Equivalent to men’s semi-formal and formal wear for black tie and white tie events, vintage evening dresses is perhaps the category our OfV editors get the most excited about. From the narrow-waisted dresses of the beginning of the 19th century, evening gowns have evolved with the exciting history of women and fashion throughout the century. With simple boyish silhouettes mirroring the daring Flapper sentiments in the 1920s, to the introduction of the sheath dress, mermaid dress, A-line dress, trumpet dress and princess dress. Though fashion overall is less and less of a formal affair, the silk, chiffon, velvet, satin or organza ball gown still prevails women’s formal dress. With the wide array of silhouettes on offer today, formal or informal, below we have untangled the most significant styles.
A sheath dress fits the body tightly and generally has a straight drape. Its simple design invites for it to be dressed up or down with ease.
More on the formal side, the Mermaid dress is tight-fitting on the upper body and wider by the lower leg, resembling the shape of a mermaid.
Hailing from the 1950s and 1960s, the A-line dress is a shorter number with a tight fitting upper and an A-shape skirt.
Not dissimilar to a mermaid dress, the trumpet also flares by the knees, but often more subtly than the dramatic mermaid shape.
Popularised by Napoleon’s Josephine, the empire dress has a high waistline starting just below the bust, with a simple, straight-hanging, floor-long skirt.
Often on the bohemian or flapper-style side, the dropped waist dress has a waist dropped down to the hips and a mini or midi length skirt.
The ball gown of choice for just about every Disney princess, the princess silhouette needs little further explanation.
OfV says: A unique and oftentimes much more affordable option, vintage evening dresses are the unrivalled choice for history honouring formalwear dazzling with charm. Browse our delightful edit of vintage evening gowns and discover imaginative vintage evening dresses beyond the ball gown. A Space Age sequin-covered dress from the 1960s; a 1920s Art Deco gown in velvet and sterling silver; a velvet cocktail dress with a dramatic ruffle skirt from the 1980s; or a subtle 1990s-style slinky slip dress in luxurious silk – whether you opt for the opulent or understated, perfect your after-hours style with a unique vintage evening gown from our edit below.