Evening gown


Evening gown
Wedding - Bridesmaid in long gown
Evening gowns shown at a Los Angeles fashion show, 1947

An evening gown is a long flowing women's dress usually worn to a formal affair. It ranges from tea and ballerina to full-length. Evening gowns are often made of a luxury fabric such as chiffon, velvet, satin, or silk. Although the terms are used interchangeably, ball gowns and evening gowns differ in that a ball gown will always have a full, flared skirt and a strapless bodice; in contrast, an evening gown can be any silhouette—sheath, mermaid, A-line or trumpet shaped—and may have straps, halters or even sleeves.

It corresponds to men's semi-formal wear for black tie events.

Contents

History

In the Middle Ages, formal dress for women had yet to be developed. Women simply added a train to their kirtle for formal occasions. As centuries rolled by, most gowns were generally very elaborate, but more so for formal occasions. In the 18th century, formal dress started as the mantua, but later developed into the elaborate sack-back gown. Starting with the 19th century, the term "evening gown" began. The fashionable length was ankle-length, but, during the reign of Victoria, the evening gown was floor-length. The styles ranged from having huge sleeves in the 1830s, to off-the-shoulder and with wide flounces in the 1840s, to very low-necked in the 1850s, to having low necklines and short sleeves in the 1860s, to long and lean with a bustle and very short sleeves in the 1870s, to sleeveless, low-necked, and worn with gloves in the 1880s, to having a squared decolletage, a wasp-waist cut, and skirts with long trains in the 1890s. During the Edwardian era, the empire silhouette was popular. Later, in the 1920s, evening gowns were very simple to match the style of the flapper era. Starting with the 1930s, evening gowns began to modernize. Along with the empire cut, over the years the sheath, mermaid, A-line, and trumpet shapes became popular. Also, the dropped waist and princesse styles were frequent, depending on the era. Grace Kelly is noted for wearing understated evening gowns. Today, the evening gown comes in any silhouette, and is popular for formal occasions such as the opera, formal dinners, cocktail parties, and wedding receptions.

White tie occasions

When worn to white tie occasions, the evening gown is generally more elaborate than when worn to black tie occasions. For example, the silhouette will be fuller, to match with the "very formal" white tie attire by men. In the modern times, the evening gown is becoming more frequent in women's formal wear, even at white tie occasions, but etiquette states that formal gowns must be worn.

Black tie occasions

Evening gowns can range to tea length (mid-calf to ankle-length) to full-length (to the floor). In general, the same rules of a white tie event apply to a black tie event, although in some cases a cocktail dress is acceptable. However, women usually wear evening gowns to black tie occasions.

Styles

Sheath

The sheath style evening gown, like the usual sheath dress, is designed to fit the body tightly. It is generally unbelted, and has a straight drape. It can have shoulder straps or be strapless.

Mermaid

Mermaid, as the name suggests, means that the evening gown is shaped like a mermaid. It is form-fitting at the bodice, and the skirt is designed to resemble a mermaid's tail in silhouette.

A-line

The A-line style evening gown is somewhat bell-shaped, it is close-fitting at the top and widens gradually at the bottom, without gathers or pleats. This makes for a simple but elegant appearance.

Trumpet

If the evening gown is trumpet shaped, it is tight-fitting until it reaches the knees, where it flares.

Empire

The Empire silhouette involves the waistline coming up to just below the bust, from which the skirt hangs straight and loose, in a simple breezy style.

Dropped waist

The waistline is dropped below the actual waistline. The skirt can be fitted or flared.

Princesse

The princesse style evening gown is also tight, cut in single pieces, such as gores, and hanging in an unbroken line from shoulder to flared hem.

Crafting

Evening gowns can be distinguished from conventional or day dresses by a two primary features. The first is the cut, which tends to be couture and in line with the latest fashions, unless the article of clothing is a ball gown, in which case it will tend to be cut along more classic lines. The second distinguishing feature is the fabric. Evening gowns tend to use luxury materials such as silk, velvet, and taffeta, and they may be richly embroidered or decorated with beads, sequins, jewels, and other ornaments. Wealthy women also prefer to purchase tailored evening gowns, which are designed to flatter their figures. In all cases, evening gowns are designed to be worn with high quality jewelry.

Evening gowns are typically associated with glamor and luxury, and appear at events like the Academy Awards in the United States, the opening of the society season in urban areas, and formal receptions. In most instances, evening gowns are not designed to be worn more than once, although high profile members of society such as celebrities may auction off gowns which they have worn for charity. In some cases, especially for highly public events, well known designers will lend custom or vintage dresses to famous attendees of the event, in order to showcase their design skills, and then take the evening gowns back at the end of the evening for part of a permanent archive.

Alternatives to the gown

  • In the 1940s, couturiers introduced dancing costumes, a party dress with a full skirt specifically made for semi-formal and formal dances. The dancing costume was shorter than the evening gown.
  • A ball skirt is a variant fashion which resurfaced in the 1990s, consisting of a full, long skirt that can be worn with a cashmere sweater, lace camisole, or other dressy top.

See also


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • evening gown — noun a gown for evening wear • Syn: ↑dinner dress, ↑dinner gown, ↑formal • Hypernyms: ↑gown, ↑formalwear, ↑eveningwear, ↑evening dress, ↑evening clothes …   Useful english dictionary

  • evening gown — a woman s formal dress, usually having a floor length skirt. Also called gown. * * * …   Universalium

  • evening gown — eve′ning gown n. clo a woman s formal dress, usu. having a floor length skirt …   From formal English to slang

  • evening gown — /ˈivnɪŋ gaʊn/ (say eevning gown) noun a woman s formal or semi formal dress, especially one with a floor length skirt …   Australian English dictionary

  • evening gown — woman s formal dress, dress for evening social occasions …   English contemporary dictionary

  • gown — /gown/, n. 1. a woman s dress or robe, esp. one that is full length. 2. nightgown. 3. dressing gown. 4. See evening gown. 5. a loose, flowing outer garment in any of various forms, worn by a man or woman as distinctive of office, profession, or… …   Universalium

  • evening dress — evening ,dress noun 1. ) evening dress or evening wear uncount formal clothes that people wear when they go to important social events in the evening 2. ) evening dress or evening gown count a long dress that a woman wears when she goes to an… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • evening dress — n 1.) [U] formal clothes that people wear for formal meals, parties, and social events in the evening 2.) also evening gown especially AmE an attractive dress that a woman wears to a formal meal, party, or social event in the evening …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Gown — A gown (medieval Latin gunna ) is a (usually) loose outer garment from knee to full length worn by men and women in Europe from the early Middle Ages to the seventeenth century (and continuing today in certain professions); later, gown was… …   Wikipedia

  • gown — 01. She looked simply stunning in a classic red strapless evening [gown]. 02. The native chiefs wore their beautiful ceremonial [gowns] at the signing of the historic treaty. 03. The old woman had on a fetching black [gown] and a long string of… …   Grammatical examples in English


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