From The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by Mordecai Richler:

Ida had just emerged from her bath and she sat in a powder blue nothing before a mirror at a little table crammed with jars. The mirror had an elaborate white frame with armed cupid carved into each corner.

I can understand 'she sat before a mirror' part but what is the bold part? Is she wearing some kind of a powder blue gown? Then, what does 'nothing' here mean?

  • 2
    sounds like a négligée / negligee
    – TimR
    May 1, 2017 at 11:25

1 Answer 1


I agree with you. Nothing can sometimes be used when something is insignificant, as opposed to literally "nonexistent". In this case, it suggests that she was wearing very little clothing—"practically nothing". If we assume it's a gown, then it was very revealing.

Edit: I was thinking of flimsy, sheer night gown when I wrote gown above. But as @Tᴚoɯɐuo points out, it might be more accurate to call it a negligee.

The negligee [...] is a form of see-through clothing for women consisting of a sheer usually long dressing gown.It is a form of nightgown intended for wear at night and in the bedroom.
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