentation and the continual increase in the number of working women in the future will help to boost sales.

"At the premium end of the market, sales growth will continue, with companies adding fashion, styling details and extra quality. The women's glamour market will help to continue this boom.

"There will be two main growth areas in this market. Romantic glamorous styles harking back to classic movies will perform well. Also, sexy/slinky styles will perform well," concludes Maria Elustondo.

'Nightwear in the UK' is available from Mintel.